Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 17, 2013

Sailing to Mozambique

7.9.13 – Saturday – At 0815 I started going through the formalities; customs, immigration and then took the ferry to Mamoudzou; where Frederic, the man in the marina who seems to be in charge of the pleasure boating in Mayotte, printed a "Maritime Clearance" for me. Shuttling between the different offices is a bit time consuming and I was back at the boat at 1200.

A.C.H.M had a race that day and I joined its tail and motorsailed to Iles Choizil, a group of 2.5 islands ( the 0.5 is really a rock) reportedly a nice anchorage. When I arrived there I wanted to anchor  near the eastern island; the depth was good and so was the protection from the southeast but the bottom was live coral that I was loath to damage.

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                      East island – reef bottom

I located a mooring near the reef connecting the rock and the western island but this place had inexplicable dirty water plus small annoying waves.

I was ready with an alternate; the chart showed that the island of Mtsamboro had an area of 3 – 5 meters on sand on its northeast, so I turned to go there. It was high tide and I dropped the anchor at 9 meters and found out it was a rocky bottom with some coral clumps. A turtle welcomed me but when he saw my camera, he dived and disappeared.

8.9.13 – Sunday – At 0530 I woke up and half an hour later we were out of the anchorage and motoring towards Pemba in Mozambique, 267 miles away. Forecast: wind less than 10 in the morning and less than 5 in the afternoon; at least the sea should be calm. I wanted to use the port engine mostly, having been un-serviceable for quite a long time and lower on hours than the starboard one. That did not happen because with cloudy skies and solar panels ineffective, the combined demand of the freezer and autopilot necessitated using the engine with the operating alternator – the starboard one – every 90 minutes.

I think the condition of my reduced battery bank is worsening; I believe the diode that should bar the electrical current flowing back to the alternators is burned, seeing the bank voltage on the terminals even when not operating; maybe that’s also taking juice out of the poor old batteries. I do hope to find an electrician in Pemba.

We were progressing west, sailing south of the Comoro islands by about 20 miles; strangely some small fishing boats, with two men on board were seen in what seemed to be a line between those islands and Mayotte. Some were stationary, fishing, but the others? I let my imagination run free on that.

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Around noon we had about two hours of 9-10 knots wind and sailed without engine. I had a such a big lunch so when time for dinner came I had no desire to eat and instead started the 20 minutes naps system, having a sandwich later on at night.

9.9.13 – Monday – This 20 minutes nap system is fantastic! I ended my "official" night as if I slept undisturbed all night long..          Forecast: wind 150/3 all day… And where are the fish? I’m trolling all during daylight with no results. Most of the day was cloudless and the solar panels did their job; I did not have to charge using the engine until evening.

10.9.13 – Tuesday – I had overslept some of my 20 minutes stints, not hearing the kitchen timer ring. 30 miles to Pemba I passed a big drilling platform. I understand they found gas down there, where the depth is more than 2000 meters.

With first light I could see the African shore. Signs of civilization started appearing; ships calling port control and a few sails in the distance that turned to be local dhows. With very little information about Pemba, all those were reassuring. At 7.5 miles out, I called port control, reported my position and received clearance to go in. On the right of the entrance big Baobab trees grow, this is Africa!

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Fishermen on their small trimaran-like canoes were plying their trade.

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Reaching the continent of Africa is an significant milestone in my voyage; we accomplished a lot this year. I am happy to have arrived here.

Entering the port, which has no breakwater and is open to the west, I saw two free yellow moorings and asked permission to tie to one. "yes, yes, you are permitted".

The mooring did not have a good size rope with a loop at the end. The only way I could attach to it was by lassoing the the chain on the underside of the yellow buoy, which meant having to dive to release the lasso when I would want to leave. As I finished roping us in, I called the port control to get entry instructions. An excited voice answered:" No, you cannot stay on this mooring, it is for a ship!" Oh well, the diving operation came a lot more quicker than planned.

I found a place to anchor and after coordinating it with the port, went ashore. In the old colonial building of the "Administracao Maritima de Pemba", just on the left to the port’s gate, sat port control and an immigration agent.

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The former was going to arrange the entry paper and also a clearance to go to Maputo; I had to pay 5300 metical, or about 165 $ U.S. Not cheap! I showed the immigration agent the visa I arranged and paid for in Israel and was still billed 1845 Mt. (57 $) for "assistance in stamping the passport". Having no local money on me, I went in search of an ATM which took me all over town. I wanted to take a taxi back and could not find one. I got back to the office feeling a bit exhausted and still had to wait for the "boss" to sign the documents, which took another 15 minutes. From the port control I received a receipt, immigrations said they ran out of receipts booklets and suggested that I come the next day. I asked whether I needed to go to customs; the port man said I did not, only commercial ships did that. I hope he knows what he is talking about!

Back on "Two Oceans" I thought I would go into bed and fall asleep immediately; this did not happen… When I saw a local guy come to the motorboat I was anchored by, I rushed over to inquire whether he knew a marine electrician. Using all the Latin languages I have some knowledge of, my message was understood. After 30 minutes a young man carrying an electrical tester and a few screwdrivers came on board. The electrician, Jamak, when seeing the problem, was honest and admitted it was beyond his expertise.

A good thing that came out of that visit was them telling me that the building on shore, where a catamaran was beached, was a hotel with a restaurant. Maybe they also have internet?

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They didn’t, but Wilson’s Wharf turned out to be a good eatery. (Its actually to the right of the building in the pic).

A few words about the single-handing trip I just completed. It wasn’t difficult at all, but one must remember that the weather was calm, too calm, so apart of ringing ears caused by the incessant engine noise I arrived in good shape! Gili will join the day after tomorrow and hopefully that will end my single-handing career!

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