Madagascar Part II, July 2009
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Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island and is a good stop for boats traveling up and down the Mozambique Channel.  Venturing from Nosy Komba we sailed to the protected anchorage of Maribe, on Nosy Mitsio.  Surrounded by villages the abodes are primitive and made of branches from a local hard wood tree, using no nails, and with roofs of palm fronds or, if you are lucky, corrugated metal.  They consist of one larger room if not two.  cooking is mainly done outside on a small fire with a triangular shaped grill.  Inside, some homes are elaborately decorated with hand carved wooden furniture, while others simply have a straw mat on the floor for sleeping and sitting.   The communcal toilet is a hole in the ground protected by a wall of palm fronds.  Each village has a long established culture and are self sufficient.  They grow fruit and vegetables, tend livestock, chickens, ducks and fish.   There is an abundant supply of fresh water from wells.  The outer islands have no cars and the mode of transportation are their hand made wooden piroques/canoes.  Most of the men paddle to their destination, however, some have rigged up a mast and boom for a patch work sail, so they can utilize the wind.  This island is known for the lobster, locals would row out and trade us for these delicious crustaceans.    Ankarea island in the left photo was a lovely spot that we would sail to for the day.   The lush vegetation and different varieties of Baobabs were a joy to explore.  The shadow in front of Phoebe is a baby Black tip reef shark swimming along the shore.
Nosy Mitisio is a hilly island with cattle trails throughout.  One day we ventured up to the top of the steep hill, then down the other side and around the back of the island.  Running into livestock and walking through villages.  To the left is a chicken coop, the eggs in Madagascar were the best we have ever had.  Large brown eggs with thick shells that will last 2 months unrefrigerated. 
The locals can not afford to shop, plus the closest store is a 30 miles away in Helle-ville, because of this there is a lack of trash.  If they did need to go to the store the sailing piroques take advantage of the consistant winds.  In the morning the wind would blow from the northeast allowing them a good run to town and in the afternoon it would switch the the southeast, pushing them home.  Another day sail away, is the anchorage below the organ pipe, an impresive basalt rock formation. 
Everday we were approached by local piroques, we would always see what they had to offer, most of the time we would trade for something, wether we needed it or not.  Noticing that they had paddled against the wind and current a long distance to trade.  If they had nothing to trade then we would give nothing away.  Giving something for nothing we would be approached by countless others wanting the same treatment.  Madagascar is extremely poor and you want to help everyone, but your generosity, although well intentioned, has long-term consequences.  This outside influence erodes the pride and identity of these self-sufficient people.
One day a man for the village around the bay paddled out with a box in his canoe.  In the box was a generator which was not operational.  Not having the knowledge or tools to fix it, we took it aboard and told him we would return it in the morning.  The fly wheel was not working, therefore , he could not start it.  Recently we replaced the raw water pump to our gnerator and on the old part was a funtional fly wheel.  Taking the broken piece off Jim replaced it with a modified version of ours and with one pull the generator started.  The following day we returned it and were greeted on the beach by the whole village.  One feels good being able to help and re-supply the electricity to the village.  Appreciating our good deed, we were presented with fresh lobster and fruit. 
Blue Sky anchored Maribe Bay
Basalt rock formation, known as "The Organ Pipes"
Jim with the village elder. Grandma showing off her grandchildren
The woman all came out with their babies to have a photo taken, which I then printed for each of them.
News travels fast, the following day another local from the village ashore paddled out asking for assistance with his generator.  Jim and Duncan off s/v Moose grabbed the tool bag and headed ashore.  They tried their best to fix it, with no success.  Bringing it back to the boat for a closer look, Jim rewired the decayed connections, fired it up and it appeared to work. Returning it to the owner, he connected the TV and VCR, which still failed to work.  We came to the conclusion that the generator was functional, however, the TV was broken.  While we were at the village a woman approached us with a three week old infant, whose eyes were sealed shut.  Noticing the Child had conjunctivitis and the local remedy was to apply a clay past to the infection.  We try not to interfere and offer medical advise, however, as my children both had this disease when they were babies I knew what to do.  Demonstating to the mother how to clean the eyes with sterile distilled water and cotton balls, I then told her to squeeze some breast milk into the eyes.  For infants, breast milk cures most maladies, from rashes to infections.  Leaving the bottle of distilled water and some extra cotton balls, with our language barrier, I instructed her to repeat what I did a few times everyday until it cleared.  While playing nurse, Phoebe and Drake entertained themselve with the ducklings and local children.
Spending two relaxing weeks in Mitsio, it was time to move on.  Venturing back south we stopped at Sakatia Island, and anchored in front of a small bungalow resort called Sakatia Towers.  Run by a South African, John Shepard, who has cruised around the Indian Ocean.  Knowing what the cruiser enjoys he offers cold beer at a reasonable price and nice meals.  Laundry can be brought in and done by his staff, in a machine, for pennies. The daily salary for locals is $3.00. The bay is secure and it was the first stop where we were not approached by piroques.  Above Blue Sky is basking in the sun with other yachts and a dhow sails passed s/v Moose.  This was also the first place we encountered other cruisers. Much to Phoebe and Drake's delight  two families were staying in the bungalows with children their age. 

Opposite Sakatia on Nosy Be was the
Ambaro Horse Ranch, run by Lucie and Celine from France.  As a treat we took all the children across for a lesson and a ride.  The children started by brushing and saddling the horses, then Celine taught them proper riding etiquette.  After which they took the horses to the ocean for a swim and then hosed them off with fresh water.  The horses and children then enjoyed a walk along a forested trail.   To the left are Daniel, Drake, Andrew and Nick, the other children are all from South Africa. 
John hosted a Fourth of July BBQ, or Braii, as they say in South Africa. The cheese burgers were fresh off the grill and I even baked two pies, with Blueberries and Blackberries.  On board we have a back packing ice cream maker from Campmore, all you need is ice, rock salt, cream, vanilla and sugar. So we made ice cream for pie a la mode.  The day was such a success that John decided to offer a cruisers lunch every Sunday in the late afternoon, a three course feast for a minor fee.  You may bring your own wine, the corkage fee is a glass for the host. 

The small island of Sakatia has pleasant trails throughout, over moon scape rocks that lead to lovely white sand beaches.  The snoreling in the cove was agreeable, where loggerhead and green turtles would swim by the boat.  At the entrance to the anchroage we encountered a whale shark resting on the surface. On another occasion we had the pleasure of seeing two humpback whales, immediately getting into the dinghy for a closer look, they broached just ahead of us.  Sakatia quickly became our favorite anchorage and we decided to make it home base.  John could arrange a taxi to take us to Hellville, where we could provision and not have to worry about anchoring in "Hell".

The South African families, pictured on the left and right, all came out to Blue Sky one afternoon. They were checking out of Sakatia Towers and going on
the Salama Djema,  a dhow, that takes tourists to different islands where they camp and provide all the meals.  We decided to join them in one of the locations, just opposited Nosy Komba.  After saying our goodbyes, we ventured to Russian Bay and anchorages further south to explore more of this unique country.  More to follow...
Left side,Jim, Duncan and Mike.
Right side, John, Irene, a guest and Duncan.
Duncan and Drake on the moonscape rocks.
A local dhow with patch work sail,on the beach after the hike.
Adi and Roddy Sparks with Jobre
The children playing on Blue Sky

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