Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Down to Gambia

So then its been a while, I thought there would be plenty of time to write blog posts while cruising, but this is not the case!
We spent about a month exploring the Canaria Islands. Great Islands if a little short of good anchorages so ended up in quite a few marinas. Our favourite place was probably the little island of Graciosa just north of Lanzarote, it has one bay that you are allowed to anchor in and a small marina in the village, which i believe is trick to get a place in unless you are 'local'! Its a paradise island with beautiful sandy beaches with great swimming in crystal clear water. There are no roads just sandy tracks even in the one small town on the island. Its also quite (tourist wise) compared to mainland canaries.
While in the Canaries we got ourselves and the boat ready to go to Africa. This involved finding charts (unsuccessful so got from UK) sorting vaccination for Yellow Fever and getting anti malarias. 
We set sail for the Gambia on the 12th November from Porto Rico and 8 days and 951nm later arrived in Banjul the capital and only port of entry into the Gambia. It was a great down wind sail with the wind never dropping below 15 knots, usually 20. It was a busy passage as a lot of ships use this run down the west coast of Africa, on average 10+ per day. We passed within 10 miles of Dakar, so close that we could smell sweet exotic smells and also make use of their mobile phone network! Another 24 hours and we were anchored off the docks in Banjul.
Customs, immigration and harbour authorities took about 5 hours to clear and not too much bother.
Next came the trip of a lifetime which took us 200nm up the river and into the wild.
The people here are really very nice and always on hand to help, also they generally speak english although this gets less further up river. There are a lot of French speaking Senegalese fishermen up river too.
Its been a proper safari with Hippos, Crocodiles,  Chimps, monkeys, to name a few and an astonishing number of beautiful  birds. The flora has also been very interesting, starting with low mangroves then changing to palms and mahogany trees as the river changed from saltwater to fresh.  
We have just returned to the Banjul area (Denton Bridge) to re stock ready for the next leg West.
I will write more details of the river journey in time.....


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