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Year 7 Day 296 A Lobster Feast
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/24/2014, Ponta da Barra, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

We have decided to stay put here in front of Ponta Da Barra until the winds turn favorable come Monday or Tuesday. It looks like a big blow will be coming up from the South on Saturday and we just don't want to risk being out in that with those winds being on our nose. The thought for retreating back into the river was repugnant to Mary Margaret so here we stay. It can be a bit rolling at times, especially when the tide turns and we are abeam to the large rollers that round the point and attack the beach. They are a surfer's dream and the surf rolls a while before they reach the beach.

This morning a small fiberglass fishing boat was going by with three guys out for a day of fishing. I waved them over to discover where they land their boat with the big surf. They were up from South Africa for two weeks of fishing and they had trailered their boat up behind their vehicle. They gave me instructions as to where to go and how they get in to shore where the surf is less. I now knew the "secret" of getting to shore here. There are a number of nice houses and resorts that run up and down this beach and I was anxious to get ashore and explore since we will be here for another few days.

Around 1100 Dave of S/V Rhythm called over the VHF radio and asked if I was interested in joining him going ashore. I jumped at his offer and shared that I now had the "secret" to landing on the beach. He motored over and then we went over to S/V Grommet and picked up Maia and her brother Liam. Their dad, Michael, hopped in also as he was going to drive the dinghy back to their boat after we got to shore.

We slowly made our way over the big swells until we spied a gap in the swells where things calmed down a bit. However, the surf in front of us was still very large and we almost aborted our attempt to get to shore since things looked rather dicey with 6 foot rolling surf between us and the beach. However, just as we were turning around I spied a 4 wheel drive pushing a boat on its trailer further along the beach than we can come. We sat and watched them drive toward the water really fast and as the wheels of the trailer hit the water surging up the beach, the driver hit the brakes and the 30 foot fiberglass fishing boat flew off the trailer into the water.

They had to wait a minute for a larger swell to wash ashore and lift the boat completely off the sand but when it did, they quickly turned the bow out and pushed it to deeper water. We now knew where we had to land the dinghy.

We motored to that spot but the surf was still a bit much so we just hopped into the water up to our waists and waded in as Michael spun the dinghy around and headed back to his boat before the next wave came. Not the most gallant landing but it worked for us.

Once on shore we met Georgie and a number of local fishermen. We negotiated with him to row us back to our boats around 1630. This way Michael would not have to come to pick us up and we would not have to wade to the dinghy to get in. There was also a local woman selling bread so Dave and I bought her remaining 7 small loaves for 50 cents US a loaf.

Next we headed down the beach in search of a bar or a place where we could get a beer and maybe a bite to eat. After trying a few places that were either closed or empty we talked to some bathers on the beach and they recommended the Barra Lodge. When we got there we discovered a nice rustic resort with a beach bar and a couple of restaurants. We spent the rest of the afternoon there drinking beer, eating calamari and playing Crazy Eights and Hearts with the Maia and Liam. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon as the surf rolled into the beautiful beach in front of us.

After paying our bill (a 10% tip is customary here in Mozambique) we returned to where Georgie was and the small wooden fishing rowboats. When we arrived we met a fellow who had speared 5 large lobsters. Each one was about 2.5 pounds and he wanted $12.50 US for each one. Dave and I each bought one for our dinners tonight. Then we helped Georgie and his older brother Moses push the small rowboat into the water. The 6 of us hopped in and they started rowing like mad to get past the small breakers that were coming in.

The trip back to our boats was non-eventful and soon Mary Margaret and I were boiling water for the huge lobster that would become our dinner. It was a simple meal of just lobster, melted butter, local bread and wine but it was delicious!

Year 7 Day 296 A Lobster Feast
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/24/2014, Ponta da Barra, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

We have decided to stay put here in front of Ponta Da Barra until the winds turn favorable come Monday or Tuesday. It looks like a big blow will be coming up from the South on Saturday and we just don't want to risk being out in that with those winds being on our nose. The thought for retreating back into the river was repugnant to Mary Margaret so here we stay. It can be a bit rolling at times, especially when the tide turns and we are abeam to the large rollers that round the point and attack the beach. They are a surfer's dream and the surf rolls a while before they reach the beach.

This morning a small fiberglass fishing boat was going by with three guys out for a day of fishing. I waved them over to discover where they land their boat with the big surf. They were up from South Africa for two weeks of fishing and they had trailered their boat up behind their vehicle. They gave me instructions as to where to go and how they get in to shore where the surf is less. I now knew the "secret" of getting to shore here. There are a number of nice houses and resorts that run up and down this beach and I was anxious to get ashore and explore since we will be here for another few days.

Around 1100 Dave of S/V Rhythm called over the VHF radio and asked if I was interested in joining him going ashore. I jumped at his offer and shared that I now had the "secret" to landing on the beach. He motored over and then we went over to S/V Grommet and picked up Maia and her brother Liam. Their dad, Michael, hopped in also as he was going to drive the dinghy back to their boat after we got to shore.

We slowly made our way over the big swells until we spied a gap in the swells where things calmed down a bit. However, the surf in front of us was still very large and we almost aborted our attempt to get to shore since things looked rather dicey with 6 foot rolling surf between us and the beach. However, just as we were turning around I spied a 4 wheel drive pushing a boat on its trailer further along the beach than we can come. We sat and watched them drive toward the water really fast and as the wheels of the trailer hit the water surging up the beach, the driver hit the brakes and the 30 foot fiberglass fishing boat flew off the trailer into the water.

They had to wait a minute for a larger swell to wash ashore and lift the boat completely off the sand but when it did, they quickly turned the bow out and pushed it to deeper water. We now knew where we had to land the dinghy.

We motored to that spot but the surf was still a bit much so we just hopped into the water up to our waists and waded in as Michael spun the dinghy around and headed back to his boat before the next wave came. Not the most gallant landing but it worked for us.

Once on shore we met Georgie and a number of local fishermen. We negotiated with him to row us back to our boats around 1630. This way Michael would not have to come to pick us up and we would not have to wade to the dinghy to get in. There was also a local woman selling bread so Dave and I bought her remaining 7 small loaves for 50 cents US a loaf.

Next we headed down the beach in search of a bar or a place where we could get a beer and maybe a bite to eat. After trying a few places that were either closed or empty we talked to some bathers on the beach and they recommended the Barra Lodge. When we got there we discovered a nice rustic resort with a beach bar and a couple of restaurants. We spent the rest of the afternoon there drinking beer, eating calamari and playing Crazy Eights and Hearts with the Maia and Liam. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon as the surf rolled into the beautiful beach in front of us.

After paying our bill (a 10% tip is customary here in Mozambique) we returned to where Georgie was and the small wooden fishing rowboats. When we arrived we met a fellow who had speared 5 large lobsters. Each one was about 2.5 pounds and he wanted $12.50 US for each one. Dave and I each bought one for our dinners tonight. Then we helped Georgie and his older brother Moses push the small rowboat into the water. The 6 of us hopped in and they started rowing like mad to get past the small breakers that were coming in.

The trip back to our boats was non-eventful and soon Mary Margaret and I were boiling water for the huge lobster that would become our dinner. It was a simple meal of just lobster, melted butter, local bread and wine but it was delicious!

Year 7 Day 295 A Baby Step Forward
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/23/2014, Ponta da Barra, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

This morning we weighed anchor just before 0600. As we were preparing to do so we noticed that S/V Grommet was doing the same thing. We ended up following them out of our anchorage.

Because of the tidal flow, it is really best to leave an hour before high tide. This is because the flow is near slack then so there is no current to make the incoming swells stand up and break as they traverse the shallows which are just seaward of the mouth of the river. It is here the river loses it flow and drops the sediment that it has been carrying out to sea. If the tide is past peak high tide, the river and tidal flows are in the same direction and the current is amplified as it flows out to meet the incoming swells. With the flow of the river and the direction of the swells opposed to each other the swells steepen, rise and then their tops break off generating surf. It can get ugly trying to bash through breakers.

High tide this morning was around 0445 so we knew that we were leaving at the wrong time of the tidal cycle but the other option of waiting until 1600 this afternoon was not appealing. Based on the spot forecasts, we would be losing 10 hours of sailing time and our weather window was too short to allow that. Thus, we found ourselves motoring out of the river early this morning during the wrong stage of the tidal cycle

The channel cut by the river as it enters the ocean is sinuous with areas of exposed mudflats seaward of us. The breakers were throwing its spume high up in the air as we edged our way past the flats, just a few hundred feet off our starboard hull. The channel we were in was nice and deep, about 40 to 70 feet, but it narrows a bit a times.

We finally turned east and started to make our way over the seaward most sand bar. Here the depth shallows to just 20 feet and the swells start to feel bottom and rear their ugly heads. They were being sharpened by the outflowing current and we could see breakers in front of us. This shallows goes for about a mile so during the time that it takes you to cross it, you are on a sharp lookout to see how the swells are forming and where they are breaking. The trick is to find a gap where they are not breaking and head for it. The problem is the gaps that one sees, move laterally over a few minutes so where there is a gap now, there will be surf there a minute or two later.

The 10 minutes it took us to cross the shallows was a stressful, nerve-wracking period that seemed to take forever. However, we were fortunate to avoid the breakers. There were a few instances where it looked like the swell was going to break right on the bows but we were lifted up and over it before it broke right as the stern was clearing the breaker. Of course we then plunged down the back side of the breaker and the bow plowed into the next swell which was not fun but it was a lot better than a 3 meter wave breaking on the bows.

Once we were clear of the nasty stuff we were facing seas that were still a bit obnoxious. Also, the winds were much stiffer than predicted. We were supposed to be facing 3 to 5 knot winds and instead had 15 to 20 knots on our nose. This was not good as it greatly slowed us down to just 4 knots with both engines on at low RPMs. The Mozambique Current heading south was still a few miles seaward of us, which was fortunate. If we were in that current, the swells there would be doing just what the swells that we just cleared at the mouth of the river had been doing: standing up since the strong south-flowing current would be opposing both the wind and the swells coming up from the south.

We quickly made a decision to continue following Grommet over to Ponta da Barra, which is the cape that stands seaward of the city of Inhambane and anchor there. We had talked to Grommet on our way out of the river and they had decided to wait for their departure to Richards Bay there instead of inside the river. They were anxious for a new anchorage and exploring new areas. They have hopes on leaving on Saturday, however, my weather synopsis says that it will now not be until Monday or Tuesday before the winds move to the east and then a bit to the north.

Thus, we only traveled a total of 15 nm today, 10 of which were in a southerly directly. We are now anchored in 20 feet of water (at low tide with a 10 foot tidal range) in a sandy bottom and our position is 23 46.98'S:025 30.87'E. The winds continued all day from the south to southeast at around 15 knots, totally in contrast to what the spot forecast had predicted. Apparently, the low that is to the east of us has deepened more than what was predicted.

Our anchorage is very rolly as 1 to 1.5 meter swells are rounding the cape and we ride over them beam on. I told Mary Margaret that we have two options through the weekend. We can stay here or we can return to the river anchorage at Linga Linga that we just left. Neither is very exciting so we are staying here for now to see if we can gut it out until the winds turn in four or five days. That is, if you believe the weather reportsÂ...

By the way, when Rhythm got up this morning and saw that both we and Grommet had left, they hailed us and then decided to come out to this anchorage also. They were going to just stay in the protected anchorage until the winds turned but when they saw that they would be all by themselves, they decided to come and join us. They too are social beasts so now we three boats are still together, bouncing over the swells as they come around the cape.

Year 7 Day 294 Still Waiting
Dave/Sunny and Breezy
10/22/2014, At Linga Linga, Near Inhambane, Mozambique

I got up this morning at 0500 with hopes of starting our passage to South Africa. Richards Bay is a little over 400 nm and Durban is just about 485 nm. However, before I even checked the GRIB file and the spot forecast I was not optimistic. This was because the winds this morning were blowing about 15 knots, which is unusual for dusk. Usually, it is well below 10 knots at this time in the morning.

The forecasts showed that the winds would be piping up this morning and coming from the south so we decided to just stay put until tomorrow morning. The forecasts were both showing that the winds should be dying down to below 10 knots come midnight tonight and stay that way until noon on the 25th. If that ends up being the case, that would give us 54 hours (since we will be leaving around 0600 tomorrow) to make the 400 nm to Richards Bay averaging just 7.4 knots with a current that should be giving us a 2 to 3 knot boost. If we do better than that and are able to just under 9 knots with that 2 to 3 knot boost we could make Durban. That sounds a bit optimistic but who knows. Also, the forecasts have been a bit squirrely and if things improve just a bit, then maybe we could get 60 or so hours of favorable winds and then we would only need to average just 8 knots to make Durban. If the forecast goes the other way and things deteriorate faster, we can always bail out and stop at Cape Inhaca which is only about 220 nm away. Thus, with all things considered, we are optimistic that we will be able to leave here early tomorrow morning and head south.

We really did not have much to do today since we had prepped the boat yesterday just in case we were able to leave this morning. Thus, we just read, listened to music and played cards to pass the time.

We did get a great email this morning from a blog reader, Willy, who lives in Richards Bay. He has been reading our blog since we started 7 years ago. He is hoping we do stop in Richards Bay so we can get together. He even has offered to drive his inflatable ski boat out of the harbor and into the ocean to meet us if we are able to continue on to Durban. How great is that! We have suggested that if we do go directly to Durban that we should just rent a car and drive back to Richards Bay to have lunch together. We love meeting people who live in the countries that we visit as we learn so much more from them regarding their country, the customs and the people. Plus, each person we meet has so much local insight and usually good sailing knowledge which helps us out so much. We are really excited about meeting up with Willy, especially since he has been following our blog since the beginning.

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.

 

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