Mayotte to Mozambique, September 2009
On our way to check we walked along the dirt roads through the crusty peeling facades of the weathered buildings.  The harbor master was very pleasant and did not ask for any money.  Customs issued us an embarcation card costing $50.00 for the four of us, which permitted us 30 days on the island.  There was a causeway that permitted light trucks and automobiles to travel from the mainland to Ilha Mozambique, but Customs stated quite clearly that we were not allowed to go to the mainland.  The deserted streets were once paved with cobble stones and intricate patterns made with quartz.  The locals have since taken the stones to build shettler for themselves.  The island, was the capital of a Portuguese colony, and got it's name from its first Arab settlement, Sheik Moussa Ben mbikki.  The Portuguese took over in 1507 and for the first 200 years simply maintained the island as a trading post.  It is now one of the oldest historical towns in Africa. The northern half of the island was declared a UNESCO world heritage sight and is desperately in need of restoration and tourist dollars. The buildings are crumbling before our eyes, and the people live amongst this squalor, within these ruined buildings with no electricity or water.  Having no indoor plumbing the community uses the beach on the east side to relieve themselves. 
The crumbling buildings to the left were homes to locals.  Below is the beautifully restored Palace of Sao Paulo, and dates to 1610.  The former governor's residence is now home to a museum.  The renovated interior gives one a glimpse of what upper class life must have been like in the 18th century during the island heyday.  Displaying a collection of furniture from Portugal, Arabia, India and China.  A statue of Vasco da Gama, the famouse Portuguese explorer, is prominently displayed in the courtyard.  The Mozambique flag flies above the museum, complete with the AK47 in the center. Another page on Mozambique to follow. 
Phoebe and Drake ride the ferry with Irene and Duncan off s/v Moose
Many French cruising families stop and stay in Mayotte,  Phoebe and Drake enjoyed the presence of other children and the language was not too much of a barrier.  High tide was an exciting time at the yacht club, the children would hold on to a barrier while the current would wash over them.  Upper right, they would walk to a break in the barrier, jump in and let the current carry them into the lagoon.  Once in the lagoon they would walk to the beach and then swim back.  One day they were invited by Anne, a school teacher we met in Madagascar, to attend her class at Ecole Frimousse.  They had so much fun that they attended school a second time,  bringing photos and visual aids of our voyage.  The children were very curious about life aboard a sail boat asking many questions.  Hiring a car one day we drove around the island, visiting the ancient 600 year old sacred Baobab tree.  On the Saziley pennisula the trees were full of flying foxes, hanging upside down.  The children pose in front of yet another "Blue Sky" business. 
Leaving Madagascar for the 160 nautical mile passage to Mayotte, a French island, we experienced a cross swell, constant wind change and strong current against us.  Motor sailing the whole distance we arrived at 6:00pm on the third day.  Approaching the pass of the Atoll at dusk we took our time navigating through the reef, using coordinates from our friends off s/v Moose.  Not having enough day light to approach the main anchorage off Dzaoudzi, we choose to play it safe and dropped the anchor in Port Longoni, the shipping harbor. After a peaceful night sleep we proceeded to the small craft harbor, which was crowded with boats on mooring balls.  Noticing a 120' mega yacht anchored on the outskirts, we choose to secure a spot next to it.  In the past we have learned that they maintain a 24 hour watch system, so we feel safe next to them, someone is always watching out.  Hearing some negative things about Mayotte we were all paranoid, it appears that the locals have a taste for fast outboards and nice dinghies. 

Heading ashore we found the authorities and checked-in.  They were very professional and it did not cost us a cent, stamping our passports with a
visa for one month.  The yacht club, upper right, is an old shipping container with shelves and a couple refrigerators, with a dirt yard in front.  Presenting them with a Latitudes and Attitudes Flag, they promptly hung it from the rafters.  The prices in Mayotte were quite a shock, after being in Madagascar, $4.00 for a 12 ounce beer, as opposed to $1.00 for a 22 ounce bottle. Taking the ferry to Grande Terre, where the larger grocery stores were, we were plesently surprised by the quantity and quality of products.  Much to the children's delight the stores carried Honey Nut Cheerios, their favorite, which we haven't seen since Singapore.  Must to our dismay, they were $6.00 each for a small box. 
them by name, over 600.  The fuzzy animals bound down the branches of the trees and gently land on your shoulders, waiting to be feed bananas.  Donating the change we had in our pocket, we wished we would have brought more as these men do so much for this community and live on donations, which are few.
Mayotte is home to the brown Lemur, on the small island of Isla Bouzi, to the left, there is a rehabilitation center for these curious creatures, who have been mistreated by humans.  The caretakers are survivors of the Rwandan genocide, escaping with their lives.  As volunteers, they embrace every visitor and proudly show us their brood, knowing each of
Within the cruising community one hears many  "whispers" about places, Mozambique was one such location.  Being told that it is very corrupt and dangerous, we researched the location on the web.  We read an article from a boat that had  traveled there two years ago and it was the highlight of their trip.  Considering all the possibilities, we decided to take our chances and go to Ilha Mozambique.  This is the shortest distance across the perilous Mozambique channel, only 300 nautical miles away from Mayotte.  Experiencing clear skies and calm seas we motor-sailed the whole way and arrived 48 hours later. Approaching the Mozambique coast the land is low with no elevation aside from the wind swept sand dunes and casurina trees.  Navigating through the reefs and past the ancient Fort of Sao Sebastiao, we dropped anchor along the pituresque shore next to the old jetty.  Aside from the local dhows and piroques, there was another sail boat in the harbor with us and s/v Moose. Approaching them for local knowledge, the owner had been there for a while, and explained where the harbor and customs office were.  The only place to land the dinghy was on the beach, where we were swarmed by the local boat boys, like flies on seaweed.  They would watch the tender for us for a small fee, but we decided it would be safer to drop everyone off and one person return to the boat with it.   
Embarcation pass
Fort of Sao Sebastiao, 1522
Palace of Sao Paulo, 1610
Phoebe and Drake under the canon
Dhow at low tide
Phoebe walks along the empty main street
The market below in old shipping containers, above the meager choices of goods for sale.  There were only five or six stalls selling basics.
Laundry drying next to the only source of water in the town square.
The old jetty, currently being restored. 
The desserted streets of the Stone town.
Getting dropped off at low tide, with the Governors mansion behind them.
Cobble stone path with a heart made from quartz.
Phoebe and Drake on an old merchant ship anchor.  To the left is one of the three restaurants in town, where you could get a good meal at a reasonable price. 

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