African visit 2008

September Newsletter from Peter

The recent African visit was extraordinarily successful, with meetings with Government officials,sail demonstrations on beaches with fishermen, “Safety At Sea” seminars in classrooms and maritime buildings and navigation discussions with charts and compasses.

Government officials were enthusiastically supportive of the whole Program and suggesting ways that they might be able to assist. Hundreds of fishermen have given their names for sails and equipment supplies. Kenyan representatives at the meetings came from the Kenyan coastline from Tanzania to Somalia and included villages and maritime community leaders.

Training Group

Training Group

“Train the Trainer” type seminars were conducted with these fishermen and they were very keen on learning. They represented many times their number and were amazed by the strength of the Australian sails and appreciated their manufacture, size, durability, shape, quality and resilience.

Individual fishermen on beaches were given a sail, maritime chart and compass as samples to use and show to other nearby fishermen.

There are some 6,000 boats in the locations visited and the Program shall try to supply sails to half of those. The Program seems to be adding another zero each time sails are supplied to a country – Western Samoa started with about 30 and the Seychelles with over 300.

One fisherman from Madagascar with his son led us through a swamp at low tide (that was “great fun” ) to his boat on the beach.

Delivering Sails

Delivering Sails

A sail was fitted to his boat and he was very impressed with receiving it. He is please to live and fish in Zanzibar and away from the war in Madagascar. Pandu Hamis has three girls and a boy. He lives and fishes near the Old Saltans’ Palace (Wu Vuvi Maruhubi) on Zanzibar (Unguja) Island. We fitted a sail to his boat and he was very happy.

Many fishing boats in Eastern  Africa have up to five crew and even cook meals in their small open boats! Their existing sails are of poor quality cotton pieces sewn together and generally last until the next good breeze, when – after splitting – they are taken down and sewn back together again.

We met Anwar Sadat – a very young Principal of Zanzibar Stanet (private) School – one of the very few on the island. He is a very bright young man who asked me to try to fix the only school photocopier machine they have. Taking it apart was no problem but there seemed to be more pieces left over when I attempted to put them back together again. The photocopier was definitely post war – though I’m not sure which war! He has 600 students spread over three campuses on Zanzibar and if anyone would care to donate some money to him to fix – up the photocopier or buy a new one for the school I’m sure he and the whole school would be most appreciative. His e-mail address is:

hawana(at) and his postal address: Zanzibar Stanet Schools PO Box 2294 Tanzania phone 0777 600039.

The Program is gradually receiving sails in from all across Australia and will continue to build – up the contents for the next steel container load to be shipped overseas. The next consignment will include other items besides sails, namely aluminum/steel masts, spars, booms, halyards, life vests, etc. – so if you are “clearing-out” any old sail lofts/lockers please contact the Program and we will forward a “Certificate of Appreciation” for any donations received.

Peter Gately

I hope everyone is enjoying their sailing.

Yours Sincerely
Program Manager

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Peter is off to Zanzibar

Below is a note (verbatim) from Rev. Fr. Anselmo Mwang`amba.


Sails  Ocean Sails ( S.O.S. )

Many greetings from Zanzibar AFRICA !

Thanks alot for your e-mail I have read this evening, May, 29.o8. Imagine, our mission Electricity power -starting mid of this month May up to day, May, 29th. The electricity department people are telling us, when to resume. Pray for us, your coming to Africa, you will experience alot. Poor Africa…

* Possibly, I will Be there in Dar-Es-Salaam Airport to meet, to receive you, on the 26th,July, 2008.
While you are with us here, you have the time to meet the Bishop.This evening I have told him
Date of arriving here in Zanzibar. He told me, meanwhile he will not there, but we hope when is
back within the days you are with us here in Zanzibar; you eventually see him.

* I have already organized the The Fishermen Group you will meet first. Then later on, together with
me, you will have the chancen to meet as many people of different categories as possible. As you
mentioned in your E-mail letter. The rest of your Pragram, e.g. to Mombasa will be organized after
your arrival here in Zanzibar. As there daily flights at least everyday to Mombasa, Nairobi Kenya.

Asante – thanks for your coming, in advance.
Rev. Fr. Anselmo Mwang`amba.

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Sails received in Seychelles

From: “Albert NAPIER”
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 10:23 PM
Subject: Sails Ocean Sails
Dear Mr Gately,

Happy New Year to you and your family.

May God the Almighty bless and give you more courage and strength to continue do the wonderful work for the poor fishermen in the third world countries.

On the behalf of the Seychellois Fishermen we thank you for your donations (sails).

I had managed to remove the sails from Port Victoria harbour on the26th December 07. Sorry for not telling you earlier.
The Seychelles AOS executive Committe is meeting next week and we are going to discuss on how to distribute the sails.

We will make some kind of publicity for that occasion and I will take photos, write articles in the local Newspapers and have coverage by the local media about the distribution.

Your organisation will be mentioned.

Once against thanks you very much for your donations that will assist fishermen a lot in many ways ( save on fuel) etc…
I will communicate to you later regarding the date of the activities.

Many Thanks.

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Sails off to Seychelles!

Peter Reports:

Peter loading the container with donated sails!The first container of used Australian sails left Canberra at 9.30 am on Wednesday 17 October 2007 to go overseas. This consignment is being shipped to Victoria, on the Island of Mahé in the Seychelles Islands off the east coast of Africa where there are presently over 200 fishermen/boats waiting for these sails.

There are enough sails in the consignment to fulfill their immediate need.

The islanders I saw while visiting the Seychelles and Mauritius showed excellent sailing skills and will immediately benefit from your generosity. They will put these sails to good use as fishing is their livelihood and the cost of petrol is fast becoming prohibitive for them to run their boats.

The Sails Program has recently received requests to visit numerous African and Central and South American countries and needs used sails to forward to these countries also.

I am happy to try to visit your club to talk about the “Sails Program” if you would like.

Donation of used sails were received from:-

§ Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (Sydney)

§ South of Perth Yacht Club (Perth)

§ Double Bay Sailing Club (Sydney)

§ Avalon Sailing Club (Sydney)

§ Clayton Bay Boat Club (Adelaide)

§ Connells Point Sailing Club (Sydney)

§ Mordialloc Sailing Club (Melbourne)

§ Noosa Rowing and Sailing Club (Queensland)

§ Some local Canberra sailors

I have asked people overseas to send photos of the sails being used and if we receive any photos back we will post them on the site.

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Generous Donations

On Saturday 4th August Peter was able to collect a very generous donation of sails from members of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia

On Sunday 5th August Peter’s talk at the AGM of the Avalon Sailing Club on was greeted with enthusiasm by about 60 members.

Peter Gale, the new ASC Club Commodore, presenting a club shirt to Peter

PHOTO: ASC Commodore Peter Gale presenting Peter with a club shirt.

A number of the ASC members have kindly made offers to help our S.O.S. Program, one way or another.
Members have been very generous in donating sails and in giving publicity to the program in their newsletter, The Jib Sheet, downloadable as a PDF file from THIS PAGE

Albert Napier in the Seychelles told Peter last Thursday that he has 150 fishermen (boats) waiting for Australian sails, and growing at the rate of one a day!
Thanks to Australian donors,we now have enough sails to supply this present request!

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Alexander Downer presenting sails to Peter

Peter with Alexander Downer

This meeting with Alexander Downer took place on the 13th June in his Parliament House Offices.
Alexander Downer said that he was very pleased to be involved with the “S.O.S” Awareness Program.
He very generously brought some sails over from the Clayton Bay Boat Club in South Australia.
Mr Downer said that there was a need for the program to assist fishing communities and he keenly supported the idea of Australians being involved with providing sails to overseas countries in order to provide an alternative to the use of petrol engines and to maintain sustainable living standards into the future as well as having the chance of saving lives at sea.

See Media Coverage Catholic Voice

A follow-up letter from Mr Downer indicated that he would be “more than willing to help your organisation in the future by transporting any more sails to Canberra that are donated by clubs and individuals within my electorate.”

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Report on Mauritius, Seychelles visit

Peter on Mauritius
Sail demonstration – compass and charts (Grand River south-east Mauritius)

Note from Peter:
The recent trip to Mauritius and the Seychelles was most successful. Numerous “Sails” demonstrations were held in both countries using different sails and boats.
I taught for two days in the Maritime Training School in Victoria the Capital of Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles and was given an inspection and tour throughout the Maritime Training School in Mauritius. I taught sailing and “safety at sea” to the
students in the Seychelles and put the lessons into practice by going sailing on two afternoons with them.
In the Mauritius Maritime School there were no students there when I visited but they have a very wide range of courses – for beginners to the more advanced fishermen/students. Many fishermen and students cannot swim nor float and following a request for feedback I have recommended that swimming and floating lessons be initiated for Maritime and school students [through the east African Islands.

Discussions were held with government officials regarding the Sails Program receiving tax exemptions for sails, halyards, pulleys etc. The response has been positive so far, and transporting the sails via shipping or air services is being investigated and we are hopeful of a positive outcome.
Once the sails have reached Mauritius, the distribution – to the Seychelles, Madagascar, the Comoros, the Maldives and the east African coast using Mauritius as a central hub – will be by small fishing/cargo boats.


Fisherman Village Leader (Training/conference room Seafarers Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius)

Some fishermen do have sails on their boats but these are generally of poor quality and all of those I met were very impressed with the quality of Australian sails, and said that they could use them on their boats.
Other fishermen did not have masts but were ready to install one and have a sail attached to it ready for use.

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