The story of the Blue Fin
Our main boat, the Blue Fin, has been a strong and reliable partner without whom we could not have experienced the many expeditions and adventures it has taken us on.
Its original engine was salvaged by Pierre from a boat at the bottom of Lake Malawi, our friends Henry and Andy built the boat in Cape Town.
Pierre took it on a marvellous journey from Cape Town via Malawi, Mozambique and the Comoros to Madagascar (which is a story on its own).
The Blue Fins arrival in Masoala was the catalyst for the start of the lMasoala Forest Lodge.
Since then it has done thousands of trips across Antongil bay and numerous sea kayaking, surfing, research and filming expeditions around the Masoala Peninsula.
The local legend Paxet has been the captain for over 10 years now.
The original ‘Cape Craft” hull has been proven time and again as sea-worthy, indestructible and imminently suited to the local conditions.
Many improvements have been made step by step over the years and here we are today with our best Blue Fin version ever.
Blue Fin History 2000 – 2023
Two motors were salvaged from a boat sunk in Lake Malawi.
One motor was traded for the installation of the second in a 28 foot motor boat.
The Blue Fin was custom built and launched in Cape Town in 2001, destined for the new sea kayaking operation in Madagascar.
Designed for the purpose, with no cabin, the steering console at the back over the single motor, storage hatches in front and a walk-around deck. Roll-bars for shade and kayak transport.
In 2002, after completing sea-trials and preparations in Cape Town, the Blue Fin began the long journey to the Masoala Peninsula.
Towed behind a truck through Mozambique to Lake Malawi and launched on the lake. Towed again through the bush to Pemba on the northern Mozambique coast and launched on the Indian Ocean.
A month on a sea kayaking and SCUBA diving expedition, north through the Quirimbas archipelago to the Tanzania border.
Another month of cruising, with stops at Grand Comoros, Mayotte, Nosy Be, Diego Suarez and Antalaha to the final destination – Cap Masoala.
As a kayak expedition support boat, the open boat layout worked well.
Over time, the business morphed into a lodge and the boats requirements changed.
On windy or rainy days, the passengers, uncomfortably seated on storage hatches, would be soaked.
Heavily dependent on the boat to transfer heavy loads of passengers and baggage through a long season, the single inboard motor and jet became a concern. Any one of the many components could fail, causing a break-down that could take months to rectify in that remote place.
Motor failure did happen, and in 2011, after 10 years of use, it was time for a major overhaul and conversion.
The motor was removed, sent for overhaul and refitted.
A new jet body was fitted.
A half-cabin was built, with the steering console moved forward.
An outmount bracket was fitted for two outboard motors .
The outboard motors worked together with the inboard motor and with the half-cabin Blue Fin version II was a big improvement.
Another 10 years of use went by.
The outboards were replaced several times but the main motor and jet kept on running. On bad days half of the passengers were soaked.
The engine and jet were now 20+ years old.
In 2023, it was time for Blue Fin version III.
The old engine and outboards were removed and two new technology outboard motors fitted.
The cabin was extended to the stern, with individual bucket seats for all passengers, and drop-down screens.
An immediate success with speed, reliability, comfort and a dry cabin.
And last but not least some extra images of sweaty work that was required to achieve our goals and the many great humans involved.