30th March, Madagascar
Landfall, after leaving the Seychelles and crossing 10⁰South latitude, the demarcation line for ‘pirate’ country we sight the northern tip of Madagascar in the early morning light. Our destination, Adoanay, formerly known by its French name Hell Ville, lies on the island of Nosy Be, on the north-west coast of Madagascar. It’s a ‘tricky’ transit of the shoals and reefs surrounding the island and, as in similar destinations, we have allowed ourselves sufficient time to make the final 15 miles at a sedate speed. The waters are blue and calm and as the sun rises, fishing dhows leave some of the villages on the island and make their way out for the morning’s fishing. These are of the classic ‘Arabian’ style, with 1 triangular sail and they are accompanied by dugout canoes with outriggers.
We round the southern end of the island and approach Adoanay itself. The charts we are using are not of the accuracy to which we are used to, in fact, one chart, originally produced in 1905 from French surveys is obviously inaccurate when compared to our electronic charts of more modern times and so it is on the electronic version we rely. Anchoring a ½ mile from the jetty we are immediately surrounded by dugout canoes, the occupants desperate to sell our guests all sorts of trinkets; wooden face masks, models of dhows, even bananas. It is taking a step back in time.