Passage from Reunion to South Africa S22:26:175 E052:14:168

Superted V
Jean & Matt Findlay
Thu 22 Oct 2015 05:39

Day 1


This passage is the last 1460nm across the Indian Ocean.  We will be aiming to make landfall at Durban but depending on the weather conditions as we approach the coast we may have to divert to Richards bay.  This leg is potentially one of the most challenging we will ever have to do. It requires us to cross the notorious Agulhas current which runs south down the east coast of S Africa at up to 6k. The issue is when a southerly gale comes up the coast and this causes potentially huge and dangerous wind against sea conditions, which have to be avoided by a small boat. As this can happen at least once a week, we will have to keep a close eye on the weather. Richards Bay is about 65 miles closer, so offers a sort of bolt hole. The other issue on this leg is the decision on how close to go to the south tip of Madagascar, which inconveniently sits on the rhum line from Reunion. Pilot books suggest staying 140nm south to avoid the rough seas caused by strong and variable currents and intensified winds from the high land mass of the island. Unfortunately the current predictions we have, suggest we need to get in to around 50nm off the east coast then run south parallel to about 80nm off the southern end to have a strong favourable current as opposed to a strong adverse one.  Right now we are planning to work the favourable currents and run a bit closer, but need to keep an eye on the weather. We are getting some feedback from boats ahead of us via SSB and think the plan is OK at the moment.


A last minute stop at the boulangerie to stock up the freezer with baguettes and we were ready for the off.  I have pre-cooked 9 dinners which are also residing in the freezer.  Customs clearance took a few minutes so by 09.30 we sailed out of the marina.  Once we cleared the island, we had very pleasant sailing conditions – 2 sail reach with around 14 knots of wind aft of the beam and a fairly flat sea.  The sun was out and the cherry on the top was a 1 knot positive current!  Perfect.  A fairly lazy but very pleasant first day.  Fortunately the same conditions continued through the night. We had set the pole before dark last night in anticipation of the wind going further aft but we didn’t have to goose the genoa until around 5am as dawn started to break.  We currently have around a 1m swell (wow!) and about 12 - 14 knots of wind with about 0.5 knots of positive current so making around 7.5 knots. 


Late in the evening we had dolphins swimming along side – as it was getting dark, we couldn’t see them properly but they looked very small – we’ll have to get the book out later to try to identify them.


Date and time: 22nd October 09.30 local (GMT + 4 hrs) 


Position: S22:26:175 E052:14:168


24 hours distance:  188nm