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on Sunday, 04 August 2013. Posted in Dhows and Traditional Boats


An icon of the Swahili Coast, the white triangular sails filled by the monsoon trades are a lovely sight to see, and are a characteristic of all traditional swahili ports such as Lamu, Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

Jahazi dhows can be traced to 14th century vessels that was double-ended and sewn together, but are now square-sterned and nailed.
Today's Jahazi differs little from early ocean going vessels that traded throughout the Indian Ocean hundreds of years ago.

The word 'jahazi' is swahili for an ocean going vessel with sails, with origins from the word from 'ship' in both Persian (jahāz), and Hindi (ğahāz).

The Jahazi is the biggest of the local dhows, and is used mainly to carry cargo and passengers between the islands and the mainland and is found throughout the Swahili coast and beyond across the Indian Ocean. They are used by businessmen to transport bulky goods, such as timber, cement and steel rods, and even electrical goods. However, they are risky since sometimes they sink; and since they operate with wind, they may be delayed if there is no breeze.

In more recent years, some of these large dhows have been built or modified to cater to the tourism and leisure industries. Examples include the famous 'Tamarind Dhow' that offers dining and event cruises in Tudor Creek, as well as other Jahazi dhows that have been converted as 'live-aboard' vessels providing a novel accommodation option to visitors to the coast.


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