|Mozambique, August 2009|
|In the 15th century Ilha de Mozambique was an important boat building center and trading port. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, landed here in 1498 and established a colony in 1507. The island prospered as a trading station for gold, silver, ivory and slaves. Jim, Phoebe and Drake are pictured next to the sprawling fort of Sao Sebastiao, built in the late 16th century, it is the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa. On the island's tip, in front of the fort is the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, built in 1522, and is alleged to be the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere, pictured above right. The white church, above left, is the Church of the Misericordia and house the museum of sacred art, with religious ornaments, paintings and carvings. Drake walks along the beach in front of an abandoned wherehouse, which was used when this was a prosperous shipping port. The port is no longer in use except by the fishing boats, however, the reliques of past are scattered all over the island. Walking along back alleys and amongst the once glorious facades of colonial buildings, we stumbled upon old canons lined on the grass. At low tide, instead of shelling, we found chips of earthenware from all over the world, broken when their ships struck the surrounding reefs and sunk.|
|The Ancora restaurant has a beautiful wall with many of the crockery chips embedded to form a mosaic. The eagerness and enthusiam of some younger locals offering us everything from gold coins to beautiful glass beads that they dive for on the many ship wrecks. The fort was closed for refurbishment, however, walking around the perimeter you could see canon balls embedded in the rocks where they landed years ago. Seeing only a handful of tourists the town does not even have a store selling post cards, we were fortunate to find a post office, where we bought some stamps for the children's collection.
The beach front is a popular spot for the community to relax on the weekend. Below a local business man brought a jet ski, much to everyone's amazement, and was very generous offering rides. Club Nautique was busy at this time and to our satisfaction we could park the dinghy in front and keep an eye on Blue Sky.
|Two girls emerge from a broken building sporting colorful hairdos eager to have their picture taken. Peddling down the street in a make shift wheel chair a man happily allows us to take his picture. As a thank you we bought him a small bag of rice and gave him a plastic water bottle. The two photos above center is the delinquent hospital, which is still operational. In the center of town, to our bewilderment, was the Escondido Penseo, a boutique hotel with a swimming pool. The children enjoyed the playing in the fresh water.|
|A weather window appeared to be opening for us to work our way south, light and variable. Once we were underway it was perfect motorsailing. A couple hours later, we had 20 knots on the nose and were only making 3-4 knots. Talking to s/v Moose on the VHF, we decide to turn around and head for Mokambo Bay, which was just south of Ilha Mozambique. At dusk we arrived and anchored off a lovely beach, however, it was not very well protected and rolly. The next morning we decided to head into the shelter of the bay and anchored off a village. Within half an hour of anchoring, both boats were surrounded by over 50 boys and men in all different sorts of water craft, their intrusive and obsessive stares were very disconcerting. One boat is pictured off s/v Moose. Each boat would ask for everything and anything they could see off our boats, from lines, to buckets to our jerry jugs. Telling them "nada por nada", nothing for nothing, they would not go away. This was the first time we have felt uncomfortable, as it would only take one person to turn this group into a mob. The decision was made to pull up the anchor and head back to the entrance of the bay and find a more secluded spot to anchor.|
|Finding the perfect spot, where no boats disturbed us, with a great beach to explore. Large storks and native birds nested in the trees along the shore line. Phoebe and Drake loved rolling down the sandy hills and swimming in the warm water.|
|Blue sky undersail, taken by Duncan off s/v Moose. A local ketch rigged dhow sails past us on our passage. The Mozambique coast is one of the world's best spots to sight the graceful giants of the sea. In one day we saw over 15 humpback's, some swimming right next to the boat. Our next stop was Casurina island, regretably we timed our arrival 12 hours early, as there is no protection during a northerly blow. The stern of the boat was just off the coral reef, choosing not to take the chance of dragging anchor we tried to find a more protected location. Anchoring in a large bay, we were not protected from the wind and swell, but at least the bottom was sand and there would be no reef behind us. Below is s/v Blue Sky pitch polling in the conditions. At least we only had to endure it for one night. The photo on the far right is the torn snubber for all the tension put on it. On the left is s/v Moose rolling in the sunset.
|The currents along the East African Coast are strong and if the wind blows from the south the seas can build up to ten feet plus. Once a northerly blows we would leave our protected anchorage to work our way south.|
|Moving the following day for proctection from the approaching southerly, we anchored off the low lying Casurina Island. Uninhabited aside for some local fisherman, the beach offered some great exploring and swimming. On our travels, there are some instances where we can not dispose of our garbarge ashore. If we do it usually ends up on the ground or in the ocean. The best course of action we have found is to the burn it on shore. Building a hot fire we place all the combustibles on it, taking away any tins or aluminum that does not burn, to later dump over board in the deep water. The local fisherman were very friendly, never asking for anything, and offering us fish and lobster everyday. One day we walked to the side of the island where they built their make shift homes and presented them with cans of fruit, a mask and snorkle, t-shirts and s/v Moose even gave them an old spear gun that was still in good shape. When people do not ask for things we are more generous with our giving.|
|Irene, Duncan and Jim watching the trash burn.|
|Local fisherman happy with his gifts.|
|David, from USA and his crew Geoff, from Johannesburg, off s/v Jipcho arrived at Isla Casurina from Madagascar. Meeting David at Sakatia, it was a nice surprise to have another cruising boat join us, as we had not seen any since leaving Madagascar. Inviting them over to Blue Sky for sun downers and fish curry we all enjoyed catching up. A norherly was approaching so it was time for us to head south again, we had a three day weather window and pushed for Linga Linga off Inhambane. Fortunately, we had some old cruising notes, which gave us way points to use as a guide line to get into this difficult anchorage. With a deep draft we needed to enter just before high tide, it took us two hours to navigate through the sand bars. The bar changes constantly, but the way points were still beneficial. Anchoring just off the wreck in front of the white house, Castelo do Mar, a Holiday Villa.|
|Duncan, Dave and Irene|
|Geoff, Emma and Jim|
|The property managers were very helpful and arranged for us to fill up our jerry jugs with diesel, then invited us over for a Braii. The food and company were wonderful. Hiring a boat to take us on a provision run to the main town of Inhambane and Maxxixe, we were surprised at how modern the city was. A big difference from Ilha Mozambique, the market was stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. They even sold apples, which we have not had since Malaysia. Bottom right is one of the stalls in the market, with some unusual and unique items. Can you spot the monkey skull? The shelves in the stores were full, which was a bonus as we had run out of Cadbury chocolate and beer, so it was nice to re-load the boat. Walking through the streets of town strangely we saw an old Ford at a garage, it makes you wonder just how it got there.|
|The main road in Linga Linga|
|The art deco buildings of downtown Inhambane.|
|David, Irene, Duncan, Geoff and our guide, in front of the beer wharehouse.|
|Carrying our groceries back to the boat at low tide.|
|Inhambane is the third largest town in Mozambique and one of the oldest European settlements dating back to the early 15th century. As in the past the bay is still host to the large fleet of working dhows on the African coast. It was also an important trading port for ivory and slaves, mercifully those days have been rendered null and void.
Richards Bay, South Africa is 350 miles and a 2.5 day sail away. Although we could have stayed in Linga Linga longer, a weather window was present for us to make it the whole distance. This was beneficial, as we did not want to stop at Inhaca, outside of Maputu, as other cruisers were harrassed for money by the local officials. Anchoring off Linga Linga, we were far enough away from the officials of Inhambane for them not to notice our boats, therefore we did not have to pay them a visit. On our passage south we experienced rough waves and chop, but the current was with us and our average speed was 7-8 knots. Tying up to the wall in the small craft harbor inTuzi Gazi at Richards Bay was surreal. Civilization again!