The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 16 Oct 2017 05:00



21:49S  035:27.48E


We’re anchored in Benguerra, Mozambique, waiting for a weather window to head south towards Richards Bay, which is still 500 miles away.  Here's what we did yesterday.


15 October 2017   Benguerra Sand Spit to Ponta Dundo, Mozambique

We had another settled night and woke to 10 knot NE winds.  I have a morning routine now - I post yesterday’s diary to our “At Sea” blog (blog.mailasail.com/yachtalba) and then get the latest weather forecast.  Today’s email from Des Cason gave a glimmer of hope:


“The latest grib shows a nice big fat high pressure system developing at 32S43E next Saturday 21/10 which will bring mainly E/NE conditions down the channel all the way to East London, south of Durban. All things being equal and if the forecast holds this indicates possible departure Bazaruto 18/10 00:00UTC with E15 or 19/10 06:00UTC with ENE10.


On Friday 20/10 06:00 you will get SE25 just south of Inhambane, but it doesn't come up the channel due to being blocked by a 1016mba High at 21S40E. By Friday 20/10 18:00 this SE has turned to ESE20 and then drops off and turns E and progressively NE as you get closer to Richards Bay.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the high to set in and open the gap.”


This sounds very good.  If we leave at dawn on Thursday 19th, we will have 12 hours of beating/heaving-to on Friday in SE25 winds, but we should be able to sail well from Saturday morning and arrive in Richards Bay at 18:00 on Sunday 22nd.  The next southerlies arrive in Richards Bay on Monday 23rd at midday - a nice 18 hour safety window and, if the window closes up, we’ll have plenty of time to get to Maputo.


We did some chores in the morning.  Glenys baked some bread and I topped up our fuel tank with the 63 litres of diesel from our three jerry jugs.  I reckon that we now have 320 litres of fuel in our tank, which is enough to motor for 106 hours i.e. 586 miles, so we could motor all the way to Richards Bay if we need to.


The North-east wind picked up through the morning and, by lunch-time, we had 20 knots, which was raising 2 foot waves in the anchorage.  There was a quick discussion on the VHF and then we all left and headed across to the south west corner of Bazaruto to Ponta Dundo.  There’s a deep water channel quite close to the shore next to some trees and the least depth that we saw while going across was 7 metres.


(Our Waypoints were:  21°48.22S 035°27.56E; 21°47.87S 035°27.44E; 21°47.72S 035°27.20E)


We anchored at 21°47.61S 035°27.12E in 12 metres (9m LAT) on what felt like good holding sand.  There’s a swell hooking around the corner making it a bit bumpy, but it’s definitely much more protected from the North-east winds than the previous anchorage.  Ashore is a huge sand dune that is obviously a tourist attraction, judging by the number of local boats and tourists milling about.


By the time that we’d run our water-maker to top up the tanks, the day was over.  It was low tide at 18:00, so the bouncy waves reduced and we had calm conditions for our dinner.  However, by 21:00 the tide was coming in at full flood, so the boat turned to face south with the wind from the north-east, making our rigging rattle and shake.  It didn’t bode well for the night.