Forget everything you know about sailing. This is true maritime mastery like
you’ve never seen before. Guaranteed.
Imagine sailing with a compass as your only equipment on board. No chart plotter, GPS or wind readings. No sidelights or EPIRB. No life jacket. Now imagine building a fire on the wooden boat – yes, an actual fire! – and searching for fish. This was the astonishing scene experienced first-hand by DESTINATION - SAILING photographer Sébastien Rohner on a recent trip to Mozambique.
With its extensive coastline running along the edge of southeast Africa, the country is home to some of the most masterful sailors in the world. After crafting their sailboats from natural materials by hand, local fishermen navigate the Indian Ocean using archaic skills passed down through generations. These are true sailors: 100% dependent on the wind and their instinct only. The goal: catch enough fish to sell back home. The risk: with no way of knowing where the wind will take you, possible tropical storms ahead and a limited supply of food available, this fishing trip may take several days. For the most part, every sailor returns safely back to shore with their catch of day that’s sold fresh, or cooked with delectable local ingredients.
Yet despite the tremendous dangers they face daily, the fishermen of Mozambique show unrivalled bravery and incredible intellect. While there are no model numbers or one- design moulds to help construction of their boats, some structures are slightly more sophisticated, featuring a dinghy-style hull, mast and mainsail. Every piece is put together with primitive tools – and lots of patience.
That’s the life of a sea warrior. Think you could do the same?
Photography by Sébastien Rohner
Words by Shalagh-Ann Fredericks