Dhow sailing in Tanzania

The dhow off the coral reefs
In April 2012, I went toTanzania to visit my daughter and her family. We took this opportunity to go to the Indian Ocean shore, near Tanga. This coast is just facing the islands of Zanzibar and Penba, a place where Arab influence has been very important, particularly regarding boats. Actually, along the coast, we saw only traditional fishing sailing boats, with a lateen rig.
One day I have been able to sail aboard a 11 m sailing dhow, named Dege Saa. See pictures on my photos album.
To trip the anchor, one crew jump overboard in the water. That is very unusual for me, accustomed to northern Atlantic! Apart some few details, the rig is very close to the one of the lateen rigged boats we had on the French Mediterranean coast. It is the pure lateen rig which need to shift the yard from one side to the other when tacking. This makes a very efficient rig, but needs a large crew. Four people are needed on Dege Saa. However, only three were present that day, as the master was not available. Therefore, as the wind rose to force 5, the crew decided to come back. I was very disappointed not to be able to get close to other dhows sailing around!
Gybing was a very work intensive manoeuvre. To shift the yard, you need to have the fore end moved on the boat side. Sheet has to be turned around the mast and belayed again on a beam. Shrouds has to be moved a-weather...
We are in a mangrove area, where sea and land merge together to make a very special environment

Wooden hull, cotton sail, all in the boat is traditional, except the ropes in polypropylene. This is surprising as this area is one the main producer of sisal in the world. We saw on the road from Kilimandjaro many sisal fields.
This sailing was short but extremely interesting. Zanzibar area is among the very places in the world where you may still see purely traditional sailing boats at work. We spent three days in a very welcoming lodge named Fish Eagle Point. They have several dhows available for day sailing. Of course, it is not an easy place to go, but I strongly recommend this place.

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