One of my first visual memories of Vilankulo, was when I saw what I like to call the boat graveyard. The graveyard is found in a bay on the other side of town where many boats have beached or been abandoned though the years. With time, many tides and salty water, the metal sides have all rusted away, wood has gathered barnacles and nails barely hold together the skeletons of old fishing boats and trollers.
When I recently received digital copies of my film, more than half of my photos were shots of boats floating in front of my house, resting on the sand during low tide, or sitting over in their final resting space at the graveyard.
Boats are such a definitive part of the seascape here in Vilankulo. Not yachts, not catamarans, and not sleek modern speed boats – but old wood dhows, sometimes fixed up with an engine, rule the water way here. Their sails are made up of reused tarps from trucks or USAID packaging left over from the last cyclone. They are patched together with a sort of Gee’s Bend quilt sort of beauty; random strips of neon colors plastered across black and white plastic.
Some mornings, when the wind is missing, I wake up to the sound of chanting and sea shanties and rush to the window to see dhows being rowed across the channel with big homemade oars. When the tide is high they pass by just 20 or 30 so feet from my front door. I assume they’re on their way to sell their catch on the beach or heading out to deeper waters. The sight never ceases to impress me.