Day 357, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 3

Day 357, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 3
Date: Monday, October 18, 2010
Weather: Most Sunny Day, Winds SSW 15-20 am, WSW 10-15 pm
Latitude: 20 30.718 S
Longitude: 042 01.282 E
Miles Traveled: 206 (miles made good-159)
Miles to Go: ~ 141 to Europa

In two days and few hours we have only gone 159 miles toward our destination. We can that many miles in one good day sail, so this is a slow slog to the southwest. The other miles we have traveled were spent zig-zagging around. We are no longer zig-zagging as the winds have allowed us to almost be on our direct course. After a rough night with winds up to 25 knots, we finally double-reefed all sails and went even slower. But at least I didn’t think I was going to die! And I started writing this log I was thinking that the sailing has been a bit slow and rough but at least we haven’t had to worry about squalls. Well, I no sooner had that thought until gray clouds magically appeared to the southwest. Constance is a few miles ahead of us and a they just called to say they were hit by a squall, but with only 20 knots of wind-not 35 like we had further north in the Indian Ocean. So we are watching and waiting. If the squall comes with rain that would be welcome. Last night we had wave spray going over the top of our dodger and onto the back deck spraying into the cockpit. Yuck! So a little fresh water wash would be nice. I’ll end this as it is time to batten down the hatches.

Day 356, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 2

Day 356, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 2
Date: Sunday, October 17, 2010
Weather: Clear Day, Winds WSW 15-20
Latitude: 19 35.877 S
Longitude: 042 45.391 E
Miles Traveled: 117 (miles made good-91)
Miles to go: ~ 210 to Europa

Jimmy Buffet needs to write a new sailing song for us about zig-zaggin’ across the Mozambique Channel. Yesterday I said that it was 341 miles to Europa, and that was taking into account that we can’t go on a straight rhumb line, but it may well end up to be many more miles for us. I said yesterday the winds were predicted to come from the south, the southwest, and the south-southwest, but I didn’t know at the time that we were going to have strong west southwest winds all day today. We traveled south, then west, then south through early morning and have been on a slightly north of west course all day running tight to the wind. Of course we need to be going southwest. The winds have been strong all day and are predicted to get even stronger tonight. At some point, we will turn south to southeast, and then back to northwest. Our track really does look like a zig-zag, but eventually we will reach Ile Europa or somewhere! Running so tight to the wind makes us heel over quite a bit, but we have reefed the main and headsail to make things a little more comfortable and are moving along at about three and a half knots. There’s nothing dangerous about any of this. It just isn’t the most relaxing passage. And we always worry about the strain on Windbird, but she seems to roll with the punches. We love this boat. Constance is about ten miles south of us and they are in a strong setting south current. We have between one and half to a knot of current against us since leaving Nosy Andrano, but unfortunately we are not being set south like Constance. Odulphus is a bigger and heavier boat than Constance or Windbird and is a ketch, so she could not point as high to wind as we could and had to turn back. We expect to hear them on the net tonight reporting they are back in Nosy Andrano waiting for favorable winds. So it is once again just Constance and Windbird on passage. Odulphus having to turn back reminded us just how well matched Constance and Windbird are at sea. At the current rate, we will reach Europa on Wednesday, making it a four-day instead of a two- to three-day passage, but right now that is fine with us as long as we make it there safely.

Day 355, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 1

Day 355, Year 5 Passage to Ile Europa, Day 1
Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010
Weather: Clear Day, Winds N 5 am, W 12-15 pm
Latitude: 19 01.783 S
Longitude: 043 43.034 E
Miles Traveled: 31 nautical miles (341 to Europa)

Chances are you have never heard of Ile Europa. It is a tiny dot of an island in the center of the Mozambique Channel and it happens to be on our path to South Africa. So we have made that our next destination. We are hoping to stop there briefly to reassess the weather before traveling on to South Africa. There is nothing there but sand dunes surrounded by a fringing reef. On the island there is a French military presence and a meteorological station. It is not supposed to be a very comfortable anchorage unless the weather is very calm, but better to be uncomfortable there than to head on into the fast running Agulhas current if the winds are blowing from the south. The current heads south at around 4 knots the closer you get to Richards Bay and if the wind is blowing from the south you can get huge waves. So we certainly want to avoid that. Constance, Odulphus, and Windbird left the Barren Islands mid-day with 341 miles to go to Europa. We are allowed to go ashore there to get our passports stamped at the meteorological station, but there is nothing else there in terms of supplies. We have also read that there are so many turtles around the little island that you sometimes have to clear a space for your anchor. The diving there is supposed to be fantastic, but only if you like sharks because they are prolific. So I don’t think you will find me in the water there!

We decided to leave today even though we know we are going to have adverse winds. The forecast is for winds coming from the south, southwest, and south southwest for the entire three days it should take to get to Ile Europa-and we are traveling southwest. But at least we will have wind. If we waited until mid-week we would have almost no wind and have to motor, so the captains opted to sail the winds. We all laughed saying we might end up in Mozambique instead of South Africa, but if so, we’ll just have to enjoy Mozambique.

101016 Day 355 Barren Islands, Madagascar–Islands Androtara, Andrano, and Lava