Adventure 9 - Where's this thing going?

Amazingly it took the Chinese civilisation 5,000 years to realise the wheel would revolutionise their transport. It's equally amazing it's taken the Adventurists 12 years to realise we should set up a long distance boat race with dugout sailboats.

At 6:30 on July 1st we're correcting that oversight. 10 teams of pioneering sailors will take to the Indian Ocean in a collection of Ngalawas; twin-outrigger, mango-log dugouts, powered by lateen sails, harnessing the Kaskazi trade wind.

The wind will carry our fleet north, from Kilwa Island along the old trade route through the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Within 8 days the winners should emerge at Pemba Island. We say should, because nothing like this has ever been done before. We're reasonably confident it's possible, but we could be woefully wrong.

Fortunately to test the boats and the route, we've press-ganged a rabble of accomplished sailors and brave fools who have no idea what they're getting themselves in to.

The Racecourse

Aside from the start and finish points there are just two compulsory checkpoints, at Killingoni on Mafia Island and at Nungwi on the northern point of Zanzibar. Beyond that the teams are on their own among islands once witness to cannibalism and voodoo magic. These are some of the points they're likely to pass through:

The Race starts at the old trading town of Kilwa Kisiwani, in the shadow of Fort Gareza. 

The first leg is about 100 km (as the crow flies) going to the first compulsory checkpoint at Killingoni, the main port on Mafia Island. Teams will pass the colourful reefs of Songo Songo where those with the right tackle will be able to pick up some fresh dinner.

The next leg heads up to the ecological hotspot Kwale Island, 2.7 square miles of mostly mangrove forest with waters home to dugong, and turtles, not to mention migratory whale shark & humpbacks.

Just before the heavy shipping lanes of Daar es Salaam there is a good stopping point on the white sands of Ras Kutani beach.

The next stretch might lead up to Ras Kisimkazi on south Zanzibar (Unguja), a village known for its black magic and dolphins.

The Ngalawa then need to head up to the second compulsory checkpoint of Nungwi, possibly stopping at Stone Town on the way.

The last leg is possibly to be the toughest, a long stretch of open water shared with goods ferries towards the finish line on Pemba Island. How many teams will make it this far? How long will they take? By the 10th July we should have an answer.

You can follow the race progress on the live tracking page. If this looks like your cup of tea you can sign up for the January 2016 race here.