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