Exploring Around Nosy Be

4 September 2017   Tsara Banjina to Sakatia , Madagascar
I woke up determined to sort out the strobe on my underwater camera.  I put in a brand new set of alkaline batteries, but it still didn’t work.  The strobe is a “slave” unit that flashes when it “sees” a flash from the main camera.  The flash from the camera is transmitted along a fibre optic lead.  I removed the strobe and pressed it up against the camera flash, triggered the camera and magically, the strobe fired.

It looks like the fibre optic lead is broken somewhere.  A small amount of light is getting through, but obviously not enough to trigger the strobe.  If I was in the UK, I could have one delivered tomorrow, but where on earth am I going to get one in Madagascar?  It looks like I will be specialising in “Natural Light” photography until we get to South Africa.

Half a Fish

We upped anchor at 09:00 and set off on the 35 miles trip to Sakatia.  There wasn’t much wind at first, so while we were motoring, I made a few fishing lures and put out two fishing lines.  At our half way mark, we had two simultaneous hits.  Glenys started to haul in the hand line, while I reeled in the rod.  

Unfortunately, the lines were crossed, so I let my line out a little, locked it off and helped Glenys bring in a nice Bonito.  It took several minutes before I could haul my fish in, which was another Bonito, but by this time a shark had grabbed it, so I was left with just the head - bugger!   

The afternoon sea-breeze kicked in and we were able to sail for a couple of hours.  We looked at the bay where Sakatia Lodge is located, but there was a big swell coming in from the south-west, so we motored a couple of miles further north and anchored at the east side of Sakatia at 13°18.17S 048°10.74E in 8 metres on good holding mud.  “Red Herring” and “Full Circle” are hiding here as well.

We invited Paul and Monique from “Full Circle” over for a few sun-downers.  They have a Hallberg Rassy 46 and we first met them in the Galapagos Islands three years ago.  We’ve spent time with them in various places around the world, but we haven’t seen them for over a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do.  

While “Full Circle” were in the Maldives, Glenys contacted Monique and asked her to buy a small model boat from a particular island - Glenys had seen one, but hadn’t been able to buy one at the time.  Monique carried it 2,000 miles for us, Bless Her... 

5 September 2017   Sakatia , Madagascar
We had a quiet day.  I spent most of my day on board “Full Circle” getting their satellite phone to send and receive email.  My first challenge was that their laptop was all in Dutch.  I was trying to do some fairly technical things - installing device drivers and configuring their network.  Did you know that the Dutch for “Device Manager” is “Apparaat Beheerder” and “Cancel” is “Annuleer”?  Well, it was a nightmare, so we decided to change the computer’s language to English because both Paul and Monique speak excellent English.

Repairing the outboard

This seemingly simple task was also a nightmare because we had to download a “Language Pack”, which on our poor internet connection took ages…  After lunch, I had another go and succeeded in sending and receiving emails through the satellite phone, which was satisfying.

In the evening, we were invited over to “Full Circle” for dinner and did lots more reminiscing.

6 September 2017   Sakatia to Crater Bay, Madagascar
Our plan was to sail to Crater Bay and then onto Hellville.  Both of these places have a bit of a reputation for theft of outboards, so we stowed our 15hp outboard on deck and fitted the smaller 2.5hp outboard to our dinghy.  We don’t use this small outboard very much and when I turned on the fuel, the fuel valve fell to pieces and petrol flooded out.  I managed to stop the flow of petrol and then lifted the outboard into the dinghy to try to repair it.

After removing the valve, I found that a nut had fallen off the back of a spindle.  Fortunately, it’s a simple valve, so I was able to find a nut that fits and reassemble the valve.  After refitting the valve it only took half a dozen pulls to get the outboard started, which is a miracle since we haven’t run it for over six months.

We were able to get going by 10:00 and motored around to Crater Bay, with the light wind on our nose all the way.  Crater Bay is a mass of yachts at anchor and on moorings, so we anchored to the east of everyone at 13°23.98S 048°13.25E in 12m of water on mud.

After lunch, we went ashore, where there’s a small scruffy boat yard and floating dinghy dock owned by the “yacht club”.  There’s also a small restaurant, which is a favourite watering hole for the local yacht residents and transient cruisers.

Dhows in Crater Bay

The bay has long been a port for local boats, so there are dozens of traditional Dhows moored along the shoreline.  These wooden boats carry cargos of Satranas Palm leaves, sacks of river sand, wooden poles, gravel, etc., to the island of Nosy Be.  The Dhows are predominately sailed and it is a joy to see them weaving their way through the yacht anchorage, using the sea and land breezes to full effect.  

There’s a dusty road leaving from the yacht club, which goes past a thriving community, handling the building materials off loaded form the Dhows.  This isn’t a port with warehouses and cranes, the people carry the goods from the Dhows, mostly balanced on their heads and store the materials under wooden shelters, waiting for distribution across the island.  

We walked along the dusty road past wooden homes and small shops, until we came to a T-junction in the middle of the small town of Madirokely, which is spread along the main road.  The town is a strip of small shops lining the road, selling the usual range of items.  Turning left took us to a tourist beach, which had little of interest.  

Walking back past the T-Junction, we found the local vegetable market, which was very poor.  The place was swarming with flies, settling on the dried goods and vegetables.  One young lady was sitting outside on the floor with a huge bowl of whitebait fish, frantically swatting away the thousands of flies buzzing around her and the fish.  The meat was crawling.  We bought some tomatoes and ran away.

The small supermarket on the main road was surprisingly good, with a fair selection of items, including a refrigerated meat counter, which was fly-less, so Glenys bought some chicken.  They had some nice bread and we stocked up on as much beer and drinks as we could bear to carry down the long dusty road back to the boat.