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March 2017

A month after Musafir's first official voyage out at sea, it's time for us to share the story!

Here's a personal account by one of our Musafiri sisters, Afrika, on how she experienced the journey. Afrika grew up on the Kenyan coast. After being an active member of the Musafir community, present in Kilifi, for most of 2015 and 2016, she is currently based in London to focus on her studies. She had no immediate plan to return to Musafir at the start of the year, but then the message came to her that we were about to set sail! A quick and impulsive decision turned into the trip of a life time...

Read, dream away and enjoy!

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Wide awake, lying there staring at the ceiling of my university room in London. Ibi snoring beside me. I can't sleep. Tomorrow he'll be on a plane bound for Mombasa, bound for home, bound for Musafir. 
The feeling to jump on that plane was strong. 
Memories of us all at Musafir over the past years, working together and living together, making projects and visions into reality. And now she would be taking a big step and making the 2nd voyage from Kilifi to Shimoni. 

Since her first from Kipini to Kilifi so much more had been done, with a second mast and a top deck and all the other additions, she had come into her true shape, seaworthy and strong. And I was beyond proud of what everyone had done to make this happen.

The next day sitting in class, the minutes ticked closer to the flight, and I just knew I had to go. From under the desk I booked my ticket on my phone. Prices that should have told me no, were instead saying- 'do it!'

Woohoooo!

60 metres of rope for the anchor was delivered to my flat and we hurriedly packed it into my rucksack and missioned to the airport. 

The next day we're there! In a tuk tuk zooming over the Kilifi bridge that we would soon be sailing under! 

Kilifi had been Musafirs home for the past 2 years as the building continued, and many projects were undertaken; from building a moringa dryer for a local school, to hosting arts events, educational trips and a floating dorm. The evolving volunteers of the Musafir family always keeping busy. 

Ibi and I arrived at Distant Relatives, the Musafirs second home family home, and we heaved our bags down to the beach and we could see the boat, all dressed up in ropes and pulleys and looking golden and getting ready!
At the house I find Clio and Claudia lost in a world of yellow jerrycans, literally hundreds of jerry cans. Clio explains that it’s all part of her master plan, each one washed out and filled with drinking water, our jerry can army would soon be our life support!  Mzee comes down smiling and hugs are had and words are lost and bam, no time has passed. Back where I should be right now. I immediately submerge myself into helping with the water mission. 

We talked over all the plans, while the rest of the guys were working on the boat. So who would be coming? 
Paolo the originator of the project and Louis who started it together. Clio, with the Musafir a long time, creating many successful education projects. Elisa who started with the project a couple years ago. Alexia from Watamu- in Kiswahili translates to "land of the sweet people". Ibi, (Ibiscus) from Mombasa, engineer by trade and a pirate by heart. Claudia who joined us after cycling into our Kilifi lives over the continent. Jill the sailor who had come to volunteer from Sweden, Karoline the pirate from Germany. Romain our loving brother from up the Distant Relatives hill. Ivan and Purav, (the bearded twinsters) from the Kenya coast. Allie, from the states. Pia, a new friend of Musafir. Mary, or as she is known to us, Mama Mary, the mother of this journey in so many ways. Charlie and David born wrapped up in a sail, brother of the Indian Ocean. We had the help of a crew from Lamu who were to be our command in the waters they knew so well. Led by Captain OMari/ Masigwa our wise guide. Chaps, YES Rasta, (Omari), Baker and Jay, getting to know them all and by the end of the journey we were friends and family. 

Now we were still on the shore and there were things to be done. Carrying mammoth amounts of gravel as ballasts, water and a million other bits and bobs and hammers and mangos and soap and somehow losing and forgetting most peoples shoes.
The hull had been fitted with shelves to store the food, a broken fridge donated to us was to be our cool box, the gravel bags became the hulls floor and the jerry cans were balanced between the ribs. 

Till the last minute of the eve, we were running up and down the beach with quickly melting ice for the cool box. New ropes were being knotted and the dasturi (Kiswahili term for 'bowsprit') was being refitted. The beach house that Musafir used as headquarters in Kilifi was slowly being emptied. Musafir was shifting in readiness. 

We had a goodbye sundowners on board and the next night a Sadaka (Kiswahili for 'Offering') and bonfire celebration slaughtering 6 ducks to say goodbye to everyone from the community. 

A family moment on the balcony of the Musafir house with Mzee Baraka who has been with Musafir from the beginning but would now be returning home to Kipini. Thanking him for all the time he had spent with every single Musafiri that had past these ways, and all the help he had given us, may we see him again back in Kipini some day!

The morning then came, we were all aboard with tea in our plastic mugs and excited smiles. Then it all began to happen. We pulled the anchor lines up and the government council boat, which was towing us out to sea, knotted on and we started to drift into a pull. 

Watching the shore swing by, the fishermen in their canoes stood as we passed. The drums were out, we shot the sounds of the conche shell horns under the bridge and Musafir followed. Tailed by our friends in their boats we jumped and laughed. Sitting upon the drum that I was beating with my palms it was a new day, for all of us. All that so many people were putting energy into was happening.   

Out of the mouth of Kilifi we released her sail. A crazy battle with the faromani that suddenly animated into a giant bull like creature. Omar Rasta grappling and holding fast, jumped onto it to hold it steady, almost getting swung off the boat.  Ropes tugged and pulled and up to the sky. Whoosh! Pum! Crrrrrrwwwooop! The sail was released. Big sail for big adventures! 
Waving goodbye to land and goodbye to Kilifi. 

The wind, oh the wind.. it was not there for a while. Patience was now to be practised in it’s most chilled out of forms. A rope had been spiralled into a carpet and became best friend to all as one by one we planted our faces on kikoys and under hats, between limbs and fell into lulls of sleep. 
Between yawns we could see the factory after Takaungu on shore and it ticked the time by almost backwards.

With people taking turns on the rudder the morning moved slowly onwards. Our legs dangling off the stern we called out to the wind singing! Whether it was because the wind picked up at just passed 12 everyday, or whether it was our “glorious” rendition of old school disney songs, the wind ANSWERED! 
Soon we were speeding along! The boat was rocking this way that way, sea legs were being discovered. Finding that water had to be regularly pumped out of the hull (super minor issue). 

We were winged on the right by the mainland and stayed about 5 kilometres offshore and could just about make out the different towns and channels. 
Beers were handed round, first fish caught and reeled in soon followed by a second, fresh sushi tuna time!! And all of a sudden a great big Sailfish leaped out of the water in 3 successions 20 metres from the boat- awesome sight. Paolo acted out how the sailfish jumped to a hilariously amused audience.

Claudia got out her golden hat and rum after a bit of top deck yoga. And we gathered for the sunset. Describing sunsets can sometimes be cheesy, really you had to be there. But it was purple and golden and effervescent. It also looked amazing when you hung your head backwards off the edge of Musafir and the crazy water became a rippling sky. 

As sunset we passed the Mtwapa creek and then darkness came and we dotted our mattresses around. Bellies full of fish pasta. Now you could hear her wooden body groaning. Stars and silly stories being told into the night. 

As a mid-sleep treat we were all rolled out of bed onto legs so that the Faromani (the equivalent to the boom but on a lateen sail) could be tacked onto the other side and we could go further out. Away from the Mombasa lights on shore. And some slept and some took shifts on the rudder and kept eyes out and we sailed through the night.

In morning we wake to see the long white sands of Diani and Galu on shore. I wake up to the sound of a splash. SWIMMING! We put our mattresses down in the hull and then I am on the bow, about to jump into the crazy blue ocean! Plunge in and breaking the surface already holding onto the rope ladder at the stern as Musafir moves. The colour of the water under Musafir’s belly was mesmerising! Rays of sunlight cutting through the turquoise it as it rushed by, backdropped by the red of the stern. Clambering back onto the deck we helped to prepare a feast of fruits and porridge and nuts and left over pasta. 

Food was cleared away, pans were washed and set in the sun. In the shade some of us huddled in circles around the straw basket of  the 10,000 dice game which is seriously animated focus and silliness. Shouts of happiness and anguish. 
Meanwhile people were busying about with fishing and fixing things and the dutiful hourly bilge pump. Each person realising that being in the hull too long made you sea sick.

At one point or another each person seemed to find themselves in a semi-lucid state, present yet occupied in thoughts, or dreams or imaginings. Staring to land or the horizon line, the undulating blue was talking to us. It was somehow intense yet calm, off balance yet centred. 

Books and pens and paintbrushes, henna and fishing rods, massages, beer and the rope carpet. Peanuts and cashew nuts. Life was sweet. 

People volunteered themselves as chefs and chopping boards were spread. The smell of garlic and ginger. We caught more fish and feasted again for lunch.
 As afternoon approached so did our destination and soon a fringe of baobab trees could be seen ahead jutting out from the mainland. 

 Half joking we should just keep sailing to Madagascar because we all loved the ocean so much. And it was true, it had been so beautiful, almost didn't want to arrive. The time we all shared together, the conversations we'd had. 

 We navigated our way towards the channel opening between the island of Wasini and mainland Shimoni. The channels width spans about 3 kilometres and we were to find an anchoring point in the Shimoni harbour as the winds on the Wasini side were too strong this season. 

The baobabs of Wasini welcomed us in and smaller brother and sister dhows sailed close by waving. As we got further into the channel we brought down the sail with mighty pulls and scuffles, ropes here and there and everywhere, everyone trying to find a way to help. Then gliding gladly, almost ghostly, under the bright afternoon sun we meandered into our new harbour about 5 kilometres into the mouth. 
We dropped an anchor, drifted for a while more till it caught, some guys went out on the bugatti (the name of our big wooden dingy) and dropped the other anchor. After we had settled a speed boat pulled up to our side and the men greeted us saying "Are you the boat sailing the world from Kilifi?", word had obviously spread somehow and they said "we've seen you on facebook!" haha! Funny world of internet! And so, we were welcomed.
We celebrated and Paolo and Captain Omar went to land to officially register us in Shimoni.
Paints and pencils came out once again, people scribbling down their experiences and thoughts. Others napped and a group huddled around the 10,000 basket. 
 
Jack (another of the Musafiris who helped a lot during preparation, but was out sick during the trip) caught a Matatu from Mombasa and soon pulled up on a speed boat and jumped on board. 
 
And we welcomed the evening into the night, watching the first sunset in our new home, we thought it couldn't get better than a Kilifi sunset, but this channel had big beauty in store. Merry playing music and feeling happy we fell into sleep once again under the stars.

The next morning we woke to two dolphins passing the boat and again feasted and swam. 

 
Some of the boys went off fishing early in the morning on the dingy and we had salty fresh fish for lunch.

That day seems to have gone by in a dream state, between a couple duties here and there we rested ourselves. That night we reenergised and brought out the drums, and began to play. Ibi shot onto what then became a dancefloor and bouncing to the rhythm played the loudest maddest drumming we'd ever heard, and no one had a choice, it was a CELEBRATION! Apparently the drumming could be heard from both the mainland and the Island. And with these feel good vibrations in our dancing feet, this sweet journey had now met it's resting point. And for sure, many more ideas and happenings were going to be created here. 

 
Until next time friends and family, new and old, all knowing what we shared, and hoping to share it again and again for many moons to come. 
 
Love and thanks,
The circle can always be more round,
 
TTTTuuuurrrriiippppuuuuuuu!!! 
Au Vep. 

Afrika, xxx