Monthly Archives: October 2016

We made it

We have arrived in Richards Bay, South Africa, wahoo!
Our position is
28 47.6S
032 04.7E
Our 24 hours up to 10.00 today was 162 miles.
The whole journey was 1188 miles in 8 days 13 hours or 205 hours giving an average speed of 5.8kts. Really pleased with that.

Yesterday we sailed with 2 reefs in the main and the genny poled out to stop it slatting. We had F4 most of the day from the north east with the wind increasing during the evening to F5 but again from the north east so all good. The current was giving us an extra knot or two and our boat speed was 7 – 9 kts most of the day.
Last night was very dark and black without the moon and with the added worry of squall clouds. Bill took the early evening watch as the wind was forecast to increase and he experienced several 35kt gusts, although from the north east, with a bit of thunder and lightening in the distance but by 03.00 the wind died completely, as forecast, and the engine went on. It was very important we kept our speed up because the forecast showed a southerly creeping up the coast although it wasn’t due until after midnight but we wanted to arrive in daylight.
While on the early watch this morning at 07.00 the wind generator suddenly sprang into life and the wind anemometer spun round to the south. Sam had told us of this yesterday so we were waiting for it. Fortunately it didn’t go higher than about 10 knots and only for about 3 or 4 hours but in that time the sea started to mount. I changed course slightly and all was ok but I wouldn’t have wanted the wind to go up to 20 or 30 kts. The engine stayed on all day even though the wind backed to the north east later.
I went for a sleep mid morning and when I got up at midday the land was within sight. The smells that come off the land after you’ve been at sea for 8 days are interesting; here it was coal dust (big mining area). We spent the rest of the day motoring down the coast and arrived at the marina at 18.30 which was 17.30 south African time, after calling the harbour port control on vhf 12 to ask for permission to enter. The pontoons at Tuzigazi marina are in a bit of a state and I think we’ll just stay here long enough to check in and go round to the Zuluyacht club.
The next couple of days will be taken up with checking in with immigration (passports stamped), customs and maybe the harbour master, (each country varies), sorting out sim cards for the phones, cleaning the boat inside and out, washing, and restocking our food cupboards and the fridge. Once we’ve got internet I’ll add some photos to the blogs.
So we are in South Africa, WOW. Bring on Hluhluwe-iMfolozi wildlife park and game reserve, the hippos at iSimangaliso wetland park, Knysa harbour, Cape Town and maybe the Kruger national park with James and Hailey at Christmas to name but a few of the sites here.

Bill having a well deserved whisky and the cigar he'd been saving. x

Bill having a well deserved whisky and the cigar he’d been saving. x

Madagascar to Sout Africa – Day 7

Camomile’s position at 10.00 on Friday 21st October
26 06S
034 28E
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 168 miles
204 miles to go to Richards bay

The main feature of our day yesterday was speed. As you can see our 24 hour run was good giving us an average speed of 7kts. This was achieved by the good winds and current we had yesterday. Although the winds weren’t strong, a nice F3 from the ESE giving us a beam reach, it was our second day with good current, that gave us the extra 1 1/2 knots. The Agulhas current has a fierce reputation in this area and around the Cape of Good Hope. Further north it doesn’t flow in the same direction all the time, as we discovered, but swirls around, hence the reason it was against us for 2 days. During the night we passed Ponta Zavora and now the current is more consistent and flowing north to south. That’s ok as long as you don’t get a southerly buster coming up against the current, which is what causing the big seas. We are in daily contact with Sam on SAMM (south African maritime mobile)net and his forecasts have been very accurate. We are now on the rhumb line to Richards bay and it’s looking good for our entry tomorrow. I spent 15 minutes on the radio with him this morning taking down 6 hourly forecasts for the next 48 hours. The main feature later today is NE 25 – 30 kts which is high but will be behind us so hopefully will give us a final push. One more day of prayers and fingers crossed.
Finally I want to wish my beautiful niece Kirsty and her fiancee Alex a very Happy Wedding day. Uncle Bill and I wish you a wonderful day today and a very happy life together. So sorry we can’t be there in person but you are in our thoughts. Look forward to seeing the photos. XX XX

Madagascar to south Africa – day 6

Camomile’s position at 10.00 Thursday 20th October
24 02S
036 09E
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 153 miles which is back up again now we have the current with us.

After our eventful day the day before we had a difficult night with 20 – 25 kt winds (F6), moderate sea and many waves over the bow. We had 2 reefs in the main, which Bill says is good for up to 40kts, and half the genny out, which didn’t seem any worse for wear after taking a swim. It was difficult to sleep with the boat being thrown all over the place.
By 06.00 it had started to ease off to 17 – 20kts and the sea calmed down a bit. After the net at 09.00 I tuned to SAMnet on 14316 again and he gave us a very good weather forecast with detailed wind speeds and direction for the next 48 hours, fortunately no more big winds forecast for the next few days so we shook one of the reefs out and unfurled all of the genny.
Bill spent the day looking at weather then rechecking the weather, our life is ruled by the weather! At our 14.00 sked with Tintin Bill and Kevin discussed the weather further. The problem is do we stop in Maputo or do we keep going to Richards bay. Only 2 boats have done the passage in one go this year and they both had strong winds at the end. The trick is to time it so you arrive in between the strong winds; there are usually a few days in between each blow. We assess it day by day and take it one day at a time. It’s difficult to predict when we’ll get in because the boat speed is variable. Part of the problem is the current, according to the OSCAR files we should have good current for the rest of way and it’s been fairly accurate so far so fingers crossed. The current is amazing here, after 2 days of looking over the side of the boat and thinking ‘we’re going much faster than this’ we now have it the other way round. On my evening watch there was only 12kts of wind but we had a boat speed of 6.5 to 7kts it didn’t feel like we were going that fast. It’s also getting colder as we head further south. I had a fleece and my UGG boats on for my evening watch and Bill wore a fleece and his middle layer salopettes for the first time since NZ for his night watch.
We both managed to catch up with our sleep last night and feel better this morning. SAMnet says the wind will be backing to North East later today so that will mean more sail changes later today. Finally, Camomile has left the Tropics.
After 3 1/2 years in tropical waters we crossed the tropic of Capricorn this morning, we’ll cross back into the tropics in 3 months time on our way to Nimibia. So that’s it for today I’m off to make bread now.
All’s well on board.

Madagascar to South africa – day 5

Camomile’s position at 10.00 Wednesday 19th October
21 48S
037 52E
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 120 miles which is down again because we had about a knot and a half of adverse current against us.

It’s been quite a difficult 24 hours. We had a good morning sailing albeit a frustrating one because our boat speed was between 4 1/2 to 5 1/2kts but it felt like we were traveling more like 6 or 7kts. It was a trade off because we had to head south before the south easterlies strengthened in the evening when we could bear away but that had taken us into the area 20S 40E which, according to the OSCAR files, is right in the middle of the adverse current area. We could see where the good current was to the west of us but if we had headed west at that stage we would have been headed when we came round the coast into the south easterlies. It’s better to have the wind in the right direction and if you are lucky enough to get current too then great.
After my sleep in the afternoon I had a shower. Then Bill decided to have one too. I was sitting working at the chart table at 5.45 when I heard a light thump up above me. I had just decided to go and see what it was when I looked out of the starboard window to see the genoa coming down into the sea. I called for Bill to come quick and he came running out of the shower all covered in soap bubbles! The genoa halyard (rope that holds it up ) had broken at the top of the mast and was laying on the deck (The thump) and the genoa was in the water.

The rescued Geneo

The rescued Geneo

Bill and I struggled for about 10 minutes and managed to get our new 130% thick genoa out of the water and laying on the side deck, we weren’t going to lose it. Fortunately it was still attached to the foil swivel at the bottom of the fore-stay so hadn’t come off completely but the foil swivel should be at the top of the mast. A quick look at the end of the halyard and we could see that the splice had disintegrated, probably from sitting out in the sun all the time. This left us with a problem – Bill had to go up the mast to get a line down inside the mast so we could re-thread the halyard. It was getting dark and we had a forecast of 20kts for later so it had to be done quickly. I was due to talk to Tintin at 18.00 so I quickly called them and gave them our position so they were aware of the situation, they were 28 miles away but heading in our direction.
The main was still up and was left up to stabilise the boat. We thought about hoveing too but Bill thought that would make it too rolly in the seas we had. We both moved quickly and within 10 minutes Bill was climbing the mast steps with the spinnaker halyard attached to him as a safety line which I was in charge of.

Bill at the top of the mast

Bill at the top of the mast

The mast was like an upside down pendulum, although it didn’t swing around too far but Bill struggled to get to the top of our 60ft mast which was damp and slippery from sea spray. Bill had taken a thin line with a fishing weight attached to it up with him which he intended to drop down inside the mast, I pull it through and we could use that tied to the halyard to take it back up – the line got stuck and Bill couldn’t get it in or out; frustrating. I sent up a knife to him on another line but that got tangled to, we were both aware the sun had already gone down and the wind was already starting to build. Eventually (with a lot of swearing) he got things untangled and cut the line but he’ll have to go back up the mast when we get to Richards bay and sort it out. While up the mast Bill checked the alignment of the spinnaker halyard to see if it would do the job of the broken one. Fortunately it looked like it would so that was plan B. It took Bill about 20 minutes to get back down. I lowered him down slowly while he held on to the shrouds and tried to stop himself banging into any thing and injuring himself. A few muscles were pulled. Thankfully he got down safely but we still hadn’t got the sail back up. Bill returned to the fore-stay to attach the spinnaker halyard. With the force of the sail pulling on the swivel while it was in the water the swivel was jammed. Bill had to give it several big thumps to free it. Then it was my turn to be brave. To get the sail back up the foil someone had to be on the fore-deck feeding it into the foil while Bill winched the sail up from the cockpit. By now the wind had risen to about 15kts and it was almost dark. I put my life jacket and harness on and made my way to the fore-deck bearing in mind I had had a shower that afternoon with clean clothes on! I sat on the bow seat with the sea spraying up my back as Bill winched the sail up with his already aching arms while I threaded it into the foil with one hand and trying to hold on to the sail with the other hand. It was too strong for me and I couldn’t hold it. Bill shouted to just let it go and feed the sail so I did. It gradually lifted and the sail was flogging quite badly but another 5 minutes and it was up. Bill then winched in the reefing line to put the sail away while I cowered to stop from getting whipped by the sheets (ropes attached to the sail to pull it in and out). We had done it. The sail appeared to be working ok and once I was back in the cockpit we pulled it out and continued on our way. Later I asked Bill if he was scared and he said he was a bit worried. Our sons know what that means.
At 21.30 we reached our southerly waypoint and were able to bear away for a more comfortable ride. Bill set the boat on course then went below for a well deserved rest while I watched the most amazing moon rise. I was very jumpy on my watch. Every time the boat creaked or there was an odd thump, on would go the torch to see what I could see. Just after my 22.00 log reading I worked out we had just gone passed the half way point. We’ve completed 589 miles and we’ve got 585 to go. I celebrated with a piece of banana bread with treacle. All is now well on board.

Madagascar to South Africa – day 4

Camomile’s position at 10.00 Tuesday 18th October
20 15S
039 02E
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 129 miles

Our day started off well yesterday with the northerlies kicking in and the current with us we were doing 7 – 8kts of boat speed with the sails goose-winged. Bill poled out the genny to stop it slamming and shaking the boat to bits and there were two reefs in the main as the genny was doing most of the work. The forecast from SAMnet was very helpful and we changed course to 210 to 220 degrees to make a bit of eastering ready for the south easterlies forecast. The unfortunate problem with that course was it took us into the adverse current area. By the evening our speed had dropped to 4.5kts and by midnight the wind had dropped right off as it gradually veered to the south east. Bill got up at 01.00 and the reefs were shaken out but our speed was still down because of the adverse current so the engine went back on (we needed to charge the batteries any way), funnily enough 24 hours since it had gone off before. Bill ran the engine for 4 1/2 hours as I was asleep while the wind started picking up from the south east, again as forecast. The wind increased this morning and one of the reefs went back in again as the wind was building to 18 – 20kts but quite comfortable. The adverse current is affecting our 24 hour run which is down from yesterday.
Still sailing in shorts and t-shirts but we both had a fleece on last night. I’ve got my UGG boots out ready. All well on board.

Madagascar to South Africa – day 3

Camomile’s position at 10.00 Monday 17th October
18 15S
039 47E
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 152 miles compared with 118 miles yesterday

We motored all day yesterday, it was boring but I had a busy baking day and made bread, a banana loaf and some muesli cookies. The good news was we seemed to pick up about a knot of fair current so that helped us on our way. Our boat speed was about 6kts with only 1800 revs. Our course was around 230 degrees and Bill’s strategy was to do a 24 hour “burn” to place us squarely in the forecast NE airflow off to our west. The wind started to build during the evening and the engine was finally turned off at midnight exactly 24 hours from it being turned on the night before. Bill sailed Camomile through the rest of the night while I tried to get some sleep before we swopped over at 05.30, it’s starting to get a bit chilly at night as we head south.
On the net this morning I took all the positions of the other boats with us. Tintin were about 40 miles behind us sailing nicely too. Fruit de Mer were sailing with light winds but Norsa and Solstice are waiting for the wind to fill in. They left after us and are 2 days behind us. The net was on 8110mHz this morning and will continue on that. Afterwards I managed to listen to SAM net on 14316mHz and he was able to give me a forecast for the next couple of days which were looking good.
So at 10.00 this morning we had 15 kts of northerly wind and sailing goose winged on a course of 185 degrees at a speed of 7 – 8kts. You can see from our 24 hour mileage runs that things have improved.

Madagascar to South Africa day 2

Camomile’s position at 10.00 Sunday 16th October
16 37S
041 47E
We had a good day yesterday sailing all day with speeds between 3.5kts to 7kts. After our bad first day it was good to be sailing in the right direction on a course of 260 to 270 degrees. We both had sleeps during the day and felt refreshed. No more fishing. The winds became lighter in the afternoon and we thought we were going to have to put the engine on but we seemed to have picked up a knot of current which is helping our speed so continued sailing. At midnight the wind suddenly dropped so the engine went on and we motor sailed through the night. At 5am this morning it dropped completely so Bill took the sails down otherwise they flap noisily which damages them. This morning the sea is glassy smooth with a light swell so we’ve been able to start heading south west on a course of 230 degrees. According to the grib files it looks like a day of motoring and possibly some northerlies starting up this evening. Still 907 miles to Richards bay, a lot can happen in those miles. I’m baking bread today and maybe some muesli cookies.

Banana bread, muesli cookies and fresh bread, yummy.

Banana bread, muesli cookies and fresh bread, yummy.

On an admin note for the followers of my net I’m going to go straight to 8110 at 09.00 local time from now on so that the boats still in the Nosy Be area can hear the boats on passage. Please pass it along and could someone put a note to that effect on the Indian Ocean facebook page. Thank you.

Bye for now.

Madagascar toSouth Africa day 1

A beautiful sunrise at 05.30

A beautiful sunrise at 05.30

The village still slept as we slipped passed

The village still slept as we slipped passed



Camomile and Tintin left Baly bay yesterday at 05.30 with a beautiful sunrise in our wake.



We followed Tintin out of the calm lagoon.

We followed Tintin out of the calm lagoon.




The plan was to head north to get off the shallows and avoid the fishing boats overnight – the wind had other ideas. The sails were hoisted as soon as we got clear of the bay and motor sailed until about 16.00 when the wind strengthened and we were able to turn the engine off. Unfortunately when we turned to the west the wind was right on the nose – why does it always do that???

We persevered for an hour or so but then had to tack which had us heading south again. The wind was forecast to back later and after one more tack we were going roughly in the right direction but that wasn’t until the early hours of this morning. Therefore we had a difficult night with disrupted sleep. This morning at 10.00 our position was

15 53S
043 36E
We had traveled only 110 miles in 24 hours but only 85 miles towards the waypoint – frustrating.

We caught a fish

We caught a fish

The good news, WE CAUGHT A FISH. In fact we caught 2 as we had 2 lines out. One got away along with one of Bill’s best lures but we landed the other one. The first fish we’ve caught this side of Australia so that’s over 3 years. It was a blue fin tuna and I managed to cut 4 nice fillets off of it. They turned out quite expensive though because as Bill was reeling in the trolling line the plastic handle, which has sat out in the sun for the last seven years, broke. I handed him the gaff which had been stored under the solar panel but had obviously rotted and broke and fell in the water when he tried to lift the fish with it. It was gutted using my scissors but they were accidentally thrown over the side with the contents of the bucket full of guts. Not sure if we are going to bother again!

Heading south

Monday 26th September we started to head south with Tintin. Unfortunately Norsa had to go back to Crater bay because they had problems with their gearbox, Solstice were in no hurry so decided to go back with them.
We are now further south than Darwin so this is the furthest south we’ve been for over 3 years. We didn’t have any wind so decided to stop at Nosy Iranja and anchored at 13 36.353S
047 49.715E
The little island is private but the bigger island has a village on it. Similar to Komba it had beautiful embroidered tablecloths hanging everywhere and the ladies were encouraging us to buy. After wandering around for about an hour we decided to have a swim off of the beautiful sandy beach, Jacqui found some turtles and we swam with those for a while. The water was lovely and warm and the sand soft under our feet. This will be the last swim in the sea until the Caribbean!
We went back to the boats for a spot of lunch then continued south to the Baramahamay river (honey river). There’s a bit of a bar at the entrance but we didn’t have less than 6M of water at low tide. We anchored at 13 42.792S
047 54.074E
Tuesday morning I awoke early and sat out on deck. A truly magical place, strikingly quiet. No phones ringing because there’s no signal. No television, power tools or music because there’s no electricity. There aren’t any outboards or noisy Thailand long tails here just a paddle or a sail on their outrigger canoes that are made from trees. So quiet. I could hear birds tweeting in the trees 200M away, a cock crowing,a local boat builder hammering now and again. Their houses are made from the materials that surround them. The locals get up at dawn and go to sleep soon after sunset. There was very little sound of children’s laughter or playing which probably means many of them have gone away to school and the ones left behind the parents can’t afford to send them. As the sun came up I got some stunning photos of the reflections of the mountains behind us before the wind started blowing. Unfortunately we didn’t get to do very much there because I had had my cold for 3 weeks now and also had a very bad cough, (it sounded like I smoked 40 a day when I coughed.) I felt so tired all the time. Jacqui had also picked up a bit of a bug so we spent the day just resting. The Turkish boat Keyif came in later that day and soon after some local canoes come out to us to sell some honey but I didn’t buy any. Jacqui did and said it was delicious.
Wednesday morning Keyif left early so we and Tintin decided to go to. It was a shame not to go ashore at Honey river because there are supposed to be some nice walks there but I didn’t have the energy. We had a lovely sail down to Berangomania point and anchored at 14 05.761S
047 54.435E
Keyif and Tintin joined us in the anchorage as well and I went to visit Nadire on Keyif who was a doctor. She gave me some strong antibiotics and advised me to rest because she felt my cough was going on too long and complications could develop. As we are now in a very remote part of the world it’s not worth taking any chances with our health. Within a few days I felt a lot better. Thank you Nadire.
We also heard that Norsa’s gearbox was fixed and they were able to continue on their journey.
As I still didn’t have the energy to go walking it was decided to move south again the next day.
Leaving at 4.45 we motored, and later sailed all day past the islands of Saba and Lava and arrived at Moramba bay at 17.00 along with Tintin, Keyif and also Antares. Sadly when we got there we were hoping to meet up with Tom and Susie on Adina but they had moved on the day before. We anchored at 14 53.432S
047 20.532E
Finally having had no wifi signal since Hellville we had a wifi signal and would be able to catch up with emails, facebook, etc. As I was feeling a bit better Bill took us out in the dinghy to admire the Baobab trees on the beach. There were several beautiful species there. We had a gentle stroll along the beach.
Keyif and Antares left on the Saturday morning and, after an assessment of the weather, Tintin and Camomile left on Sunday morning. It was a shame we didn’t stay longer because Moramba bay was beautiful but we all wanted to get to South Africa so we plodded on.
The Sunday evening we stopped overnight in Mahajamba bay (not to be confused with Mahajanga bay)anchoring at 15 15.755S
046 58.345E
I wouldn’t recommend this anchorage because both boats had a very rolly night and the following morning when we were ready to leave Tintin got their anchor chain jammed around a rock or something. They spent over an hour trying every thing they could to free it, the water was the colour of red oxtail soup; the visibility was zero. Kevin considered swimming down to it but he wouldn’t have been able to see it plus there was a very strong current running passed the boats,it would have been too dangerous. Sadly there was no option but to drop it along with about 30M of chain, Kevin sawed it off and we continued on our journey.
Despite sailing all day there wasn’t time to get to Boing bay where Adina was before nightfall. We couldn’t go into Mahajanga because we’d already checked out so we went over to Katsepe which is on the western side of the bay opposite Mahajanga. We anchored at 15 46.19S
046 14.71E
The next morning, Tuesday, we heard on the net that Antares and Keyif had left Baly bay further west and were going for South Africa. They both had difficult starts to their passage with strong winds and rolly seas. They are both much bigger than us and we decided to wait for a few days for the west winds to drop. Adina made it to Baly bay.
On the Wednesday we went ashore with Tintin to look around the village of Katsepe. There wasn’t much there although we had watched a landing craft style ferry arriving each morning that had come from Mahajanga with an assortment of vehicles and leaving with an equal amount of goods and passengers including a huge container lorry almost as big as the ferry and a herd of zebu’s. I managed to get a few tomatoes and little peppers from one of the little market stalls and some bread. As we walked along the beach we found a bar serving cold beers so we sat down for a few hours and enjoyed a beer with the locals.
Thursday the wind was still blowing hard on the nose, there was no chance of leaving. We’d heard that Adina had attempted to leave Baly bay the evening before but had to turn back. The wind was still blowing hard from the west, we were pinned into the bay. The anchorage was still quite calm even though the wind was blowing overhead but it was coming across land.
Friday after long discussions about the weather Bill and Kevin decided it wasn’t good to go. Adina had managed to get out and leave but had a very bumpy ride but for us it would mean a day of sailing into the wind that was blowing 15 – 20kts on the nose. We would make another attempt the next day.
Saturday we didn’t go – I was totally gutted because it meant I wouldn’t get to south Africa in time to fly home for my niece’s wedding. It was always going to be a long shot but really a very sad day for me. Although the wind had dropped the forecast was now showing our window to get south was blocked by a deep low forming over the west coast of Madagascar which was giving building southerlies – something you don’t want in this area. It also meant it would be possibly a week before the window opened again. A very quiet down in the dumps day. I went through so many emotions, sad, angry, regret but it still wouldn’t get me to the wedding. I felt a bit better at the end of the day when I was resigned to it.
Sunday we had had enough of Mahajanga and it’s muddy waters and decided to head towards Baly bay. It was too late to leave now but as the wind had dropped it would be good to get in position for the next window. Tintin stayed behind because they wanted to get fuel. They went ashore at Katsepe and managed to fill their jerry cans at a fuel station about 100 meters down the road. We had a wonderful sail along the coast which was now calm and the strong winds have dropped. Camomile was joined by dozens of local dhows. At one point I counted 71 including several that were quite big but all hand made of wood. It was an impressive sight (photos when we get to South Africa). We sailed all day passing 045 east which means we are now seven eighths of the way around the world. At 5pm we crept into the lagoon anchorage at Baly bay and anchored at 16 02.04S
045 23.448E with 4M under our keel. It’s a bit of a way in but as we were going to be there for a few days we decided it was worth it. The anchorage was very calm. The dinghy is all wrapped up ready for the passage so we can’t go ashore
And that’s where we stayed for 4 nights. There’s a very very remote village in front of us and we’ve had a steady stream of canoes coming over with a few bits to trade with like mangos and bananas. I’ve been through our cupboards and sorted out as much as I can to give away including raiding Bill’s old ‘working’ t-shirts which have seen better days but compared to what they are wearing they are much better. Tintin arrived on Tuesday and it’s been decided we will leave tomorrow – Friday 14th October but I’m not posting this until we are out to sea. I don’t want to jinx it again.
We left at 05.30 this morning. Camomile and Tintin ghosted out on the outgoing tide past the sleepy village and are on our way. There’s no wind at the moment so we are motoring. I will try and send reports each day after 10.00 log reading. Pray for us if that’s your thing or fingers crossed if it isn’t.

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