La Reunion to South Africa, Day 3

Date: Nov. 8, 2016, noon Position: 24 5.02 S, 51 3.50 E

Last night the winds dropped to very light and I was surprised we had any steerage at all, but we still eked out about 3.5-4 knots. After a few hours of lurching around, however, things got old and we fired up the engine. Fortunately, the wind filled again soon after, right at sunrise, and things developed into the most fantastic sailing day as can be imagined.

With an almost flat sea, 15-18 knots abaft the beam, and sails set to wing-on-wing, Privateer achieved a fast point of sail. As soon as we poled the full yankee out to windward, we surged like a greyhound through the gentle swells, 8 knots, 9 knots, 10 knots. For the entire day and into the night now, the winds were steady and even, with a gentle heel to keep things comfortable down below-decks.

Mark is keeping us informed about where to sail to catch favorable ocean currents and stay out of the adverse currents (there are a lot of them on this route). Like clockwork, we sailed into an area of predicted favorable current and picked up a knot of boat speed.

Taz didn’t go down for his usual nap today which threw off the watch a bit. Then he took three poops in a row–no wonder he couldn’t sleep! All that food he ate when he got his ocean appetite back…

My day was somewhat shadowed by my apprehension of the next week to come. Many important decisions need to be made about how far out to round Madagascar’s southern cape, and what way-point to aim for to set ourselves up for the frontal systems. A shelf extends off Madagascar that is known for freak waves, and we want to clear by that ASAP. I will breathe a bit easier after we round Madagascar’s southern cape, when we can draw the rest of our cards and see what kind of hand we’re dealing with.

Today was also the day of the freighters–we have found the major shipping lane from Cape Town to Singapore. One by one or three by three they pop up on our AIS. If they’re in line with us we make contact with the bridge and they alter course to give us a safe 3 NM pass. We also spotted a sail on the horizon today! She is the 56-foot yacht Aliena. I was very pleased that despite her much longer waterline, she’s only gained on us by about 2 NM over the last 12 hours. We’re on a converging course and only about 3 miles away from each other now. Hopefully in the morning we will be close enough to take pictures and exchange e-mails.

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