Day 265, Year 5 Russian Bay-Not Alone
Date: Sunday, July 18, 2010
Weather: Another Sunny Day with Madagascar Clouds
Latitude: 13 degrees 32.169 minutes S
Longitude: 047 degrees 59.826 minutes E
Location: Ambavatoby Bay (Russian Bay) NW Madagascar

We left Andranira Bay at sunrise this morning and motored our way north and then west. There was no wind but we did have current with us. Even with the motor running, we had an incredibly peaceful journey. The waters here are full of life. There are dolphins and fish that jump so high out of the water that they look like they are flying by the time they land with quite a splash. There were so many fish jumping this morning that I thought I was seeing whales blowing. And in the sky there are white terns and boobies. We caught a beauty of a fish, looked like a tuna, but lost it just as Mark pulled it up to the boat. By 11 am we were in Ambavatoby Bay where we found four other boats at anchor. All of a sudden, we were no longer alone. This bay is commonly called Russian Bay and according to the East Africa Pilot the story behind the name goes like this: “There are many stories about how the bay got its name, but his is the one we like most. It concerns the crew of the Vlötny, a Russian warship that in 1905 had been sent to fight the Russo-Japanese war. The mostly Uralian crew only needed one sight of life in Madagascar to realize that they did not want to go back to Uralia, even if they did win the war. They had barely organized a mutiny before their officers gave in, having seen more than the crew of the attractive Madagascan girls.” The story goes on telling how the ship was hidden in this bay. They went out twice to pirate other vessels in the Mozambique Channel, but then they ran out of fuel for the boilers. They settled in this bay but malaria and other diseases took their toll. Those that survived settled on the shore just in front of us and built a large stone dormitory, Uralian-style. We walked on the beach today and saw the ruins of the huge building. It is said that the last of the survivors died in 1936 and we met a local named Johnny on the beach who showed us where the Russians were buried. We spent a great deal of time chasing birds-bee eaters and some beautiful little kingfishers-and got a few photos. Bird photos are hard to get without a telephoto lens but we do the best we can. We also met some people from Reunion, France, and the Seychelles (all from the same boat). It turns out the captain is from the Seychelles and the boat resides there. Fred is the captain’s name and somehow we got ourselves invited to Turquoise, a Marquises 56 foot catamaran, for sundowners. The people aboard were Claude (a physican) and Mizou and Jean-Pierre and Jacqueline from Reunion. There was another couple from France and at least two crew. We had a delightful time and found that Claude, the physician, is very interested in following Lynne’s progress and will lend assistance or advice as needed. We got cell numbers and set up a radio sched to keep in touch.

We also found Peitra and Carla of Odulphus whom we met in Chagos. We spoke with them briefly and found that they have been talking with South African cruisers here who are recommending that the best way from here to South Africa is to go much further down the south coast of Madagascar than we had thought possible. They are planning on going south to Toliara (Tulear) before heading across to South Africa. They were meeting with two more South African couples tonight and have invited us over for coffee at 10 am to report on their findings. This cruising life is very fluid. I never dreamed that we could explore southern Madagascar, but evidently I was wrong. We may have a very different plan after tomorrow.

We returned to Windbird at 6 pm to talk to Ed and Lynne on HF radio. Lynne is feeling much better and walking on her foot is no longer painful. So the antibiotics must be helping. We are just so happy that things seem better. She will see the doctor again tomorrow afternoon or on Tuesday and then she and Ed will have a better idea of whether or not they will be able to join us as we make our jaunt south. We’ll know more about that tomorrow night.

100718 Day 265a Russian Bay, Madagascar–Andranira Bay to Russian Bay
100718 Day 265b Russian Bay, Madagascar–Andassi Be Shore Explore