Zanzibar Ships

  • Dhows of many types have always born much of the Sea traffic around Zanzibar.

  • In a good breeze these craft are surprising fast and maneuverable.

  • Dhows could work close to shore, in shallow water. To these vessels even the smallest towns on the East African coast were accessible. In a fine harbor like Zanzibar the Dhows would crowd in to load and unload all manner of goods.

  • The labor involved with transshipping such a large amount of goods provided work for many Zanzibaris.

  • Sometimes in the past the Dhows carried human cargo.

  • Despite their long sailing traditions the Zanzibari were amoung the first to introduce Steam powered vessels to African waters. The old Zanzibar steamers pictured below helped change Indian Ocean commerce forever by not being tied to the annual cycle of monsoon winds.

By Torrence Royer, 2005

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