Day 216, Year 5: Good News About Madagascar
Date: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Weather: Partly Cloudy, SE Winds 10-12
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

Love that email. Day before yesterday we got an email from sailing friends Nepenthe warning us of a pirate attack near Madagascar and of trouble there. There were no specifics, but this set off a series of inquiries. We emailed our son-in-law, he searched the internet and sent specifics, and then we emailed other contacts seeking additional information. Late today we heard back from Captain Tom Hastings, US Coast Guard, in the Maritime Liason Office in Bahrain. I emailed him yesterday outlining our entire sailing plan from here to Madagascar and from there to South Africa. He emailed back today saying that our outlined route is the best way for a sailing yacht to navigate the Indian Ocean at this time and did not warn us not to go that way. Late last year, he was the same person who warned us against going through the Red Sea. He outlined for us the current pirate activity in the Indian Ocean and included an article about Somali pirates hiding out near the coast of Tanzania, but basically his email indicated that we will be fine if we just stay close to the Madagascar coast. The second bit of good news didn’t come from email but by satellite phone. I had contact information on John Sheppard, owner/manager of Sakatia Towers, a small hotel that welcomes yachties on a tiny island near the only town on the northwest coast of Madagascar. We had called him before to see if we could have mail sent there and today Ed and Lynne called him on their satellite phone to ask about the political situation on the northwest coast. Evidently none of the political unrest, looting, and increased theft that is happening in the center of Madagascar is happening in the area where we plan to travel, so based on those two responses our plans to sail to Madagascar are back on. We spent most of the afternoon talking with Ed and Lynne of Constance and John and Sue of Susan Margaret about changing our plans. Susan Margaret made the decision to head to Southeast Asia instead of traveling on this year and Ed and Lynne and ourselves were seriously considering heading to Mauritius, but after our gathering the phone call was made and the email came in and we went back to plan A. So until we get further information that could convince us otherwise, Madagascar, here we come.

Early this morning I was a little down about the possibility of not being able to go to Madagascar and then received our email and I got really sad. Heather sent a photo of Sam and one of Jonah as attachments and they came through on our Winlink. The photos have to be greatly reduced and only one photo to an email, but they do come through. At first I was elated to see the latest photos of these guys, but then I got incredibly sad as Jonah is not a baby anymore. He was standing in the yard with a Boston Red Sox hat looking just as cute as he could be. He was just over three months old and very much a baby the last time we saw him and it will be almost a year from now when we will see him again. Sam looked a little sad in his photo and I decided that is because he misses us. So that made me even sadder. I was still wiping the tears away when we got in the dinghy to go on a low tide reef walk. By the time we got back, I was okay, but it is so hard to be so far away. Justin and Jo, if you are reading this, please send us a photo of Ziggy. Just reduce the photo to less than 50 kb’s.

Tomorrow and Tuesday we will spend getting ready for take-off and then on Wednesday or Thursday, weathering dependent, we will start our 1500 mile trek to Madagascar. It will probably take us two weeks to get there, and “there” is the northern tip. We will then spend time working our way down to Nosy Be where we check-in and where we will meet John Sheppard at Sakatia Towers. He has been so helpful via phone, so we look forward to meeting him in person.

100530 Day 216 Salomon, Chagos–Reef Walk from Ile Mapou to Ile De La Passe
Day 217, Year 5: Countdown Begins
Day 215, Year 5: Ups and Downs of the Cruising Life