_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nosy Komba, Madagascar

Nosy Komba lemur

After our time at the town of Hellville, we wanted to explore further. Our water supply was dwindling, city water was tainted, and good water was rumored to be available at Nosy Komba, a short daysail away. We anchored, brought our jugs ashore, and were met by some young boys who were willing and eager to show us the source of water – for a price, of course.

Nosy Komba water 2

Nosy Komba water 1 -- Nosy Komba water 4

Nosy Komba water 3

The water tasted good, and the girls doing laundry sang a song for us. If we thought at the time that conditions here were a bit rustic, we learned a week later and further down the coast that this tap was much superior to a well on the beach - both for ease of use and taste.

Belo Sur Mer well water

Ginger suggested we use our watermaker more. We had been using shore water as much as possible to conserve fuel.

Ginger with Belo Sur Mer water

We heard lemurs were common on this island. We took a walk, never saw a lemur, and then asked a woman standing in the trail “where are the lemurs?” She gave us a strange look and slowly pointed over our heads. A lemur looked down at us. She suggested that we take the guided tour to see more lemurs, so we headed back to the village to sign up. With a group of cheerful friendly French people,

Nosy Komba tour

we got up close and personal with the lemurs.

Ginge and lemur

We also saw wonderful lizards.

Nosy Komba lizard 1

Nosy Komba lizard 2

It was interesting to walk through the village and see how people lived. Cooking is done on neat little stoves. The duck has been rooting around the ashes looking for tasty tidbits.

duck and stove Nosy Komba

Octopus were drying for a future dinner.

octopus Nosy Komba

As far as we can tell, there is no plywood in Madagascar. Many doors and shutters are paneled, in a pattern reminiscent of France in the 1800’s. Nails are rare - most woodwork is pegged together.

shutter Nosy Komba

The village had many appealing cottages, lanes and courtyards.

house Nosy Komba

courtyard Nosy Komba

door Nosy Komba

lane Nosy Komba

The waterfront was busy. We saw these kids looking for fish.

kids fishing Nosy Komba

These kids were out on the water, too. There are a lot of very young people in rural Madagascar, at a certain age they are sent away to boarding school.

kids in canoe Nosy Komba

The little ones were curious and often asked for candy. Giving candy to kids in a country without dentists is cruel, so we prefer to give pens and crayons – also always well received.

little one Nosy Komba

Exploring Nosy Komba was a pleasant time for the crew of the Marcy, but as the sun set it was time to make plans to head further down the coast.

sunset Nosy Komba

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Madagascar Dhows

Caution: read no further if boats are boring to you……

dhow on port

While Marcy lay at anchor in the harbor at Nosy Be, we watched graceful lateen rigged dhows come and go. They are entirely engineless, and supply Hellville’s daily needs – bringing produce, building materials, livestock, fish and people. The dhows arrive loaded and leave light.

dhows passing

As they approach the quay, the sail is dropped and the crew pushes the dhow the rest of the way in with poles. This dhow is loaded with sacks of rice.

poling dhow

The quay is thick with unloading dhows, cargo and people.

rice at quay

unloading lumber

unloading lumber 2

Waiting for a turn to unload, or waiting to depart for the return trip, scores of dhows ride at anchor just off the quay.

dhows at anchor

As sailors, we were fascinated by the big lateen sails. This can be a windy part of the world - how is so much sail area tamed? How are dhows tacked and jibed, how is sail reefed, set and doused? We decided to charter a small dhow for a day and find out first hand.

Marcy's charter boat

We boarded early in the morning, poled out of the harbor, and set out for a nearby island in fluky light wind. At times we were becalmed. Our sailors showed immense patience, no doubt strengthened by years of sailing without motors.

becalmed dhow

As we picked up speed, the water burbled cheerfully at the stem.

cutwater dhow

Ginger settled in under the umbrella, while our captain and crew sprawled on the quarterdeck.

comfy Ginge

We saw all the familiar operations – everything we do on Marcy, but a bit different. For example, we pump the bilges by pushing a button on Marcy. Our dhow was pretty leaky. The dhow crew bails first with a small bucket, then pours the bilge water into a bigger bucket.

bailing dhow 1

Then the bigger bucket is poured on deck in a special spot.

bailing dhow 2

Then the water pours overboard through a scupper.

bailing dhow 3

On Marcy, we cook on a propane stove. On the dhow, a fire is lit under the foredeck.

dhow lunch 1

dhow lunch 2

Rainwater is collected and stored in this barrel.

dhow water tank

The blocks and parrels are all hand fabricated, a bit crude looking but strong and functional.

dhow parrels 1

dhow parrels 2

dhow block

After anchoring at the island for lunch, we hauled anchor and headed back to town.

hauling dhow anchor

We accomplished our goal and learned all about the lateen rig – tacked only in very light winds, they wear about (jibe) usually. This dhow has let the sheet go before jibing, and will let the sail whip like a flag as the yard is moved to the other side.

jibing dhow

They rarely reef, either relying on whippy yards to relieve wind pressure, or partially lowering the yard (downwind only) or hitching the sail near the top of the yard like this dhow.

reefed dhow

Just like a racing dingy, the sheet was kept ready to let fly in case of emergency.

dhow sheet cleat

Back at the quay at low tide we noticed leaky dhows getting caulked by their crews. A fire melts the pitch while oakum is pounded into the seams.

caulking dhow 1 caulking dhow 2

The boats are used hard, and may not last long. We understood our dhow was only a year old. It looked much older! At low tide there is evidence of many dhows that will never sail again.

dhow remains Hellville

We felt lucky to observe such ancient technology in daily use. The dhows are graceful and practical, and it was great fun to watch them go about their business.

sunset dhow

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