Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Richards Bay Inbound Day 6

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 27 26S 044 20E and saillng at 6 knots on a course of 320M. Our course over the gound is 300M so we have a significant W-flowing current. We're heading NW to get well into the W flowing current. The wind is E at 20-25 knots with a short 2m swell from the E. We are sailing under double-reefed main and triple-furled yankee. There are broken cumulus and currus clouds overhead, or there were before one large cumulus moved overhead and started raining on us! Our day's run was 153nm and we have 660nm to go.

We've had a busy 24 hours, made so by the weather and sea conditions off the south of Madagascar. The area is notorious for big, dangerous seas, due to both currents and the extended continental shelf. It is also notorious for accelerated winds around the south of the island. Jimmy Cornell's "bible" of world cruisng recommends staying about 150nm offshore. We cut that down to 70nm since the winds were easterly and the current was setting SW to W.

Overnight we had winds up to 30 knots, gusting a little higher. The seas/swell were 3-4 m and in some areas were breaking frequently, perhaps due to the cross current. The current seems very variable locally but does seem to match the overall predictions well. Overall it was a bit of a washing machine but Zen Again handled it brilliantly under double-reefed main and staysail (= storm jib). We had the washboards in which says it was a tad rough.

Early in the morning we gybed to the SW to stay off the continental shelf. That course gave a much quieter ride with the swell almost behind us. After breakfast we replaced the staysail with the triple-furled yankee as the wind decreased to 20-25. The main reason we didn't go further south was the current down there was predicted to be running to the E. That would NOT have been fun!

To make life even more interesting there was a steady stream of traffic. Happily we only had to call one ship and she altered course by 20 degrees to stay clear. That was late yesterday evening and it was interesting watching this big ship giong through the big seas and thinking so's our little boat! :)

With Madagascar now rounded we finally feel that we really are heading for Africa. Amazing!

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