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LeuCat Adventures
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Year 7 Day 293 Getting Ready
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/21/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

It looks like our long wait here for the weather window to arrive is about over. The Grib file and the spot forecasts are looking a bit encouraging for a departure in one or two days. We hope the forecasts will continue to hold to this positive news as we get closer and closer to leaving. The forecasts are showing light winds that slowly move to the east over time. There are still some variations between models that indicate a bit more atmospheric instability than what I would like to see but the overall trend is encouraging. We have our fingers crossed since I am getting really antsy to go. Patience and waiting for the right window is really important now so I am still maintaining my overall conservatism when it comes to choosing our window. But I must admit it is getting harder and harder to wait with each passing day.

S/V Steel Band headed out early this morning. I believe they are going to be anchoring in front of the cape that is about 10 nm southeast of here called Ponta da Barra. The advantage of being there is that you are not restricted by the tidal stage there when you are ready to start your passage to Richards Bay, such as you are here in Linga Linga. It is best to leave this anchorage within one hour of high tide to make sure you can clear all of the sand bars and breakers at the river mouth. We are debating to do this also but this anchorage offers more protection from the wind and the swells then the cape anchorage. Thus, I will be getting up at 0500 tomorrow morning to check the latest weather forecast to decide if we stay put another day, weigh anchor and go out to the cape or to just start our passage.

The remainder of the people in the fleet all went to shore early this morning and spent the day in Maxixe. They all needed fresh vegetables and were anxious to go to an Internet Café. We still have a number of vegetables that are pretty good (onions, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and cabbage) so we opted to stay on Leu Cat and get things ready, just in case we weigh anchor tomorrow morning around 0600.

When they returned, David of S/V Rhythm came over. During our discussions he said that he has talked with a local fellow that skippers the catamaran which is owned by the resort here. That fellow is recommending that people delay for a couple of more days. He said that forecasts which show light winds along this coast can be unreliable and later in the week the winds will be turning to the east and then north. While I see no indication of northerly winds, it does appear to me that they do start to turn and come from the east as the week wears on. This would be another reason to wait here another day or two.

Year 7 Day 292 An Aborted Landing
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/20/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

We were hailed early this morning by Sven of S/V Solar Planet. He had been in conversation with the folks from S/V Grommet who were ashore at the resort where we had our beers yesterday. They had just finished talking to the caretaker who suggested that instead of going upstream to the village there, we all drive our dinghies across the wide river, climb up the tall bluff and catch a bus into the town of Maxixi. This town has an Internet café and the folks from Grommet were very interested in going there.

Thus, at 0900 this morning, Grommet, Solar Planet and Peggy of S/V Rhythm (who rode in our dinghy) and I all headed over to the far side of the river. It was easy going since the winds were only 10 knots and the river water was not choppy. However, about ¼ mile from shore we ran into some very serious sand bars. We all split up, each trying to probe a way into shore. It was approaching low tide and we discovered that it was absolutely the worst time to try to get to the far river bank.

As it turned out, none of us could find a way into shore and after a half hour of trying, we all gave up and returned to our respective boats. Damn! We all so were looking forward to exploring town and getting exposed to the Mozambique culture.

Michael of Grommet suggested that we all try again but leaving at 0500 tomorrow which would be well before low tide. While I would like to see Maxixi, the concept of leaving so early and trying to penetrate the sand bars in the dawn of the morning was just not exciting to me so I shared with them that I would opt out. It will just be another opportunity missed...

To salvage the day, we opted to have our lunch at the resort today instead of tomorrow. Thus, at 1230 all 13 of us were gathered at the bar having drinks, socializing and playing pool. Mia suggested that she and I play a game and she hustled me over to the table with a glint in her eye. She had spotted a sucker and was anxious to take advantage of an old man.

Well, she beat me twice and each game was not even close. Her winning was so complete that her 10 year old brother saw an opportunity to take advantage of an old man and he too suggested that we play. I was able to delay this game until after lunch since the waiter announced that we should all move into the formal dining room.

This room was huge with a nice large formal dining table, heavy wooden chairs, a fireplace and standing candelabra with melted candles. The lunch was nice but simple. The choice was hamburgers or calamari salad. Each option was very good and the homemade bread was warm and delicious.

After lunch I was able to play my obligatory game of pool but this time I won. I actually felt bad beating a 10 year old but someone had to win...

Both Mary Margaret and I enjoyed ourselves, the lunch and the socializing. However, everyone is anxious for the winds to shift so we can leave and continue our passage to Richards Bay or parts south. Right now it is still up in the air when we can leave. Everything is just day by day until the winds stop or switch from coming up from the south...

Year 7 Day 291 Castela Del Mar
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/19/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

Michael and Cornella of S/V Grommet came by today to discussed some ideas they had. They suggested that tomorrow we all dinghy up river about 4 miles to a small village to explore a bit and see if we can buy some fresh vegetable. They had gone over to the little resort near us, Castela Del Mar, and talked with the caretaker and he told them about the village. The caretaker also said that if enough of us came in, he would open up the kitchen and we could all have either lunch for $7 US a person or dinner at $15 a person. Both exploring the village and lunch sounded like wonderful things to do so we quickly told them to count us in.

Later I talked with David of S/V Rhythm about all this and discovered that he and Peggy loved the ideas also. In fact, with the Sim card he had bought while up at Ilha Bazarut he had just called the caretaker and he was willing to open the bar for us this afternoon. Thus, we agreed that we would go in around 1630 for a beer. After being cooped up on the boat for a week, sitting these storms out, I was ready for a beer on shore.

Mary Margaret invited Peggy to come over while we boys were having our beer so around 1600 Peggy paddled her kayak over. This was no small feat since the winds had really piped up again and were now blowing 25 knots after a day of blowing just 15 to 20 knots. The winds were still coming up from the south and look to be doing this for the next few days, trapping us in this anchorage.

I picked David up at 1630 and together we slowly made our way down river to the resort. The tide was running out at 3 knots and the wind was blowing against the tide at 25 knots making large, steep swells that broke every now and again. To avoid these nasty swells, we hugged the shoreline most of the way. We finally arrived at the beach in front of the resort and with the dinghy wheels in place, ran the dinghy up onto the beach and then hauled it up a short distance. With the tide still falling, I did not have to worry about the tide sweeping the dinghy away.

The two fellows manning the bar greeted us and immediately took us to their cooler where the ice cold beers were waiting for us. In no time we were slurping this golden nectar down with big grins on our faces. Ahhh, it was good!

Shortly thereafter the rest of the fleet came in and the bottle tops were flying off the bottles. Everyone was so happy to be off their respective boats after being cooped up for so long.

I talked a bit with the two young men manning the bar, Louis and Manuel. They said that every now and again they get a group in for a few days. They actually just had a group of 17 people from Belgium here a few days ago. While their busy months are December, April and July, they get small groups in throughout the year. When they do, they open everything up, when no one is there, they close down. Since we wanted to come in for beers and in a couple of days for lunch, they would open up for us.

After the sun set I told David that I wanted to head back before it got dark. I did not wish to navigate through the swells and over the sand bars in the dark. He agreed and off we went. This time we rode the backs of the swells returning to our boat. It was a much drier ride than coming into shore.

We all had a great time and tomorrow looks like it could be even more fun!

Year 7 Day 290 A Great Solar Day
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/18/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

One of the nice things we have noticed recently as we have sailed south and the sun is moving south is that our solar panels are getting more and more efficient in capturing energy. We have three 200 watt panels up on our arch that is over the stern and we just love them. Whenever we have a sunny day, they now provide 100 percent of our energy needs. We are running our refrigerator and the portable freezer along with our radios (VHF and stereo) and many times have the invertor on to recharge our toothbrushes, Nook readers, and IPad. We use about 170 amps a day and the solar panels are keeping our batteries full each sunny day. It is great.

To save on energy, we have moved our frozen foods out of our freezer that is in the salon and into our portable freezer. The portable freezer has about 2/3 of the space as our salon freezer and is much more efficient, energy-wise. We could transfer the frozen food since we are now getting down in the amount that we are carrying. With luck, in less than two months we will have mothballed Leu Cat in False Bay and will be winging our way back to the States for the holidays and then a couple of weddings to attend. Thus, we are trying to eat everything up, including the stuff in the freezer.

While our friends, Portia and Steve, did bring with them to our boat the replacement blades for our wind generator, it is still not working properly. I think one of the bearings is bad or got knocked out when the bird hit and broke the blade. The rotor does not turn freely and when it does turn, it goes "thump", "thump", thump". Thus, we have it turned off until I can figure out how to fix it. We miss it dearly, especially on the cloudy and overcast days.

Today we continued to sit tight in our anchorage with the four other boats. While the skies were sunny and clear all day, the winds continued to howl, reaching 30 knots a number of times. The daily GRIB file still is predicting that the low will linger off the southern end of Madagascar through the 20th and will continue to bring winds up from the south. We just have to sit tight until the winds move to the east. Hopefully, that will start on the 21st but even that is iffy. We are anxious to get going and sail to at least Richards Bay, if not directly to Durban.

To relieve my "ants in the pants" syndrome, I lowered the dinghy and went over and visited with Dave and Peggy on S/V Rhythm. I wanted to share with them a few of the electronic files I have on South Africa. A few of them write about it taking 6 to 8 weeks to go from Richards Bay, round the Cape, and then arriving in Cape Town. While the distance is not that great (less than a 1000 nm), you have to ride out the lows in one of the ports that are on the way as each storm passes by. Thus, you can get trapped for a number of days in each port waiting for a safe weather window. Some years, people end up waiting weeks in a port. For this reason, the various pilot guides mention that it can take up to two months to reach Cape Town. While we are not heading for Cape Town right now, we are heading for Simons Town in False Bay, which is just a few miles short of Cape Town.

I think you can now understand my anxiousness to get going...

Year 7 Day 289 Hunkered Down
Dave/Stormy With Rain
10/17/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

The expected low and its affiliated blow and rains arrived on schedule. We awoke this morning to winds blowing and rain pounding on our hatch that is over our bed. It was the first real rain that we have had in a long time. We are nearing the end of the dry season in this part of the world and rain has been scarce. It was good to get the salt that has been accumulating on Leu Cat washed off.

The winds were pretty constant throughout the day. Fortunately, as expected from the more recent GRIB files, the previous low which is SE of the southern point of Madagascar, has sucked a lot of the potential energy away from this low. Thus, the low that is over us today is not nearly as intense as it was once predicted. Only once today did we see winds above 30 knots and that was a mere gust. Most of the time, the winds have been in the 20 to 25 knot range.

Our new anchorage position is much better than the previous two locations. We are out of the main river tidal current and face the wind and the small swells that it generates. This results in a very comfortable situation since the swells hit us bow on.

It looks like this low will move across the Mozambique Channel this evening but it is predicted to stall just south of the southern tip of Madagascar. The current GRIB forecast shows that it will sit there until it fades away sometime during the 21st. While it sits there, we will have winds coming up from the south that will keep us penned up here. Sometime during the 21st the wind may start to move to the east and when that happens, we will leave and head down to South Africa.

I am now playing with the idea of sailing right past Richards Bay and heading directly to Durban. Durban is just another 85 or so miles south of Richards Bay and is the major seaport of South Africa. We can clear in there just as easily as we can at Richards Bay. The advantage of doing this is that once we are in Richards Bay, we are stuck there for a number of days since clearing in may take a couple of days depending on how busy the officials are. During that time, we have heard that the coal dust which makes this port famous will coat your boat and lines. Plus, we would then have to sit there until then next weather window arrives, which could take another week or so.

If we push on to Durbin to clear in, we could save that time and when the next weather window arrives, we could then push on to either Port Elizabeth or Port London. The run from Durbin to Port Elizabeth is supposed to be the most dangerous run since it is 255 nm without any safe anchorages in between. Thus, you start your passage only after a SW wind starts to fade and the barometer peaks out and starts to fall. "Busters", which are unpredictable high wind storms, are least likely then. We have read a number of sail blogs which tell stories of boats having to spend a number of weeks sitting in Durban waiting for the right weather window. I am thinking that if we are to sit in a port, waiting for a weather window, I would much rather be sitting in Durban than Richards Bay. You typically do not sail directly from Richards Bay to Port Elizabeth since that run is a bit long and the weather may not hold up that long. Plus, we avoid all of that coal dust. We shall see...


Who: Mary Margaret and Dave Leu
Port: Dana Point, CA
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