On the eastern shores of southern Africa, with the Indian Ocean lapping at its pristine beach, lies the thriving port city of Beira, Mozambique. On the edge of the city can be found what has come to be known as Mozambique’s ghost ship graveyard of Beira. It holds a ghostly wonder that attracts people like a magnet.
The Dinosaur of the Sea
The attraction is a giant, hulking dinosaur of a rusting ship that now rests in peace on the white sands. To make the scene even more ghostly, the ship lies at the base of the abandoned Macuti Lighthouse. As you gaze upon the sight, you can’t help wondering if it was the lighthouse that drew the ship to its land-bound end. Did the lighthouse draw the ship to shore like a siren, a mermaid temptress?
The name of the wrecked ship is “Macuti,” and it was once a sea-going tug. The Macuti tugboat was built in 1954 by a Netherlands shipbuilder. Its gross tonnage was 751 tons. It was nearly 30 feet wide and 194 feet long. In its heyday, the ship was honored by being featured on a Mozambique postal stamp.
The fact is that the ship was purposefully run aground on the beach in 1985 to act as a breakwater. It was beached to protect the Macuti Lighthouse from sand erosion.
Given a Second Life
At the end of its life, rather than sending the once celebrated Macuti off to the scrapyard, it was given a second tour of duty by being laid to rest on a vast, public beach. It’s there it has been given an enduring yet slowly decaying, honorable end.
This ghost ship graveyard draws spectators far and wide, but it’s a popular, local stomping ground on weekends. People come to soak up the sun at the lighthouse’s base while gazing out over the corroding shell of the noble Macuti tugboat.
If you arrive at Macuti Beach during high tide, you won’t see much of the ship – just some rusted-out bulkheads sticking above the waterline. However, come at low tide, and you can walk or wade out to the wrecked ship and explore it up close. The currents can be strong along the beach, so ask locals about safety before wandering into the water.
From the air, the wreck looks like a giant beached whale. The stark contrast of this slowly decaying abandoned ship set upon a vast, pristine beach sends the imagination soaring, especially at sunrise and during the violet skies at sunset. The scene is both eerily beautiful and ghostly.
Dreams for the Future
As the government pours money into the port city of Beira to develop it as a tourist destination, the Macuti tugboat will draw more people to Mozambique’s ghost ship graveyard of Beira. Here they can gaze upon this relic while the motion of the waves sends it to its watery grave.