Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 17, 2013

Sailing in Mozambique

11.9.13 – Wednesday – Just for the heck of it, I went to immigrations for my receipt and one was waiting for me! I decided to sail to Wimbe bay, which is described in the travel guide I have as a pleasant place, with a sandy beach and few restaurants. With absolutely no wind at all I motored over. The two catamarans that I saw  sailing in were still there. Just after I anchored, two guys came over with their dinghy. They were crew of a cat which did fishing charters north of Pemba. When I told them I was looking to take some water, they brought me a full 25 liter jerry-can that they had to return to a supplier and had full tanks. I also got some info, such as the fact that taxis are very hard to get and are expensive and for shopping you better go back to the town center.

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you can see how the water is calm, barely a breath of wind to rustle the coconut fronds. That was at 0900. At 1030 a 17 knots wind sprang up and blew right into the bay, raising an unpleasant chop. I was going to town to find an ATM and do some shopping, so I went ashore, where a multitude of children came to help me pull the dinghy up to where the rising tide will not claim it.

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Walking the streets of Wimbe I was looking for a taxi in vain and was lucky to discover the phenomenon of "Chapa" which is a form of a collective car or minibus, operated by a crew of two; driver and a sort of conductor, who is the one taking money and compressing more and more passengers in. The chapa stops for everybody who will make the tiniest sign and is very cheap. 7 meticals for the ride into town, that’s less than 25 cents!

I bought vegetables from kids on the pavement and found a good supermarket in a petrol station, that had all the frozen stuff I wanted. A guy near a beat-up Toyota asked whether I wanted a taxi. I did and then understood the reason for not finding a taxi before; they have no outside sign marking them as such! A bit of haggling brought the price down to 200 meticals and we were on our way.

In Wimbe bay the wind was still blowing and the boats still doing the Mambo. I gave it time until I finished lunch and them returned to the port area which is much better protected from the northeast.

12.9.13 – Thursday –  A few things I planned to do required a taxi; I wanted to fill my fuel jerry-cans, to do a little shopping and in the afternoon pick up Gili from the airport. But how do I find a taxi? The guy who brought his electrician friend was working on a motorboat near us. I asked him whether he knew a taxi driver and told him I wanted one at eight o’clock. Luciano promised to arrange it and paddled ashore on his long kayak.

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At 0805 he came over to say that the taxi was waiting for me. So, fueling and some of the shopping accomplished, I entered a conversation with a man called Werner who was working on the beached catamaran. He took me to meet Gary, the man behind "Wilson’s Wharf". Initially the talk was about a possible solution of my alternator problem (impossible to solve here) and then he told me about his place. In addition to the restaurant they also have a shop for imported foods, including a good selection of meats. The only thing missing is Wi Fi internet!

Gili came in the afternoon after having a bit of a fright, when she discovered that her visa was valid from the 15th as initially we thought she would be joining on the 17th. The international airport in Pemba is in transition; the terminal is being renovated and the passengers arrive into a makeshift fabric hall, with temporary booths for the officials. The immigration officer checking her passport never noticed the early arrival and Gili came out very much relieved.

On the way to port we made some last purchases and returned to the boat. Dinner ashore, forecast downloaded – we are ready to start our Mozambique cruise next morning.

13.9.13 – Friday – At 0520 I started out of the port area, followed the coastline up to Ponta Mahumhane and with sails spread wing and wing sailed south. Our destination for the day was Baia Almeida, which is very well protected from all directions but the south and was perfect with the forecasted weather.

About an hour before the turning point into the bay, I spotted in the distance something coming out vertically out of the water and making a tremendous splash as it fell down A whale! Then there were more, some of them really huge, much bigger than the ones we’ve seen in Moorea. They were clearly humpbacks and they gave us the most fantastic show. Whales are common in the Mozambique waters and we hope to see them again, perhaps at closer range.

We went into the bay, the bottom shoaling gradually and when reaching 2.8 meters, it was low water at the time, we put our anchor down at 13 35.441 S 40 35.103 E. "It’s a rocky bottom" said Gili, who was watching out from the bow. The anchor held immediately with none of that grinding sounds it makes when dragging over rocks. I went snorkeling to check the anchor and saw it was sand covered by a carpet of a marine plants.

Near the beach a few fishing boats were anchored, on shore we could see quite a lot of people but not a lot of dwellings; a lot of nets covered a large area on the beach.

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We had a visitor in a canoe, who tried to interest us with some quartz pebbles, when we declined he asked for and got a bottle of water.

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14.9.13 – Saturday – In the spirit of cutting the voyage into easy, short daily segments, we chose to go to Simuco bay, less than 30 miles away, which seemed to be very protected as you can see on the chart.

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With the northeast wind we sailed nicely south, waiting for the whale show. They did come but stayed quite far from "Two Oceans". Gili was very frustrated, she wanted them closer. "Don’t worry, I promise you we’ll see them near enough" I said and as my luck would have it – we did! The sound of the whale exhaling had me turn my head to the right to see a big one moving majestically parallel to us. Next a small one was hitting the surface with his tail and then the grown-ups rose in slow motion and had him join them and behave.

Approaching Simuco from the north the pass into it seemed very shallow, but as we got closer it opened up and I don’t think we saw anything less than 10 meters on the dial. We saw a yacht anchoring on the south of the bay, a bit surprising considering the wind direction. We, as can be seen on the chart above chose a spot on the north, beautiful scenery with great baobab trees on shore.

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A few minutes after we anchored, we saw the other yacht motoring in our direction; as it came closer, I saw it was Myriam, which we met in most of the places we’ve been to since Mauritius. They anchored to our east and we later met them on shore; they are a Canadian couple with two boys and are going the same way we do.

15.9.13 – Sunday – Today’s destination is inside Nacala bay; not the city itself but a hotel with a dive club named Libelula, where we plan to have dinner and perhaps fill up water. As for many other places I mention I add:"and maybe internet".

The main attraction of the day, however, were clearly the whales, some of them seen at very close proximity. The most amazing part of the show was inside the Nacala bay, not far from big container ships. Two humpbacks were jumping out of the water, falling down in a big splash and hitting the surface with their elongated side fins. Here are a few pictures that I took, some with a very long lens.

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                                     Headstand

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                                     White tail

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                                        Jumper

We sailed up to the waypoint coordinates we had for Libelula and only when very close we could see it. Once anchored, we went up to their restaurant ( a steep climb up the hill!). A nice place, but no internet and no water we could take; we had a very good dinner there.

16.9.13 – Monday – We had 55 miles  to go to Ilha de Mocambique, which is an interesting historical town on a small island. This called for an early departure and at 0500 I was already out of the anchorage. I was not the only mammal out that early; the whales were already blowing and splashing around.

Aided by the south going current we arrived at the island at 1500, entered the bay in style under full sail and anchored near the Sao Sebastiao fort at 15 01.657 S 40 44.408 E. This fort was built in the second half of the 16th century; we shall visit it tomorrow.

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                         Fortaleza Sao Sebastiao

As we were anchoring, two guys on a green canoe came by; one of them said his name was Daniel and offered his services as a guide around town and for all other needs we may have – fuel, water etc. We agreed to meet him on shore. People like that can be a great help and save you a lot of time and money. We negotiated a bit and arrived at a fee that both of us were happy with.

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                            Daniel with Gili

His number two man kept an eye on the dinghy, while Daniel took us to the ATM, the market and a few shops where we could somehow make do with the poor selection of products to survive the next few days until we get to a place where shopping is possible.

The town is probably typical of the towns the Portuguese built in Mozambique; wide streets, grand buildings which are now in a state of disrepair and neglect.

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Going into the bay and reaching the island, I think about Vasco da Gama and his contemporaries, who sailed here without the benefits that we enjoy today; no engines, no electronic navigation… A big statue of the man stands proudly in one of the town’s squares.

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I hope to be able to publish this tomorrow. Our plan for the next few days is to sail on via some islands in the Primeiras and Segundas archipelagos and then to Bazaruto archipelago and Vilankulo; this will take about six days.

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