Kilifi to Mombasa - Leg 4
Day 4. Kilifi - Mombasa - Straightline distance covered 53 km. Kited distance 65km. Hours on water 4
The thing about starting an expedition with three, frankly, ridiculously, long legs, is that when you get to a regularly long one it seems easy in comparison! Today’s objective was to cover 53km from
Kilifi to Mombasa. We met up on our new home for the rest of the trip - the 44ft Catamaran ‘Hideaway’, to plan the day’s journey. Following the issues with the slowgoing windsurfers from the day before we decided to split the group. We hired a basic skiff with a 15hp engine as a rescue/transport boat for the day. It dropped the kiters onto Bofa beach (north of the creek) whilst the windsurfers, needing at least 5knots more wind than the kiters to get going, remained on the cat to sail for a few km down the coast until the wind picked up - in the interest of time.
Once the kiters had been dropped off on Bofa and rigged up our gear we sent Nic off on the skiff with the intention of catching up with it after an hour or two given it’s slower speed. So the kiters chilled on the beach from 11-12 waiting for the wind to pick up. Luckily for us we parked ourselves near the cave bar, a throughly creative local chap’s hangout wedged into the cliff face. Yes, he even had Hendricks gin. What a dude.
At 12pm we decided to set off. The first third of the journey was actually pretty scary. According to one of our group, Kilifi is named such as it’s a local derivation off ‘cliffy’. No idea whether my leg was being pulled but after a few minutes of kiting I could see the rationale. For about 15km we had to kitesurf in front of huge cliffs, and over wildly choppy water, with our rescue boat miles and miles ahead of us. Normally when you kite you ‘edge’ your board to stay upwind, which allows for more control. On a downwinder you flatten the board to go with the wind, which means much less control and more exertion on the legs. To relieve the pain on the back leg we tried to straighten up and move our feet around the straps as much as possible, sometimes resulting in face plants as the choppy water did it’s business on us. After an hour of this we were beginning to really feel the strain badly.
After the longest hour of my life (ed: George) we finally saw the end of the ‘cliffy’ line and the start of the lagoon/reef section somewhere in Vipingo. I can’t describe the sensation of kiting over butter smooth turquoise water after the first hour of hell. Pure bliss. The kiting direction, with the help of strong favourable wind, was literally straight down the beach with no tacks required. We started to absolutely HOON it down. Big Al clocked his speed at 49km/h in some sections - vroooooom. He even kited 20km without a footstrap. Hero.
Meanwhile on Hideaway, the windsurfers had finally finished their machiatos, backrubs, and pedicures, and finally decided to jump in the water. Despite the big surface area of the Cat, rigging up and launching off it was no easy feat and Stef nearly lost his sail under the boat which would have been disastrous. Looking on as the kiters bombed it down, Craig and Stef (windsurfers) tried to make it over the reef themselves to join us. A big point of difference with windsurfs is their fins are about 30cm whilst the kite board ones are about 10cm. Whilst Stef and Craig searched for an entry point through the shallow outer reef to access the lagoon, they saw a wave behind them and tried to ride it in, not realising the reef had come up too much…but it was too late. They stacked it on the reef and watched their kit get chewed up by the waves. Craig was ok as he had boots on and could walk on the sharp coral and urchins, but Stef had a howler. Somehow he managed to retrieve his gear with only a few urchins embedded in his foot. He then opted to make his way to the beach to to sort himself out. Craig was able to get back beyond the reef and make his way down to Nyali.
After packing up on a very busy Nyali beach the team headed to Hideaway moored in Mombasa creek for rest and reflection on the day’s adventures. Thanks to Eugene Craig’s organisation Tamarind Village kindly offered a wonderful dinner and comfortable rooms which were very much appreciated after the challenges of leg four.
The Tamarind Village is reputed as the best accommodation in Mombasa with beautiful views across Tudor Creek to the hostoric od port of Mombasa. The rooms lived up to their reputation, spacious luxurious suites, with a charming swahili feel everywhere you turned. The cuisine was delicious, and the friendly staff made the whole team feel at home. We can't thank the Tamarind Group enough for their very generous hospitality, and for treating the team to such a comfortable and enjoyable overnight stay in Kenya's oldest city.