Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Well it has been eventful, despite a leisurely start on Friday 12th. We left after lunch in the wake of Contrails and Priscilla, all heading for Richards Bay. Our plan to go straight to Durban aborted shortly before take off when we saw a front heading in that direction. 
Contrails, reefed down in rough conditions south of Madagascar.

Friday Saturday and Sunday were slow. Sailing predominantly but only making 120Nm per day. Communication with Peri Peri Net each day on HF was indicating that a diversion via the south coast of Madagascar might be a good idea. 
Monday mid-day we diverted. There were heavy winds forecast but we expected to be too slow to get there and would therefore avoid them. As it turned out we were eventually picked up by steadily increasing Northerly winds and by the time we closed the coast we had traveled 300nm in 41 hours. Winds got to 30 to 35 knots and it was not uncommon to see 13+kn on the plotter as we skewed, barely under control, down the big following wave faces. Adrenalin pumping stuff we could have done without!.
The wind and sea built after dark and you know......they always say if something goes wrong often has a domino effect. Well it did! Shortly after dark we had a wind shift and being in very close company... less than a mile from each other.... it turned pretty nerve wracking! Our wind instrument decided at this point to prove itself totally useless in every respect. 
We knew it was under reading because the evening before we had been running wild in 18 to 20 knots of wind with a full main and furler out only to find the other boats were seeing 25 to 30! No wonder it was fearsome! so having done the reefs and got that sorted we thought it was just the speed that was wrong. 
However when the wind shifted last night and we were unable to determine its direction, it took 4 or 5 accidental jibes in big seas at speed to discover it was completely lying about everything!!! 
Fortunately we had two very strong preventers deployed and they saved us from major damage. We only broke the vang block at the mast base which was lucky! Rattled our nerves and got us wet! Both the other boats were also struggling with their auto pilot and in close proximity to each other. We managed to get ourselves 3 to 4 miles clearance but our auto pilots both decided it was too hard!! We took turns to hand steer while the other secured preventers, and tried to control the jibes. 
The pilot problems were setting related but the manuals are not designed to be read in poor light in a wet cockpit whilst out of control! You first need a degree in Auto Pilot Manuals and Interpretation! 
Fortunately we managed to reprogram the older one (its manual being easier to interpret) and it eventually, happily took up its position on the helm again, freeing us both to concentrate on the myriad tangle of ropes we had now accumulated and knotted together in the cockpit. It was looking like a 1800s knitting work house.. only wetter.
By dawn today it was calm!!! Fickle wind! Now we are rinsing all the salt soaked stuff, repairing block, hoisting main again, making bread, cleaning up generally and best of all WHALE SPOTTING!!!! yeehaa! There are whales everywhere. breaching slapping and slipping under out keel..... 
Funny how you forget the bad bits!!! 
We heard this morning that the front on the African Coast will be crossing and making the approach to Richards Bay impossible until after Monday at least so we are heading to the South West corner of Madagascar to anchor and tune in for our next adventure!!!

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