09-May-2004 -- When I first got introduced to the Degree Confluence Project by Mario Pinto (see confluence visit 10S 14E), I thought the easiest point to reach in Angola would be this one. It is relatively close to the city, and being a short boat ride away would simplify the usually more complex planning required for any road trip in this part of the world. We had been talking about going deep-sea fishing for a while, and all we needed was to charter a boat and a group of willing volunteers.
It was an early start. I picked up the guys at their house close to the boat yard at 5:30. When we got to the boat, Zé Maria was already waiting for us; the crew had disappeared though. While we waited for the crew to show up, we enjoyed the sunrise over the city and took some pictures. Finally the crew showed up at 6:15 - they had gone looking for some live bait for us. The boat was loaded with the food for the day, the fishing tackle, we filled up with ice for the beers, and off we went. It was 6:30 a.m. when we set off. Not too bad given the usual delays in this part of the world...
I discussed two objectives of the day with the skipper as we manoeuvred out of the Luanda bay: Fishing and reaching the confluence point. This is not the best season for billfish, he suggested - the water is a bit too cold at this time of year. The best chance would be to look for a tuna or some barracuda close to some cliffs just north of the city. After a fruitless attempt at the barracuda, or anything else that would bite, we decided to head northwest into deeper water. The sea was very calm about 15 nm from the shore as we trawled for some tuna at roughly 6 kt for about two and half hours. At around 11 a.m. we started heading towards the CP. Along the way we sighted a couple of mantas and several giant turtles swimming past.
The lack of battle chair activity was making us all a little bored, so we decided on a little detour to the local oilrig for a change of scenery; that is the Leiv Eriksson, a small rig, currently being decommissioned. This general area close to the rig is known for oil to come to the surface naturally and indeed the water had a thick and oily appearance.
We were now 18 nm from the point, heading straight to it. At this point we started wondering if fuel would last to come back. We decided to take the risk, and increased our speed to 9 kt. As the afternoon wore on the sea was becoming a little rougher, but nothing to be worried about yet. This was probably just the afternoon thermals starting to pick up. Just after 14:30 we finally arrived at the point. The boat kept on drifting but GPS accuracy was quite high at only 35 ft (11 m). I tried to capture the GPS reading with the exact point coordinated, but the boat was drifting at over 1 kt and the swell made focusing difficult.
At the Confluence we risked a quick dip, looking out for sharks. Photos taken and off we went back to town, this time close to the shore along the Mussulo isthmus. This is a 50 km long sand bank, very popular as a weekend destination and teeming with second homes and facilities for water sports.
We arrived back at around 18:00, with both 400-litre fuel tanks very close to empty. No fish caught but another Angolan CP in the bag!
Coordinator's Note: Although the shown GPS photo was taken at a distance of over 100 m from the Confluence, the visitor confirmed that they got to within the required distance and that the other GPS photos were blurred.