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 23°27' 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):
|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|
|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|
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