Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When we came back from the Honey River mud trip we ended up going past a Malagasy couple madly paddling up the river against the tide and the current.  We asked if they would like a tow and they happily agreed.  Their outrigger was very easy to tow and we had no problems going our normal speed crossing the  5 km to the village. The couple was very thankful for the tow. The picture was taken by Tom on Emily Grace, a 14m motor yacht.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Check out the post from Mojombo, it is an extended version of our trip through the mud in Honey River, Madagascar. It was done by Zeke, the 12 year old boy, I think he did a great job.  Although he doesn't mention us, we are in several pictures and Barry took the video of him clamouring through the mud. You can find  their blog by clicking on a link to Mojombo that is on the side of our blog.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Believe it or not we have taken very few pictures so far.  We are at a marina and it is a first world country so figured you didn't need to see shots of all the shops and restaurants on the quay.  We are busy trying to get boat repairs done, it is not easy here as there are not many marine shops around and everything has to come from Durban. We don't want to go to Durban as we have heard it is dangerous and dirty in the port.
We have arranged to visit one of the game parks next week, depending on the weather.  It has been unseasonably wet here since we arrived, yesterday was the first nice hot day and then today we woke to driving rain and cool temp. again.
We are thoroughly enjoying the South African people though, they have been so friendly and helpful it is unbelievable.  There are no grocery stores around so we have to go about 40 min. walk to the closest one. The first day we headed out someone picked us up and gave us a ride to the store and then they insisted on waiting and driving us back to the port, awesome.
Barry uploaded the video below of us sailing, I would have edited it but he insisted that the whole thing should be on, I hope you guys enjoy it. It is one the side as well, I forgot how to put them on the side first so just uploaded it from UTUBE, aren't computers wonderful.

Sailing in the Indian Ocean

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Walking in the mud at very low tide by Honey River

A typical Malagasy

Showing him how to get the paper off his bon bon!

They have just stripped this hill of wood in order to grow rice. 

I am trying to grind rice, check out the smiles on the women's faces, they thought it was hilarious

An anchorage at low tide, we walked up this hill and saw a hole in the ground where they were looking for sapphires. 

A typical house in this village.

The monster baobab tree. 

A Malagasy graveyard, the things standing up are pieces of coral. 

I hope they enjoyed the turtle.

These vessels routinely sail around Madagascar, aren't they amazing. 

We gave as many clothes as we had away to this group. 
This was the cloud that came up before the dreaded south westerlies hit. 

Notice the harness and the wet, bedraggled hair, not a fun day!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just to let you all know we are in South Africa safe and sound. More later when we get internet access, at the moment we are in a hotel using their free computers in the conference center.  All they can do is ask us to leave if they catch us, but we did have breakfast here so we are kind of guest, right?

Last Blog from Mozambique Channel

We should arrive in Richard's Bay tomorrow. The trip across the channel has gone really well until the last two nights. They have been just awful, about sunset the clouds start to gather and then they get black . The lightning and thunder start next, I just hate lightning when we are on the boat. Last night, we had pulled the genoa in and only had out the triple reefed main. We had been in the storm for over an hour when all of a sudden it started to howl. The wind was gusting up to 45 knots and the main back winded and I couldn't get the boat around to get back on course. Barry got up out of bed and we managed to gybe the main and sail in the right direction. We eventually got the main down and Barry told me to secure the halyard, as I crab walked up the deck with my harness and life jacket on the wind was gusting again to over 40 knots. I figure
Barry was trying to get rid of me for good that time, it wouldn't even have needed a knife in the back, he could just have reported me washed overboard, lost at sea, my body washed up on some deserted beach….oh well you get the picture! We laid ahull for awhile, for you landlubbers , the tiller was hard over and we just drifted with the current and the wind.
We knew that South Africa was no picnic, sailing wise,. There is a huge current that runs south along the coast and if there are SW winds it can get really ugly. We weren't prepared for the thunder storms, it is getting on to late spring here and we thought the weather would be moderating. Apparently summer here is the rainy season and the weather can be rainy and foggy all summer. There are still over a 1000 miles to Cape Town so we will have a chance to experience more of South Africa's notorious sailing conditions.
I wanted to tell you about some of the meals we had onboard as we were crossing. In our last port in Madagascar, some fisherman came to the boat and we bought 3 meals of prawns. There we were shucking the prawns, throwing the shells overboard and having a lovely tomato based dish with onions, garlic and Chinese cabbage over rice, a cabbage and carrot salad for our greens and for dessert we had ripe mangoes that we slurped with enjoyment. The next day we had a tuna sandwich on fresh bread I had baked that morning with yogurt (I had made) for dessert. We definitely weren't suffering. I am looking forward to eating our first South African meal ashore. I am salivating just thinking about it. At the moment we have no juice on board, no vegetables other than a few small potatoes and no fresh fruit. We had to eat all our meat at once because the fridge gave out on us and it all defrosted. We are definitely making landfall today during daylight hours. I AM NOT SPENDING ANOTHER NIGHT AT SEA WITH ALL THIS LIGHTNING AROUND!!
There are now 18 boats that we know of converging on Richard's Bay so the stories will be flying and the hugs will be heartfelt after crossing this difficult piece of water

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I am looking forward to the end of this passage.  We set out from Thailand at the end of Feb to cross the Indian Ocean and it is 8 long adventurous months later and we have only 480 miles to go. Hopefully we should be in Richard's Bay, South Africa on Sunday.  It looks like the weather will hold to allow us to get there without stopping to hole up.  We have excellent weather coverage, there are 2 radio nets we are listening to and they each are on twice a day so we get very good weather information 4 times a day.  They are all volunteers and will give the cruisers detailed information for just their boat.  At the moment we are aware of 14 boats that are checking  in to the nets so these guys are busy.
It feels like we will have accomplished a lot once we arrive in South Africa. So many cruisers are getting stuck in their round the world trips in Langkawi, Malaysia and Thailand.  They were planning on heading through the Red Sea and now that it is to dangerous to do that they are unwilling to tackle a crossing of the Indian Ocean because of the very bad reputation for horrible weather that surround the Cape of Good Hope.  We are over half way around the world, having past that milestone to the west of Mauritius.  It doesn't seem so far to hop over to Brazil and then through the Panama Canal to cross our path for when we left from Costa Rica,to complete our circumnavigation, way less than half way.
I made a list of all the repairs we have to do once we get to port. It was quite impressive, the most pressing is repainting the bottom.  Most people had it done in Thailand but we felt as we had just had it done in Australia it was not necessary.  In some places along the waterline there is not much paint left from the cleaning I have been doing to keep the green grass from growing there.  Our dodger is wearing out, we have been hand stitching it and now the zippers are going and the clear plastic windows are getting harder and harder to see out of.  It is a very well made piece of equipment and it will be costly and difficult to replace it with the same quality.  The bimini which is the cockpit cover as well as the weather cloths, that hang from the lifelines to cover the sides of the cockpit are all the same age and the material is wearing out, oh for a sewing machine. It will keep us really busy for a number of weeks once we arrive.
I have been posting quite regular position reports so if you are interesting in our path across the Mozambique Channel just click on the link to our position on the right. Drop us a line and tell us what is happening in your lives, I feel like I have lost touch with a lot of you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We are making good distance across the Mozambique Channel.  We are heading SW rather than straight across.  At the moment we are battling a very strong current, pushing us northwards about 30 degrees off course. The winds have been quite light, under 15 knots for the most part and we are hard on the wind, at times making our heading and times 40 degrees off.  Currently at this speed we should be in Richard's Bay in seven days but it will depend on the weather once we reach the African side.  The Cape of Good Hope generates a lot of difficult weather so if something comes storming out of the Antarctic we will duck into an anchorage and wait until the weather clears.  I told Barry if the wind gets really light and we are making less than 2 knots over the ground I am going to start the motor.  He asked "Why?"  I couldn't really say at the time but I think because this can be a unsettled stretch of water, I want to just get there and get it over with as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

We will be at our last stop today in Madagascar. We will probably stay a day or two and then leave when the weather looks good.  We have been having some fun adventures on our way along the coast.  At a spot called Honey Bay we went for a hike.  We started off at low tide and had to wade in mud up to our knees through the mangroves to get to the beginning of the trail.  The hills we hiked through were very dry and it was hot. Thank goodness the tide had come up so that on the way back we could ride the dinghies all the way out of the river. One of the other stops had some wonderful baobab trees on some very small islands.  We heard about a particular baobab we should go and see so off we went in the dinghy. We eventually found it and it was huge.  It was at least 7 of Barry's arm width around which we figured was about 14 meters or 42 feet or so, really massive.  I will have to post pictures when we get to South Africa.  The body of water between Madagascar and Africa is called the Mozambique Channel.  Who would have ever thought that Barry and I would be sailing across the Mozambique Channel, bizarre!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had our boat buddies, the crew of Mojombo over for a meal.  There wasn't any turkey available but I did put some cranberries in the cous cous salad I made so there was the flavour of Canadian Thanksgiving as we ate our meal in Madagascar.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

We are slowly making our way down the west coast of Madagascar, we are 75 miles south of Hell-Ville.  We are in no hurry, at the moment we are traveling with 4 other boats.  It is nice to have the company, we will travel to South Africa with the same boat that we crossed from Reunion with, Mojombo.  Their crew is Australian and consist of a family with a boy who is 12 and a girl who is 10, we first met them in Fiji and went on a day trip over the mountain from Suva Suva with them. We also went on an overland trip in Sri Lanka with them.
The villages we have come across on our way down are very basic.  The one that we have stopped at now do not have running water, there is no electricity, we have seen nothing that resembles an outhouse.  They fish, they gather clams, they grow rice, they have cattle, chickens and geese and they grow very basic gardens. There are mango and coconut trees but I don't think bananas grow well here.  When we went ashore today we gave out some sugar, some milk powder and some salt, they asked for t-shirts and one fellow wanted tooth paste of all things.  Our guide the other day said most women my age had lost all their teeth!!! Barry and I were talking about what you would do as a young person raised here and we figured you would become a fisherman. Not many of the people in this village spoke French which to me would indicate they had not gone to school, because all their schooling is done in French(I think). All the kids we met on shore had a bad cough and Barry is hoping he didn't catch anything.  We went walking up the hill and saw a deep meter wide hole, we understand it was when they were looking for sapphires.
I hope to be able to give some position reports soon but we have not been able to connect very well, so if I can I will.