Madagascar to Mozambique
We pulled anchor at 6:15 on the morning of October 6 and motored out of Mahajanga Bay and headed into the Mozambique Channel, destination; Richards Bay, South Africa, 1200 nautical miles mostly south and a little west. The first 24 hours the seas were rough but we made good time moving at between 6.5 - 7 knots. As we progressed west across the channel, we began setting our course more and more to the south/south-west. By the third day of passage, having pretty well crossed the channel, we were able to point more towards the south and pick up the Mozambique current which runs anywhere from quite close to shore to a number of miles off. It varies in strength and we were lucky at times to catch a 2-3 knot lift! The wind was from behind, north/north-east and we were sailing wing-on-wing. Our main sail was out as far as possible on the starboard side and our jib (most forward sail) was poled out on port. 'Poled out' means that it was being held out by an aluminum pole to stop it from collapsing if the wind were to sneak behind it. We were hoping to make it to Richards Bay in one go like our friends aboard s/v Smoke and s/v Mystic. Had we left one day earlier????.
We knew that s/v Ryhthm was nearby, as we'd heard them on the VHF radio. Michael had managed to speak with Peggy on one occasion but then we were out of range. We were however sending our position emails daily, so we knew where they were in relation to us. The main topic of discussion in all our emails was the weather. Here more than anywhere else, so far, wind direction and strength is crucially important. Why? We are running with a very strong south-setting current. Storm systems come from the south with wind speeds upwards of 40 knots. When opposing wind and current meet, the sea conditions become horrific with standing and breaking waves. So, we watch the weather very, very carefully.
Around day 5 of the passage, 500 miles north of Richards Bay, the wind forecasts began to show a very strong system coming up from the Cape of South Africa. Our speed south and the system's speed north would have had us meet a few hundred miles of our then current position. We knew that we couldn't make it all the way to Richards Bay and that we would have to find shelter along the way to wait out this strong system.
Our first 'hidey hole' as we call them, was the island of Bazaruto, Mozambique (Lat. 21? 34.75'S/ Long. 35? 26.77'E). Rhythm was there too, so that was an added bonus. It was beautiful there, but when the wind came from the south, the anchorage became very rough. We had another day before the big winds were to arrive so we decided to head another 120 miles to the south. Now we are at anchor in a river at Linga Linga (Lat. 23? 43.88'S/ Long. 35?23.38'E) near the city of Inhambane, Mozambique. We decided to come here because it appeared more protected and put us closer to Richards Bay.
Yesterday and today (18/10/14), we have been seeing winds between 15 and 30 knots and this anchorage has been great. Gromit is solidly anchored and we aren't moving much as the wind driven waves are minimal. The weather system is still blowing hard to the south of us, so we have a few more days here. We are trying to find a way of getting to the city - Inhambane, 10 miles south of us, so that we can explore a Mozambique city. With us in the anchorage are the following boats: Rhythm, Steel Band, Leu Cat and Solar Planet.
It is with sadness that we will be sailing away from the big red island in the next couple of hours (afternoon, Sunday, 5 October). We have really enjoyed our time here and wish we had more. Nevertheless, new adventures await, so there is a feeling of excitement about that.
We will go directly off shore from Mahajanga towards Mozambique. If we follow a straight path - not likely - we would have about 320 nautical miles to cover before reaching Mozambique and then heading south. We will be searching for the most advantageous wind and current combo. On the Mozambique side there is a good southerly setting current that will help us along the 1100 mile passage to Richards Bay, South Africa, so we will definitely be looking for that!!
Michael, as usual, will post our position on a daily basis on Sailblogs, so you can check our progress.
A few weeks ago, Zoe's French teacher, Mme Richard from Huahine - 3 years ago - saw from Zoe's facebook that we were in Madagascar.
Turns out that so is Mme Richard and her family. She is now teaching in Mahajanga. We met for lunch and an invitation was extended for Zoe to go to Madame's school and talk to a group of students about her experiences.
It was a very pleasant time and although shy, the students asked very interesting and good questions.
I apologize that the young man and woman who asked the most questions were cut out of the pictures on the left. It was a pleasure to speak with you!
Please continue your efforts at speaking English. Practice will make it easier. Study hard and success will come your way!!
Zoe and Cornelia
Photo taken by Zoe from s/v Rhythm.
We've been using our spinnaker sail more than ever here in the light winds of the west coast.
Even in the lightest puff of wind Gromit scoots along nicely.
Picture taken by Rose from s/v Smoke.
Picture taken by Rose from s/v Smoke.
It is wonderful to be sailing with friends and not only for the camaraderie, potlucks, sun-downers and hours of chatting, but for the fact that we now have fantastic pictures of Gromit under sail!
We've been making out way south along the west coast of Madagascar with our friends aboard Smoke, Mystic and Rhythm. After our stop at Honey River, where we bought 6 litres of the golden ambrosia, we sailed to the next bay south called Berangomaina. On the north shore was a small village where we had a quick game of baseball with a bat and ball we were giving to the village kids. Peggy and David from Rhythm and all the Gromits, walked the surrounding red hills and were awed by the beautiful vistas. On our way back through the village we gave the children pads of paper and coloured pencils. There were a couple of grandmas weaving reed mats who motioned that they would like some t-shirts. I had tucked some into my back pack before leaving the boat, so was happy that I had them to give.
By noon, we were all on our way to the next anchorage at Nosy Lava. Our plan was to stay the night and then head off to Moramba Bay where Mystic was. So, anchors down, dinghies down and off to the beach to stretch our legs. There we found the most amazing little beach sheltered by rocks, trees and a huge rock wall. It isn't often you find such a fantastic place, so we decided right there on the spot to stay another day.
We walked through the abandoned penal colony and up through the hills behind. Again the views were stunning. That evening we met on shore for a BBQ. Ben from Smoke and Liam set about to build a fire for everyone to cook their dinner.......and what a fire it was!
Just before dark a few local men came by selling lobsters. I've never seen such enormous lobsters in my life..... and beautiful, their shells were absolutely stunning.
After dinner, around the fire, we three boats decided that we would sail 8 miles to a village on the mainland the following day, to try to find some fruits and vegetables, stay the night and then head to Moramba Bay to catch up with Mystic.
By the time we got to the town of Analalava, the on shore wind was basting. It was already mid-afternoon and it was Saturday so when we got ashore, thanks to David of Rhythm who dinghied 5 of us in, there was not much available. We found two vegetable tables along the side of the red dirt road that ran through the centre of the village. We bought some over-ripe tomatoes, greens and sweet potatoes. Peggy and Rose bought the same plus some eggs and rice. By the end of the day, the winds had settled and we had a relatively comfortable night.
The great thing about sailing the west coast of Madagascar is that there are consistent winds. In the mornings, the winds blow from shore out to the sea. Around 11 am, there is a period of calm and then the off shore winds pick up to between 10-15 knots. This makes it easy to plan a day's passage.
Moramba Bay was a great sheltered anchorage where we spent 6 days exploring, swimming, celebrating Peggy's birthday, windsurfing (Zoe), kayaking and generally spending fun time with our fun friends. Here there were fantastic baobab trees and maroon and white lemurs leaping like upright bunnies through the trees.
Mystic left a day before us, so we hope to catch up with them in Mahajunga or Baly Bay farther down the coast. We are all starting to look more closely at weather for the right time to cross the Mozambique channel to South Africa.
I'm hoping that in the city of Mahajunga, I will be able to access internet strong enough to post some photo albums.