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Sailing into the sunset in the Mozambique channel
Sailing into the sunset in the Mozambique Channel

In 2007, on our way south, we were a bit late sailing into South Africa.  The Mozambique Channel (between Mozambique and Madagascar) gets cyclones, sometimes as early as November.  So we wanted to be in Richards Bay, South Africa, before the cyclone season started in November, but we didn't quite make it.  Luckily, no cyclones appeared in the channel until much later in the season.

Most of our cruising has been in the tropics (N/S 2327' from the equator), where the trade winds can usually be counted on to blow from the easterly quadrant most of the time, SE in the Southern Hemisphere and NE in the Northern Hemisphere.  But this convenient arrangement doesn't hold for this coast of Africa.  Weather patterns here are determined by many factors, including weather systems moving west to east a bit south of Cape Town.  So the trick is to catch a "weather window" that will give you favorable winds for the time needed to get where you need to go.  However, since the weather is somewhat unpredictable, especially the year we went, it's also handy to have some safe ports to duck into when the winds become unfavorable.

The following are our noon positions and statistics as we sailed from Bali Bay, Madagascar to Richards Bay, South Africa, via Bazaruto Bay and Inhambane Bay in Mozambique.  Wind speeds and directions are apparent - true wind speeds were somewhat higher and true wind angles were a bit further aft (our forward speed pulls the apparent wind forward):

November
2007
South
Latitude
East
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed
Wind
Direction
Comments
Sat 3 Nov 15 53' 44 44' (36) 653 10-17 160-80 Beautiful sail - flew the chute most of the day
Sun 4 Nov 16 28' 42 35' 132 521 5-14 90-150 Light winds, motor-sail most of the day
Mon 5 Nov 17 56' 40 32' 148 373 15-25 100-150 Ocelot hits a sleeping whale!
Tues 6 Nov 19 11' 38 15' 152 221 25-15 130-170 Delightful sail, wing-&-wing, but wind dying
Wed 7 Nov 20 59' 36 04' 165 56 0-15 all over Light winds but good current, anchor at 7:30pm

Mon 19 Nov 24 03' 35 36' (24) 360 10-24 150 Leave Inhambane Bay with Ptarmigan
Tues 20 Nov 26 15' 34 02' 161 199 10-20 160-45 Dodging lightening storms at night
Wed 21 Nov 27 53' 32 41' 128 71 6-24 45-130 Arrive Richards Bay, South Africa, at 9pm

Totals: Distance Time Speeds (knots)
Leg Nautical Statute Km (days) Avg Max
Madagascar to Bazaruto, Mozambique 689 793 1,276 4.5 6.3 15.5
Inhambane to Richards Bay 384 442 711 2.5 6.4 15.8

The newsletters we sent out are:

Up | Mozambique Channel | South Africa Arrival | Africa Road Trip #1 | Wilds of Africa | African Game Parks | Family Update | Kruger Return | Touring Africa | The Eye's Have It

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