Category Archives: Circumnavigation

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

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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!

More Madagascar

 

The yachts in Russian bay

The yachts in Russian bay

 

This is the same blog but I’ve added the photos

 

After a great dive with the divemaster at Sakatia lodge on Monday 12th September, Norsa and Camomile along with Tintin and Solstice sailed across to Russian bay on Tuesday 13th .

 

Paul's Dhow

Paul’s Dhow

Bill helped me in then climbed the ladder too.

Bill helped me in then climbed the ladder too.

While there a group of us went for a sail with a local guy called Paul in his traditional dhow to the other side of the bay for a wonderful walk.

 

Paul punted his dhow into deeper water

Paul punted his dhow into deeper water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Paul raised his sail

Then raised his sail

 

 

 

Fairly second hand but Paul still managed to sail his dhow pretty efficiently

Fairly second hand but Paul still managed to sail his dhow pretty efficiently

Norman looks happy

Norman looks happy

 

 

 

 

 

It was very basic and basically just bit of wood held together with bits of string but felt very secure

It was very basic and just held together with bits of  wood and string but felt very secure

After about an hour the sail was taken down, wrapped up and Paul paddled the last bit

After about an hour the sail was taken down, wrapped up and Paul paddled the last bit

 

 

 

 

While we went for our walk the dhow just sat waiting for us with a large rock as an anchor.

 

The dhow waiting

The dhow waiting

We came across a group of houses but everyone was out leaving just their herd of zebu's behind

We came across a group of houses but everyone was out leaving just their herd of zebu’s behind

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continued on up the hill

We continued on up the hill

We came across another little house on the top of the hill

We came across another little house on the top of the hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite being at the top of the hill the guy was building himself a canoe

Despite being at the top of the hill the guy was building himself a canoe

Ug and Ugg offered to get some coconuts for us

Ug and Ugg offered to get some coconuts for us

 

 

 

 

 

so we followed them

so we followed them

 

 

 

 

 

Once in the coconut plantation one of them climbed a tree and cut down coconuts for everyone

Once in the coconut plantation one of them climbed a tree and cut down coconuts for everyone

 

 

 

 

Then the tops were cut off the coconuts so we could drink the delicious liquid inside

The tops were cut off the coconuts so we could drink the delicious liquid inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very refreshing

Very refreshing

A collection of feet. We all just perched on the side.

A collection of feet. We all just perched on the side and across the branches laid across the outrigger.

 

 

We walked back to the dhow and sailed back to the anchorage for lunch cooked by Paul’s wife. A really great day.

 

 

 

 

Camomile sailing along

Camomile sailing along

The beautiful lemurs

The beautiful lemurs

On the Saturday Camomile and Norsa sailed to Nosy Komba for Norman and Sara to see the little village there. Sara and I went up into the lemur forest to see the lemurs again.
Sunday we headed back to Hellville to meet up with Solstice and Tintin ready for our day trip around the island of nosy Be.
Monday 19th saw the 8 of us going ashore and getting into a reasonable 10 seater minibus with air-conditioning for our day trip. It had been arranged through Roland, the guy who runs the chandlery in Crater bay.

A beautiful Sifaka

A beautiful Sifaka

More Sifakas

More Sifakas

First we went to Lemuria land where we saw several types of Lemur such as ring tailed lemurs, crowned, and black and white ruffed lemurs.

 

Ring tailed lemurs

Ring tailed lemurs

 

 

 

Such beautiful faces

Such beautiful faces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Crocodile

A Crocodile

 

 

 

There were also crocodiles, chameleons, iguanas, tortoises, to name but a few.

 

 

A Chameleon

A Chameleon

Another chameleon

Another chameleon

 

 

 

 

 

A leaf-tailed gecko

A leaf-tailed gecko

and this horrid spider which was about the size of my palm

and this horrid spider which was about the size of my palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls waiting to have their bags weighed

The girls waiting to have their bags weighed

The group continued on to the ylang ylang distillery where girls had picked sacks full of the flowers to be weighed and registered to their name. They are expected to pick in the region of 20kgs a day, which is a lot of flowers, and they would be paid the princely sum of the equivalent of $5! It would take them most of the day to do this so very low wages. The flowers are distilled into essential oils and of course there was the obligatory shop where we were offered a juice and some little tidbits while we looked around. The prices were very reasonable so I treated myself to a few things.

 A 20kg bag of petals

A 20kg bag of petals

The group covered up to visit the sacred tree

The group covered up to visit the sacred tree

Back on the bus and on to the ancient sacred banyan tree. It was necessary to be covered for the visit and we were all ceremoniously wrapped in sarongs before we could enter the grounds. The tree covered a vast area, it was difficult to find the original trunk. Many of the branches had sent out shoots which hang down towards the ground and take root forming branches of their own. It was eerily quiet as we walked around the path in between the many branches with our guide.
After that we drove north to see more of the island before stopping for lunch at the north of the island in the tourist area which also had tourist prices.

Looking down on the rice paddy fields

Looking down on the rice paddy fields

The last item on our itinerary for the day was Mont Passot, the islands highest point. On the way up we passed a series of deep blue crater lakes said to be the homes of the spirits of the Sakalava and Antakrana princes and some rice paddy fields. We stopped to take photos but sadly the area had been taken over by tourist stalls.
Continuing to the summit of 326m which gave us the most amazing views. The last section was walked and led to a series of platforms so that you could get clear views in all directions. (Although the photos didn’t come out very clear) There was a bit of an afternoon heat haze but it was possible to see all the way north to Nosy Mitsio and south west to Russian bay and beyond. Stunning views.
During the drive back our guide was able to give us lots of information about the Malagasy people, it was a great day out. The average life expectancy is 62 for men and 65 for women. 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5. There’s no welfare state and school in not compulsory. Many families can’t afford to send their children to school and there’s a 35% illiteracy rate. It was a interesting day.
The whole trip for 8 of us including the van and driver, English speaking guide, and entrances fees but not the lunch cost 210 euros which was 53E per couple plus some tips which we all agreed was good value. Roland’s details are adventuretoursmada@yahoo.com (photos for all this when we get to south Africa)
Bill and I spent Tuesday getting fuel and provisions enough to last us to south Africa because there wouldn’t be any where else to stock up further down the coast. On Wednesday 21st we checked out. The options are domestic check out in Hellville then full check out in Mahajanga or full check out in Hellville. We chose the latter mostly because a lot has been said about Mahajanga, some of which may or may not be true, but mostly because we didn’t want to HAVE to go in if we had a good window to keep going. (Later Adina checked out in Mahajanga and had no problems.)

Goodbye to Hellville

Goodbye to Hellville

In the afternoon we left Hellville for the last time and sailed back to Russian bay. Our anchorage there was 13 32.19S
047 59.95Ein 14.4M of water. Good holding over sand.
Russian bay is named as such because in 1905 during the Russo – Japanese war a Russian fleet spent nine weeks harboured there. The crew of one of the ships are buried in the cemetery up behind Hellville. A beautiful and remote place opposite Nosy Be the bay provides excellent, all-round shelter. One morning Bill and I took the dinghy for a ride around the bay and were amazed by the bird life in the trees. Just outside the entrance is a beautiful beach which we sat on for an hour or so and swam in the sea. (Camera had another wobble and lost photos) We stayed there for the rest of the week and by the weekend there were 34 boats anchored in the bay because there was a regatta that weekend. Everyone had a great evening on the saturday and Andre worked hard putting on a bbq. The party continued Sunday morning as Andre was selling scrambled eggs and fresh bread with jam and coffee. I passed on the coffee but the bread was nice. There were games organised on the beach and then at midday a dozen or so of the yachts took part in a race back to Crater bay. The following day we started our passage south.

Dinghies on the beach in Russian bay

Dinghies on the beach in Russian bay

Passage from Seychelles to Mayotte

I’m writing to let you know we have arrived safely in Mayotte which is one of the Comoros islands off the east coast of Africa. It was a fairly uneventful passage with just a couple of bouncy bits.

The beach at Anse Lazio

The beach at Anse Lazio

Last weekend Camomile and Tintin were anchored at Anse Lazio on Praslin, one of the islands off of the Seychelles, a truly beautiful spot, when we heard our friends on Adina had decided there was a weather window good enough to leave. Both Bill and Kevin had been saying the weather was good to go but Jacqui and I were enjoying the island. After a little meeting consulting grib files and predict wind software it was agreed we should leave too. The passage from the Seychelles to Comoros/Madagascar has a bad reputation and it would be good to get it over as there did indeed look like a good weather window was coming up.

One of the beautiful properties on the northern headland

One of the beautiful properties on the northern headland

The pretty church near Beau Valon

The pretty church near Beau Valon

We arrived back in Victoria harbour on Sunday 31st July and starting working on leaving straight away. Fueling, washing, shopping still had to be completed before we left. Adina had left that morning. Monday morning we all walked to port control to start the process of checking out and by a stressful Tuesday afternoon we were good to go. We motored the 2 hours around the north coast to Beau Valon to anchor for the night. It looked a beautiful spot, it would have been nice to go ashore but the outboard was on the pushpit and the dinghy was tied up ready for the passage. The waypoint was
04 36.6S
055 25.5E

Sailing together with Tintin

Sailing together with Tintin

Wednesday 3rd August at 07.00 Camomile and Tintin weighed anchor and headed out of the bay. Within an hour the sails were up and we were sailing nicely in a light south easterly on the beam. We were traveling on the edge of the high risk area and this was as far north as we were going in the Indian ocean and the nearest to Muqdisho in Somalia. Hopefully the pirates have gone now but there was no point taking any unnecessary risks so it was decided we would only call on the vhf in emergencies and we also had our AIS (automatic identification system)on receive only. We had planned regular skeds on the SSB instead. The first day was uneventful. The wind stayed at a steady F4 on a beam reach so we made good progress. It was decided to put a reef in the mainsail overnight but it turned out to be unnecessary and it was shaken out the next morning. Our 24 hour run from 10.00 on the 3rd to 10.00 on the 4th was 166 miles – a lot better than the Chagos trip.
The wind dropped a bit on the 4th so we motor sailed for 2 hours to charge the batteries passing the Desroches islands on our starboard side. In the afternoon we passed over the Amirante trench with Alphonse island on our port. As this is the area the Chandlers were taken by pirates 7 or 8 years ago we kept a good look out.
Our plan was to make as much south as we could before we turned to the west. We were trying to keep a course of 220 degrees but the wind got stronger overnight making things a bit bouncy but luckily no squalls. That night the wind had increased to F5 so we put a reef in the main when Bill came up on watch. We had to crack off to starboard to reduce the slamming but tried to sail at 60 degrees apparent to maintain our southing.

Early morning sunrise

Early morning sunrise

The next morning on the 5th the wind dropped back to F4 and our 24 hour run had been 132 miles. We lost sight of Tintin that day but after a check in on the SSB it turned out they were only 10 miles away from us. They had turned a little more to starboard to give themselves a more comfortable passage. During the night, after passing the islands of the Providence group on our port side, we reached our southern waypoint allowing up to turn more to starboard and the west. It was
09 14.6S
050 28.1E

We were making really good speeds of 7kts and the next morning our 24 hour run was 155. There was probably at least a knot of current helping us along. Still no squalls and no sign of the bad weather often reported on this passage. One of the joys of sailing are the sunrises, they never cease to amaze me. I spent the day reading my book ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes. I thoroughly recommend it but it has an emotional ending and I sat and sobbed for a full half hour at the end much to Bill’s amusement.
The night of the 6th was going to be the difficult one. We were entering the compression zone of winds that come up from the south on the east side of Madagascar and was a notorious black spot. The forecast was giving 20kts but still from the south east so the plan was to continue on a course of 245 degrees.  The bad weather, according to predict wind and the grib files, was due to start at 6pm. Sure enough at 18.30 we could feel the wind rising and the waves were getting shorter but steeper. By 10pm we had a strong F6 with rough seas, it felt like being in a washing machine. The deck was covered in spray and several managed to find their way into the cockpit. It was forecast to last 12 hours and I kept repeating to my self ‘it will be gone by 6am, it will be gone by 6am’. Neither of us got much sleep that night although I spent a good bit of it cowering in my bed. (I know I shouldn’t be such a wuss but I’ve seen too many of these sessions and know what they can turn into!)By 2am we had gusts of 30kts but fortunately on our aft quarter. It dropped back down to 25kts after a couple of hours. Camomile loved it, we had 2 reefs in the main and a scrap of genny and she was still surging along at 7 – 8kts touching 9kts at times.
During all this we had a stowaway. A blue footed boobie landed just after sunset and clung to the weather end of the dinghy all night. He had no intention of leaving even when a wave washed him onto the solar panel and off the other end. The stupid bird didn’t fly off but clattered back along the solar panel onto his perch and put his head back under his wing. How he managed to hold on is a mystery but he seemed to move with the movement of the boat. In the morning at sunrise he stretched his wings, shook his head and took to the skies leaving a pile of crap on the dinghy and without his ‘takeaway’. When the sun rose I removed no less than 15 squid that had been washed onto the deck with the big seas, along with their horrible black ink, but you’ve got to love those boobies!
Sunday the 7th dawned a much better day. We were now in the wind shadow of Madagascar. The wind was back to F4 and the sea was calming down. Our 24 hour run had been an amazing 180 miles that’s an average of 7.5kph! That was the good news, the bad news was the wind continued to drop and by 2pm had gone and we were motoring. The other good news was we were now 10 degrees south of the equator and out of the High Risk zone. During the day we’d heard that Adina wasn’t doing as well as us having had strong head winds and adverse current on their way to the Comoros they had changed plans and were heading to Madagascar.  Jacqui and I had a chat and it was decided to change our plan too and head to Mayotte instead. There are a lot of problems in the country with a difficult check-in plus there have been a lot of thefts from yachts in the past. Mayotte was slightly nearer and a French administered island. The thought of nice cafes selling coffee and delicious baguettes was too great a pull so we changed course for Mayotte. We were also experiencing adverse current but fortunately without the head winds so continued to motor. Bill spent several hours catching up on his sleep and I had a nap in the afternoon too. After our 18.00 check-in on the SSB Tintin appeared on the horizon

That evening our trip log clicked over 50,000 miles since leaving the UK.

Unusual cloud formation

Unusual cloud formation

It was also getting colder. We were now 11 degrees south and needed fleeces for the night watch and a blanket on the bed.

The next morning just after sunrise I noticed this strange bank of cloud in front of us. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It looked like there was a bank of cloud or fog below the normal clouds. Fortunately as we motored forward it dissipated.

This was the edge of the cloud bank and if you look carefully you can see Tintin’s mast on the horizon.

 

Tintin is a speck on the horizon

Tintin is a speck on the horizon

Bill mending the solar panels

Bill mending the solar panels

Life continued on Camomile that Monday morning.  We were still motoring with the tide against us and our 24 hour run had been only 115 miles, we sail faster than we motor.  Bill had some repair jobs to do. The solar panels had taken a bit of a bashing during the strong winds and Bill repaired the locking mechanism while we were underway.

The bimini insert piece had come adrift but that was just the zip that needed re-threading which Bill did tooth by painstaking tooth.

I started to clean up by washing down the cockpit and aft deck with fresh water.  Everything was covered in a layer of salt. The water-maker was running most of the day to top up our tanks.

Land was sighted at midday, always a wonderful feeling to know the passage was nearly over.

Mayotte seen in the distance

Mayotte seen in the distance

Tintin peacefully at anchor

Tintin peacefully at anchor

We put the main sail up to give us another knot because we wanted to be in by nightfall.  At 18.15 we dropped the anchor at

12 43.201S

045 08.276E

Tintin dropped their anchor within 10 minutes of us. Quite remarkable that the two boats had stayed so close to each other during the voyage. It was such a relief to get this passage out of the way. Tomorrow we would head south to check-in but just enjoyed the peaceful still of our  first African island anchorage.

 

 

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