Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31, 2009 - Departure from Madagascar

Our first morning in Baly Bay we were lingering over breakfast and coffee when I asked Sten if there was anything he needed to do before we set off on the run to South Africa. I volunteered that I thought I should cook some passage food and restitch the latest seam failure in the dodger. Sten was like, "Oh, I'm sure there are some things I should do."

After nearly three years of passagemaking, our predeparture preparations are a now familiar drill for us and those of you following along at home. It is so familiar that we've become a bit blase. However, this leg has the potential for some rough stuff (wind against the current, cold fronts, and whatnot), so blase is not a good idea in this instance. So we broke out pen and paper and soon had a long to do list. We've spent the past four days checking things off that list.

Before we set off on a long passage Sten checks fuel, oil and water levels, changes filters and fixes any nagging or new problems. Along the way, he usually makes a few improvements and modifications. I prepare enough meals to get us through at least three days without having to cook underway. We both analyze GRIB files and any other weather information we can get our hands on, looking for the best window. And we both work on shifting Mata'irea's stores from the loose stowage we usually live with to a more secure arrangement (in other words, we put away our crap).

Choosing a date and time to depart Madagascar has proved to be trickier than in most places. Once we leave Baly Bay, we still have fifty-some miles to go before we clear the western cape and can start heading south. There is a strong current wrapping around the cape; so, we need to time our departure to keep us away from the cape when the onshore breeze is at full force. Looking at the GRIB files, we've decided that the best time of day to depart Baly Bay for the run to the cape is actually around 9pm at night. So we'll be leaving tonight after dinner. With any luck, by the morning after next we'll be anchored up at Juan de Nova, an atoll in the middle of the Mozambique Channel. We plan to spend a day there before pushing west to try to pick up the Northerly winds that should be developing on the backside of the Indian Ocean High. If the weather forecasts hold true, we should be able to ride those Northerlies right down the Channel to Richard's Bay, South Africa. That's the plan. Stay tuned to see how well it all works out.

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