The idea of sailing an Arabian Dhow seeded in my head while I was a marine sciences student and our botany professor told us about a project that he runs in Zanzibar. I had previous knowledge about these magnificent vessels from the national geographic magazine and the library of the University of Haifa. I knew they used to sail all over the Indian ocean, they even made it to china. My dream was to get one of the massive 30m long Dhows and sail from Africa to Australia.

I just finished a job in the dead sea, Israel, working as a captain of a 70ft. research/support vessel.    Paying a visit to my old friend David Bega was the next thing on my mind, He runs a dive shop in Zanzibar, but no adventure was included (yet). Another good friend and a seasoned captain (Alex Guenin) came to Zanzibar. We were sipping on our brew on Mangy’s beach bar in Nungwi , watching the tourist packed Dhows sail to the sunset when Alex popped the question: “How about that Dhow project? don’t you think it’s the right place and time?” It took me 2 seconds to reply with excitement:”YES”.

The selected crew is: Dubi Klein, a.k.a “The Bear”, project initiator, experienced captain, marine biologist and a serial dreamer. Alex Guenin, a captain at the time and a Naval  Architect in progress. Guy Mor was the deputy director of Herzliya marina, Israel, he quit his job to join our adventure. Yoshi Sardinayov, a friend and a captain hurled in an adventure by Neptune himself. David Bega, partner and manager at Spanish dancer dive center, living and blooming in Zanzibar, none of this would have happened without you.

Guy Mor                              Yoshi Sardinayov                         Dubi Klein                            Alex Guenin                       David Bega

The selected crew is:

Dubi Klein

Dubi Klein, a.k.a “The Bear”, project initiator, experienced captain, marine biologist and a serial dreamer.

 Alex Guenin

Alex Guenin, a captain at the time and a Naval  Architect in progress.

Yoshi Sardinayov

Yoshi Sardinayov, a friend and a captain hurled in an adventure by Neptune himself.

Guy Mor

Guy Mor was the deputy director of Herzliya marina, Israel, he quit his job to join our adventure.

 David Bega

David Bega, partner and manager at Spanish dancer dive center, living and blooming in Zanzibar, none of this would have happened without you.

The Arabian Dhow comes in various sizes of up to 30m approx.  in the Swahili (east) coast of Africa they serve as cargo and ferry vessels, still propelled by sails. We visited our boat “Malaika” while she was hand crafted on the shores of Zanzibar Island.

We admired the traditional, handmade boat building methods still in use. These methods are passed from father to son on these beaches for over a thousand years. These boats come as an open deck boats with Lateen rig that takes much practice to handle, even for seasoned sailors like ourselves.

No electronics or electricity whatsoever so we had to make a lead line to know the depths. The bilge pump is the crew and a bucket, the toilet seats are the rails. Updated charts were nonexistent so we found and photocopied old charts from the 1880’s on a photocopy machine.   The charts were covered in nylon to protect them from water. We brought a handheld GPS for navigation and a bearing compass. the boat is about 8m in length by 2.5m wide and has a draft of 50 cm. which makes her accessible for most shallow areas and hard to maneuver

Dhow

Yacht

Dhow vs. Yacht

The boats come empty so we took around 10 days of shopping in Zanzibar’s exotic markets. We supplied her with kerosene cooker, cooking and eating tools, mattresses and everything we need for a day to day life. this is a work boat, not intended for live aboard.

 

So we rented Tawfiq, an 8m boat, for the first run. We hired Iddi, the local captain working for Spanish dancer dive center and he taught us the secrets of sailing a dhow. Iddi took us to his native island of Tumbatu, known for the use of Voodoo. many people await in the bay as we approach. adults and children escort us on our tour. some children try and snatch things from our backpacks while the adults reproach them. I wouldn’t want to be here without Iddi’s patronage

A few days later we were headed to Mnemba atoll for a weekend of trial and errors on our own. it started on the left foot: Guy stepped on a sea urchin before departure and a few hours later he had a burning encounter with a Portuguese man of war. Alex suffered from food poisoning, but the sailing went fine…

To be continued…