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Tanzania, Mtwara: Report of a Visit in July 2016

By Elisabeth & Onni Johannsson, — last modified Aug 17, 2016 07:24 PM
The problems encountered when visiting this port to clear out of Tanzania.

Published: 2016-08-15 23:00:00
Countries: Tanzania

Mtwara, Tanzania
12th July 2016

We arrived in Mikindani harbour (SE Tanzania) and dropped the anchor in approx. 8m in the middle of the wide bay. To be exactly in the middle of the bay we had to anchor really far offshore, and didn't see any possibility to get ashore and leave the dinghy safely there. We have the East African Pilot from 1995 and this bay was tagged as beautiful, we do not agree!

One night at anchor,  but very safe and sound in low winds, we decided to go to (neighbouring) Mtwara harbour.

First of all I opened CPN and Navionics Charts are a long way from the real thing!!!  The maps are just good for nothing!! So approach this port only in daylight, or trust the markers at night (but the lights are not on all the time!!!) and disregard your chartplotters and maps. There are very good markers, leading lights, green and red, and the approach is quite easy, in daylight.

The anchorage is just beside the wharf, and you really should go inside a rusty round buoy. We did not, and anchored just behind it, but were told in a very friendly manner to go further in for our own safety (not so easy as it is shallow and our draft is 2.40m). What we did, was followed the security guy in the boat who guided us, dropped the anchor right where he said and thought we were fine. Next morning, around 6.30am, we had a wake up call from a pilot boat, so... we had to move again," because a big ship is coming to the wharf".

So - again - we move. Then the Big Ship arrives (390 ft !!) and passes by about 0.5nm away from us in this huge channel. Well, we just sat there with our morning coffee after yet another manoeuvre and watched the scenery!

We needed diesel and supplies, and had been able to do that in the morning, which was not so easy, because the security here in Mtwarra is unbelievable - 4 gates to pass through and alot of paperwork. But we did manage in the morning and jerrycans and groceries had been put on board.

We wanted to check out properly and went with the dinghy again, as we had for the last 2 days, to the steps at the wharf (be careful: these steps are not easy to land on with a rubber dinghy, especially in low tide with all the sharp oyster shells there).

All of a sudden, a guy appeared, clad in some khaki overall, and told us now " THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY OF " BRITISH GAS " and we are NOT allowed to land here!!! No discussion, gates had been closed, no possibility to go on land and clear out properly - thank you very much!

Customs and Immigration employees, and all the authorities here in Mtwarra, had been very helpful and friendly. It's just such a pity that it is a big hassle to get ashore (even though it is not easy anyway because of the old and broken stairs) because of some people (a Manager, I did not get his name) of a big company can make such a difference.

Just to make it clear, the citizens of Mtwarra are very very friendly, groceries are on a basic level but available, it's just this situation in the port that makes it sour!

Conclusion: If you are travelling in Tanzania, try to avoid Mtwarra and check in or out elsewhere. The port is guarded like a prison, the situation here for cruisers is NOT advisable because of the Port situation .

Elisabeth & Onni Johannsson,
S/Y ELONNISA

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