5. MOZAMBIQUE ANCHORAGES
2015 Gambit - Bazaruto (12 30S) and Inhambane (23 40S). Both give good shelter during SW gales, but bear in mind as the wind passes Maputo up to these areas it is bent by the land mass and becomes more S/SE. Very seldom do you get a true SW in these areas. The tide and consequent over falls in narrow channels due to a 3-4m tidal difference makes entry into and out of these areas critical.
DO NOT ATTEMPT ENTRY OR EXIT EXCEPT ON A RISING TIDE!
Whilst navigating behind Bazaruto or the headland at Inhambane, always start the trip on low tide, as if you get jammed the tide will lift you in a couple of minutes. In addition, a low tide allows you to navigate visually as the sand bars are clearly visible.
5.2 Diaz Point (21°08.858S 35°06.621 E)
2015 Gambit: The spot is generally known as Bartholomew Diaz/Diaz Point and is a sheltered river mouth which is protected by a spur of land projecting in an easterly direction from the main land and then extends north protecting the river with sand bars and some dry land.
Up until 2007 this spur of land had a road on it leading to a lodge built on one of the substantial “islands” connected to the mainland with extensive sand bars etc. The area was ravaged by a cyclone in 2007/8 which destroyed the access road and the lodge and remodeled the entire area to the extent that it has taken close on 10 years for nature to put it all back together. It is only in recent times that the local yachties have been frequenting this spot during extreme weather and is now a viable alternative to the shelter behind Bazaruto.
Advantages - Apart from the shelter, it is removed from the islands and being isolated takes the yachties out of reach of the corrupt officialdom. In addition when the weather turns, it is lot less complicated to get out from a time point of view and head south.
Interestingly, this spot was used by Japanese submarines as a refueling stop during WW2 and I had the opportunity in 1969 during my first visit to Vilanculos to meet the son of the guy who was involved. He was the owner of the Donna Anna Hotel in Vilanculos, which he inherited from his father.
- 21 04.3805 S 35 07.3633 E
- 21 05.3079S 35 07.5864E
- 21 06.0927S 35 07.5897E
- 21 06.9542S 35 07.0319E
- 21 07.5948S 35 06.6061E
- 21 07.9150S 35 06.0791E
- 21 09.0629S 35 06.3023E
- 21 10.5453S 35 06.9203E
- 21 11.9091S 35 06.8893E
- 21 13.1445S 35 06.7623E
- 21 14.2678S 35 06.5873E
- 21 14.9365S 35 06.3125E
1 21 08.86S 35 06.6215 E
2 21 15.47S 35 06.5187E
The normal caveats apply as far as entering/exiting only on an incoming tide and visual navigation is required paying particular attention to draft and depth.
5.3 Santa Carolina Island, Bazaruto Bay (21°37'S 35°20'E)
Ocelot 2007 - Our final challenge was that we arrived at the entrance to Bazaruto Bay at full ebb tide, so this brought the current against us. The outer anchorages would not have been protected with the prevailing easterly winds, so we had to go 9 miles inside the bay, with a 2 knot current against us, to anchor. We arrived about 10 minutes before absolute dark and anchored in 27' (9m) at 21°37'S 35°20'E, behind Santa Carolina (Paradise) Island.
We had to weather a nasty 40 knot southerly squall (which had us scurrying around to the other side of Paradise Island in the middle of the night). We'll probably go do some exploring until our next weather window lets us hop south.
2013 Two Oceans: Saturday – With daylight the way to Santa Carolina island, again at close to low water, was less intimidating but still we had to dodge some shoals that were not indicated on the chart, as the red line on the chart shows. At one point we crossed a bar 1.6 meters deep, which my eyes told me was O.K to go over. Coming into the western side of the island, we saw s/v Myriam at anchor. We met Annie, Jerry and their two boys, William and Oliver, who are French Canadians, in Chagos and then again along the way to Mozambique.
Santa Carolina, according to the guide I have, used to be a penal colony and deserted buildings and structures are all over the place. A sign on shore proclaims the project of "rehabilitating the island" but no meaningful steps in that direction could be seen.
Sunday – In a very early hour we woke up by the violent movement of the boat and the shriek of the wind. I rushed out and saw a strange phenomenon; the wind came from the south at 29 knots but the boat was facing north, pushed by the mighty tidal current. This went on almost all night and there was nothing we could do but hope that the anchor will hold, which fortunately it did.
5.4 North Entrance into Bazaruto
2015 Gambit: North Entrance Bazaruto. You will use this entry with a strong S/SE imminent or already there, but usually with the NE still blowing. Starting on a low tide with sand bars visible, proceed to the first anchorage with good NE/SE protection.
Entering the north channel set out at low tide or incoming tide during daylight and don’t cut corners. One yachtie with a 2m draught got jammed between the last wpt and the anchorage due to taking a short cut.
- 21 30 00E 35 25 00S
- 21 32.50E 35 23.40S
- 21 35.50E 35 22.40S
- 21 35.90E 35 24.10S
2017 Alba: We started our approach into the channel one hour before low tide, following a set of way-points published by Des Cason. They were spot on, but we were eye-balling the water depth all the time, using the colour of the water. There are many sand banks along the 12 mile route, but the water is clear and the lighter colour of the shallow spots is easy to see. We had to do a bit of a dog-leg around one shallow sand spit - 21°35.711S 035°24.441E and 21°35.930S 035°24.819E gets you around it.
All our way points were:
- 21°30 00E 35°25 00S
- 21°32.50E 35°23.40S
- 21°35.50E 35°22.40S
- 21°35.90E 35°24.10S
- 21°35.711S 035°24.441E
- 21°35.930S 035°24.819E
- 21°38.77S 035°25.60E
5.5 Ponta Gengare 1, Bazaruto (21°39.13S 35°26.04E)
2015 Gambit: (21°39.13S 35°26.04E) This has good NE/SE protection. You can remain here till the wind switches, but this will put you in sight of the conservation authorities who will try and extort cash out of you for being inside a conservation area ($10 per person last we heard). When it is time to leave it can take you up to 6-8 hours to get out as you may have to wait for the tide – time you can ill afford when sailing to a deadline and your next safe spot.
We recommend you move from this anchorage to the one south at Benguerra Island which is more relaxed.
2017 Gambit (eMail) - At best spend one night at Punta Gengarema and move to Benguerra Lodge as soon as possible. The Bazaruto lodge (at Punta Gengarema) is of the opinion that us grotty yachties lower the tone of their establishment so are anything but welcoming. We are also notoriously tight with cash and don’t spend as if there is no tomorrow.
Why pay their inflated prices for a cold frosty and surly service when you can have them at wholesale price on the back deck. Bazaruto lodge is also known for tipping off the local “Nature Conservation Official” and he will be on your back to collect his $10-15 per head which needless to say goes into the back pocket as official receipts are unheard of.
On the other hand, Benguerra lodge has always welcomed yachties as the charter fleet normally is based there and they have been “detribalized” They even allow you to run a “tab” at their pub !
2015 Yolo - Sailboats typically approach Bazaruto Island from the north and end up anchoring on the west side of the island. The approximate anchorage location is 21.38.9S and 035.26.1E. Bazaruto is a very large island with just a few locals on it. It is a huge high sand dune which stretches for kilometers.
The anchorage can handle dozens of boats at the same time. Anchor in 8 to 10 meters of water. The bottom is endless sand and the holding is great. Just what you need when the winds are 30+ knots out of the south for days on end. Put out plenty of scope and don't crowd your neighbour because the winds are often very strong.
You might get a visit from several guys who claim to be from the local Marine Park. It appears that they only approach yachts when the weather is settled, so that they can stay dry during their money collecting round. Their clothing and vessel certainly fails to give you the feeling that they are "official" park employees. In November 2015, SOME yachts were asked to pay a Marine Park Fee of $47.30 USD. The fee was payable in local currency, U.S. dollars, or South African Rands. There are no local ATMs or banks at this anchorage. They did not approach or ask for payment from about half the boats during my stay at Bazaruto. Those that paid did get a paper receipt. None of the yachts were requested to officially clear into the country.
2017 Alba: We were all planning to head down to an anchorage at Benguerra today, but the prospect of SSW winds made us rethink because Benguerra might not be so good in that wind direction.
After some debate, our mini-fleet upped anchor and sailed back north a couple of miles to anchor to the North of Ponta Gengare, which is better protected from the SW. We dropped our anchor at 21°38.66S 035°26.43E in 5 metres on a huge area of good holding sand. (There’s a recommended anchorage closer to the point, at 21°39.13S 035°26.04E, but there seemed to be too many coral patches for my liking.)
At 02:00, the wind veered around to the south and picked up to 25-30 knots, blew hard for a few hours and then settled down to 20-25 knots. As forecast, the wind was SSW and soon a swell was hooking around Ponta Gengare bringing in 2 foot waves from the south-west. This made it a bouncy, noisy night with the waves slapping on the side of the hull.
2013 Two Oceans. Deciding to go into the bay at night was not a light matter. The C-Map chart for the area is not very detailed and Santa Carolina Island, where we thought of making our first anchorage, had no depth information at all. I spotted a bight on the west side of Bazaruto Island, to which there was an approach with no obstacles and where the bottom shoaled gradually towards shore from 7 to 2.8 meters.
Approaching the entrance to the bay the conditions did not ease at all; the wind rose to 35 knots and with the shoaling bottom the sea built up menacingly. The moon came up red and almost full on the eastern horizon, lighting the scene in a surreal way. I followed the route on the chart-plotter, eyes glued to the depth gauge. Passing an area of 4 meters at night, having to put your trust on the chart and not able to see anything was nerve wracking. Add the fact that the sea was far from calm and you have the perfect precondition for a heart attack.
Frankly we had no other choice but to go in; staying outside with that rough sea, waiting for the morning, was out of the question. At the depth of 4.5 meters I thought that we were as close to shore as we should go and dropped the anchor. the time was 0100. A sip of whiskey to lower the adrenalin level and off to bed.
5.6 Ponta Gengare 2, Bazaruto (21°40.39S 035°25.87E)
2017 Alba: (21°40.39S 035°25.87E) There was a strong NNE15-20 knot wind when we arrived and the anchorage on the north side of Ponta Gengare was very exposed. We dropped the anchor in 12 metres (10.5m LAT) - this was a fairly calm anchorage with a little swell hooking around the corner.
The next day, we went ashore. It was approaching low tide when we landed ashore and the water was very shallow a long way from shore, so we had to carry the dinghy 100m from the water’s edge and left it high and dry to fend for itself. As we walked onto the dry beach, we attracted a lot of attention and a small crowd of adults and kids soon gathered, but mostly kept their distance with a few braver children approaching us.
Being low tide, the beach was a hive of activity. Kids were digging for lug worms for fishing bait and people were wading in the shallow water looking for clams, which they dry on platforms on the beach. A couple of National Park wardens came over and chatted to us in broken English - they speak Portuguese, but neither of us speak that language. The wardens were very friendly and nicely told us that we would have to pay $10US per person (plus $20 per boat) entry fee into the National Park. We said sure, but we had no money with us, so they’ll have to come out to the boats later.
The island of Bazaruto is mostly made of huge sand-dunes and it was a very steep climb up to the village above the beach. The villagers live in round huts called Rondavels made from wood and some kind of cane - we’re definitely in Africa. We walked around looking at the way of life on this barren island. The people appear to live in family groups with a few Rondavels for living/sleeping and one Rondavel for cooking. Each family had a rough set of shelving outside their cooking hut which held the pots and pans.
It was very arid, sandy ground, but we saw coconut palms and payaya trees growing. Each family has a garden area where they looked to be growing some kind of yams. The Park Wardens said that the villagers survive by exporting sea food to the mainland, which is used to buy rice and vegetables. It looks like a tough life living on a sand-dune.
5.7 Ponta Milixa, Bazaruto (21°42.56S 035°25.86E)
2017 Alba: The wind is forecast to be NE 15 tonight and tomorrow morning, but will then veer around to 20+ knots from the south tomorrow night. The plan is for our small fleet to move tomorrow to an anchorage at Benguerra Island 10 miles further south, which we hope has good protection from the strong southerlies.
So, we all moved a couple of miles further down the coast to an anchorage at 21°42.56S 035°25.86E (7m LAT on good holding sand). The anchorage wasn’t as good as the previous one and it was a bit bouncy in the NE20 winds at sunset.
The NE wind continued blowing strongly until the early hours of the morning and, to make matters worse, the current switched at midnight and turned us so that our stern was pointing into the wind and the waves. We have a “sugar scoop” stern, which is a low angle extension to the hull, designed to increase the waterline length and make the boat sail faster. Unfortunately, it’s hollow and when waves slap underneath it, the loud bang is amplified and it sounds awful in the back cabin where we sleep. There’s nothing worse than being “slapped up the sugar scoop” to keep you awake.
After breakfast, the Park Rangers arrived in a small power boat and we had to pay $10US per person and $20US for the boat - we didn’t escape after all. I tried to negotiate them down and didn’t want to pay for the boat, but they produced an official looking receipt with the tariffs clearly shown, so I paid up. We’re not cleared into Mozambique, so we want to keep a low profile and don’t want any trouble with the local officials.
A cynic might say that the money we paid out will go into their pockets, but we’re clean - we’ve paid what we should officially pay. I’ve heard that one scam is to put a piece of card behind the carbon paper, so that nothing is imprinted on the “office copy” of the receipt book. They then later write in lower figures on the “office copy” and pocket the balance. On the other hand, they may be honest…
5.8 Punta Gengare to the South Exit
2015 Yolo: You have several options for exiting Bazaruto.
1. Sail North, East and South, around the northern end of the island, retracing your entry route through the channels. This certainly take several hours in good winds.
2. Sail/motor out the pass at the southern end of Bazaruto Island, via the northwest channel. This is the quickest way to leave the area. Nine yachts used this course during November 2015 and the minimum water depth I saw at mid-tide was 3.4 meters, which only lasted for 2 short distances. Most of the time the water was 10 meters deep or more. The waypoints that I and others used were:
- 21 44.0S 035 24.4E
- 21 44.4S 035 24.4E
- 21 44.9S 035 24.5E
- 21 45.3S 035 25.2E
- 21 47.0S 035 25.3E
- 21 47.5S 035 25.7E
- 21 48.4S 035 26.8E
- 21 48.0S 035 28.6E
- 21 47.6S 035 29.7E
3. Sail/motor out the pass at the southern end of Bazaruto Island, via a channel near Ilha De Santo Antonio Island. Numerous historical documents distributed among yachties reference this departure method and related waypoints. This exit strategy will take you at least 1 hour longer than Option 2.
Departing Bazaruto Island during a strong easterly wind can be very challenging. Especially when crossing the outer channel bar for Options 2 and 3 noted above.
2017 Alba: From Benguerra, we didn't like the look of the shallow water on a direct route to the anchorage by the pass, so we headed back north, re-tracing our route and then looping back south along what looked to be a much deeper and safer channel. It was 15 miles, but we were hoping that our destination would be a well-protected anchorage and it’s close to the pass that we will use when we finally go out to sea.
The start of the route south goes over a shallow sand bar and we were unsure what the depth would be. Fortunately, there was a local sport-fishing boat going out and he told us that he had a minimum depth of 3.4m over the bar. We put a trace on his AIS and followed his track over the shallows and then down the channel - I love AIS. The minimum depth that we saw was 3.4m (0.2m LAT) and most of the route was over 7 metres deep.
Our waypoints were:
- 21°44.68S 035°24.03E
- 21°44.95S 035°24.76E
- 21°45.44S 035°25.22E
- 21°46.63S 035°25.23E
- 21°47.23S 035°25.50E
- 21°48.31S 035°26.62E
- 21°48.48S 035°27.59E
- 21°48.67S 035°27.60E
- 21°48.92S 035°27.51E
5.9 Route from Punta Gengare to Benguerra
2017 Alba: At midday, the fleet of 5 boats set off for Benguerra, 15 miles south. The route was a little torturous passing through a shallow area, where we did a dog-leg west, but the minimum depth that we saw was 4.5m at low tide (3.2m LAT).
Our waypoints were:
- 21°42.96S 035°25.02E
- 21°44.78S 035°23.33E
- 21°45.46S 035°23.28E
- 21°46.73S 035°23.12E
- 21°46.49S 035°22.19E
- 21°47.07S 035°21.83E
- 21°51.20S 035°23.75E
5.10 Benguerra Island, Mozambique (21°51.25S 35°24.60E)
2015 Gambit: Benguerra Island (21 51.25E 35 24.60S) is a lot more relaxed and also gives you access to the lodge and a local shop for basic provisions.
From the Northern anchorage navigate visually on low tide approx. 180T according to your charts, which will have one shallow patch at approx 21 46S. As there are a number of yachts moored here you get lost amongst the crowd and duck the officials - they don’t pay attention when there is a crowd.
2017 Gambit (eMail) - Benguerra lodge has always welcomed yachties as the charter fleet normally is based there and they have been “detribalized”. They even allow you to run a “tab” at their pub !
There is a small shop for basics and fresh Portuguese Prego rolls and water from the lodge. You become part of the crowd so no one as a rule hassles you. Your closest officials are in Vilankulos 15nm away on the mainland and they are too lazy to come and check and they invariably don’t have fuel for their boat. The shelter is pretty good except in true SW, S/SE is no problem.
Whenever you move during your sojourn always leave on a low tide as this makes the sand bars and channels more visible and even if you do get jammed the tide coming in will lift you off. Bear in mind average tidal difference 3.5-4.5m.
Whoever stated that the channel between 2Mile Reef and Pansy Island breaks either has not been there or tried this passage on an outgoing tide (suicide).
Check with the local charter guys as far as the channel is concerned as they will have the updated co-ords. Whilst they change over time the deviation is so small (2-3m either way at best).
2017 Alba: The entrance into the anchorage was very shallow. There’s a 0.4 mile long channel leading to a deeper “pool”, which went down to 2.4m (1.0m LAT) at one spot. “Red Herring” and “Luna Blu” anchored in the 7m deep pool, which is ¾ mile from the shore and exposed to the south, so we went further to see if there was somewhere closer to shore to anchor. Unfortunately the depth dropped to 2.1m (0.7m LAT), our draft is 2.0 metres, so we turned around and anchored back with the rest of the fleet. We slowly dragged (on weed?) a couple of times before settling at 21°51.29S 035°24.42E in 8 metres of water.
It’s not a very good place to be. We’re ¾ mile from land and exposed to the forecast SSE winds; the “pool” that we’re in is only 200m wide and surrounded by very shallow water. I’m not a happy bear. If the wind picks up from the south tonight, then it will be very, very unpleasant. The plan is to go to another anchorage tomorrow morning. High tide is at 09:00, so we’re planning to weave our way through the sand bars starting at 07:00.
As it was Graham’s birthday, we all piled into dinghies and went ashore hoping to be able to buy a beer or even have a meal at the "friendly" holiday lodge ashore. It was actually an up-market resort catering to honeymooners, so we weren’t allowed to buy anything. After a short walk on the beach, we retired back to “Red Herring” for a rum or three.
“Continuum” and “Mowana” with their shallower drafts, elected to stay at an anchorage a little closer to shore (at 21°51.27S 035°24.90E in a depth of 2m LAT). "Continuum" went ashore and a guy at the resort guided them to a local village where they were able to buy a few items - Coca Cola and a couple of bottles of the local beer, but not much else. They couldn't find the "friendly" lodge that Des Cason talks about - we think that it's the closed lodge at the west end of the beach.
Ocelot 2007 - (21 51.70S 035 24.90E) So we moved to Benguerra (Santo Antonio) Island, just south of Bazaruto Island. Getting there was quite interesting as much of Bazaruto Bay is very shallow, so we left on a rising tide with the sun high so we could see and dodge around shallows and sand-banks. We actually visited 2 anchorages off Benguerra, the first at 21°51.7'S 35°24.9'E where we spent several days exploring, playing on the sand dunes, hiking, birding, shelling, helping the 2 small resorts with their computers, and visiting with a neighboring catamaran. Note: Catamaran with very shallow draft.
5.11 Benguerra Island to the South Exit
2015 Gambit: The exit from here is via a narrow channel between the 2 islands and past the north of 2 mile reef and puts you out in deep water within an hour.
EXIT Channel (RED Route in Image):
- 21 51.2813E 35 23.7465S
- 21 50.7555E 35 24.6186S
- 21 50.0799E 35 24.9069S
- 21 49.1493E 35 25.9609S
- 21 48.9189E 35 26.5961S
- 21 48.2536E 35 27.4785S
- 21 48.0209E 35 27.9522S
- 21 47.6193E 35 29.5042S
- 21 47.7851E 35 30.3144S
2017 Alba - We were up at 05:15, with the wind at 10-15 knots from the south bringing 2 foot waves into the anchorage. There was a discussion on the VHF and the consensus was to move at 06:00 - three hours before high tide. We had some waypoints through the sand banks to our next anchorage, which were a mixture of some waypoints from previous cruisers; information from a local boat; and inspection of Google earth images in KAP Charts. (YELLOW Route in Image then Blue)
The route looked deeper than 5 metres for most of the way, with the shallowest point being at the beginning. A local boat had told us that there’s a channel heading NE from our anchorage, but it didn’t look promising with wind waves and overcast, early morning skies. I dropped our dinghy into the water and picked up Graham from “Red Herring” to go and look at the “channel” using our portable depth sounder.
It wasn’t good. We recorded depths of 2.1 to 2.4 metres and it looked shallower further on. We were at half tide with a tidal depth of 2.5m. We’re approaching neaps at the moment and high tide is only 3.2m. Graham and I agreed that it was too risky to head off across uncharted sand banks especially because the strong wind would be pushing us forward and making it hard to stop. Not that I’m superstitious, but it’s also Friday the 13th…
There was a rapid change of plans. “Red Herring”, “Luna Blu” and we headed back north, re-tracing our route and then looping back south along what looked to be a much deeper and safer channel. It was 15 miles, but we were hoping that our destination would be a well-protected anchorage and it’s close to the pass that we will use when we finally go out to sea.
2017 Alba - A couple of days later, Continuum took the BLUE route, two hours before high water (tide 2.7m) and saw 3.0 metres (0.3m LAT) at the start and then over 5 metres (2.2m LAT) for the rest of the way.
5.12 Benguerra Sand Spit (21°49.03S 035°27.48E)
2015 Gambit: You can move to an anchorage behind a substantial sand bar right at the entrance (21 49.26S) prior to the weather actual turning in your favor. We have sat behind this sand bar in 9m of water in 40kts SE and were as safe and comfortable as can be.
2017 Alba: We entered this anchorage from the north. The anchorage is close to a long sand spit and there’s a shallow-looking sand bar to the west of it, so we sailed very close to the end of the sand spit and then along the shore. The minimum depth that we saw was 7 metres (3.8m LAT), so we’ll be able to get out of the anchorage and into the pass at any state of tide.
Our waypoints were:
- 21°48.23S 035°27.55E
- 21°48.50S 035°27.60E
- 21°48.67S 035°27.60E
We anchored at 21°49.03S 035°27.48E in 10 metres on good holding sand. It’s a huge anchorage about 0.5 miles long by 0.2 miles wide. The sand spit is a beautiful set of sand dunes - white coral sand, tufts of grass and nothing else. By the time that we arrived at the anchorage, the wind was blowing 20-25 knots from the SSE, but we were very comfortable with just 1 foot wind waves and no swell.
After lunch, we had a quiet afternoon, catching up on some sleep and reading. Our relaxation was interrupted by some Park Rangers stopping by, wanting us to pay park fees. We produced the receipt from the rangers at Bazaruto and they were happy. So it is an official fee…
The next day (Saturday), the North-east wind picked up through the morning and, by lunch-time, we had 20 knots, which was raising 2 foot waves in the anchorage. There was a quick discussion on the VHF and then we all left and headed across to the south west corner of Bazaruto to Ponta Dundo.
Monday - After a restless night at Ponta Dundo, we returned to the Sand-spit anchorage. We had a bouncy trip across, but it was only a mile or so. Once in the anchorage, the waves settled down and it seemed okay. We reported back to the rest of the fleet and they all decided to come over to join us.
Unfortunately, by 15:00, the tide was going out and once again, we had strong tidal currents pushing us against the wind. The afternoon was unpleasant with the boat pointing sometimes downwind and sometimes sideways with NNE 20-25 knot winds hitting our stern. At least this anchorage has more space and we’re not close to a rocky shore.
The wind is forecast to continue from the NNE until tomorrow afternoon, when it will slowly veer to SE - I can’t wait because this anchorage will be nice and flat again. The SE wind will continue at 20-25 knots for 36 hours and, by the morning of Thursday 19th, the wind will have reduced to E 10-15. Fingers crossed, that’s when we will start heading south towards South Africa.
The wind blew at NNE 20 all night which was OK until the tide started to go out at 03:00. Our bow turned south into the strong current and the waves remorselessly slapped our stern. The boat would turn slightly and then sail across the wind, heeling over 5 degrees. A few minutes later we would gybe, with some resounding slaps up the sugar scoop and then slowly sail the other way, heeling over degrees to the other side. It was irritating.
Tuesday - We dragged ourselves out of bed at 07:00 and all the boats were still pointing downwind with waves hitting our sterns. After breakfast, we went for a long walk with “Red Herring” - the other boats in the anchorage politely declined when we started talking about making sandwiches and taking lots of water for the hike.
Our aim was to walk 3½ miles along the windward beach to the huge sand dune at 21°52.17S 035°27.20E and hopefully find a lake that has Flamingos. We had a pleasant walk along the beach and, after a couple of miles, just past a small pine-tree wood, we headed up into the lower sand dunes, where we could see a path leading inland. A local guy shouted to us and said that he would show us the Crocodiles, so we went with the flow.
Our guide led us along narrow paths which eventually came out to the south end of the larger of the three lakes. On the way, I enquired about palm trees that had been chopped down to a few feet, the tops of which were covered by small baskets. He showed us that they were extracting some kind of sap from the palms, which was turned into some sort of mildly alcoholic drink. He gave us a taste of the finished product which was quite pleasantly bitter reminiscent of lemon.
We were then led around the west side of the larger lake, but alas the crocodiles weren’t to be seen. Our guide led us to the smallest lake, which is directly below the huge sand dune, where there was a solitary Flamingo, so I took some photos and we said goodbye to our guide. We hadn’t expected to meet any one, so we hadn’t taken any “gifts” with us, but Karen gave the guy an old pair of sunglasses, which he seemed pleased with.
Our next objective was the huge sand dune, which I guess is a few hundred feet high. The first section up the face was very steep, but once on the ridge it was easy going. The sand dune is a bizarre geological formation, isolated and high above the rest of the land - I have no idea how it would have been formed. We had our sandwiches on the summit, staring at the fabulous view.
After a long walk back along the beach, we arrived back at the boat at 13:15 - a 4½ hour trek, so we were shattered. However, no peace for the wicked - it was high tide at 14:30, so we had slack tide at 14:00 and had to jump in the water to scrub the hull and replace the anode on the propeller. As well as the usual green slime, we’d picked up an impressive collection of goose-neck barnacles, which had to be scraped and scrubbed off.
By 14:40, the tide had changed and there was a significant out-going current, which brought the job to an end. We’d managed to remove most of the barnacles, but we need to have another go tomorrow. We chilled out for a few hours and went ashore for a sunset beer or two.
Wednesday - Overnight the wind veered to the south-east and picked up fast. Just after midnight, I was woken by the uncomfortable motion and found that the wind was blowing 25-30 knots with the tide against the wind, raising 2-3 foot waves. By dawn, the wind was blowing hard from the SSE at 30 knots gusting to 35 knots, so it was gnarly.
The weather forecast looks good. These strong SSE winds will start to abate this afternoon and then will back to ENE 10 by morning. We’re still planning on leaving at 14:00 tomorrow and the first night of our passage should be ENE 10.
5.13 Ponta Dundo (21°47.63S 035°27.14E)
2017 Alba: The North-east wind picked up through the morning and, by lunch-time, we had 20 knots, which was raising 2 foot waves in the anchorage. There was a quick discussion on the VHF and then we all left and headed across to the south west corner of Bazaruto to Ponta Dundo. There’s a deep water channel quite close to the shore next to some trees and the least depth that we saw while going across was 7 metres.
We anchored at 21°47.61S 035°27.12E in 12 metres (9m LAT) on what felt like good holding sand. There’s a swell hooking around the corner making it a bit bumpy, but it’s definitely much more protected from the North-east winds than the previous anchorage. Ashore is a huge sand dune that is obviously a tourist attraction, judging by the number of local boats and tourists milling about.
Our waypoints were:
- 21°48.22S 035°27.56E
- 21°47.87S 035°27.44E
- 21°47.72S 035°27.20E
It was low tide at 18:00, so the bouncy waves reduced and we had calm conditions for our dinner. However, by 21:00 the tide was coming in at full flood, so the boat turned to face south with the wind from the north-east, making our rigging rattle and shake. It didn’t bode well for the night.
It was a turbulent night as the tide pushed us back and forth. When the tide was ebbing we pitched into the wind; we rolled when we were sideways; and we were slapped up the sugar scoop when the tide was coming in. However, the wind was only 20 knots, so it was just very uncomfortable and not dangerous.
After breakfast, we went for a walk with “Red Herring” up the huge sand dunes. It was fabulous walking along the wind-swept ridges of pristine sand. It was very reminiscent of walking along snowy arêtes in the Alps, but we were blasted by sand instead of snow by the strong NE winds. From the top, there was a good view of our proposed route out to sea, which goes over a sand bar, but it was hard to see the best route through the many sand banks, some of which were breaking.
After a short stop overlooking a small lake packed with Herons and Ibis, we walked down to sea level and strolled back along the shoreline. When we arrived at the anchorage we could see mayhem as the boats were all pirouetting around in the strong current against the wind. Alba looked very close to “Luna Blu” and we couldn’t see whether or not we’d dragged, so we rushed back to the dinghy.
We hadn’t dragged, but it was very unpleasant on board. We were bouncing about, lying side onto the wind and “Luna Blu” were sailing around on their anchor - sometimes they were 100 metres away and within five minutes they’d be 20 metres away. I didn’t fancy the prospect of another boisterous night being only 80 metres from the shore, so we upped anchor and headed back to the sand spit anchorage.
5.14 The South Exit from Bazaruto
2015 Gambit - Exit waypoints (RED):
- 21 48.2536E 35 27.4785S
- 21 48.0209E 35 27.9522S
- 21 47.6193E 35 29.5042S
- 21 47.7851E 35 30.3144S
2015 Yolo - Exit Waypoints (YELLOW):
- 21 48.4S 035 26.8E
- 21 48.0S 035 28.6E
- 21 47.6S 035 29.7E
2017 Alba - At dawn, the wind was 10-15 knots and then slowly backed to the NE. We spent the morning tidying up, running the watermaker and getting ready for sea. There wasn’t much to do, so we were ready to go by 11:00 and then had to wait for the tide, so that we could get over the sand bar in the pass.
We were planning to leave two hours before high water at 14:00. This would ensure that we had an incoming tide which would flatten the incoming swell from the east. The worst time would be to try to leave in an out-going tide, which would mean that the current was against the swell and would cause steep “overfall” waves. The other factor in our timing was that, just before high tide, the tidal current would be less and we would have more water over the bar.
“Luna Blu”, “Continuum” and “Fortuna” cracked up early and left the anchorage at 12:00. The least depth that they saw was 5 metres and the sea was fairly calm, but they had to battle against a strong current over 3 knots. “Fortuna” have an engine problem and can only run at low revs, so they were only making 1.5 knots over the ground.
We were good little bears and stuck to the plan, pulling up our anchor at 14:00 together with “Red Herring” and “Mowana”. There was still a strong 3 knot current against us in the narrowest part of the channel between the two islands and the water was very turbulent, pushing us around. However, it calmed down to 0.5 to 1 knot after that and we made good progress - the waves also settled down to a smooth 1 metre swell.
A few days ago, we tracked a sport fishing boat on AIS, going out of the southern pass and had a conversation with the skipper about the depths. He reported that the shallowest point was 5 metres. We decided to follow his route (BLUE), which went along a channel to the south of the shallowest sand bar - the lowest spots were 6.5 metres (2.5m LAT) in a few places after 21°48.10S 35°29.05E.
Our way points were:
- 21°48.23S 35°27.55E
- 21°48.05S 35°28.09E
- 21°48.10S 35°29.05E
- 21°47.56S 35°30.21E
- 21°48.06S 35°31.02E
Once clear of the bar and in deeper water, we turned SSE and reached away from the reefs. There was a smooth 1-2 metre swell from the east; east 10-15 knot winds; and we had current with us, so we made good progress doing 6.5-7.5 knots over the ground up to midnight.
5.15 Linga Linga, Inhambane (24°44.149S 35°23.692E)
2015 Gambit - Anchorage at 23 44.149E 35 23.692S
Entrance to LingaLinga anchorage:
23 39.888E 35 29.755S
23 40.680E 35 27 928S
23 41.661E 35 25.951S
23 42.736E 35 25.821S
23 44.251E 35 25.285S
23 44.559E 35 24.146S
2017 Gambit (eMail) - We have been in Linga Linga twice during hectic SW/SE gales there are some major drawbacks you should take into account.
The sand bar with depth at LAT of .4m bearing 225T +- .6nm from fairway buoy 23 39.899S 35 29.726E can only be crossed 1-2 hours before high tide. Do not attempt on outgoing tide !!
There is a small village and fishing lodge at the point which is frequented by locals who inform the authorities in Maxixe and Inhambane of your presence and before you know it you have them on your back with their hands out demanding all sorts.
I was fortunate to spend 2 weeks at the lodge in the late 90’s and got to know the sand bars and effect of tidal flow quite well. Most of the channel markers are non existent and the water flow in and out the bay and river system to the NW of the point is impressive.
The major drawback is the tide as you can only leave on the incoming tide and as happened to us once this meant a 5 hrs delay in getting out which cut down our time to get to Rbay before the next SW/S came through.
Those 5-7 hours you lose is quite often the difference between squeaking in and getting hammered 20-30 miles out of Rbay. Anchorage at LingaLinga SW of wreck on beach 23 44.243S 35 23.641E
2015 Yolo - About 140 nm south of Bazaruto is Linga-Linga and Barrow. Some yachts seek shelter at these locations. Linga-Linga is located near 23.44.5 South and 035.24.1 East. Barrow is near 24.46.5 South and 035.30.8 East. Yachts which went to both locations in 2015 reported good holding. Those that anchored near Linga-Linga enjoyed better protection from the screaming southerly winds and waves. Locals did not approach the yachts at these locations.
5.16 Barrow Point, Inhambane (23°47.33S 35°31.198E)
2015 Gambit: Inhambane /Ponta Barra: Arriving in a S/SE anchor on the north side of the headland just to the west of the light house in front of the lodges in 7-10m (23 47degS). This gives you very good protection and once the wind switches to ESE leave on a beam reach on 060T until the wind turns more E and eventually NE.
If you arrive on a NE with an impending S/SE due, you have 2 choices. You can slow down to arrive at Ponta Barra as the S/SE arrives, or you will have to negotiate the entrance into the shelter of the bay and anchor at LingaLinga. This entry and exit again can only be done on an incoming tide and again you face a time delay in getting out when the weather turns in your favor.
Lying in front of the light house at the above co-ordinates is not impossible, but in a NE swell of up to 1.5-2 m is not comfortable. However if the arrival of the S/SE is imminent, it may be worth it to sail offshore and double back when the S/SE arrives.
2016 Adina: Good shelter from S/SW winds, less so from SE but fine. There is swell and with the coming and going of the tide, you often end up beam to the swell so expect lots of rolling. We moved closer to the beach 23 47.33S 35 31.198E trying to get more protection from some reef but it didn't make much difference. The holding is very good in sand.
You need to time your arrival to be anchoring once the winds have gone south. The swell can be quite large with winds from the north and put you on a lee shore. It takes a few hours for the southerlies to calm the swell down.
We departed when the winds went light and slowly started clocking east. There is definitely a coastal effect and grib files saying the wind would be 120 were more like 160. We set off upwind, but the winds were light so no problem.
Good favourable current approaching Inhambane and some great current going south. This fizzles out as you turn west towards Maputo.
We stayed inshore to avoid some strong winds forecast overnight which worked but watch out, the light winds on the gribs will likely be no wind!
5.17 Inhaca Island (25°57.60S 032°59.00E)
2015 Gambit: Inhaca Island (25 57.54 degS): Very good shelter in SW/S/SE right below light house in 7-10m. Line up the light house with the white lattice tower on the beach bearing 142T. Do not anchor on the west of the island at the hotel as the local naval chap will be on your back ASAP demanding all sorts.
If you are arriving in NE conditions, which as with Inhambane makes the anchorage uncomfortable, either slow down to arrive just as the SW/S arrives or sit it out for a while.
Take note that Baixo Danae (exposed reef) is a real danger and should be given a wide berth.
When your barometer tops out and the wind starts to turn SE, leave on a reach and as the wind turns to NE you are on the last stretch.
2017 Gambit (eMail) When travelling from Inhambane, you will lose the current just south of Pta D’Zavora and on the coast on approach to Maputo you could have 1 - 1.5 kts negative current, which is the top of the eddy which runs clockwise up the coast back to Zavora from +-Jesser Point 27 32S 32 40E. This accounts for the turbulence normally experienced at Zavora.
The anchorage at Inhaca is good providing you tuck in close in 6-8m as some of the S swell can wrap around the point. However in a heavy SW/S it normally gets blown flat for days and only once the deep ocean swell coming up from Cape Town gets there (2-3 days) you will be pretty comfy.
2015 Yolo - Maputo is the capital of Mozambique, and it's largest city. It is an official port of entry. It is about 250 nm south of Linga-Linga. In 2015 yachts avoided poor weather conditions by dropping their anchors in several locations:
1. Cabo Inhaca, 25.57.6S 032.59.0E
2. Baixo Chaimite, 25.59.3S 032.53.8E
3. Near downtown Maputo in the river, 25.57.6S 032.31.4E
Yachts at all three locations reported good holding. The downtown Maputo option certain exposes you to clearance officials. However, several yachts anchored here for three days to sit out ugly weather and were NOT required to clear in or out of Mozambique. One yacht was approached by a local marine police boat and asked to move several hundred meters to make sure that the yacht was outside of an unidentified marine park area. The crew of these yachts never ventured to shore.
It is about 200 nm from Maputo, Mozambique to Richards Bay, South Africa.
5.18 Richards Bay, South Africa (xxxxxxx)
2017 Gambit (eMail) - To optimise the current you need to aim for Jesser PT (Sodwana Bay 27 32S 32 40E), which is the centre of the current for max boost.
From there stay 10-15 nm off up to Cape Vidal (28 08S 32 33E) and then close to within 3nm off Cape St Lucia (28 24S 32 26E). Then get into max 50m depth on approach to Richards Bay ensuring you don’t miss the entrance.
Especially at night, being close in allows you to pick up the light on the south break water with no background glare.
2017 Zululand Marina - INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS
Call Port Control on CHANNEL 12 to request permission to enter harbor – Please note this is very important, Port Control will not respond to any calls made to them on Channel 16.
Upon entering the harbor, proceed past the channel to Zululand Yacht Club to Small Craft Harbor/Tuzi Gazi Marina. International yachts require Customs and Immigration clearance and are required to tie up on the concrete wall, in front of the Dros restaurant and await Customs and Immigration. This can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days. If the wall is completely occupied and it is not logistically possible to raft up against another boat, it is permissible to tie up on one of the moorings in the Marina, make sure to notify Port Control that is what you have done. Make sure you are flying the Yellow flag.
Note – The Marina access is restricted by a locked gate. This means you can open it from the Marina side but will not be able to re-enter the Marina without a key. Keys are available from the Marina office between 8:00 and 16:00 Monday to Friday.
Once you have cleared Customs and Immigration you may proceed to the Tuzi Gazi Marina or to Zululand Yacht Club.
2017 Alba - Dawn brought us 100% cloud cover; SE 10-15 winds and more than 1.5 knots of current with us. At 07:00, we had 120 miles to go, so there was no way that we would make it to Richards Bay before sunset. If we average 5.5 knots then we’ll arrive at dawn tomorrow. Once again, we’re having to slow down to arrive in daylight.
Entering the main port of Richards Bay at night is not a problem, but visiting yachts have to go alongside a concrete wall next to the Tuzi Gazi small boat marina and it looks like a tight place to manoeuvre. Some of the bigger, faster boats will get in about 21:00, which will okay as long as there’s someone around to help find a berth and tie up, but I don’t fancy attempting it in the pitch black after midnight.
The weather forecast is for the SE winds to back to the NE and increase to 20-25 knots overnight. This won’t be too bad because the wind will be directly behind us. However, with the Agulhas current pushing us south, we might struggle to slow down tonight, so we dropped the main sail and spent the morning bobbing along at 3-3.5 knots through the water (still 5 knots over the ground).
It was a very pleasant morning, the sun came out and the motion was comfortable. We even had a pod of dolphins pass by. It was a huge group and they were in hunting mode, leaping out of the water as they pursued their prey at high speed. They didn’t bother to come and play in our bow wave.
At midday, we were surprised to hear an announcement on VHF 16 for a weather broadcast from Capetown Radio. There are repeater stations all the way along the South African coast and we picked up the weather transmission on VHF 03 (other channels in the area are 01, 24 &25). We were 20 miles from the coast and it’s nice to know that we’re now within radio range of the authorities. Just after lunch, Glenys spotted land and we turned south, with only 80 miles of coastal sailing remaining to Richards Bay.
The wind slowly picked up during the afternoon and, by 16:00, we had NE 25-30 knots and 3 metre seas throwing us around. Our sail plan had been reduced to a tiny 3 sq.m. of genoa, but we were still doing 7 knots over the ground, pushed along by a 3 knot current. Fortunately, the wind dropped to 20-25 knots at sunset, so we were able to slow down a little bit.
Our friends on ”Jackster” had been gradually catching us up and, when they were within 20 miles, I was able to have a chat with them on the VHF. Jacqui had the GPS coordinates of an anchorage that “Yolo” reported (at 28°48.2S 32°04.7E, 8m deep), which is just next to the main channel inside the port. “Jackster’s” plan was to sail comfortably and anchor at this spot if they arrive at night.
I had not seen this anchorage when researching into Richards Bay and was uncertain whether the Port Control would allow visitors to anchor there, so I fired off an email to various cruising friends. Des Cason came back and said that the Port Control don’t care where you go once you have entered the port. Tom from “Adina” replied with GPS coordinates and depths, suggesting that we anchor a 80 metres further north than “ Yolo’s” position to keep further from the main shipping channel - should be 6.5 m depth.
Glenys and I discussed this additional information and decided that we might as well sail at a comfortable speed and if we arrive at night we enter the port and anchor. We let out all of our genoa, our boat speed picked up to 5 knots and the boat’s motion became much more stable. I wish that I’d done my research a little better because we’ve wasted our time fighting to slow down all day.
By 21:00, the wind had dropped to N 15-20 and the motion was pleasant, apart from the occasional monster roll when a wave caught our stern. With a speed over the ground of 8 knots and only 40 miles to go, we’d be there in 5 hours. The sail just got better and better, the seas calmed down and we made good time, approaching the outer port limit at 01:30.
Before I could call the Port Control, they must have spotted our AIS because they contacted us and asked our intentions. They took basic details port of registration, number of people on board, etc and then gave us clearance after one huge tanker exited and another smaller boat entered. It’s a very busy port specialising in coal and there were a score of ships at anchor waiting their turn to pick up cargo.
On AIS, Glenys watched “Nathape” go into the Small Boat Harbour, so she called them up. They said that the harbour was brightly lit and there was a space for us on the concrete Visitor's Dock. The wind had dropped and it was very calm in the main port channel, so we went past the anchorage and directly into the Small Boat Harbour, where we managed to dock in front of “Red Herring” without any dramas.
We collapsed into bed at 03:00. We’re in South Africa…
2015 Infini - After calling Port Control on VHF 16, we switched to working channel 12, gave our particulars, and were instructed to go to the international dock for clearing in. We can't tell you how good it felt to go thru the breakwater at 1430 hours, in good visibility, with a bit of jib flying, the Perkins going, and doing 5.5 knots, knowing we'd be tied up before dark. There seemed to be no room for us anywhere, and a fellow cruiser waved to us to tie alongside the concrete wall at the very back of a long U-shaped channel where the only free space was; the worst possible place to try to get out of! Our bow was about 10 feet away from the end of the U-shape. However, we had arrived! No damage, no drama, good health, strong boat...it was all good.
Port Control said they'd contact Customs and Immigration, so we met the two cruisers who helped us tie up, tidied up a bit, and tried to stop swaying; you know that drunken sailor walk. The Immigration Official showed up and couldn't have been nicer.
2016 TinTin - So after a very anxious 24 hrs and tied up in Tuzi Gazi marina nothing ever tasted as good as those 4 ice cold cold beers in the fridge. For those following on we found that once past Cape St Lucia, 25m north of RB, and within 5m of the shore there is no current so if you get caught short with a southerly the seas would not be dangerous like out in the current.
2015 Sage - 55 miles from Richards Bay the wind died, the motor broke down and for the third time in two months we were towed into port. This time though we sailed to within 6 miles of Richards Bay. We were within VHF contact of cruising friends and support from the local volunteer organization here called the NSRI, National Sea Rescue Institute. They needed some practice, put a team together and within a few hours we were comfortably tied up to the dock in Richards Bay and collapsed.