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This website last updated on 2nd July 2009

I hope to have news on this event soon!! (Editor)



24th February 2009

On Saturday 23 May at 10:30 there will be a briefing session at Marineland with brunch provided, and boats will then have to make their way to Sampakaruma Island that afternoon. On Sunday 24 May there will be a line start (with separate starts for monohulls and multihulls) at the entrance to Sampakaruma. The first two days will be sailing westwards when the wind should be behind us, culminating in an exciting run down between the islands to Honeymoon Bay. There will night stop at Tiger Bay Hotel up the Ume River where we had a memorable dinner last year and there will be the opportunity for a shower. Six of the races will be sailed with a combined boat/skipper handicap, some on a line start and some stern chase, and one race will be a separate competition under boat handicap only. The event returns to Kariba on Saturday 30 May with a prize giving dinner that night. Most days the racing finishes at 1 pm which gives people the opportunity to relax, fish and watch game. The racing is as competitive as you want to make it and for many entrants it is the fun of the event rather than the competition that draws them back year after year.

If anybody is interested, please email me so I can put you on the mailing list and answer any queries that you may have.

For more details contact peter Morris at


From: Peter Morris []
Sent: 22 September 2008 06:50 PM
To: H23COA
Subject: Re: Contact Holiday 23 COA - Join


Hi Adam
Thanks for getting in touch. We are really enjoying our H23, Chelicuti, which is the ideal boat for sailing on Kariba. We look forward to being part of the H23 community.
Your members may want to know about the May Regatta on Kariba, which is an annual event. I am currently chairman of the organising committee. In previous years we have had H23's from RSA come up to take part. Despite the difficulties here, there has never been a problem for people coming in and driving on the main road from Beit Bridge to Kariba. Hopefully by next year we will be well into the transition that we are entering and things will be better. The regatta runs for a week at the end of May. We go up the lake, mooring in a different place every night. We get 30 to 40 boats taking part, from large (and fast) trimarans to small monohulls, competing on handicap. The racing is as serious as you want to make it - most people are quite relaxed. Each day's race is generally about 15 nautical miles. Most days there is a stern chase finishing at 1 pm, which then gives you the afternoon to relax, fish or watch game. There is usually good wind in the morning (and in recent years the winds seem to have got better) and it is the only place in the world where you can combine sailing with a wildlife experience. Much of the Zimbabwe shoreline is one of our wildest national parks. When you come in to moor it is often the case that there are elephant and buffalo on the shore and most trips you hear the lion and hyena calling on some of the nights. The regatta is a really fun event - it is the highlight of the year for my wife and myself. It is a good introduction to sailors who have not been on Kariba before and who want to cruise there. They find out about where to go and how to deal with the main hazard which is the sticks - inundated woodland which needs care in shallow areas, particularly if there are waves.



Story by Peter Morris (Zimbabwe) 22 Oct 2008


Sunset at Rhino              Buffalo                         Chelicuti moored           Running down

    Camp                        at Rhino Camp               at Rhino Camp             Sanyati Gorge

Coenie has asked me to give more information about getting to Kariba and to describe a recent trip with photos.

First, some information. 

Driving distances are 550 km from Johannesburg to the SA/Zimbabwe border post at Beit Bridge, 600 km from Beit Bridge to Harare and 370 km from Harare to Kariba. The road is tar all the way and generally in good condition except that from the Bubi River (80 km from B-B) to the Runde River (200 km from B-B) there may be large potholes, particularly in the rainy season. Closer to Harare there are stretches where the surface is undulating and if you are towing you will need to reduce speed. The road for the last 70 km from the turn-off at Makuti to Kariba descends the Zambezi escarpment and needs care because it has steep gradients and sharp curves. A good stopover place near the border is the Lion and Elephant Motel at Bubi River. 

It is better to cross the border on a weekday as it gets very crowded on weekends, particularly at the end of the month when Zimbabweans flock to SA to convert their depreciating salaries into goods. The Zimbabwe side of the border is usually easier than the South African side. Dont pay the touts who promise to get you through - it is not necessary. Provided that your boat and trailer are declared on the temporary import permit there is no difficulty with bringing it into Zimbabwe and taking it back to SA. There are various charges to pay including the bridge toll, 3rd party insurance and carbon tax.  

The national speed limit in Zimbabwe is 100 km/h if you are towing (120 km/h if you are not). Avoid traveling at night because there are a lot of big trucks and hazard from animals on the road. Fuel can now be purchased in most places using foreign currency. It is now possible to buy food at foreign currency shops in Harare but it will probably be easier and cheaper if you bring your own.

The best places to slip your boat at Kariba are Chawara Harbour and Marineland. Marineland dont normally allow people to sleep on their boats but there is reasonable and cheap accommodation nearby. Before you sail you must find the National Parks person and pay the various fees that they charge. 

Next, a description of two recent trips. 

This year we acquired Chelicuti, Sail No 063, one of three H23s in the country. (The name is from Halcyon chelicuti, the striped kingfisher). Previously we sailed a 24 foot fixed keeler. In July my wife, Frances, our two daughters and I went on our first shake-down cruise. We left Harare in the morning and drove to Chawara Harbour where we keep Chelicuti. By mid-afternoon we had her rigged and slipped (with our old boat we would not have been on the water till the next day). We over nighted at Sampakaruma Island and the next day sailed across the lake to Terrys Bay on the wild shoreline of Matusadonha National Park. We were impressed at how slippery the boat is. In flat water it takes very little wind to get her going above 4 knots. At Terrys we saw lots of elephant and the odd buffalo on the shore, heard lion calling that night and went to sleep to the sound of hippo. A short sail the next day took us from Terrys to Rhino Camp at Elephant Point, where we had a dinner date with some friends. We moored in an inlet for lunch and were lucky to see a lioness hunting impala on the shore. The mooring at Rhino Camp was in a shallow creek and without a lifting keel we would never have got in. The golden rule for mooring on Kariba is to find a place where you cannot see the open lake, because the wind tends to blow at night and in an exposed mooring you can have a very uncomfortable time or even put your boat at risk. You generally moor bow-to with stern lines to hold the boat in. The H23 keel is deeper and further forward than our old boat and we find that we need to raise it at least one notch nearly every time we moor we are still getting used to the PT that is needed and thinking of ways to reduce the effort!  The camp staff took us on a game drive where we saw plenty of buffalo but missed the rhino. The next day we took our friends for a short sail and delivered them to Tashinga, which is the National Parks headquarters for Matusadonha. The motor failed as we came in and we drifted into the harbour in the lightest of airs. We now had a day and a half to return to Kariba. We had to make Sampakaruma Island, 22 miles away, so started at first light. The motor would not start so we drifted slowly until we cleared the bay when the wind filled in, blowing direct from Sampakaruma. It quickly strengthened to over 20 knots and the waves were typical of Kariba - steep and close together. I soon found that an H23 does not like to sail heeled over with the rail in the water and I put a reef in the main. That was not enough so I had to drop the genoa and put up the jib. Late morning the wind dropped and we drifted towards Sampakaruma, which was still 11 miles away. We stopped to swim (ok for crocs since we were well offshore) then drifted some more as the afternoon westerly wind did not come. The sun began to dip towards the horizon and in desperation we tried the motor. It started (the problem was dirt in the fuel) but we still got to Sampas after dark. It is the only entrance I would attempt at night as there are few sticks, the profile is lit by the lights of the town a few miles away and we know it quite well even so we just missed a submerged tree. Next day we got to Chawara Harbour, slipped and de-rigged the boat and got back to Harare that evening the joys of having a boat that is easy to take down. 

At the end of August we went on another cruise in the Sanyati basin, closer to Kariba Town. This time the crew was Frances, one of our daughters, our son and me. The winds on Kariba are driven by the temperature difference between the lake and the land. Generally there is a north-easterly in the morning followed by a calm (when we normally swim) before a westerly sets in. This time there was no calm, the wind just swung halfway round the compass in the space of 10 minutes (so we did not get to swim). We sailed to the Matusadonha shore where there were lots of elephant and we were fortunate to see a rhino. We went to a favourite place - Bonde Bay a pretty inlet, with lots of wild life. We tried mooring stern-to but still had to grunt the keel up two notches to get the transom to the bank. A perfect sunset was marred only by dropping the camera in the water and a meltdown of the Cobb braai. Next day we headed for the Sanyati Gorge, stopping on the way at Sanyati West National Parks camp to pay the extra fee to enter the gorge. There are two battered oil drums on the shore next to a table and chair. You pound on the drums to summon the parks ranger from his house. The wind blows up the gorge in the afternoon and down it in the morning. We had a splendid spinnaker run between steep, craggy hills that rise more than 500 metre out of the water. The gorge is nearly straight but not quite and as it bent to the left and right we were continuously jibing the sails. We went nearly to the end, to the Second Crossroads where subsidiary gorges come in on each side, and motored up the western branch. Once again the lifting keel came into its own since the water was quite shallow. It was extraordinary to be in a boat and to experience the vertical dimension of the hills that towered close above on both sides. Where the lake ended the river had left a gravel bank to moor against. As we came around the last corner the biggest croc we ever saw slid off the bank, and while we tied up we were watched by four crocs within 20 metres not a place to fall off the boat. In the morning we had another great run under the spinnaker. The gorge entrance was just coming into sight when my daughter on the helm called for help as she could not hold the spinnaker and was being pushed into the bank. The wind had swung 180 degrees in a few minutes and was now on the nose. We dropped the bag, hoisted the genoa and tacked for the entrance, sailing as close as we dared to the shore on each board. Ten tacks later we made the open lake. A close reach for three miles allowed us to clear a line of sticks then we bore off onto a broad reach and hoisted the spinnaker. Soon after we lost sight of land in the thick haze and sailed by the compass. The kids rigged a cloth from the mast to the back stay to give shade. They sailed whilst Frances and I relaxed in the cabin. The wind held all the way to where we stopped for the night in an abandoned harbour on the Masango Range. As the fish eagle flies we were 20 nautical miles from the Second Crossroads. The last day went all too fast, only 8 miles to Chawara Harbour and we were home in Harare by late afternoon. It is now October and too hot to sail Kariba (it was 45 degrees last week). We wont get back till April when the rains are over and it is starting to cool down. Then we really do need to spend some serious time there like doing the Mlibizi Run to the head of the lake and back which takes 3 weeks because of all the things that we do nothing is as good as being on our boat on Lake Kariba.



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