Leg 14 La Réunion - Richard's Bay

Take Off
Jörgen Wennberg
Thu 9 Nov 2017 13:41
4th of November

We leave Le Port and experience a lovely sailing down the East coast of La Réunion with a gentle sea and hardly no waves. Only an hour later the strong compression winds from Réunion’s mountains took over creating breaking waves over the boat. All the 4 of us Louise, Alex, Inez and Johan are not feeling well and have to lie down. Jörgen being at the helm sails by himself in this hard wind during 4 hours and gets 3 proper huge waves over him. Once we all “wake up” and feel a bit better, we see a very cold Jörgen that had to go and change to dry clothes. 

Once we had left La Réunion the wind looses speed and we get a nice and gentle night sailing.

Our night shifts are:

20h00 - 23h00 Louise
23h00 - 02h00 Jörgen
02h00 - 0500 Johan
05h00 - 08h00 Jörgen

The next night Jörgen and Johan change shifts so they have every second night 1 shift and every second night 2 shifts. If they feel tired during the day they can take a nap whenever it suits them. Louise takes only 1 shift as she has to be awake all day taking care of Alex and Inez’s schooling as well as the cooking. 

5th of November

Today we experience a lovely sailing in perfect half wind and no waves. A true dream sailing day! As everyday we have our morning roll cals at 09h00 where we report our positions to the fleet and every evening at 18h00 where we report anything worth reporting: fishing fish, seeing dolphins or whales or any “breaking” news as we started to implement on Take Off haha….

6th of November

A very cold and rainy morning. For some reason we forget to take out the camera when the weather is bad haha…  However this is a pity afterwards as the contrasts would show a more truthfully image of what the sailing is about. Later on the wind became more stable and we are able to hoist the spinnaker. 

Jörgen and Johan preparing to hoist the spinnaker.


Really lovely! In the afternoon, down from the galley, we see how the spinnaker has been ripped off again… 3rd time. We guess this spinnaker has done its duty. We hoist the next one. 


Alex and Inez inventing another game. They built a hut, like a little cottage, for their doudous (teddy bears).


This evening we experience an absolute beautiful sunset with a magical light caressing Take Off and its crew. It’s hard to believe that we will soon encounter some other weather challenges. 



Inez finding a new game with Mum and Dad’s snorkling fins. No need to have special kids toys on board, they always find a way to play with anything they find!

7th of November

The wind continues to blow pretty hard and we are well of the coast of Madagascar. During the morning the wind shifts from the West, which forces us to sail a beam reach. We have not sailed like this since Australia. Heavy reach waves are meeting us from the South West and we sail beam reach all day with the boat jumping up and down through the waves. By night the wind drops, however not the waves… The worst combination as we have no proper speed to go through the waves. Take Off is taken by the waves up and down. We motor through the whole night. 

8th of November

Lovely morning. Jörgen eating his breakfast on the helm.


The wind has been picking up so we hoist the spinnacker and the sea is calm… we call it a dream sailing! However it lasted an hour as the wind shifted to North forcing us to take down the spinnaker. 

Shower Day: we take the opportunity being a calm sailing to take our shower! 


Now Alex and Inez’ turn which is always really funny!




Jörgen taking advantage … Happy and clean Alex!


Inez' turn


Jörgen taking advantage again!


We finish off this lovely day of sailing with celebrating halfway!


During the roll call this yesterday evening we all took a decision together to skip going South to the waypoint recommended by the World ARC as to avoid the challenging currents and waves close to the coast of Madagascar. This was due to the fact that there was an alarming big storm South of the waypoint that was starting to build up and we all preferred to avoid the storm than the challenging currents. Therefore we have been steadily approaching the coast of Madagascar and by lunch we see Madagascar! As well as whales! And what a show! Amazing! From the far distance we managed to see a mother with its calf but it’s not catched on the photos. 



The closer we get to shore, the more we are reaching and we have the wind on the nose. We sail so close to shore that we can see people walking on the beach.


Approaching the shore we tacked (sailing towards the wind) and realise that we are now sailing straight South without coming closer to our target. We have no choice than to continue, hoping the wind will shift somewhat. However the wind is picking up even more and now we have it straight on the nose at 40 knots! We decide to take down the sails (which was a challenge in itself) and go for motor in the headwind and against the 2-3 meter waves. This was not a good idea either as we did come any further due to the heavy waves meeting us. We hoist our main sail again and work our way through along the coast of Madagascar. We continue our way South so when tacking back again we hopefully will manage pass the most Southern tip of Madagascar and can sail up along the West coast. 

Although the sailing here was really tough we are going to experience a very lucky moment. During the sunset we got another whale visit, again a mother with its calf who gave us a beautiful show in the shimmering pink light of the sunset. They both jumped at the same time and the mother “waved” us goodbye. A true magical moment! 

At 23h00 during Louise’s night shift the wind suddenly shifts and we do an unpredicted tack (the tracker shows a nice little loop) now sailing back North again. This showed to be a lucky choice as we now have managed to clear off from the Southern tip of Madagascar. When Jörgen is about to start his night shift he sees lightenings all around the boat! Johan who had the previous shift did not seem to be alarmed. However Jörgen woke up Louise and we put all our electronic devices (computer, iPad, telephones, camera, satellite phone and YB tracker) in the oven. According to Jörgen the lightenings were 360 degrees and we experienced a scary however amazing scene. We guess that this was one of the most challenging 24 hours we have had.

9th - 11th of November

We have now sailed the absolute worst passage of our whole circum navigation crossing the Southern coast of Madagascar in 40 knots of head wind, standing waves, lightening and thunder … However on that night we continued motoring in standing waves with the bow stomping up and down all night. Very unpleasant and impossible to sleep in our cabin in the front. In the morning of the 9th the wind is picking up and we can hoist our mainsail with one reef. It’s a lovely day sailing in the Mozambique Channel, although our course is till Northerly along the West coast of Madagascar. Our target is at a South West course and that is exactly where the wind is blowing from. So we continue along Northerly hoping the wind shift will come as promised. 

10th of November  We are still sailing along the West coast of Madagascar far away from our original course. Sometimes we do get a better wind angle and can head towards Richard’s Bay, however the wind tends to keep us sailing Northerly.

11th of November  The wind shift has finally turned to our favour and we can now start sailing across the Mozambique Channel away from the coast of Madagascar and towards Richard’s Bay. It feels very good! We choose to set course North of Richard’s Bay to be able to take advantage of the Alguha’s current that is running South along the cape. It’s a beautiful day and on an off we are sailing in 10 knots of speed!

12th  of November

We were told over the roll call this morning that a big storm is to be coming in to Richard’s Bay on Tuesday evening 14th of November. We really want to come in at the latest on Tuesday morning. 
This is our 3rd sundowner in a row that we have dolphins coming to pay us a visit. It is always great fun to have these happy animals coming to the boat and “play” with the bow. We are filled with nice energy and a sense of happiness. 




13th of November

Alex and Inez are finishing their school work in order to be handed in once we reach Richard’s Bay and have access to wifi . 


As the wind is picking up we prefer to pull out the jib and we now have a good speed towards Richard’s Bay. As we are approaching the coast we are now feeling the Alguha’s current: big waves and Take Off is rolling back and forth. Our auto-pilot Helmer does not manage the waves very well so we decide to hand stear. In the meantime we check the settings and find in the menu the choice of “prestanda”… Much better! Helmer is now coping the waves as if we were a Volvo Ocean Race boat haha...