Rounding under Madagascar, Day 5

Date: Nov. 10, 2016, noon Position: 26 35.41 S, 45 36.54 E

The good currents and light winds carried us all the way past our southern waypoint, 75 NM south of Cape St. Marie, Madagascar. With sails barely filled, we glided along at 6.5 knots. All good things must come to an end, however. The wind dropped before shifting to the south. We motor-sailed for an hour or two, and then had enough wind to beam reach on a good sail for another few hours, but finally the winds went too light again and we’ve been motoring through the night.

We are putting on a full head of steam now to try and maintain a 5.5 knot average, giving us an ETA at Richards Bay on Tuesday night. An intense low is forecast to form over Durban next Wednesday-Thursday, and we don’t want to be anywhere near that! If we slow down, or the low comes earlier, we will be forced to divert north to Maputo, Mozambique. The alternative is to ride out the storm hove-to. It’s supposed to pass through quickly, but looks like a doozie with 45-knot winds. We’ll do everything we can to avoid it. I spent a few hours emailing back and forth with Mark on Tuuletar and Sam in South Africa. Eventually they both came to the same conclusion on a route, which is a direct rhumb-line course to Richards Bay.

I’ve never seen so many freighters at sea–at all times today we had anywhere between 5-8 of them on our AIS. Any time one was on a trajectory to within 1 mile of our track, we called and requested diversion. They have all been very generous in giving us a wide berth. Kelsey called one captain who freaked out because he thought we were a US warship!

We squared away the boat today in preparation for the swells & winds ahead. We’re eking out all the speed we can get, sailing and motor sailing if our speeds drop below 5.5 knots. I think I’ve reefed and un-reefed the main 5 times in the last two days! There always seems to be a patch of 25-knot winds right at sunset, and again at sunrise.

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