The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Tue 17 Oct 2017 05:10



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.


16 October 2017   Ponta Dundo to Benguerra Sandspit, Mozambique

It was a turbulent night as the tide pushed us back and forth.  When the tide was ebbing we pitched into the wind; we rolled when we were sideways; and we were slapped up the sugar scoop when the tide was coming in.  However, the wind was only 20 knots, so it was just very uncomfortable and not dangerous.


After breakfast, we went for a walk with “Red Herring” up the huge sand dunes.  It was fabulous walking along the wind-swept ridges of pristine sand.   It was very reminiscent of walking along snowy arêtes in the Alps, but we were blasted by sand instead of snow by the strong NE winds.  From the top, there was a good view of our proposed route out to sea, which goes over a sand bar, but it was hard to see the best route through the many sand banks, some of which were breaking.


After a short stop overlooking a small lake packed with Herons and Ibis, we walked down to sea level and strolled back along the shoreline.  When we arrived at the anchorage we could see mayhem as the boats were all pirouetting around in the strong current against the wind.  Alba looked very close to “Luna Blu” and we couldn’t see whether or not we’d dragged, so we rushed back to the dinghy.


We hadn’t dragged, but it was very unpleasant on board.  We were bouncing about, lying side onto the wind and “Luna Blu” were sailing around on their anchor - sometimes they were 100 metres away and within five minutes they’d be 20 metres away.  I didn’t fancy the prospect of another boisterous night being only 80 metres from the shore, so we upped anchor and headed back to the sand spit anchorage.


We had a bouncy trip across, but it was only a mile or so.  Once in the anchorage, the waves settled down and it seemed okay.  We reported back to the rest of the fleet and they all decided to come over to join us.


Unfortunately, by 15:00, the tide was coming in and once again, we had strong tidal currents pushing us around.  The afternoon was unpleasant with the boat pointing sometimes downwind and sometimes sideways with NNE 20-25 knot winds hitting our stern.  At least this anchorage has more space and we’re not close to a rocky shore.


The wind is forecast to continue from the NNE until tomorrow afternoon, when it will slowly veer to SE - I can’t wait because this anchorage will be nice and flat again.  The SE wind will continue at 20-25 knots for 36 hours and, by the morning of Thursday 19th, the wind will have reduced to E 10-15.  Fingers crossed, that’s when we will start heading south towards South Africa.


On passage we’re expecting E to NE winds for 24 hours and then the wind will come around to S20 - straight in the nose and not really what we want, but it’s fairly light and will only last 12-24 hours before backing East and then we’ll have NE winds to carry us to Richards Bay, hopefully arriving Sunday 22nd.