"Mjamaji" story
"Mjamaji" 1000 miles off the coast of Africa. 1980.

Grant and Anne-Marie Prior were original buyer’s of ”Mjamaji” in 1978.

After 30 years they still own the boat.

This is their story about Mjamaji.

I am a Canadian (now retired) who worked in construction management. I bought my Samantha 39 from the factory in Nairobi. I have met Milan Vesely, the owner of Specialized Mouldings, and his wife, Ruth and I know several of the original owners of the Samantha 39 – including “de mi Manera” and “Lene III”.

I took delivery of “Mjamaji” in Mombasa on March 14, 1978 and sailed south to Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania where I was living and working.  Our crew comprised, in addition to me, my wife Anne-Marie, Anne-Marie’s sister Jocelyne and our two sons, Glen and Christopher.

On September 9, 1979, we set sail out of Dar es Salaam bound south around the Cape. We stopped for a while in the Comoros Islands and then sailed straight for Durban, South Africa. We gunk-holed down the coast, dodging the southerly busters and arrived in Cape Town where we huddled with the rest of that year’s cruising fleet waiting for the weather.

We departed Cape Town in late February and stopped in St. Helena and Ascension Island. In Ascension, I called my employer who instructed me to fly back to Canada to be interviewed for a job in Antigua, in the West Indies. There being no civilian passenger flights out of Ascension, we sailed to Porto do Natal in Brazil. I flew to Canada and confirmed my appointment in Antigua and then re-joined the boat in Brazil.

We sailed up the coast, stopping in Fortaleza and in the former French prison islands known as “Devil’s Island”. Arriving in Antigua, we rented a house and had the boys enrolled in school in Canada. Jocelyne also left the boat for Canada.

Following the interval in Antigua, Anne-Marie and I then sailed to Puerto Rico where I had a job with the Intel Corporation building a semiconductor plant in Las Piedras. After a year there, I secured a job in Barbados where Anne-Marie and I lived on the boat for about a year, 1980 to 1981 and then I got a job in Chihuahua, Mexico.  We decided to put the boat up on the hard in Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola. On that passage we stopped in Antigua where we met Roger and Margaret Perkins of “Alligande”. While I went ahead to Mexico, Anne-Marie stayed behind to arrange to have the boat put into storage at Nanny Cay. She was assisted in this by Bunny Ray – the original owner of “Windarji”. We had met Kay and Bunny previously when “Windarji” had passed through Barbados.

Mjamaji stood on the hard in Tortola until January of 1984 while Anne-Marie and I went from Chihuahua back to Las Piedras then back to Chihuahua and then on to Malaysia for a year.

Another assignment in Barbados in 1984 had us sailing back there from Tortola and we lived in Barbados for a year – this time ashore. Notwithstanding a home ashore, there was plenty of good sailing.

Early in 1986, with the contract complete in Barbados, we were joined by my brother-in-law and the three of us set sail for Puerto Rico.  We hauled out at a marina in Palmas del Mar.

After an extensive re-fit in Puerto Rico we were joined once more by my sons Glen and Christopher and Glen’s fiancée, Tami (the latter, now, the mother of my three grandchildren.) We sailed out of Palmas, across the Caribbean – a glorious spinnaker run before the Trades all the way - to Panama. We passed through the Canal and then beat north, motor sailing, all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – arriving in September, 1986. We bought a house in Lions Bay on Howe Sound and “Mjamaji” was alongside at a jetty at the Vancouver Rowing Club in Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver for a number of years where it got very little use and very little maintenance. The condition of the boat deteriorated from bad to terrible.

Last year, we decided to have the boat trucked to Florida where we could work on it in the Canadian winter. We have spent one season there, and will re-join the boat in December of this year and complete the re-fit. After the end of the hurricane season of next year we will set sail for the Bahamas and establish a “Caribbean cottage” – putting the boat up on the hard for the hurricane season and then pressing further south into the Caribbean.

We will report as progress continues.

Grant Prior, October 2008