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Life during wartime…!

Chad Leavitt's first sailfish, released off Morrungulo, on the way to Pomene (c) BoaGente
Chad Leavitt's first sailfish, released off Morrungulo, on the way to Pomene (c) BoaGente
Chad Leavitt’s first sailfish, released off Morrungulo, on the way to Pomene (c) BoaGente

Pomene in semi-southern Mozambique has always been our ultimate destination. Featuring the best Mozambique has to offer – the diving is incredible – with acres of reef, the fishing is fantastic, the beaches pristine and deserted with amazing surf, the local community friendly and so much to explore and photograph.

Getting there by road is not so difficult. The EN1 past Massinga, a few clicks and you can’t miss the Pomene Lodge sign to the right. This 54km dirt road become sand as you wind your way through the Pomene Nature Reserve and then behind the huge primary dune north until you reach Pomene.

But. We wanted to go by boat! Mainly to gain experience, explore the areas north and to test our brand new 2nd hand Interceptor 250 Cat. Getting a team together left us with a soon-to-be motley crew of capable and fit traveller types – some from Tofo, some from all over. We spent the Thursday beefing up our safety gear and procedures, scrambling for fishing tackle, and almost heated planning and debate.

Early Friday morning with 250l of fuel and a tonne of crew and cargo, we made a good launch and headed north in a blustery southerly sea, which would follow us the entire trip.

Captain Paul Cook on the helm for the first 6 hours straight (c) BoaGente
Captain Paul Cook on the helm for the first 6 hours straight (c) BoaGente

At 1900 rpm we use about 10l an hour giving us 12km’s or so at 6 knots. However with the current this time of year being a torrent, measuring up to 3 or 4 knots and more sometimes, we had to stay shallower, in about 20m of water to compensate. And we took a load of extra fuel, in fact our range was 250kms, and we were only traveling 120kms this day. It was easy enough to get more gas in Massinga – the nearest town to Pomene, with the local chappas (taxi), that runs through there every day.

The first fish of many. Robin Beatty, Sean Lange and Charl Mikkers (c) BoaGente
The first fish of many. Robin Beatty, Sean Lange and Charl Mikkers (c) BoaGente

Our first fish came after we had left the Barra area and were past Linga Linga. The couta came one by one and then increased voracity…eventually we stuck to 3 rods only, and were even then getting full house strikes. We lost a lot of tackle and fish due to chaos and a crowded boat.

 

Great weather half way and the tuna came on the bite. (c) BoaGente
Great weather half way and the tuna came on the bite. (c) BoaGente
2 by 2! With Anna, Charl and Paul (c) Boa Gente
2 by 2! With Anna, Charl and Paul (c) Boa Gente

Eventually we were catching too much fish for our purposes, so went down to two rods only. Chad Leavitt had been spectating a bit while Charl Mikkers, Robin Beatty and I grabbed the rods every time. Great having no charters sometimes! Then the rod went again so we volunteered Chad to the rod and there come the sailfish…bounding around and causing chaos. Clearing the boat got us into the fight and in a few minutes shaking shaking but determined arms pulled the fish alongside where Charl pounced upon it with his sarong. Robin (Capt. Gallop) removed the Rapala?!?! and the fish swam away unhurt and full of beans. Well done Chad! Whoops of joy all round!

Chad Leavitt's first sailfish comes to the boat, off Morrungulo (c) BoaGente
Chad Leavitt’s first sailfish comes to the boat, off Morrungulo (c) BoaGente

Release! Captain Gallop removes the hooks whilst Charl Mikkers holds on tight. The fish was very much alive and well when we let it go (c) BoaGente
Release! Captain Gallop removes the hooks whilst Charl Mikkers holds on tight. The fish was very much alive and well when we let it go (c) BoaGente

But. In the meantime a squall started appearing up ahead and in our path. So we decided, in the interests of safety, to up lines and steam the rest of the way. We also seemed to be taking water on our starboard side…so bungs out and on the plane. Very comfortable for a degenerating ocean. Rain came, the wind turned more onshore, the sea got more holes in it and bang! the port side prop is spun (the rubber bush holding the prop together is meant to absorb sharp impacts and prevent them from shearing the drive shaft – but under heavy load or use, the rubber fails…leaving you with a maximum speed on the engine of 2000rpm.) So we had to back off to that speed with both motors and hunker down. The rain got worse…but the GPS showed Pomene 10kms ahead.

Stormy weather caught us 20kms south of Pomene. We upped lines and ran at this stage. We never wanted to catch anything more! (c) BoaGente
Stormy weather caught us 20kms south of Pomene. We upped lines and ran at this stage. We never wanted to catch anything more! (c) BoaGente

Arriving in almost too late visibility, but armed with GPS and spotlights, we found the channel, surfed a few waves in (she surfs like a champion) and walked her up to Sathane’s camp. Beautiful. relief all round – 12 hours at sea is not easy, physically or mentally. Paul Cook and I were responsible for the boat so slept aboard. To our misfortunes. At about 2am, the tide reached us again, and in our slumber swung the boat alongside the shore. Waves came through the channel, the rain increased, the wind was wild – and waves were breaking against us, some splashing right into the boat, causing cooler boxes, tackle boxes and all sorts to float around! Paul and I struggled for over an hour, getting the boat in a position where we could remove the water and the boats contents. We were done by 4am, at first light. Exhausted and cold, we both lost our core temperatures, and even a fire could hardly help. Luckily the sun came storming out, but too late, I got the flu and Paul got malaria. The next day we spent passed out trying to recover.

The morning after. An incredible place is Pomene. (c) Boa Gente
The morning after. An incredible place is Pomene. (c) Boa Gente
The view from the campsite (c) BoaGente
The view from the campsite (c) BoaGente

And so Pomene literally absorbed us. The sun shone, the breeze blew. We had so much fish on ice, and spent the next few days eating as much of it as we could – to get strength back up for the return trip, which we delayed twice, finally deciding on the Tuesday. No-one complained!

Our 4 Jack Mussells enjoyed the trip to Pomene the most! Stinky, Steamer, Oscar and Chelsea (c) BoaGente
Our 4 Jack Mussells enjoyed the trip to Pomene the most! Stinky, Steamer, Oscar and Chelsea (c) BoaGente

Eventually Paul was looking malarial, and our support vehicle – driven by the Knight in Shining Landrover, Branko was on his way with more drinking water and fuel, so he and Marie and Heidi grabbed the far quicker ride home. This left the boat with 6 up and a lot less cargo.

We launched at 2:30am in the light of stars, at a very high tide. Drifting with baits got us a few strikes but first light soon got the Rapalas out and we were up to 6knots again. The ocean was idyllic and we traversed acres and acres of fish. Everywhere you looked were fish. But. They were not interested in the Rapalas at all. Charl was even throwing his dropshot right down the yellowfin tuna’s throats and they spat them out. Eventually we got 6 fish together, but it was a totally different story to the upways trip, when we were against the current.

The current did help us save gas and we made it home with plenty to spare. Aside from some water again in the starboard hull, the trip was safe and uneventful.

When we dropped off the bulk of the crew at Flamingo Bay, as they looked back at us, we looked like a refugee boat with shade-cloth and life-jackets strewn around to make shelters and comfortable spots for humans and doglets.

Summary: what a trip!

We have designed a new package for the above adventure – details coming soon!

Call Sean on +258 840 666 471 or email umzimkulu@gmail.com

1 thought on “Life during wartime…!

  1. ahoy, stop fishing and reply to our mails, you donut.Shot bru

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