Tanga to Pangani - Leg 8

Tanga to Pangani - Leg 8

Day 8 - Tanga to Pangani

Waking up in on our mooring in front of Tanga Yacht Club, the team were visibly subdued - the previous day’s exertions in storm-force winds and wild seas had taken their toll. After a breakfast of eggy-bread, cereal, fresh fruit and Kenya coffee, the daily routine of patching wounds began - bandages, iodine and duck tape applied to blistered feet, fin cuts and coral grazes.

On the beach the guys from Tanga Football Club have marked out a pitch and erected goal posts. Jason and Craig are appointed to represent their home team - Wandsworth Common FC - (many of whom made donations to EABR charities) and tentatively make their way across to the beach where the local boys are showing a blend of Brazilian skill and Tanzanian speed. The boys get stuck in, competing for the ball, stringing together some passes, and demonstrating the old-fashioned League 3 shoulder-barge and on the slighter Tanzanians. Jason demonstrates an affinity for speed across the coral pitch and Craig almost scores from a volley. After 40 minutes the guys are relieved to be called back to the boat for the Skipper’s Briefing and thank their team mates for a lesson in beach football.

Back on the boat it’s apparent that the team are divided into 2 groups - the “Chardonnay Crew” comprising George, Alessandro and Justin (who elect to stay on Hideaway and save their energy for the final leg to Zanzibar); and “Team Panadol” (consisting of Boris, Nic, Stefano, Craig, Jason and Marc) who opt to take on the next section, 49 kilometres from Tanga to the port of Pangani.

The team make final adjustments to foot-straps and fins before loading their gear into Songoro 2 and heading out towards Tanga Sandbank. After 20 minutes, heading straight out towards the ocean, the sandbank comes into view, nearly a kilometre long, with a turquoise lagoon on the inside. It’s a spectacular spot but it quickly becomes apparent that the sandbar is littered with dead coral - the effects, we’re told, of dynamite fishing. This - along with the ring-netting - explains the dearth of sea-life we have seen on this stretch of the Tanzanian coast.

The guys offload and rig / pump up, optimistic that the Kaskazi will build. After some time, Hideaway passes and Stefano and Craig sail out to meet it, returning quickly to shore as the wind is still light. A further hour passes (during which the guys alternately hide under the kites for shade, take photographs and eat their pack lunches). At 12:30 - and with the anemometer reading only 13-14 knots - the decision is taken for the windsurfers to pack down and the kiters to give it a go.

For the first period the guys have to work their kites furiously but then their earlier wind-dance bears fruit and they begin to make progress southwards, as the windsurfers and Nic track them in the skiff. We track a route between the mainland and coral islands, the water lightly corrugated and the wind building all the time from the North East. After an hour, we come across a long peninsular ending in a sand-spit and the guys rest their kites whilst the skiff catches up. As the tide comes in, a shallow lagoon forms and the kiters pull unhooked raileys and foot-out jumps whilst the windsurfers rig up. The team re-united, their power up and head downwind towards Pangani. Compared to the trials of day 7, this stretch is a delight - light chop, constant wind at 22-25 knots - and the 3 kiters and 2 windsurfers fly past a succession of coral coves and mellow reefs. After just over 2 hours, Nic (on the skiff) makes contact with Justin on Hideaway, and together we thread a route through the bay and towards the port of Pangani. The catamaran passes through the port entrance to the flat water harbour, whilst the kiters work their way through the shorebreak to waiting audience of Pangani locals.

Back on Hideaway the team compare notes and the Chardonnay Crew find it hard to hide their disappointment at a good day missed, with no mishaps (aside from a drowned radio). After a swim in the harbour, a spot of fishing in the mangroves and a tour of Pangani on boda-boda motorcycles, the team settle down for Jess’ famous prawn curry and some well-earned beers.
Everyone settles for an early night, four of us sleeping under a brilliant full-moon on the roof of the catamaran, dreaming about fair winds and flat water until the call-to-prayer.

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