Day 359, Year 5 Passage to Inhaca (maybe), Day 6
Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Weather: Clear, Winds ESE 15 Turning E, NE, & Now ENE 5
Latitude: 24 26.206 S
Longitude: 036 59.892 E
Miles Traveled: 581
Miles to Go: 237 to Inhaca, Mozambique / 374 to Richards Bay, South Africa
Guess what? We are still muddling along not knowing whether we are going to Richards Bay in South Africa or Inhaca in Mozambique. Of course, our final destination will be Richards Bay but we might have to stop in Inhaca to wait out the southerly winds. The Peri Peri Net, the GRIBS, and the BUOY Weather reports are all still saying that strong SW winds will be blowing in Richards Bay area starting tomorrow night. Graham on the Maritime Mobile Net is now also seeing that possibility. There is a cold front that he thought would be sent south that is now slowly moving north. He is going to watch the situation closely and will be able to tell us at 2:30 pm tomorrow afternoon for sure, but even he suggested we just go to Inhaca and wait until Tuesday the 27th when it looks like we would have a clear shot at Richards Bay. Ed and Lynne on Constance are not ready to give up and would rather heave to out here and wait rather than go into Inhaca, but they wouldn’t do this until tomorrow afternoon after talking to Graham. And by that time the BUOY Weather reports are telling us that we will have strong NE winds and we will be picking up the south flowing current and sitting still might not be so easy or so desirable. I’m sticking with Inhaca as the current destination, but what a difference a day can make. We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.
Starting at sundown last night until about 2 am we had ESE winds 15 to 20 and had a great sail. But just when my watch ended at 1:45 am the winds were calming down and we had to do a combination of sailing and motor sailing through the night. By the time I came back on watch at 4:45 am the winds were only 3 to 5 knots coming from right behind us-and I mean directly behind us. Windbird just doesn’t move forward with only 5 knots of wind from behind, so we have been motoring all day. We finally caught up to Constance and have now passed them. We have slowed down some so as not to lose them during the night. Communicating on the VHF radio is so much easier than having to set a schedule to talk on the HF radio. We need to be within 15 to 20 miles of each other to have VHF contact, so we will try to maintain that through the night. The VHF radio stays on all the time and we can just push a button and call Constance. With the HF, we have to pick a frequency and a time in advance and it is just much more difficult. We have been trying to stay in contact with Odulphus on the HF at 7:45 am and again at 5:45 pm, but we have had trouble connecting. We hear them and they hear us but not clearly enough to get real information. We do know, however, that they have left the Barren Islands for the second time and are on their way.
I spent my day baking brownies, banana bread, and regular bread. I go down for a nap at 9:30 am each morning, then get up and fix lunch, and on days like today I spend my time in the galley, so it is already 4:30 pm and almost time to fix dinner and start the first watch. Last night I spent both of my watches reading about South Africa in the Lonely Planet. I have read the chapters on the provinces we will be visiting, but last night I went back to the front of the book and read the history of the country from 2500 years ago to the present. How many people do you know that would sit and cry in the middle of the night while reading the Lonely Planet? Well, now you know one-me. I made it fine until I got to the 1900’s but then it just got to be too much. The fact that 20 per cent of people of the country, the white population, could push 80 per cent of the people, the black population, into the “homelands” which constituted only 14 per cent of the land of the entire country was mind boggling. The stories of the people who fought for racial equality-Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu-made for hard reading. Thinking about Nelson Mandela, son of an Xhosa chief, college educated, a lawyer, spending 27 years in prison just for standing up for the rights of his people, was sad. But the story of Steve Biko is the one that made me cry. He as admittedly one of the most prominent and influential anti-apartheid activists, but the way he died was inhumane. In 1977 he was detained under the Terrorism Act which meant he didn’t get a trial and was literally bashed into a coma by members of the South African security forces. At first the government claimed he died of a hunger strike, but later there was admission that he had been killed. This is a man had worked hard to establish literary programs and health clinics for his people. What a shameful way for him to die. I know these stories are no different from ones in our own American history and that makes it all the harder to read about. South Africa today is still trying to deal with its problems. It is still a country of the haves and have-nots. There are more South Africans affected with HIV/AIDS than any other country in the world. The crime rate is out of sight. But the Lonely Planet states that it is a “more optimistic and relaxed place than it was in 1990.” I sure hope so.