Sakatia and off to HELLville…..
We first anchored at the small island of Sakatia just northwest of Nose Be. We\’d heard good things about one of the fishing lodges here and that they could help us with advice on how to check in. The owner of the lodge no longer lives there, but his immediate neighbors are Des and Nel of South African sailing yacht, \”Gambit\”.
Nel and Des were most gracious and a wealth of information about not only checking in/out, but the strategy and tactics to get to South Africa. They\’ve made the trip six times in their 30 footer. They were all about how we were doing this the right way having avoided going to Mauritius. Des said that in the seven years he\’s listened on the Radio Nets, no one doing that trip had escaped getting weather whacked.
After relaxing a day in Sakatia and having had a meal at the fishing lodge and the Sakatia Resort next door with Dave and Kathy on \”Sunflower\”, we bravely set off for the 14 mile trip to Hell-ville. It\’s named after a French Admiral Hell, btw! The anchorage was a bit bumpy during the day, but that night it calmed nicely. As we arrived, \”Romeo\”, one of the boat boys that Des said would come out, did indeed. The next morning, the four of us began the check in process with Romeo in tow.
First stop immigration which was 30 feet from the dinghy dock. This is good!…NOT so much. After using my mediocre French, the official said to \”come back for your passports this afternoon at 5PM\”, or..\”maybe tomorrow\”! WAIT, said I, \”no official keeps passports\”. After going round and round, it was determined that the boss had to sign them. This necessitated taking a taxi WITH THE OFFICIAL to the airport where we found the \”Boss\”. She was very pleasant and clearly would have been upset if her subordinate did not have our passports signed before returning them. The airport is not very busy, but today it was, so she had to be there to issue visas to arriving tourists. After wasting an hour doing that, we next went to customs which was EASY. Then to the Port Captain, who refused to speak slowly, but I finally got that we were to make an itinerary of our expected travels, pay a fee and he would issue a Port Clearance and Cruising Permit. We were told to go pay at the next office, come back at 3 pm and it would be ready. We went to pay and the officer said, \”come back at 3 pm\”.
Internet and phone were next and a nice lunch at \”Papillion\”. We went back at 3 pm, paid the equivalent of $30.00 dollars and went to pick up our permit. Again, we had to \”wait for the boss\”, but he showed up only 15 minutes later. We all felt kind of beat up after this days experience; kind of like we\’d been to \”Hell-ville\”, but at least it was done.
I would say this was up there on the list of difficult check in\’s along with Fiji. No bribes were asked for or even implied by the way.
We were so tired, we decided to fuel up the next day. It\’s quite hot here. The next day, Anatole, Des and Nel\’s favorite taxi driver showed up at the dock and we were inundated by \”boat boys\” who wanted to carry our empty fuel cans to his taxi to get a tip. More on this later! First, Anatole warned us, \”not all of the three gas stations will have fuel\”! We\’d been told that since the coup 3-4 years ago, fuel was now difficult to get.
We found diesel at the second station at about $1.50/liter. That\’s about the same price as Australia, but expensive by US standards at about $5.80/gallon. The fuel looked pretty good and so our first load of 13 (5 gallon) jerry cans was taken aboard. The boat boys were all over it; I still had another run to go!
After the second run, (Sunflower made two as well), we went to pay the boat boys. There was practically a fight and tears over who got paid and who was just trying to get paid. Eventually it was all sorted out. It\’s not that it was expensive so much as the unruly grief of dealing with all these guys. Romeo, (who is very young), was supposed to be in charge and tell us who got what. He quickly abdicated and Dave and I were left to decipher the entire mess. The dinghies have to be \”watched\” or they will disappear too. This is one of the poorest countries on Earth, the average salary is about $5.00/day. Hence, theft can be an issue.
Welcome to Hell!..ville, next morning…we were off to Nose Komba!
More later, Scott and Lemur seeking Nikki…..