The charts are black and white and over 100 years old. It is hard to tell land and mangroves from water. The water are not always clear, mangrove areas are rich in nutrients. All these facts makes the navigation very tricky and the differences in tides don’t help either. On a full or no moon at high tide sand banks can be 3m underwater and 1m above water in low tide.
Have you ever walked through a labyrinth garden, just like in the movies? Better yet, have you sailed between the tree tops? Greeting the birds at eye level? We sailed to our anchoring place and made it in high tide, the water were 4m over the chart datum and we saw a labyrinth of mangroves nearby. Tawfiq’s bow was aimed at their direction and we sailed aimlessly between the tree tops. Mangroves are trees that grow in salt water on coastal habitats in the tropics and subtropics. These trees can be almost entirely covered by water in high tide and we took a tour among the tree tops with Tawfiq. The feeling we had sailing in this crazy labyrinth of tree tops was sensational and one we never had before. We were high from African nature and a special sailing vessel.
As we sailed through that maze of mangroves we met with other sailing crafts and were greeted with astonished looks, then a smile. We reached a small boat “harbor”, it was an inner pool with canoes and small sailing vessels and a small “dock” where we tied Tawfiq. Alex volunteered to watch Tawfiq and we went on a trail that lead to a small village. This village is accessible by boats only at high tide. The locals, very friendly and welcoming, were surprised to see us. The villages are all neat and tidy with no garbage lying around. It’s like going back on a time machine here: mud houses, running chicken and dogs, barefoot children and people that seem to work mostly when we don’t watch. We left two hours later to find our way in the daylight, when the tide was still high. Kichuani, this small village, have a special place in our hearts forever.
The next morning we took our time as usual and got stranded on the mud. Since we had nothing better to do we toured the area and made breakfast. Girls from a nearby village were looking for clams in the mud at low tide. It was a beautiful sight to see, the shy women laughed when we greeted them with hello.
David was running out of time, he took a hike through the mud to find the islands’ only airport. We were down to four men now.
On the day that Yoshi arrived at Zanzibar to join our team we had a party at Mangi’s bar. During that party I fell off the staircase that leads to the beach. It was a scratch that I got and paid not much attention to. In the nutrient-rich waters of Pemba my scratch got infected with germs and developed a pus. I paid not much attention towards it until it got real ugly and my friends told me that I have to see a doctor. We headed for the town of Chake Chake to get some medical attention and provisions.
the town is unreachable by boat because it is further inland, but there is a fuel dock west of town and we sailed over. we arrived at high tide and circled around to find our best anchoring spot. from a distance we saw a balcony with a few bungalows around it. as we got closer we realized that this is a restaurant. great, a cold beer and good food this afternoon.

As we reached closer we heard a voice calling at us. It was Bru, a dive instructor we knew from Zanzibar. He was here to open a new dive shop and we were happy to see him. He called a Cuban doctor he knew in town and I got an appointment for that afternoon.
We moored the boat Mediterranean style to the restaurant, and then climbed up. We were on alert for the tides to change.

We had a nice afternoon with Bru, and then Yoshi and I started on our 8km walk to Chake Chake. We walked through villages and made it to town. It is a quiet, though busy little town with nice people and a not so clean hospital. The Cuban doctors took us to their residence to take care of my leg, they thought it would be better than the hospital. They sat us in the living room and while they were treating my leg we were served with fresh Cuban coffee, two treats in one day 🙂
We sat in the living room, my leg was put on a stool under the ceiling fan. The doctor was cleaning pus from my wound while sweat was dripping from his forehead on to my leg. He bandaged my leg and gave me antibiotics, I should not get my wound wet until it is healed. This is a very hard task in these beautiful waters, abundant with marine life.
The treatment was free and the only thing needed to be paid was the antibiotics which cost 10$. We gave them something as a token of our appreciation but they refused to take it. While they treated my wound the doctors told us about their living in Pemba: They are sent from Cuba for a 2 years period to any destination the government chooses for them and Pemba is not on their first priority. Africa is tough and the mentality here is very different from home, they do not mix much with the locals, the locals are Muslims and they are Catholic. The doctor told me that I came on time, because if I had waited any longer my blood would have been infected.
Coming up: will we find the southern passage to the ocean? sailing with Dolphins to Zanzibar, changing boats and getting ready for continental africa.