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South Africa Arrival

22 November 2007, Richards Bay, South Africa

Dear Friends and Family,

Ocelot & Dhow near sandbanks of Mozambique
Ocelot & Dhow near sandbanks of Mozambique

We finally made it!  In our Mozambique Channel newsletter we'd just arrived in Bazaruto Bay, Mozambique.  After our rather harrowing night where we had to weather a vicious squall by moving to the other side of Santa Carolina (Paradise) Island in the dark, and with more bad weather on the way, we decided to seek a more protected anchorage.  So we moved to Benguerra (Santo Antonio) Island, just south of Bazaruto Island.  Getting there was quite interesting as much of Bazaruto Bay is very shallow, so we left on a rising tide with the sun high so we could see and dodge around shallows and sand-banks.  We actually visited 2 anchorages off Benguerra, the first at 2151.7'S 3524.9'E where we spent several days exploring, playing on the sand dunes, hiking, birding, shelling, helping the 2 small resorts with their computers, and visiting with a neighboring catamaran.  Then we moved up to 2149'S 3527'E where we explored the sand dunes in glorious isolation while waiting for a weather window south.  Waiting here allowed us to exit Bazaruto Bay between Benguerra and Bazaruto Islands, saving us from the 30 nautical mile trip around the top of Bazaruto Island.

Jon reefing the main - note reefed jib
Jon reefing the main - jib already reefed

We jumped off from Bazaruto Bay on 14 November and suddenly found we had a strong current pushing us along.  It was so strong that we had to take down most of our sail or we'd arrive at Inhambane, 120 nautical miles to the south, in the dark!  As it was we arrived just at daybreak, which coincided with high tide so we could scoot across the shallow bar and tuck in behind a long sand-spit at 2347'S 3528.5'E.  Again we went exploring and birding and meeting some of the locals while a nasty front blew over us from the south.  Sue and Amanda hitched a ride into town to get some fruits and veggies and to see some of the local color.

This area of Mozambique has become quite a playground for South Africans, with several resorts and time-shares springing up.  This is somewhat surprising as the current rulers of Mozambique are the Frelimo, the terrorist organization that forced the Portuguese to leave in 1974.  Apparently, after a period of anarchy, they're now getting down to running the country and people are investing again.  The government is even trying to get farmers back by giving them land, so the earlier exodus is reversing.

We jumped off from Inhambane on 19 November, heading either for Inhaca, off the capital of Maputo, or Richards Bay, South Africa.  We didn't want to go to Inhaca as the rather corrupt Mozambique officials often prowl around charging yachts whatever they feel like, but there was also yet another front coming up the coast towards Richards Bay.  We'd been maintaining twice a day radio contact with a Durban weather expert ever since Madagascar and he thought the front would dissipate before it got to us.  So we gladly changed course to head for the coast of South Africa.

Jon and Amanda shaking out the reef from the night before
Jon and Amanda shaking out the reef from the night before

Unfortunately, Fred wasn't quite correct and the front gave us about 18 hours of 20 knot head-winds in the middle of our passage, but on the whole it wasn't that bad.  We covered about 360 nautical miles at an average speed of 6.5 knots but the GPS says we hit 15.8 knots(!) during the first day, and much of the last day we were scooting along at 8‑12 knots.  At that, we were lucky we got into Richards Bay when we did because the other 6 boats coming south all got hammered by a completely unforecast 35 knot southerly squall.  We had to make an 8:30pm night entry, always a bit nerve-wracking but we knew our electronic charts for this area were spot-on.

So we're now cleared in and tied to a concrete wall as there is essentially no room at either of the marinas.  In the next few days we'll look into hauling Ocelot out to repair the whale damage and paint the bottom.  In the meantime we're meeting old (and new) friends.  November 22nd is our Thanksgiving in the US and we'll be celebrating it here as well, but on the 23rd as we need time to put the feast together.  It looks like it will be a 10 person joint effort hosted on Ocelot (of course).

Our current plans are to leave Ocelot here in Richards Bay for several weeks while we tour inland.  Jon's father is coming to tour with us, which we always enjoy.  Then we'll hop down the coast during breaks in the weather, heading for Cape Town.

Fair winds and calm seas -- Jon, Sue and Amanda Hacking

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