Category Archives: sailing adventure

Martinique

Bill enjoying his cigar

Bill raises the French flag

We had a nice first evening in the anchorage just chilling out. Bill enjoyed his end of passage cigar. It was one of three that James had given him for Christmas; he had saved it. The next morning he raised the French courtesy flag before we headed into the marina. There’s a big Club Med complex on the beach that looked nice.

Club Med on the beach

A ship carrying the yachts.

On the way into the marina this ship was anchored outside.  I’m going to get in trouble for this but it’s a bit cheating, isn’t it? It’s probably taking them back to the UK or maybe Europe.

Getting into our berth was a bit of a struggle because they have Med mooring here which means you need 2 long lines tied to the bow and 2 on the stern.  As Bill backed into position I handed the bow lines to the guy in the marina work boat who tied them to 2 buoys.  Meanwhile he was pushing our bow into position as Bill was reversing.  Fortunately Ken and Eiloo were waiting on the pontoon ready to catch our aft lines.  The dinghy got in the way so Ken managed to lower it on the pontoon as Bill released the davits. Luckily there aren’t any photos of this because it was all a bit difficult but once tied up we could all have hugs and congratulate each other on our passages.

Camomile has goose barnacles on both sides from the long passage

Camomile has a very dirty waterline from sailing for so long.  We went up to the office to check-in, a very simple procedure. Why can’t all check-ins be like the French? It was nice to be on dry land again after a month at sea. Strangely I don’t experience the swaying that many people do when they get off their boat. We headed to a bar for a coffee, arrr civilisation again.  I had a look around the local supermarket and bought a few things but wanted to wait to do a proper shop at the bigger store. The afternoon  was spent scrubbing the decks to get all the salt off.  It was great to be able to use the water again, there had been water restrictions in South Africa. In the evening we joined Ken and Eiloo and their son Kenneth and his girlfriend Dasher for a meal.

Raining in paradise

Brilliant launderette

The next morning we awoke to rain – had I needed to wash the decks???? I hit the laundry.  Not having been able to do any washing since SA there was a lot of it. They have a great laundry here with big machines that take 14kgs! During the day I had 2 of those going plus a smaller 11kgs and a couple of driers so everything was washed including mattress and pillow covers, towels, t-shirts, the lot. I’m left with a pile of ironing now. Yes I do.

While I was busy doing that Bill had the dinghy upside down, scrubbed off and found 3 small holes in it (it has to be pumped up every day).  I arranged through the office for the local dinghy repair man to come and pick it up that afternoon and take it away for repair.

Tuesday Bill got the bikes out and we went to visit the dinghy in ‘ospital, all was progressing well. There were lots of other dinghies in the same ward so T bag was happy. The big Carrefour was our next mission but we couldn’t carry a lot in our back packs so we returned the next day for a second shop and also to visit the chandlers to see what they had to offer.  Tom and Susie arrived on Adina in the afternoon and it was arranged to share their hire car for a day trip around the island.

Pretty fishing harbour

Fish for sale

Thursday 23rd we joined Tom and Susie at 9.30 and Tom drove off over the hills. The first stop was a local fishing village called Le Vauclin.   The stalls on the beach were displaying some delicious looking fish but as it would have to spend the day in a hot car we decided against buying any. I think these were parrot fish although they weren’t colourful like parrot fish normally are.

Beautiful scenery

The ruins of the house

After a little walk around we got back in the car and drove to the presqu’île de la Caravelle which is a 12 kilometre peninsular on the Eastern coast of the island that protrudes into the Atlantic ocean. Fields of sugar cane with wonderful views of the ocean surrounded the access road. We made our way to the tip of the peninsular and walked the track that led to the remains of Château Dubuc built in 1740. I was so happy I love looking around places like that; Tom had chosen the prefect spot as far as I was concerned.

What a beautiful view the house would have had.

The inside. You can see where the floor was.

 

 

 

The ruins were very well kept and we were each given a laminated plan of the ruins with a sort of pen that gave an audio guide as you placed it on each of the points on the plan. The accent was a bit difficult to understand but it was really helpful in explaining the area.

The old kitchen

 

 

 

These photos are taken of the remains of the main house.  This was the old kitchen. The bread oven can be seen in the bottom right side of the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

Tom and Susie walking down to the next section.

 

 

 

Bill stood by the cahots

Inside the ‘cell’

These are said to be cahots, small solitary confinement cells for the slaves that would have worked there or maybe storage for the sugar cane; I prefer to think they were the later. As you can see Bill wouldn’t have been able to stand up inside them.   Just to the left of the entrance you can see a small slit in the brickwork that was for air and a small amount of light to get in. It doesn’t bare thinking about the stories those walls can tell.

The sugar cane factory ruins

 

 

To the left of this photo is where it all started. They have created a model of how the process was performed. The sugar cane would have been pressed in between the rollers as either donkeys or slaves would have walked around in circles to turn the rollers. The sugar cane syrup would have dripped down through a hole in the ground, along a chute and into the cauldrons behind the furnaces to the right of the photo.

Furnaces

 

 

This was the furnace area. There would have been 4 furnaces pushing their smoke into the chimney. The remains of the chimney shown would have been much taller.

 

The caldrons

 

 

 

 

Behind the furnace were the cauldrons used to boil the sugar cane syrup to form the molasses, the start of the process for producing rum. It takes 10 to 12 tonnes of cane to produce half a bottle of pure alcohol.

 

The warehouse ruins

 

 

 

 

This is the remains of the warehouse area that contained the barrels of molasses.   The production continued up to 1793. Life for the slaves working on plantations like this was one of unimaginable barbarity. There were many uprisings and after the revolution of 1817 many slaves were given their freedom. By 1852 the descendants of Dubec sold the plantation to a nearby distillery and the chateau fell into ruin. It was restored in 2004.

Driving across the top of the peninsular

The St James Distillery museum

We had a delicious lunch in the village of Tartane then continued onto the St James rum distillery in the village of Sainte Marie. The delightful old colonial house contains a very interesting museum on the history of Agricultural rum, of which St James’s rum is one, and is produced from pure sugar cane juice as opposed to industrial rum manufactured from Molasses, the residue from the sugar industry.

The building was beautiful inside

Sampling the rum

During February to June, during production, the distillery is open for tours but only at 10.00 and 11.45 so unfortunately we were too late, (for any one coming along behind us).   It was still possible to have a tasting so various rums were tasted and bought.

Susie and I enjoying a pineapple juice

 

 

As we were three quarters of the way up the island we all agreed to drive onto Grand’Rivière a jewel of a fishing village at the northern tip of the island. It was a thrilling drive of hair pin bends, overgrown hillsides and bridges suspended over gorges. The road ended at a black sand beach overlooking the gap between Martinique and Dominica where Susie and I enjoyed a freshly pressed pineapple juice before the long drive back to Le Marin.

Tom and Susie

 

 

It was wonderful to spend time with these two who recently got engaged in South Africa (so the conversation was mostly about weddings). We met them in Rebak last Christmas and have sailed with them on and off during this last year. Tom calls me his sailing Mum and I call him The Cheeky Monkey!

Thanks for a great day Tom and Susie.

Bill rowed T bag back to the boat

Friday morning I cycled the road that encircles Marin for some exercise and spent the day on my computer writing. In the afternoon T bag the dinghy came back on a trailer and the guy helped Bill put it in the water. Unfortunately he put it in the wrong side of the pontoon walkway and to get back to the boat Bill had to row all around the outside of two pontoons full of boats.   I had a cold drink ready for him when he got back. Bill spent the rest of the afternoon putting his coat back on and the outboard etc.

Putting his coat back on.

In the evening we met Tom and Susie along with Ken and his son.  Nadire and Selim from the Turkish boat Keyif joined us and we all had a farewell drink together.  After saying goodbye to Keyif the rest of us went to the Mango bay for a meal, their Friday night ribs special were delicious.

Sadly at the end of the evening it was goodbye to everyone because we are all going our separate ways from now on; goodbye to another group of cruising friends.

Sue, Susie, Bill, Tom, Ken and Kenneth

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 57 we made it.

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

Our position at 16.30(19.30 GMT) Saturday 18th March was
14 26.39N
060 53.38W
The anchor is down, thank God, literally as we’ve arrived safely in Martinique after completing our circumnavigation.

Our last 30 hours was fairly uneventful except for the mini drama of nearly using the Hydrovane rudder. Bill had noticed the steering was behaving oddly on his night watch and put the autohelm on. In the daylight he looked over the stern to see the Hydrovane rudder looking bent. We hove to (stopped the boat) to look at it and discovered the pin clipping it into position had broken. Fortunately Bill always ties it on as well so we hadn’t lost the rudder. It was brought back on board and was a passenger for the rest of the journey. Incredibly Bill doesn’t have a spare, he had already used it, so we’ll have to get one along the way. That was our only breakage on the whole trip which is pretty incredible considering the miles we have covered.

Barbados in the distance

We continued to sail through the day although the wind started dropped in the afternoon and we motored for 2 hours because we (I) didn’t want to slow down, until it picked up again. Barbados came into view about 4pm as we sailed past the north coast with the lights from the resorts twinkling in the dusk. I watched a cruise liner leave Barbados on the AIS and was SOOOO tempted to call them up and ask for a lift! I ate my last 4 squares of chocolate during my last night watch.

I awoke to 100% cloud cover and a line of squalls matching across the skyline. Bill went back to bed for his second sleep while I sat in the cockpit with the umbrella up because it was also raining. The wind disappeared so the engine was on again. The cloud and mist continued through the morning and Martinique was hiding behind it. St Lucia appeared about 8am, which is the island south of us, and Martinique about 8.20, but disappeared again. When Bill got up I made pancakes for our last breakfast at sea because we seem to have missed pancake day while we’ve been out here.

Camomile right on the line

I started to come out of my chrysalis like a butterfly and began to sing again, I haven’t been singing for a while and although Bill says it’s nice to hear me singing again I think he’s just being kind because he prefers it to the silence! As we were about an hour away from our finishing line the sun appeared along with a pod of spinner dolphins jumping out of the Caribbean blue sea to welcome us. The wind started to blow and the engine went off. As Martinique emerged from the cloud we were quite close and able to see the lovely houses built into it’s verdant green hills. As we’ve already written we crossed ‘the line’ at 1.30pm Bill and I hugged each other with me in tears and Bill pretty close. It’s just amazes me we actually managed to do it.

Turning Camomile back to Le Marin, Martinique

We turned Camomile back towards the marina and had to motor quite hard against the wind to get there. Even though it was only 4pm when we got to the channel we decided not to go into the marina but anchor in the bay in front of St Annes for the first night to ‘wind down’ slowly from the journey. Once we go into the marina my feet won’t touch the ground with washing, cleaning, shopping, etc.

Heading into the anchorage

 

 

 

Once anchored I felt an enormous sense of relief that we were safe and could relax. We spent a short time sorting out the boat then the bottle of bubbles came out. We didn’t have posh Boli like someone we know (!) but a nice South African sparkling wine that was very nice along with some cool white wine too. I had intended cooking lemon chicken and apple crumble but I put some Pringles and cheese and biscuits out to have with our drink and dinner got forgotten.

The celebrations begin

I spoke to Sara on Norsa for the last time on the net (the SSB doesn’t work very well in the marina) and said an emotional farewell, they have another 7 or 8 days out there but they aren’t coming in our direction. Not sure when we’ll see them again – the down side of cruising. 😦
So to sum up the journey we left Simonstown 9 weeks ago and spent 3 days in Cape town before leaving on 19th January. The journey from Cape Town to here was 5634 miles altogether but we stopped in St Helena for 2 weeks and 2 days. The passage just from St Helena to here was 3857 miles that took 27 days 9 hours or 657 hours giving us an average speed of 5.8kts which isn’t bad considering we’ve had anything from 3kts to over 8kts along the way. It has become our longest passage and, as I’ve already said, it won’t be beaten. Of those 657 hours the engine was only on for 77 hours, half of those were for charging the batteries when the day was cloudy. The solar panels and wind generator kept the batteries going for the rest of the time.

So we go into the marina later today for 5 or 6 days then we will start to make our way north to complete the rest of the 1500 miles or so to get us to Florida. We’ve got 6 weeks or so to do it which, hopefully, will be enough time. The plan is Martinique this week
Antigua next week
St Martin first week in April
BVIs second week in April
Sail to Turks and Caicos third week in April
Sail the last 700 miles or so to Florida (on the inside route) during the last week in April If there’s anyone on that route that we know we would love to meet up.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in the Caribbean. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

Camomile completes her circumnavigation

This is the same post but I’ve added some photos.

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP We’ve done it!!

Bill and Sue on the bow of Camomile

At 13.30 this afternoon Camomile crossed the ‘finishing line’. We have sailed around the world traversing all meridians of longitude, the equator and then met our outgoing track here. Eventually we’ll complete our journey and head back to the UK but for now we feel we can call ourselves circumnavigators. Very emotional moment. Can’t believe we’ve actually done it, just Bill and I on our own but that’s basically how its been for the last 8 years. We’ve joined rallies and cruising groups but once you leave port, particularly on ocean passages, you are on your own; completely unassisted.

The line between the green crosses was our track from 2010

From the UK we’ve traveled 58525 miles so far on the worlds oceans and our circumnavigation from this spot on the 11th January 2010 and back to it today was 52365 sea miles or to put it in another context, two times around the earth’s equator.
This voyage has taken us 7 years 2 months and 7 days visiting 44 countries, some more than once, and more islands then we could keep count of – maybe we rushed it!

We haven’t arrived back with a tatty worn out boat either, Camomile is in better shape than ever. During our circumnavigation Bill has kept her well maintained and she has had new electronics including new autopilot, vhf and ssb radios and a new dinghy and outboard as a result of insurance claims from storm damage. Bill has replaced the standing rigging and most of the running rigging (ropes), she has had new sails, stackpack, cockpit cover and bimini, a new cooker and I’ve replaced the kettle three times. Bill also repainted Camomile and replaced all the woodwork (grab handles, toe rails, etc) and the propshaft. So I say to all you yachties working on your boats getting ready to leave, like Bill’s rhyme says JUST GO, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to finish your boat on the way round.

Back stooped and shoulders sagging
Soul and body really flagging
Worn out and weary, time to retreat
Before this daily grindstone has me beat

Cast your mind to a white sand shore
Green palm fronds over sea azure
Trade winds there cool a simpler life
And roaring breakers mute that strife

Above blackest night and pin prick stars
Milky way and meteors
Beneath glowing wake eats up the miles
as mast and deck heel to the sails

Go cruising now my friend don’t wait
’till fatty fare ‘n stress slow up your gait
Real loved ones will support you swim or sink
Life’s hour is later than you think

exert from the Rhyme of the Middle Aged Mariner by Bill Redgrove

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 46

Our position at 10.00 (12.00 GMT) Tuesday 7th March was
00 19 NORTH
037 39W
on a course of 325T with sunny blue skies.
Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 126 miles. Average 5.2kts we motor slower than we sail. We have 1512 miles to go to Barbados

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WE HAVE CROSSED THE EQUATOR FOR THE FINAL TIME.

The first time we crossed the equator was with our wonderful friends on the Blue Water rally on the vessels Enchantress, Lucy Alice and Briet they had come to support us after a shroud fitting had broken and we had nearly lost the mast. With the mast strapped down we were unable to sail and they all escorted us to the Galapagos islands sailing alongside us while we motored 900 miles. We all had a wonderful equator crossing party on our own boats while watching each other throw various concoctions over each other as we crossed the line. It’s on the website somewhere I think around March 2010.
The second time was in 2013 after Sail Indonesia as we motored up towards Singapore on our way home after Mum had died.
The third was in 2014 after Sail Malaysia East in the Makassat strait between Sulawesi and Borneo in Indonesia on our way to meet Thomas and Sonal in Lombok. The forth was on our way back up to Singapore again later in 2014.
The fifth was last year 2016 on our way south through the Maldives (it was hot then too)
The sixth and definitely last time was at 3.30am this morning – we are back in the northern hemisphere to stay.

Camomile crossing the equator

The last few days have been stiflingly hot on board with no wind plus having the engine on made it really hot below deck. We kept having to close the hatches because of the rain showers; I hope to never be this hot on board again. Yesterday, in all that heat, we took the twizzle down as we hadn’t had any rain for several hours and the sails were dry. We didn’t want to take it down while there was a chance of more SE winds but the forecast was for NE winds tomorrow. We dropped the downhaul and Bill took the poles off the sails first taking off the ‘twizzle links’ and re-stowing the poles on the guard rails. We can have both the headsails up at the same time and pull them both to one side or the other but with the possibility of stronger north easters coming Bill decided it would be best to drop the sails and take it off. With no wind they came down easily, lines were swapped, shackles undone and the single headsail reattached, hoisted and furled away. The second sail had come down nicely and Bill and I managed to flake it the best we could on deck and roll it up. It’s now sitting under the table until we can take it ashore in Barbados and fold it properly. All this was done in the midday sun! We didn’t realise until the job was finished how hot we were. I have to have a sleep early afternoon so I can do the first night watch but I just couldn’t sleep because I was bathed in perspiration, I couldn’t cool down.

The black clouds are behind us now and we feel so fortunate to have had such a benign crossing; not a single flash of lightening. Up to the day before yesterday we had only ran the engine for a total of 11 hours just to charge the batteries. It has now been running for 42 hours as we’ve motored through the ITCZ and finally went off at 9.30 this morning as the wind started to fill in from the East. The mainsail went up for the first time since leaving Capetown and the wind is strengthening. We aren’t making our course yet but as the wind gradually backs to the NE we’ll get back on course.

We saw our first ship yesterday, in fact we saw two. There have been several on the AIS recently but they were the first ones we’ve had a visual on. Will need to keep a better look out.

I made a stir fry last night. I sliced up half an onion, half a red pepper, half a green pepper and ‘matchsticked’ a carrot. Stirfry with a chicken breast sliced. I then added a jar of basil, garlic and chilli stir fry sauce from Thailand and some noodles. All cooked in about 10 minutes. YUM.

Bill ate his last apple last night in celebration of our equator crossing, I had some grapes – or they were until they were made into wine. Haha.

Finally a very Happy Birthday to my little sister Amanda. Enjoy your last year of being forty something! See in May, lots of love. XX

All well on board. 🙂

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in the Caribbean. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

South Africa to Caribbean – day 2 & 3

Day 2

The sand dunes of the west African coast

The sand dunes of the west African coast

Having gone to bed surrounded by fishing boats, the next morning they had all gone. By 8.15 we left the anchorage. There wasn’t any wind so we had to motor. There are quite a few lobster pots on this coast so to the cruisers behind us, be careful. The fishermen were moving between them.
The feature of the day was wildlife. We saw lots of seals and birds, several pods of dolphins but the real treat was whales and a lot of them. Sometimes it was just a water spout but we had several breach right by the boat, which I wasn’t happy about, with the full tail display. Whales are something we haven’t seen a lot of so it was a real treat. Of course as soon as I got the camera out they disappeared.
This was our second day sail and the anchorage in St Helena bay around from cape Columbine was our goal. As we were rounding the cape the wind piped up and we managed an hour of sailing. Unfortunately the wind kept building and by the time we got to the anchorage we had 30kts over the decks. There’s a fishing harbour in the bay and we anchored on the north side of the break water for shelter. The waypoint was 32 44.37S
018 01.06E
There was quite a good signal so I was able to have a nice chat with Thomas and pick up our messages. Once we leave the anchorage there will be no more facebook or internet for a while. The wind continued to blow most of the night and the forecast for continuing north wasn’t good. We had traveled 57 miles.
Day 3
By the morning the wind had gone but the forecast wasn’t good for our 3 day passage to Nimibia. We listened to cape town radio. Firstly they were giving fog warnings for the area we would be traveling through plus Bill had noted that by the end of our journey there would be strong winds blowing off the Nimibia coast. We spent several hours trying to decide what to do. Eventually we decided that we would miss Nimibia and go straight to St Helena. It was a shame but we didn’t want to continue north that day and we didn’t have the time to sit and wait in the anchorage for the weather to improve. The forecast might change again, they often do, but the decision was made and we motored back out around the cape towards St Helena. Once I put our waypoint in it gave us a distance of 1645 miles to go. ARRRGGGG.
Within an hour the sails were up and we were making speeds of 7 and 8kts over the ground with a beam reach in a F4 SSW wind. By 4pm the wind was up to F5 and Bill decided to put a reef in the main and pull in some of the genny but we were still cracking along at 8 to 8 1/2kts, at least a knot or so of this was current in our favour but the sea was very lumpy. For the cruisers behind us the area between the 200m and 300m contour lines had Indian ocean style ‘washing machine’ waves and our beautiful clean and salt free decks were soon bathed in sea water coming right across the decks. All hatches were closed, even the little cockpit one that we leave open for ventilation. As the sea was still only 15.2C, it was making the wind cold.

My lovely Giraffe socks - thank you Hailey

My lovely Giraffe socks – thank you Hailey

That evening to do my night watch I had on 3 top layers and 2 bottom layers plus my UGG boots, hat and mittens! The wind picked up to F6 by 9pm so neither of us got much sleep with the boat being throw around by the wind, sea and our speed. We choose not to put another reef in because the forcast showed the wind was going to die down in the early hours so we decided to stick it out. By 2am the wind started to drop and by 6am it was back to F4 and we both took it in turns to get a bit of sleep.
At 10.00 this morning our position was 31 20.6S 014 58.9E with 1459 miles to go to St Helena. In 24 hours we had traveled 186 miles, an average of 7.75 an hour, this is a new record for us beating our top speed in the Pacific ocean in 2010.
So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

November Update

Camomile ready to go back into the water

Camomile ready to go back into the water

The website has fallen behind again so I’m going to try to bring it up to date before we leave South Africa.

When we first arrived in South Africa and checked into Richards bay we had quite a few jobs to do on Camomile. We were able to arrange to come out of the water for a few days to repair the copper coat, anti-foul the keel, replace a bulging sea-cock, clean the prop, replace anodes, and polish the hull.  Camomile looked very smart when she went back into the water on 31st October.

Next to Norsa again

Next to Norsa again

The outboard going to the doctors

The outboard going to the doctors

We went back to our berth in the marina next to Norsa, who had arrived while we were out of the water. The jobs continued with our outboard going to a local engineer for a much needed service and to sort out why it’s difficult to start sometimes.

 

Disconnecting the old tank

Disconnecting the old tank

 

 

 

Our new hot water tank arrived for Bill to fit which entailed emptying the deck locker of most of it’s contents and storing them in the forward cabin, disconnecting the seven inlets and outlets on the old tank and removing it, reconnecting the same and testing.

The old tank out

The old tank out with the failed repairs showing.

Hot water at last

Hot water at last

Fortunately it worked first time without any leaks. Hot water at last. I don’t mind having cold showers in the tropics but it’s cold in south Africa! Then we had to refill the deck locker. All this took several days.  Meanwhile normal jobs like washing, shopping, cooking, having my haircut, refueling, boat maintenance continued.

Deck locker refilled

Deck locker refilled

Eating breakfast......

Eating breakfast……

I have already written about the hippos at the iSimangaliso wetland and our jeep safari in the iMfolozi safari park but we had a third day away where we explored the Hluhluwe park in our own car. If you’re short of time I would recommend going on a jeep safari because you see so much but if you have time it’s nice to drive yourself because you have more time to stop and look at the scenery.  We spent two nights at the Leopard walk lodge about 20kms from the northern gate of the Hluhluwe section of the park. The breakfast ‘room’ was an open staging overlooking a private game reserve.

..... watching Wildebeest

….. watching Wildebeest

 

 

While eating our breakfast some wildebeest walked by.  They also had impala, zebra and a giraffe although we didn’t see him. If you get up early enough and go with a guide you might see a leopard (we were told) .

 

Mother and baby rhino

Mother and baby rhino

 

 

We entered the Hluhluwe park through the northern gate and straight away saw a mother and baby Rhino grazing by the side of the road. They were both covered in mud so must have been wallowing some where. The mother was sporting a huge horn, hope the poachers don’t see her.

A female white rhino

A female white rhino

 

 

This is Africa!

This is Africa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this photo. Right in front of us was a beautiful giraffe with some zebra just walking up the road. How cool is that!

A beautiful giraffe

A beautiful giraffe

We continued to drive around the park until we came to the Hilltop camp which is a resort within the park where it’s possible to stay. This would have been a nice thing to do but a bit beyond our budget but they did nice coffee. The view from the veranda was breathtaking.

Stunning views from the Hilltop camp

Stunning views from the Hilltop camp

The baby elephant is behind the right hand elephant.

The baby elephant is underneath the left hand elephant.

 

We continued on our journey and came across a small herd of elephants with a very young elephant with them but the adults were shielding it from our cameras.

 

Mother zebra with a baby feeding

Mother zebra with a baby feeding

Male impala

Male impala

We saw more rhinos, lots of impalas including this chap with a pair of wonderful horns, luckily the Chinese don’t like them, some warthogs (pumba), some zebra with more babies and finally another pair of giraffes came to say goodbye as we left the park.

A pair of giraffe come to say goodbye

A pair of giraffe come to say goodbye

Baby cheetah. I was standing about 3ft away from him.

Baby cheetah. I was standing about 3ft away from him.

Once we left the Hluhluwe park we drove back towards the town on the main road to the Emdoneni rehabilitation center for Cheetahs and other game cats. Firstly the animals ARE NOT drugged in any way, this was not a Thailand tourist attraction. Secondly it’s not a zoo. Many of the animals have been taken there because they’ve been injured or orphaned. Of the animals they have or have breed, half of them will go back into the wild and don’t have any contact with humans at all. The other half can’t go back for one reason or another and enter the breeding programme and are kept in the area open to the public.  Without the part of the center open to the public they wouldn’t be able to fund the part not open to the public which is having huge success in breeding, rearing and releasing cheetahs in the wild, which are in danger of becoming extinct because their numbers are declining.

African wild cat

African wild cat

 

The first animals we were shown were African wild cats, I know, I know they look like your average moggy but up close they are lighter than a normal house cat. As you can imagine there’s a lot of inter-breeding with house cats and the center has a breeding programme to try and keep the breed pure.

The stunning Serval

The stunning Serval

 

Next was the Serval, an absolutely beautiful creature, fabulous markings. The guided tour is also feeding time so they were all content to have their photo taken. This one was behind wire but his pen was huge. We also saw a Caracal but he wouldn’t stand still to have his photo taken.

"Who's this coming into my space"

“Who’s this coming into my space”

I got to stroke the cheetah

I got to stroke the cheetah

Then we were taken into the cheetah enclosure. The center has two pairs of brothers who have been hand reared so can never go back in the wild because they wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves. The beauty of the Emdoneni centre is you are able to stroke this handsome chap, another tick in the box for me! The center is very strict and we were all given implicit instructions before we entered the enclosure for the two bigger boys. We had to walk in single file and keep together with a ranger at the front and one behind. Once they were sure he was settled we were given the opportunity to come forward one by one. Guess who volunteered first?

Beautiful creature

Beautiful creature

 

 

In the second enclosure are two much younger cheetahs who will stand more than one person touching them so we both had a turn. The rangers stroke them like pets and the purring was like a steam engine, so loud.

This one was much younger. I could have sat with him all afternoon.

This one was much younger. I could have sat with him all afternoon.

Goodbye Zululand YC and Richards bay. We enjoyed our stay.

Goodbye Zululand YC and Richards bay. We enjoyed our stay.

 

 

After our second night at the Leopard walk lodge we drove back to Richards bay to do some shopping and refuelling, picked up the serviced outboard and checked out of Richards bay before taking the car back at the end of the day. Friday 11th after a nice lunch with Divanty and Gaia we left at 4pm with Divanty for an overnight sail to Durban.

Arriving at Durban

Arriving at Durban

 

 

It was a good sail and we arrived at 7am.  We anchored outside the marina at first because the marina was full but later we were allowed to go in and raft up next to Norsa, who had sailed there while we were on safari.

Not a lot can be said for Durban really. It was quite chilly while we were there and rained quite a bit. The problem with the rain was that it was full of coal dust that had come off the numerous piles of coal from the local mines waiting to be shipped out of the port and during the 2½ weeks we were there the boat became absolutely filthy. Quite a few boat jobs were completed including replacing the bearings in our wind generator and Bill and Norman replacing the bearings of Dons wind generator on Solstice.

Bill and Kevin manning the braai

Bill and Kevin manning the braai

 

 

The 16th we planned to have a braai (BBQ) one evening and almost called it off because it was raining again but we are British and a bit of rain didn’t stop us all!

On 17th I got my sewing machine out to adjust our new cockpit cover which hadn’t been right since it was supplied after our refit in May 2015. I also sewed the zip on that had been left off so we could put our aft cockpit cover on, normally for the winter!

An interesting row of houses

An interesting row of houses

Monday 21st Davina on Divanty suggested we all go for a ride on the big red hop on, hop off bus. The only difference for the Durban bus is you don’t hop off because it’s too dangerous but stay on until they stop in a safe area! The ‘good’ bits of Durban are few and far between and Delboy would have given this company a run for their money but it was nice to get off the boats for a day. I managed to take a couple of photos of some interesting places.

Nice building

Nice building

city hall

city hall

 

 

 

 

I think this was the town hall but not certain.

 

The fork lift training school

The fork lift training school

 

 

 

 

As we went past the forklift school all the men wanted to get off and have a go.

A typical street

A typical street

A market stall

A market stall

Most of the city looked like this, just streets full of modern buildings.  The market areas looked interesting but we had already been warned not to go into those areas on our own without a local guide. A couple of cruisers had had little run ins with the locals trying to steal jewelery or other items. There was a lot of poverty in between the wealth.

 

An unfinished road

An unfinished road

 

 

 

This was interesting. The motorway hadn’t been finished and the road just came to an abrupt end. The locals had set up some stalls on it and a temporary bridge had been built to link it to a working area.

 

The Moses Mabhida stadium

The Moses Mabhida stadium

 

 

Once back on the waterfront we were driven past the stadium that was built for the 2010 world cup, looking like a giant picnic basket with seating for 56,000 people, it was very well used. The ‘handle’ has steps up one side or its possible to use the Skycar. Once on the top it’s possible to plunge off on the Big Swing.  All around the outside were various sports areas. The seafront itself has a walkway along the waters edge several miles long. The problem was the area between the seafront and the marina isn’t safe so you need to take a Uber taxi to get there.

It looks like rain.

It looks like rain.

After our bus ride we made our way back to the marina before more rain.

Life continued until 29th when 7 boats had a meeting about the weather and sea conditions to Cape town. Later that day we all left on passage for the journey many of us had been dreading since arriving in south Africa – Cape Agulhas.

More in the December update.

Sailing south

Sailing south

 

 

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 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!

Mayotte and the passage to Madagascar

Washing machines!!!

Washing machines!!!

Mayotte is part of the Comoros group and the island sits inside the biggest natural lagoon in the world.  We had picked up a buoy at the yacht club at

12 46.887S

045 15.647E

The yacht club was very friendly and had helped us with our check in but the best thing was that they had not 1 but 4 front loading, 1200 rpm washing machines with HOT water. I was in heaven, if it wasn’t nailed down it was washed while we were there.

The Emerald crater

The Emerald crater

The other side of the crater

The other side of the crater

 

 

Sunday 14th August was a good day with us making an early start and walking around the Emerald crated on Petit Terre, the little island. We walked right round the ridge along the top and down to the beaches on the other side. I’ll just post some photos for you to enjoy.

 

 

The ridge with crater on one side and sea on the other

The ridge pathway with crater on one side and sea on the other

The ridge continued

The ridge continued

 

 

 

Looking back across the Emrald crater with the main island in the background

Looking back across the Emerald crater with the main island in the background

A final look back at the crater

A final look back at the crater

A nice panoramic shot showing the ridge path on both sides.

 

The beach on the outside of the rim

The beach on the outside of the rim

Before we completed the circuit a path leads south towards the beach. This is the beach on the outside of the crater rim but we couldn’t get down to it.

Our picnic hut

Someone had thoughtfully built a picnic hut at the top.

 

The first of the vent 'bubbles'

The first of the vent ‘bubbles’

Lovely view of the edge of the two vent bubbles

Lovely view of the edge of the two vent bubbles

 

The path continued towards two vent bubbles that have created two beaches. To get down to the beach it’s an almost vertical track and my knees I didn’t fancy it so we continued passed the beaches to the road and walked back to the beach.

 

 

 

The entrance of the northern beach showing the hard lava instead of sand

The entrance of the northern beach showing the hard lava instead of sand

 

The beaches were volcanic black sand mixed with some light sand giving it a grey colour but very hot to walk on. The northern beach was mostly hard rock formed from the flowing lava many thousands of years ago.

 

 

Higher up the beach there was sand but also mangrove trees growing in the edge of the water.

Higher up the beach there was sand but also mangrove trees growing in the edge of the water.

The south wall of the northern beach was stunning with many rock formations

The south wall of the northern beach was stunning with many rock formations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rock by Bill's feet was a piece of solid marble. See the layers in the rock behind him.

The rock by Bill’s feet was a piece of solid marble. See the layers in the rock behind him.

The north wall of the southern beach with stalactites dripping from the overhangs.

The north wall of the southern beach with stalactites dripping from the overhangs.

 

The southern beach was more sandy and had many turtle tracks up the beach where turtles lay their eggs at night.

The sea looked very inviting after our sweaty walk but we didn’t have our swimmers with us.

 

 

Looking out through the headlands of the southern beach

Looking out through the headlands of the southern beach

After walking back up to the car park we were lucky enough to get a taxi back to the dinghy jetty.

This was our little car for the day

This was our little car for the day

 

We spent part of our second week looking for an emergency dentist because I had toothache which was getting worse and worse.  Fortunately by Thursday I was sorted with a temporary filling so on Friday we hired a car for the day to look around the island.

There were some nice views from some of the headlands.

 

Stunning views

Stunning views

The botanical gardens weren’t very  good and sadly there was a lot of rubbish strew around the island as well as a lot of ‘dead’ cars but we did find some nice beaches.

One of the lovely beaches

One of the lovely beaches

Another nice beach

Another nice beach

A type of Baobab tree

A type of Baobab tree

 

 

 

Mayotte has some species of the Baobab trees growing next to some of the beaches.

 

 

The peak of Mlima Benara

The peak of Mlima Benara

Mlima Benara

Mlima Benara

 

 

The island is dominated by Mlima Benara the highest peak on Grande-Terra. It’s distinct shape is visible from almost any where on the island.

Our last stop was at a nice hotel that had tables on the beach for a mojito.

Sun-downers on the beach

Sun-downers on the beach

Sailing at the beginning

Sailing at the beginning with Elonisa and Tintin

Monday 22nd I went to the dentist again to have the root removed and the tooth filled. I was very worried although I shouldn’t have been because all was OK.  We went ahead and checked out Tuesday, after a last batch of washing and shopping, and left Mayotte first thing Wednesday morning. I can’t honestly recommend Mayotte, a week would have been long enough, although we found the people were friendly and I got my tooth sorted.  The main reason for going there was to avoid the Seychelles to Madagascar run, which has a notorious reputation. Instead our trip from Mayotte to Madagascar was an easy one. We exited out of the Bandrelle pass on the south east corner of the reef at 08.00 with Tintin and Elonisa. There was a light wind so we were able to start off sailing.

Stunning sunset.

Stunning sunset.

The first sighting of Madagascar

The first sighting of Madagascar

By 15.30 the wind had dropped and we had to motor overnight. This amazing sunset was seen in the evening. We continued motoring the next day until about 14.30 when the sea breeze from Madagascar started up and the engine was turned off again.  We sailed the last three hours.  Although Elonisa had gone on ahead of us being a much bigger and faster boat Camomile arrived just 10 minutes after Tintin again.  The journey of 188 miles took 36 hours making it an average of 5.2 kph.

A pirogue sailing up the channel

A pirogue sailing up the channel

Old sails

Old sails

Arriving late in the afternoon our landfall had been Nosy Sakatia, north west of Nosy Be. We had anchored at

13 18.10s

048 10.65E

In the morning we enjoyed seeing these wonderful pirogues using the last of the land breeze to sail out to their fishing ground and in the afternoon they use the sea breeze to sail back again. They are a magnificent sight but some of the sails are very worn out. Even the little canoes have a sail of sorts on to use the wind.  These guys were also paddling hard.  For those yachties following along behind us, if you get new sails for your Indian ocean trip don’t through your old sails away. Bring them here, they would make very good use of them.

Camomile approaching Nosy Kisimany

Camomile approaching Nosy Kisimany

The next morning Tintin headed into Hellville but we didn’t want to check in until Monday morning so we motored across the bay to Nosy Kisimany to meet up with Tom and Susie on Adina.

Beautiful approach. First impressions of Madagascar are good. One of the things that’s so striking is the lack of rubbish every where. That’s mainly because the plastic age hasn’t fully reached these parts yet – long may it continue.

This wonderful canoe followed us into the anchorage on the way to his village.  Again using his sail – no noisy outboards or Thai long tails here; it’s so peaceful.

Another canoe

Another canoe

Our visitors

Our visitors

We anchored at

13 34.715S

048 05.182E in 8 metres of water.

Within minutes of putting the anchor down these little chaps sailed over to us from the village. I just want to point out we’ve never been worried about these situations and have only  ever encountered friendliness.

They rolled their sail up and laid it across the outrigger before producing a fish for sale that was so stiff I dread to think how old it was.  We thanked them kindly but refused it. They were asking for fishing line which we gave them along with some lollipops and they went away happy. The older one couldn’t have been much more than 9 or 10 and his brother was probably about 7.

Selling fish

Selling fish

Adina

Adina

Adina arrived and we were invited over for a meal. It was a lovely evening.  It enabled us to take some nice shots of Camomile in the evening light.

 

Camomile in the evening light

Camomile in the evening light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still looking good.

Still looking good.

The following day in the afternoon Camomile and Adina sailed across to Hellville ready for our Monday morning check in but that’s for another blog.  Adina took some really good shots of Camomile on the way.

On our way to Hellville

On our way to Hellville

 

Thank you to Susie on Adina for these photos

Thank you to Susie on Adina for these photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Madagascar

Greetings from Madagascar

 

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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