Mayotte & The mainland of Africa


The Yacht Club in Mayotte

Well we had done it – sailed across the Indian Ocean from Thailand to Tanzania – a journey of nearly 4,000 nautical miles with the route we took. It was not as bad as it could have been with no major breakages or storms to deal with. On our way to Tanzania we stopped at the island of Mayotte for a couple of days to have a break and also to visit this small outpost of France. Mayotte is as different from Madagascar as chalk is from cheese. Mayotte voted to stay part of France back in 1974 unlike the neighbouring island chain of Cormoros who chose independence. This has caused huge problems for Mayotte as over 50% of their population are now illegal immigrants from Cormoros searching for employment and a better standing of living. France support Mayotte financially, with education, health and jobs and there are many French people on the island in administrative positions. It was definitely wealthier than Madagascar. It didn’t seem to have the carefree way of life and the people didn’t seem nearly as happy. No kids coming up and giving us ‘high fives’ or saying hello. We certainly did not feel as welcome here, with the exception of the yacht club where we were given a very warm reception. The shops did not seem to have any better produce and it was very expensive but we probably are being unfair as we only stayed for a few days and only in Dzaoudzi on the small island opposite the capital Mamoudzou. There was a very cheap public ferry running between ‘Petite-Terre’ and Mamoudzou which is where most of the shops are. We found basic provisioning, a bakery, and a market but no vegetables as such – not even carrots! We were pleased we stocked up in Helleville. In the Bay we anchored in there were a few wrecks which was a sad sight. A couple washed up on the beach and one just sunk in the Harbour.

Not a good sight to see coming into a new country…
The beach littered with wrecks. Very sad…

We were on a short time time so we headed off to Tanzania at sparrows fart after about 5 days for the 500 odd mile run to Dar es Salaam. We were heading to Tanzania as we needed somewhere to stay for up to a year as I had received the devastating news that my sister had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I wanted to head back to UK for a few months to spend time with her.  She was due to leave hospital in mid July so I organised a flight to arrive on 18th in time for her birthday on 20th and to help her learn to adjust to the wheelchair she had been condemned to spend the rest of her days in.  With her positivity I knew she would cope and we were both really looking forward to spending such a long time together.

The sail was really lovely with southerly winds and a light swell.  We passed Mafia Island at night and headed straight into Dar Es Salaam where we dropped anchor outside the Slipway complex next door to the yacht club.  We were immediately approached by a lovely young man from Slipway who told us that there was a 90,000 Tanzanian schilling fee for anchoring in the Bay ($US39) which included security at the jetty and a free water taxi service from 6am to 10pm.  This was really good value and so we jumped on board, changed some money at the shopping centre right beside the jetty, paid our dues to the bosun and had a well earned beer at the waterfront bar.  There are many bars and restaurants down here on the waterfront and many small local tourist shops underneath the Slipway hotel so we are suddenly spoiled for choice.

The next morning we went to check in.  Normally this can take between an hour and a day – but here in Dar they had not had any yachts for a while and they had no idea what to do.  All the yachts entering usually check in at either Mafia or Tanga. We were given the runaround, being sent to many different places. We did find immigration but they were at lunch – all day, so we then tried customs.  Same story – go here, go there, until eventually we found a customs guy who took us to a completely different place and they then only gave us a 24hr pass! They thought we were crew on a big commercial boat but eventually we think we got  the right customs stamp – time will tell.  The port authority and harbour master were another saga. We had to return the next day to be told we needed no paperwork at all! We asked them for anything to say we had checked in but to no avail.  We could only take his phone number and name and fingers crossed when we check out…  Immigration were very rude and took our passports off us – we managed to retrieve them, got a three month visa and left.  Our advice:  do not check into Dar es Salaam – go further up to Tanga or stop in Mafia.  On our return to the Bay we found out that immigration had visited and demanded they board our boat but the security guys wouldn’t let them.  We still do not know what they wanted.

The beautiful waterfront area of Slipway

The next day our friends Nick and Cynthia arrived from Kenya. Nick is one of my oldest friends – we met when I was 17 and he moved to Kenya a few years ago.  We had originally been going up to Mtwapa creek to see them but had obviously changed our plans so they came down for a few days before I flew back to the UK. We had a lovely time, visiting the huge Kariako market which spills into many different streets and sells everything from machetes to mushrooms. We looked for shoes for the guys, found little out of the way restaurants and bought souvenirs. We went by bajaji (tuk tuk) everywhere and ended up having a sundowner on Indian Summer.  We took them over to Bongoyo island just off the coast and walked across to another small beach. It was a lovely visit and we will definitely catch up with them when we do head into Kenya next year.

The bussling Kariakoo markets
Bongoyo Island
Our good friends Nick & Cynthia














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