Mauritius to South Africa Day Six - 27 47.451S 046 47.744E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 6 Nov 2013 15:08
More reasons to celebrate! Firstly we've turned the corner. At 160 miles off the southeastern tip of Madagascar we've turned and are finally heading for Richards Bay. Having turned the corner it feels like we're on the home straight for this passage. It's a very long home straight at over 780 miles!, but the home straight nonetheless. Secondly, we've finally passed the halfway mark.
Had a good night with much better winds giving speeds of 6 to 7kts the whole time. Had to put the starboard pole up at midnight in the pitch black to make sure we made the most of it and we ran under both poles (the port pole was already up) until 08.00 this morning. Then it was all change as the winds backed further to the NNE and the port pole came down so the big outer genoa could be sheeted in to catch more wind. Changing sails and poles can be quite a challenge as we work out what we have up, what we want to have up, how to get from one to the other in the minimum number of moves and, how to do it without stopping! There's normally a way to keep the boat moving. The noon-to-noon run was 142.2, the best so far. The winds have been dropping off during the day and it's back to a struggle to make 5kts. It's not helped by a counter current of a knot or more. That shouldn't be happening - the chart shows the South Equatorial Current going in a southwesterly direction, i.e. with us, not against us! The other boats reported the counter current last week and it seems it's going to be something we're going to have to live with for the rest of the passage. So slow progress will be even slower. On the positive side, it's another beautiful day - not a cloud in the sky.
Magnetic variation has increased again, to 28W. AIS, which normally shows ships up to 30 miles or so away, is showing them up to 90 miles and there are 11 currently on the screen, so a busy part of the ocean.

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