Tuesday, 6 November 2012

TOLIARA TO RICHARDS BAY. South Africa 6th November

We left Toliara on the Madagascar West coast on Thursday 1st November and headed out into steep 4m seas and wind waves of about a meter, with about 25 to 30 knots of wind on the nose! It was nasty...need I say more. These conditions prevailed for about the next 48 hours. 

Mud brick making. After sun drying they are baked as in left of picture
Toliara was a great bolt hole and we were glad to be there during the worst of some of the worst weather seen in this part of the world for about 5 or 6 years. Its been a long haul from La Reunion. We departed there on the 12th of October!

Typical Street scene in Toliara.
Madagascar experience was certainly interesting. Somewhat challenging and frustrating but with some real gems thrown in. The anchorage is good holding in the basin north of the pier but we were advised to come to the pier for security. Apparently there was an incident or two in the past year or two where some theft occurred. It can get pretty bumpy in the 20+knots of sea breeze which often springs up in the afternoon for several hours. 

Taipan and Matajusi tied to Brest at Toliara
The boat we were tied to on the big pier, BREST, was managed by her engineer, a malagssy, named Hubert Ramanandray. He was a great guy, spoke good English and ran a clean tidy boat. They fish the southern ocean down around Kerguellan for the Japanese owners. It didn't even smell like a fishing boat! His crew were very courteous and everyone on the dock was extremely helpful, all pitching in to help with extra lines or fenders when the wind picked up causing quite some excitement aboard the three yachts. Matajusi Brazilian, and Promesa Canadian. Promesa was tied to a tug behind us and had to move to let the tug out once. When they came back to the boat later... the tug was back inside them and their boat all snug and well. How did they do that?? We will have a few tyre marks to clean off the hull but its a small price to pay for the hospitality and security. 

Our Taxi Driver was Jose. (0348501242 0320797008 0324527431 I think there are so many because he lends a SIM card to you when you meet him and gets to use up the left over credit. Which is great!) Jose is a young ambitious man with a very old jalopy. I think it was once a Peugot? Now it hasn't any suspension, brakes are dodgy and tyers are bald, air-conditioning...was it invented then?? Did I mention the exhaust fumes?? Anyway his fares were reasonable and he was a good resource and great worker. Jose carted water and fuel for us right to the boat...down from the concrete pier, across the big fishing boat and onto the deck. 
These bullocks were later seen harnessed to the plough.

We did use "security guards"? Vincent and friend. We paid them roughly US$5 per boat per day. They allegedly "watched" for mafia...but towards the end they wanted to be paid AND go home for the night! Well Vincent had 7 wives and 17 children so I guess he needed the extra money. He also spoke excellent English and was very helpful. 
Inland these huts were the dominant form of housing.

It cost about US$40 per boat check in and out was free.
The land travel was worth the effort (US$50 per couple for car and driver...2 couples.) but I would recommend a different car for the 200km each way trip to the Isolo National Park! His driving was pretty ok within the limitations of the vehicle but he put it in angel gear on every down hill run and several times we must have hit 150km!! well it felt like it!! Our accommodation at Ramahira was clean and comfortable at US20 for a double room. Meals were extra.

These boys were too busy to come to ask for money!
The Bo Beach Bar is a great restaurant / pick up joint / bar on the waterfront in Toliara, where we whiled away the hours using the free wifi and eating awesome food. It was a well run clean and tidy place with fun staff and good prices. US$5 each for a good meal. 

I was able to purchase a SIM for the Ipad for a reasonable price so also had internet aboard. 
We are now about 100Nm from Richards Bay, on the South East Coast of South Africa. About 80 nm north of Durban. We expect to arrive this evening some time. Seas are low and wind is 10kn from the South. We are motor sailing at 6.5 knots hoping to get some of the positive effect of the legendary Aghulas Current which we have thus far only experienced as a negative current of up to 3 knots for the past 48 hours.! 
So that's it for now from the Mozambique Channel