Let the Shipwrecks of Others Be Your Seamarks 28 47 468S 032 04 955
When we left Reunion we had to say goodbye to some new friends who we had made on our neighbouring boat. This is Patchara, a rather homesick Thai girl, and husband Michael saying goodbye.
We left with almost perfect sailing weather with a good view of the island heights.
At the start of the passage we also had the benefit of a full moon to light our way at night.
And some wonderful dawns.
However if you have followed our blogs you will know the weather turned for the last few days......but not as much as it did for others.
Michael, an English single hander, had set out from Reunion a day earlier than us but in a 34 foot boat and hence significantly slower. He expected to take 14 days as opposed to our 11 days. Sadly for him he was 10 miles short of the harbour when the weather turned seriously unpleasant with southerly winds to 60 knots and swells of 7 metres. Unable to make the course he hove to in the hope it would calm down. As it was he spent hours trying to make progress but was gradually forced northward. With waves breaking heavily over the boat he was still in control until his small trisail broke its sheet and began flapping wildly. At this point Michael realised he needed help and called the emergency services via his VHF. Of course we had no idea what was going on until we heard there was a rescue under way and we guessed it was him. He was eventually towed in at about midnight on the Friday safe and sound but very waterlogged and minus a sail and a sprayhood. Michael was tired but well and in surprisingly good spirits. Not bad for a man in his late 70s!
On this coast even the professionals with all their equipment sometimes get it wrong. This is the sight that greeted us as we entered Richards Bay. These are the bows of a large coal ship that attempted to go to sea with a short 6 metre swell running. The upshot was that the ship broke its back when caught with bow and stern supported on swells but the midships in thin air. Snap and down she went although they did mange to get everyone off first.
This coast has a reputation for bad weather enhanced when the south flowing current meets a southerly blow. Combine this with a lack of harbours and you have an unsympathetic place to go cruising. The trick is to find weather windows when the conditions give you the chance to go south between the storms. We shall attempt this in a couple of weeks. In the meantime we shall do some sight seeing!