Bringing in the flags after the Christmas and New Year festivities.
For the last 3 years Ilha Blue have put out more than 300m of lines, floats and marker buoys to create a safe place for bathers at Kharamu Beach, close to the Forteleza de Sâo Sebastiâo at the Northern point of the island.
At this time of year the beach is very popular with young Mozambicans from around Nampula Province and further afield, who flock to the water to cool off on hot summer days and to beach party right through the night. It’s also popular with families and the occasional international tourist soaking up the vibrant scene.
It is however an idyll that has been marred by tragedy in recent years. There have been a number of drownings, sometimes involving inexperienced swimmers or swimmers affected by alcohol. And there is a constant fear of jet skis which zip in and out, the operator showing off by getting perilously close to bathers near the shore and swimmers and snorkelers in the open water.
Ilha Blue first introduced Marker buoys and lines to Kharamu Beach to make a safe place for foreign tourists to snorkel, in this case cruise ship passengers, but it was then extended to safeguard the lives of everyday Mozambicans, particularly over the busy December holiday period.
It’s a precautionary safety measure to create a safe zone where fast boats and jet skis are discouraged from entering. The flags and several hundred meters of floating lines not only act as a reminder of the dangers but also provide something to grab onto by a swimmer in difficulty or in danger of being swept away.
The initiative is supported by the Capatania De Porto which provides the buoys fitted with 4m antennas topped with a red flag. Ilha Blue provides additional buoys and all the ropes and floats etc. Ilha Blue also motors out to set them up each morning and bring them in again before sunset.
“It’s a lot of work sailing out with the heavy and very awkward lines and buoys each day, so we can only really commit to doing it over the December holiday period” said Peter Allsop, the Operations Manager at Ilha Blue. “It would be better if there were buoys with flags anchored permanently to the sea floor, then it would be much easier, just a case of clipping the ropes on and off whenever they were needed. We could do it more often like at other busy holiday times, perhaps even on weekends; it could even be done by somebody in a canoe, contributing to local employment. And it would show that Ilha loves it’s visitors and takes their safety seriously”. And that’s a very important message to get out in busy 2018, the 200th year of the City.