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After sailing south, we headed back to Nosy Bé. We needed to stock up on fresh supplies, water and drinks at the market in Hellville. It was not the biggest of markets, but we watched Elize do the shopping for us. Lovely pawpaw’s, pineapples, bananas and some oranges amongst the fresh fruit and vegetables. A limited variety compared to what we are used to, but still plenty to choose from and the flavour was excellent. The meat section was a bit different and not so appealing to a sensitive stomach. There were also interesting piles of dried prawns and plenty of spices. We went to a local restaurant for some spaghetti bolognaise, then headed back to the yacht. After all our supplies were brought on board, we set sail going north of Nosy Bé.

We sailed past quite a few small islands – some of them just a rock jutting out of the sea. Then we moored at an island called Tsarabanjina in the late evening. The next morning saw a lone figure on the beach, then making his way towards us. It was Duane, Paul’s technician who had worked with him! This was the island Madagascarwhere he was helping to build the resort. Island life really suited him – he looked laid back and relaxed. But underneath the happy exterior, we found it was not easy building a resort in such a remote location. Difficult to get building material and supplies to the island. sometimes all they had to eat was rice and beans! Still, he adapted well by learning Malagasy and French and everyone who worked for and with him, loved him. He showed us around the island and the hotel, which still needed a bit of work, but was close to completion.

We spent ages swimming and snorkelling around the island, and also sailed off to one of the smaller islands, a set of three islands called the 3 sisters to do our first wall dive. So beautiful with a little remora shark following us all the way on our diving, hoping to attach himself to us! Then we were invited for an impromptu dinner at the hotel with a couple of other yachties. This was a casual affair, with all of us unpacking and christening the brand new crockery and cutlery for the hotel. A great social meal, meeting Tsarabanjinasome very interesting people. It was difficult leaving Tsarabanjina, but we headed further north to the Mitsio archipelago with some very interesting rock formations, exploring islands, with not another soul in sight. More fishing, more diving, more swimming, more snorkelling! We were truly relaxing, and enjoying all the exploring. We sailed as far up as Nosy Lava and found a village where fishermen stayed on a temporary basis with their catch before heading back to their home island. Most of them have to rely on sail or rowing, with no motor boat or lights in the dark of night and they cover fair distances, hence they set up a temporary shelter to spend the odd night. There was a sad sight on one of the islands, a turtle graveyard.

Nosy Lava was our turning point and we had to head back towards Nosy Bé. We went back to Tsarabanjina and walked on a part of the island that we hadn’t seen, not that the island was that big, you could walk around the entire island in about 15 minutes. We did some more swimming and snorkelling, then said a sad farewell to Duane.

While Tsarabanjinawe were sailing I decided to wash my hair. One of the ways to save water on board was to do most of our ablutions on the back step with sea water being pumped directly from the sea. As a final step we then rinsed ourselves with a bit of fresh water. This system actually worked very well and didn’t bother us at all considering we weren’t actually dirty, just salty as we spent so much time in the sea. We had our own bathroom next to our cabin as well, for the more private ablutions, so no problems there. There I was, standing on the back steps, washing my hair, shampoo all over, when we heard the familiar WZZZZ! Our fishing lures were in the water and once again a fish took the line. Guess who’s turn it was to fish? Yours truly! No time to hesitate and the fishing rod was handed to me and I started reeling the fish in, with shampoo going in my eyes, but I hardly noticed! I managed to reel it in and our skipper come dive master/instructor, Willem, was trying to help me get the fish on board. The problem was the Tsarabanjinashampoo on my head had by now dripped all the way down to my feet and on to the steps. Both of us slipped and nearly landed in the sea with fishing rod, fish and gaff in hand. With some smart footwork and clinging on to whatever part of the yacht we could grab, we managed to stay on board with our dinner safe as well. Eventually I could finish washing my hair.

Our last stop was at an island called Nosy Komba. We explored a bit, spent the last night on board Bossi. The next morning we went ashore on Nosy Komba where we would spend one night. It was time to say farewell to Willem, Elize and Lomé as well as Albert, and Tsakina, then we were on our own. It was with sad feelings that we watched Bossi sail away. Being on board for ten days with them all in such close proximity, we were strangers in the beginning, but felt we were saying goodbye as friends. Such lovely people, who went out of their way to make our stay on board Bossi a very pleasurable time.

For those of you Tsarabanjinawho will ask: yes, we all qualified as PADI open water divers! Woo hoo!

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