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
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
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
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
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
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
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.