South Indian Ocean
30 October 2009 | Richards Bay, South Africa
The photo is Blue Sky rounding the northern tip of Madagascar, Cape d'Ambre. This is a very rare calm here!
We are currently at the Zululand Yacht Club in Richards Bay, South Africa.
Needless to say we are very relieved to be in South Africa. The passage from Chagos to Madagascar was an experience that I would prefer to never repeat. It is all the more chilling now that the British Yacht Lynn Rival has been hijacked by Somali Pirates. The couple is currently being held aboard a commercial vessel that was taken during our voyage from Chagos.
The stress of not communicating on VHF with our buddie boat s/v Moose and when we did our daily sked on the SSB we spoke in a code that we only had. The commercial shipping was just as nervous as we were. We were passed on three occassion. The first was during daylight and a east bound German registered ship steam by and blew their horns wishing us luck and in hindsight blew away any bad luck. The second vessel was encountered on the Saya de Malha bank. It was just drifting and the only thing that Emma and I could guess is that it must have been awaiting orders where/what to load. The third vessel was the worst as it was just before nautical dawn. I received a beep on our CARD (collision avoidance radar detector) and immediatly powered up the Raytheon Radar to see a very strong return displayed only a couple of miles directly behind us. Worse the Somalis were using "motherships" to dispatch their boarding pirates and it was still dark and I could not see what was coming. To add to the stress we were running in "black-out" conditions and so were they! I turned on the engine and made a 90 degree turn to port. The dawn just broke as the commercial vessel passed us within 1/2 mile. (That is REALLY close.) Relief! It was only a commercial vessel but I am still pissed that a vessel their size would even consider getting that close to us. I know for a fact that our radar reflection is over 9 miles so IF the watch WAS looking, THEN they saw us for more than 30 minutes.
Making Madagascar was a relief and we rounded the northern most cape in calm conditions.
Three months of relaxation was what we needed and Madagascar proved just that!
From Madagascar we motor/sailed over to Mayotte. Staying only a few weeks we then proceded to the East Coast of Africa. Ile Mozambique was our landfall and proved a stunning sight with its fort.
We used the southerly/northerly weather to make our way down the coast of Mozambique. We were amazed at the huge population of humpback whales. They would cruise past the boat or we would see them breaching off in the distance or tail/flipper slapping the water. We made it into Richards Bay, South Africa just after our closest pass of a whale. It surfaced directly in front of the boat and that with the engine running and blasting music from the stereo. I guess he was just curious. One vessel did collide with a whale and it disabled his propeller and rudder. The fleet this year gave the local sea rescue a busy time. Of the 9 vessels that left Mauritius 4 of them were towed into Richards Bay with some dammage.
Now that we are here we will take advantage of its proximity to the game parks. Hopefully we will be fortunate and see at least a few of the big 5. Phoebe is hoping for an elephant and Drake wants to see a lion. I'll just be happy to take a quick break!
more to follow....