Anthem Adrift

17 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 4
16 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 1-3
13 November 2018 | Baly Bay
12 November 2018 | Baly Bay
11 November 2018 | Baly Bay
09 November 2018 | Baly Bay
06 November 2018 | Nosy Saba
05 November 2018 | Baramahamay River
04 November 2018 | Ankazoberavina Island
03 November 2018 | Hellville
02 November 2018 | Hellville
01 November 2018 | En Route Nosy Be
31 October 2018 | Nosy Mitsio, Madagascar
29 October 2018 | En Route Madagascar Day 5
28 October 2018 | En Route Madagascar Day 4
27 October 2018 | En Route Madagascar Day 3
26 October 2018 | En Route Madagascar Day 2
25 October 2018 | En Route Madagascar Day 1
22 October 2018 | Le Port, La Reunion
18 October 2018 | Le Port, La Reunion

A Devil in the Deep Blue Sea

17 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 4
Saturday 17 November 2018

Well, the best laid plans of rodents and hominids... Latest weather forecast has us heading to Bazaruto, Mozambique to arrive tomorrow night just ahead of some south wind. Looks like we'll have to hide out for at least a few days until subsequent storm gremlins decide to cooperate. Thought we might make it all the way, but circumspection being the better part of audacity (doesn't have the same flow, does it?), decided to avoid any overt display of spunk. Although day 3 from now would have been a bit disagreeable, day 5 would likely have become treacherous, requiring diverting anyway, into Maputo, and under severe circumstances with a less comfortable wait and perhaps not getting us in much sooner. Rats! With little else to do we'll just have to practice our drinking techiques with what other chickens decide to join us.

Over last 18 hours with 4+ knot current and relatively light 12 knot SE wind only slightly angled into it, swell built up to a short period 2 meters just off the bow. Gives an inkling why this coast has a notorious reputation for 8 and 10 meter, nearly vertical waves with a strong south wind. The Gulf Stream off Florida, with which we're somewhat familiar, having less current is also famous for its extreme conditions in an opposing blow.

Meantime light wind behind the boat since just after dawn brings too little air movement over deck to allay heat from a baking sun, yet enough to waft the tantilizing aroma of diesel fumes into the cockpit. Once underway again after unwelcome R & R, distance will be a smidge over 450NM, three days assuming all in one go.

"What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue: Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer." - Douglas Adams



16 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 1-3
Wednesday 14 November 2018

Got underway early to get ahead of curve for passing Cap St. Andre before wind backed to the west. As turns out, wind forecast was right on and we've had a delightful sail all day. There is, however, a strange pattern of the wind spinning counter-clockwise 360 degrees each day for the next 3. It has now come onto the bow so we're motor-sailing on starboard at 15 degrees apparent (couldn't quite sail clear of the cape so did this to avoid uncomfortable sea due opposite currents coming together) and as it continues around will tack onto port then shortly return to being a sailboat. Breeze is strong enough for good speed, but not so strong to build a tall sea. If only...


Love it when a plan comes together. Terrific sailing all night as planned above, but early morning for a short time then early afternoon wind went away causing noisy production of CO2 and water vapor from burning hydrocarbons plus various residuals due incomplete combustion. Besides creating a racket, this is bad since water vapor is fresh and reduces ocean salinity. Perhaps, however, not as serious a problem as some may claim. Expecting a fair bit of motoring, fuel tanks were laboriously filled in Hellville.

Since SSB is operating 5 by 5 (scale of 1 to 5, loud and clear - not an official usage) for voice on informal net and to receive South African weather broadcasts, assume inability to connect much less send data is due Sailmail station in Pretoria. Now just over 1000 NM and should have no difficulty. Incompetent crew who neglected to get Iridium Go satellite device in Darwin has had his grog ration cut.

And speaking of shipping packages, could not have the radio sent anywhere in Mascarenes or Madagascar, so sent to Richard's Bay. Since two other packages claiming 4-7 day delivery took over a month (which because we couldn't wait any longer in Reunion, will possibly be placed with another yacht to meet us somewhere in South Africa), ordered early. This one, of course, arrived expeditiously and UPS now wants very badly to send it back. May have forestalled this until arrival, but no guarantees. Inspiration Ladys had, as recalled, some warranteed batteries chase them a quarter around the world under similar circumstance. No Amazon drones out here yet.


Great wind all night then none so motoring, but found the Moz Current that is currently (chuckle, snort) shoving us along 1.7 knots faster than speed through the water. May not re-convert to a sailboat until late afternoon. Notwithstanding calm winds the sea is a meter and a half, probably residual from previous bad weather south.

For lunch snack Jan brought up a can of Pringooals potato chips. Thought somebody had ripped off the original company, but discovered they're made by Pringles. So, why change the name? Does Malaysia already have a product, perhaps mosque ornaments, called Pringles? Anyway in perusing the container was relieved to see the potato-like product contained gluten. Given the current (there's that word again) gluten-free fetish it's hard to find food that contains the stuff. What if crew develop gluten deficiencies? Huh? What would we do in the middle of the ocean? Can't find it out here. Fortunately now we're covered. One less source of angst.


PS Not a peep from Sailmail so will try to send with Winlink (ham). If you got this it worked. If you didn't it didn't unless I have forgotten to delete when eventually sending by Sailmail in which case you'll wonder what the hell is the matter with me. This is not an uncommon observation.

So So Sew

13 November 2018 | Baly Bay
Tuesday 13 November 2018

After Herculean effort by cutest of canvas division associates, cockpit windows are slightly wrinkly and look funky, but fit and should work to purpose. Not that entire crew doesn't appreciate the great outdoors, after all we mostly live in it at least when weather is tolerable, but moistness should be reserved for proper occasions.

One more sewing project today since machine is out of its locker and running free. Dink cover is shredded in places and requires patches. Already replaced rotten bungee around skirt. AB makes a great dinghy, but lousy chaps. Understand the company once made boats in Venezuela, but decamped to Colombia as Chavez's democratic socialism began first stages of imploding. Calling into Puerto La Cruz in 2009 discovered, even so early, that many expats who had settle or retired there saw handwriting on the wall and were also bailing out. It was once a great country and terrific place to live, a star in South America.

Hadn't heard radio chatter from six boats other side of bay so thought they may have gone. Finally got word that they, like us, will depart on the morrow. Eight boats floundering about with same destination, but different strategies and capabilities. We'll quite likely not see any of them again after the first day. It's a big ocean.

After what seems like eons since doing so, with a little time to kill and short bursts of barely useable mobile data have placed photos on the blog. Couldn't resist lemurs and the dhow. Since you're already squandering valuable moments of your life by reading this, might as well scan down and have a peek.


Dry Humours

12 November 2018 | Baly Bay
Monday 12 November 2018

Cockpit enclosure repair is turning into a substantial project. After removing clears discovered that: material frame still didn't stretch across bottom, leather sewn to part of that edge was the main culprit and clear vinyl did not come close to being large enough to sew onto it. Removed leather and with some effort was able to zip and snap all the way around. That was the easy part. Jan is now extending the vinyl by sewing a Sunbrella fabric edge around it that will then be sewn to the frame. Old stuff is dark blue, new is silver grey. The effect will be a unique fashion statement, like contrasting color mattes in a picture frame. Pretty soon everybody will want this. You heard it here first. We'll be demanding royalties.

As for leaks from the rub strake we'll just have to avoid rain or ocean spray until reaching Richard's Bay, 1100 odd nautical miles. That shouldn't be too hard, eh. Not practicable from dinghy to remove the thing for sealing screw holes while on anchor in somewhat windy and bouncy conditions. At least the cockpit will be dry(ish) if bimini window thing works out.

Oddly enough wind forecast has stayed relatively consistent over last few days. It will no doubt remain so until after departure when it's too late, then turn to porridge. One gets accustomed to that sort of thing. If all goes to plan (chuckle, guffaw, snort) we will have light headwinds for the first two days then a close reach until last day or so, which will be a run. Theoretically this will get us into Richard's Bay half a day before a strong southerly hits. Optimism is off the charts... ummmm high, right? Absolutely.

- Later

Latest word from local knowledge guy, Des, who extensively sailed these waters and now lives in Pretoria, is that Wednesday will be better due a system in south Madagascar that will be punching up the sea tomorrow. After four months in the Indian we're pretty tired of getting punched up. There's also that splashing thing. Will probably, reluctantly wait.



11 November 2018 | Baly Bay
Saturday 10 November 2018

Liberte crew in Mahajanga. Will return to boat tomorrow. All OK.

Latest weather shows we may be here for a few days more. South to west wind doesn't die until at least Tuesday. So, what to do in the middle of nowhere? Nothing. Works for me. Unfortunately can't do nothing using internet as we don't have any. It's not like there's not something to do, though, as crashing and bashing into waves caused pilot bunk to again get wet and, for the first time, tool locker. Plus Jan will attempt to resew bimini roll-up window clears to allow them to be closed. Theoretically this will(mostly) keep water outside of cockpit.

Of course, after blowing a hoolie yesterday and last night, this morning is dead calm, hazy clear and way hot. Expect another blow this afternoon, a bit less. Monday a bit less again. Tuesday?

Four other boats here with two coming, all looking for weather to the African Continent.


This blows. Wind too. Same pattern as yesterday, but lighter. As forecast. Score one for GRIB (Great Report, Incredibly Believable). Now expecting perfect reportage until arrival in Richard's Bay (Get Real, It's Bullsqueeze). Schizophrenia does not generally run in the family.

Notwithstanding above, Tuesday still looks good for launch. Bimini windows proceeding apace. With clears removed Sunbrella frame still won't stretch to all snaps, but enough. This UV protected, waterproof, acrylic fabric is great, but shrinks more than the 3% advertised. Probably have completely new panels made in SA. After almost eight years bimini is sneaking up on end of life. May replace entire thing in Caribbean. Currently blue, Jan wants pink or mauve. Discussions are ongoing.

Libertes coming early tomorrow to avoid rough seas this afternoon. Probably has nothing to do with air conditioned hotel and restaurant meals with wine. All eight boats in anchorage planning to depart Tuesday. Let the games begin.


Snark Attack

09 November 2018 | Baly Bay
Thursday 8 November 2018

The fickle finger of fate pressed the wrong key and yesterday's entry disappeared into the ether. Just as well as it was probably more boring than this one will be. Anyway, to recap: After anchoring at Nosy Saba in 10 meters with 4 meter tide awoke Wednesday morning to find wind had shifted us into shore, we were half a meter from the bottom and there was a coral tree reaching 2 meters out of the water just behind the transom. Yowzer! Y'all be careful out there, ya hear. Another great sail in onshore breeze to Moramba Bay with comfortable, if warm, night. Expect to depart shortly for direct sail to Baly Bay, jumping off point to cross Mozambique Channel. Arrival tomorrow morning. Except for the tree thing appallingly prosaic, but there it is.

- Later

Wind veered with coast as it curved more westerly for another great day of sailing. If it was always like this everyone would be out here... OK, not grandmothers who want to touch babies every day, but probably everyone else. On the other hand: True wind is 11 to 13 knots, not enough to kick up much of a sea. We're high on it at 33 degrees apparent making our own wind and with little wave action footing along at up to 7 knots. It's boring. Gosh it would be nice to have 25 or 30 knots of wind blowing up 4 or 5 meter seas and rolling us from gunwale to gunwale with no way to get comfortable. You believe me don't you?

Another downside would be arriving before dawn tomorrow, but expect wind to die after dark and not turn to land breeze until early morning so may enjoy motor noise all night and possibly heave to until dawn. Not to worry, probably get all the excitement demanded on passage across the Mozambique Channel and down the Agulhas Current.


Too snarky for my own good, wasn't I. After passing Ampondrabe River (no, the other one) wind started backing until by dusk it was coming directly from Baly Bay, our destination. Beautiful afternoon sea breeze of previous days turned to yogurt as south wind is apparently wrapping around Cap St. Andre and following the coast. Spent all night tacking back and forth in up to 25 knots. May arrive before dark. This happy event will be followed by adult beverage and actual sleep.

Might have ducked in somewhere, but Liberte is in Baly and Patricia, a brittle diabetic, is ill. They were trying to organize an evacuation so David asked us to watch their boat until at least tomorrow. Not much around (including roads) so apparently a navy was contacted. Not sure whose. Does Madagascar have one?

Still hoping to cross Sunday, but no internet for a couple so no fresh data. Should get something by tonight even if only HF GRIB (Great Relief, If Bogus).



06 November 2018 | Nosy Saba

Tuesday 6 November 2018

No HF contact and no mobile data yesterday and so far today. A devastating blow to now less than prodigious confidence. Messages will go when they go.

Got up early to escape mosquitos, get a boost out and avoid crossing bar at mouth of river on low tide. No wind. Can hardly remember last truly glassy sea. Onshore breeze could pick up by noon or so. Refuse to risk total collapse of trust by expecting it.

Main attraction of Madagascar for us was lemurs, but there are also the most wonderful dhows. Twelve meters and up, one or two masts with huge scimitar shaped lateen sails. They're all over the west side of the island and look fast even when gently ghosting by.

- Later

By 1130 wind had indeed returned, internet momentarily re-connected. Rousing sail to Nosy Saba and a few messages sent. Faith restored.

Had roll-up clears on either side of cockpit and center windscreen replaced in Reunion. Front one fine, but sides managed to get 25 mm shorter and 10 narrower so they don't zip down or secure at bottom. No time to redo. Ordinarily the inevitability of getting soaked with flying spray and rain would be unpleasant, but we now have the pleasure of reliving our youth when staying wet was part of the adventure. The thrill will not end until Richard's Bay with profession help. Biblical rain, thunder and lightning last night, besides leaving the cockpit soppy, revealed a few leaks in the cabin and over our bunk. As we proceed south, going from tropical to temperate, we can expect moist and sticky as well as cold and clammy for the fully rounded experience.


Deteriorating Circumstance

05 November 2018 | Baramahamay River
Lemur love

Monday 5 November 2018

The lemur tour continued on Nosy-Antsoha with three types of the little guys crawling all over us for bananas. They have surprisingly thick fur for an animal that lives in the tropics. They're so friendly and gentle it's surprising they aren't kept as pets - probably too smart to allow it. There is open air accommodation at the summit, around 59 meters, where one can stay overnight for 540,000 ariary, about 150 USD. Pretty expensive, but way cool. Great stop.

After a very relaxed sail to the Baramahamay River known for its wild honey discovered that the season is over and it's all gone. Suppose to be good and only 15,000 MAR for a liter and a half. Some of crew use a lot of the stuff because they're irredeemably American (you remember what happened in Boston Harbor, right?) and tea alone, although consumed in quantity (blame should be placed appropriately), is just not enough. Other crew, being of English descent (reference above), drink English breakfast (of course) unadulterated. A large bourbon and ginger was barely able to assuage the crushing disappointment. Another may be required. Fortunately we have a large stock of bee poop from Oz for just such emergencies.

Notwithstanding that there are three villages within sight, no mobile service is available. We've had internet virtually the entire time since leaving Hell- ville, even quite a distance from shore, so this is surprising. Not to worry, HF radio will allow (confidence is running at prodigious levels) the dissemination of this irremediable blather no matter the attendant psychic damage.


Tour de Lemur

04 November 2018 | Ankazoberavina Island
Friendly Lemur

Sunday 4 November 2018

Oddly enough the plan came together. Lemuria Land has three species of tortoise plus crocodiles, lizards, snakes and chameleons out the wazoo and ten species of lemur. Very gentle creatures, a brown one with bright yellow eyes climbed all over us as we fed it. Although not the rocket scientists of the animal world, they are primates and pretty darn smart. Also insanely cute. In addition went to some sacred tree, a 180 year old ficus that covers 600 square meters, which was just OK - much like the one we saw in Vietnam. It's an animist shrine. Our guide, a very pretty young women, is an animist and a Christian - didn't seem too stressed about the seeming conflict. Now on the way to anchor overnight near where we can see more lemurs in the morning - one can never see too many lemurs. Jan wants to see all of them.

Current forecast indicates no weather window to cross the Mozambique Channel until early next week so we'll head down the coast without haste. It's only 200 NM to the most southerly jumping off spot before Cape Andre, narrowest part, so we can beat feet if necessary. Nearest place to duck into on Africa side is 700 NM, so a five day break from south wind is needed.

As sort of promised, Hell-ville was named after a French Admiral, Anne Chr├ętien Louis de Hell. Despite the inference (or maybe because of it), he was a fun and popular guy who served as governor of Isla de Bourbon (Reunion) from 1838 - 1841 and was also the namesake for Hell-bourg on that island and a snail, strombus hellii, the escargot from hell. By the way "be" means big, so Nosy-be is big island. Of course Madagascar is an even bigger island, fourth largest in the world, but nobody calls it Nosy-be-be.



03 November 2018 | Hellville
Saturday 3 November 2018

Decided not to stay until Monday and didn't want extra bogus charges to clear out on the weekend so did it yesterday, told them we were leaving at 1600 - didn't. They don't care (or notice) unless you're staying over 30 days, which incurs additional cost, probably sanctioned, to extend visa. More bogus fees were demanded. Port captain wanted 35K for port clearance, which he got, then immigration wanted 80,000 ariary, but when we pushed back decided 40K was the correct amount, about 11 USD. They asked for 160K from Liberte. Madagascar is almost as expensive as Australia and they don't even use the money to infantilize their citizens (for their own good of course).

Three trips across town with six jerry cans got us a full load of gasoil (diesel) and a wee dram of petrole or sans plomb (gasoline). Trip from Reunion was sorely lacking in sailing so used a lot of fuel. Under normal circumstance wind would have been strong to excessively strong in which case no top up might have been needed to continue on for Richard's Bay where too little or much too much can be expected. The Mozambique Channel seems to alternate between small breezes from the north or gales from the south against the Agulhas Current, which kicks up seas into the "kiss your butt goodbye" range. What comes next is just idle maundering and not to be sanctioned under any circumstance because it is wrong, but if one didn't need fuel one could pass up the ports of entry, Iles St Marie, Hellville and Mahajunga, and spend as much time as he wanted in Madagascar. Immigration and customs infrastructure is non-existent because none of the money taken is used for it. Anyone who might notice is probably trying to scam you (northwest side park, for example) and is afraid to turn you in. This suggestion is absolutely, positively wrong and should not be done. By the way, this is exactly the technique used in Mozambique when hiding from ugly weather before continuing south. They apparently don't mind, particularly if they don't see you.

Bewilderingly, a large cruise ship came in this morning. Apparently Hellville gets one every couple of weeks. The port was a madhouse of cruise-ship-looking people. Changed our plan to visit Lemuria Land due expected inundation of humanity. Ship leaves tonight. We'll go early tomorrow and depart anchorage for somewhere close. At least that's the current iteration of the pliable plan.

Vessel Name: Anthem
Vessel Make/Model: 1997 Hylas 46
Hailing Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
Crew: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Jack: Formerly productive member of the community as a Northwest Airlines Captain who retired to become a drain on, and embarrassment to, polite society. [...]
While I will be delighted if anyone else enjoys these excursions into semi-intelligible foolishness, the primary purpose is personal amusement. This is not travelogue, cruising guide or philosophical exploration of anything in particular, merely random musing of a slightly twisted mind. Despite [...]
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Anthem's Photos - Main
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Created 2 January 2017
Waterfall, etc.
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Created 19 May 2009

S/V Anthem

Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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