Day 228, Year 5 Passage to Madagascar, Day 9
Date: Friday, June 11, 2010
Weather: Overcast and Squally; Winds SSE 22-24 / 30-35 Knots
Latitude: 12 degrees 01.111 minutes S
Longitude: 051 degrees 29.450 minutes E
Miles to Go: 150

Jessica Price is my sister Patsy’s oldest grandchild and she graduates from high school today. So congratulations to Jessica. It is times like these, when I know family members are gathered to celebrate, that I really miss, but I’m certainly there with them in spirit.

This morning on the radio Mark asked Ed to give his position report and all Ed said was, “Uncomfortable.” That sums up our experience of the last twenty-four hours. Today has been an ugly one-totally overcast with one squall after another. At least we have 30 to 45 minute periods between squalls when things settle down. And we are making amazing progress and should definitely reach the east coast of Madagascar in the morning. If that happens as planned, we will then round the top and be at anchor by afternoon. Evidently we aren’t going to get a break from this weather for another day or so as a weather system is basically sitting on top of us. It should be heading off by Sunday and I’m sure looking forward to sunny skies with no squalls. We had another all-time high mileage day the last twenty-four hours going 170 nautical miles. Yesterday at this time we had 320 miles to go and now we have 150, so progress is definitely being made. We are sailing with almost no headsail and a reefed main, but with winds like these you hardly need sails!

Madagascar: A Little Geography
I keep saying that we are going to round the cape at the top of Madagascar so I’ll take time to give a little background so you will know that that means. Madagascar is about a thousand miles from top to bottom. It is much longer than it is wide and at its closest point it sits only 225 miles from the East African coast, situated parallel to Mozambique. The cape at the very top of the island is called Cap de’Ambre. Once you are over the top and start down the west coast there are three bays, no more than five miles from the top. It is the middle bay where we plan to anchor first. This, of course, is in northwestern Madagascar and this is part of Mad where we will be spending most of our time. If you look at Madagascar on a map it almost looks like someone bit a huge chunk out of the northwestern coast and then they spit out the pieces and these became little islands scattered all along. That ‘bite’ leaves a crescent shape from the Cap de’Ambre out to Cap de’Andre some 350 miles south and west. Islands in Madagascar are called ‘nosy’ so Nosy Be is the island of Be. We will spend a week or so working our way south from Cap de’Ambre to Nosy Be where we will visit Hell-ville, the administrative center where we check-in. The distance is only a hundred miles but there are a number of anchorages on the mainland and a few ‘nosies’ that we want to visit on the way. Nosy Be is about the southern limit of what is referred to as Northern Madagascar. From there south along the coast is Western Madagascar and we will eventually travel the 250 miles from Nosy Be following the crescent-shaped curve of the ‘bite.’ From the southern end of the crescent we will then travel across the Mozambique Channel to South Africa. Geographically, there is also a southern section, an eastern section, and a second eastern section where the capital of Antananarivo is situated. We will only be visiting places in the northern section and some of the coastal western section. If the political situation were different, we might do more travel in the south, but at this time that would require flying in and out of the capital and that is the hot spot for political unrest. So northwest it will be for Windbird’s crew.