Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 13, 2009 - Lokobe National Park, Madagascar

Yesterday we had a rough sail down from the far north of Madagascar back to Nosy Mitsio. We were beating to windward in short steep seas, with gusts up to 30 knots. It provided Suzy with a taste of the conditions that we see offshore, albeit without the inherent swell. Unfortunately, there were so many white caps that we didn't have a prayer of spotting any whales. However, thanks to all that wind, we did get into Mitsio in time to explore some of the northern beaches before tucking into the protected overnight anchorage in the southern crook of the bay.

Today we headed south again. Before lunch we had a lazy sail down to Tsara Banjina under jib only. As we passed the strange geologic formations on the southwest corner of Nosy Mitsio for the third time (second for Suzy) we were just as enthralled as the first two times. They are truly unique. Just before noon we anchored in the crystal clear waters surrounding Tsara Banjina.

After a snorkel, a delicious meal at the resort restaurant, and a chart marking session with Hilton, the resort manager, we raised the anchor and headed towards Nosy Be. The difference between yesterday's sail, which left both Suzy and I feeling punky, and today's was night and day. Although it was still upwind, the wind was much more moderate and we didn't have to deal with anything like the raging current that runs north of Mitsio. Suzy entertained me all afternoon by playing Scrabble with me. Meanwhile, Sten divided his attention between his fishing lines (we had several hook-straightening strikes during the day, and finally landed a Spanish Mackerel, which launched itself 8 feet in the air as it took the hook) and reading the second book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

Unfortunately the wind was on the nose, so we couldn't lay our preferred anchorage at Sakatia. We diverted to the anchorage in Lokobe National Park instead. Even with the rerouting, we couldn't make it in before dark. But we could follow our old GPS track back into the anchorage, so there weren't any dramas. And it had the bonus of providing Suzy with two whole new experiences: seeing the sun set at sea and night sailing. Relying on radar and GPS tracks (rather than one's own eyes) takes a lot of faith in one's equipment, but Suzy did just fine.

Together with the anchorages at Mitsio and Sakatia, Lokobe has been one of our go to anchorages in Madagascar. There really isn't any such thing as a flat calm anchorage in this region, but these three are reasonably protected and surrounded by good day sailing opportunities.

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