October 27 - Underway to Mozambique

This morning in quieter 20-knot wind we dismantled our storm snubber system. Dave and I had run ropes to 5 cleats, attaching them to our chain on the foredeck with chainhooks and spectra loops. The stretchy lines gave us some play to dampen the jerks in breaking waves, and having the snubbers inboard let us see them when they needed adjustment for chafing. First time we have ever had to do this! Usually our double bow-cleated snubber is sufficient.

We took a final check on weather, and pulled up our anchor. Though we had all our chain out, the anchor was still very deeply dug in, and took awhile to raise out of the seabed. Our 75 pound CQR was expensive when we bought it, but a bargain when it came to a 4-day blow! Together with Contrails, Priscilla and Skorpio, we are embarked on the 4-day passage across the Mozambique Channel to Inhambane. We are advised to get in to shelter by Wednesday noon, before the next blow begins. The other boats are bigger and faster than we are, though we will do our best to keep up.

We are underway in fairly pleasant conditions, big leftover seas but moderate winds. Engine is off, doubled-reefed main, poled-out jib, we are rolling along at 7 knots, on our final leg to Africa.

October 29 - Midway across the Mozambique

We have been making great time, favorable winds and currents, until tonight a pleasant fast ride. Now, at a moonlight midnight, we are in washing-machine seas as we approach the Agulhas current. We have SE winds, about 20 knots. When this collides with the south-flowing Agulhas the seas get steep and confused. So we are being tossed about and splashed a bit, waves occasionally breaking into the cockpit. I have the companionway boards in, and am keeping watch standing on the stairs. Normally we spend our watches in the cockpit, but not tonight! The wind will gradually lay down, and the motion should get better, but right now we are happy to have the wind pushing us across. Looks like we can make Inhambane on the 30th, well ahead of the big buster coming. Other boats ahead of us have sent info on how to cross the bar and where to anchor. It is amazing to have this fantastic network. We are talking daily to boats who just left Reunion, others at Madagascar, others in Mozambique, and others underway, all reporting conditions and exchanging info on weather, strategies and anchorages. This passage is certainly our most challenging ever, and we are conscious of all the help we are getting.

October 30 - Beat the Clock

We are less than 100 miles from the Inhambane bar entrance, pedal to the metal, with full main and motoring. The goal is to cross the bar at high slack water, about 4 pm local time. But the current is slowing us down, and it is not clear we can make it. We have a waypoint for an outside anchorage, but hope to get inside to hunker down for the blow coming the following day.

Landfall Mozambique!

All day we fought the current, up to 3 knots against us, frustrating our hope of landfall today. We needed to make the Inhambane bar entrance by 7 pm local time, within 2 hours of slack water. If we didn't get in, we would have to hove-to offshore, since fresh NE winds had made the alternative outside lighthouse anchorage a lee shore. By VHF radio, we discussed strategies with the 4 other boats underway.

Finally Priscilla, 12 miles ahead, radioed that the current was dropping! We had all canvas up, with the engine at full revs. With the current down, we could make 7+ knots, allowing us to arrive at the bar just an hour after slack water. We motored south, then west, up the river. By sundown, we were tucked just behind Linga Linga, near Inhambane, in a sheltered anchorage for tonight. It will become untenable late tomorrow, but by then we can move upriver and join the boats who arrived just ahead of us.

We are in Africa! And the Indian Ocean crossing is complete. This long passage has been both stressful and rewarding. We started in Thailand at the beginning of 2012, traveled down Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Kratatau, Cocos Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and now Mozambique. We have discovered new limits of endurance for crew and boat, with an appreciation of both our independence and our reliance of the help of many others.

We will stay here several days to sit out a wicked storm brewing south of us, then catch the next window to run south, the final leg to Richards Bay. All is well!

November 1 - Upriver Inhambane

After a great night's sleep at Linga Linga, we pulled up anchor and zigzagged upriver, using Daemon's 13 waypoints. Daemon had scoped out a route at low water that avoided the sandbars. We went slowly up just after high water on a falling tide, followed by Skorpio. Our depth sounder was not working, and in the rain they didn't want to bring their laptop into the cockpit, so they followed us, while we used waypoints on the iPad, and they reported depths just behind our stern! Blind leading the blind... We anchored near 8 other boats already here, put out 180 feet in 20' of water, and added our storm snubbers that we had used successfully at Minorodo. On the radio we heard Richards Bay had near-hurricane conditions. Early this morning the winds arrived here, peaking at about 30 knots, a mere breeze compared to the blast we had at Minorodo! The boats are waltzing to and fro, pushed by tidal river currents, quite strong, and by a long fetch from the south, a little bouncy but very tolerable. Holding is excellent. Later today the winds should slowly drop, and we may be able to again head south on Saturday or Sunday.

All the boats are running out of fresh food. Yesterday Priscilla complained that they are now 19 days into a 9-day passage! A week ago Taipan had complained they had nothing aboard to eat that didn't have a label. I am down to the last 2 eggs, a few carrots and a couple tomatoes. It is too rowdy to try to dinghy ashore, though we may tomorrow. Mr. Curly has organized a happy hour at the small resort just ashore, and if the winds lay down a bit more we will all go in - first time off the boat since Reunion. While we were still downriver at Linga Linga, two officials visited the boats up here, checking each ship's papers and passports but doing no paperwork beyond collecting $70 USD, for which they gave a receipt.

We anchor upriver to sit out a blow.

The wind picks up.

Dave spends 2 days at anchor fabricating a new track stopper out of starboard.

The ferry crosses the river.

November 3 - final leg to Richards Bay

We are underway again, having weighed anchor early this morning at Inhambane. One of the boats had arranged a delightful dinner just ashore at a new resort, Agua Breeze, so we got to stand on land, first time since Reunion. The resort owners, Emile and Betsie, brewed up a big cast iron pot of oxtail stew and put on quite a feast for us. Fun to finally meet some of the folks we'd only known by radio. It was a great landfall celebration in a lovely setting.

Forecast looks quite good, so we are taking this window to jump the last leg of our Indian Ocean passage to Richards Bay, 2 1/2 days away. Right now we are crossing the bar at Inhambane, and soon will be offshore, hopefully catching a little of the current to speed us south. A gaggle of boats left together, so we are in good company.

The resort provides a Very Happy Hour...

And an oxtail stew feast.

We sail on, in company with other boats.

Scorpio catches Baraka at sunset.

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