The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Thu 19 Oct 2017 05:32



21:49S  035:27.48E


We’re anchored in Benguerra, Mozambique.  We finally have a weather window to head south towards Richards Bay, which is still 500 miles away. Our ETA is Monday 23rd.  Here's what we did yesterday.


18 October 2017   Benguerra Sandspit, Mozambique

Overnight the wind veered to the south-east and picked up quickly.  Just after midnight, I was woken by the uncomfortable motion and found that the wind was blowing 25-30 knots with the tide against the wind, raising 2-3 foot waves.  Yesterday afternoon, “Fortuna” arrived and anchored near to us.  When the wind picked up and swung us around, they’ve ended up only two boat lengths from us and at times they were less than that directly behind us.


We couldn’t raise them on the radio, so I resorted to shining our powerful search light at their hatches and blowing our little fog horn.  They’d just arrived after a long passage, so it took a while to wake them up.  Being the last boat to anchor, it’s their responsibility to keep their distance, but it was bad conditions to be trying to re-anchor in the dark without a moon, so they agreed that they would keep an anchor watch until the tide changed at 03:00 and hopefully conditions settled down.


Glenys and I didn’t sleep well and I got up half a dozen times to check that “Fortuna” were still clear of us.  I’m annoyed with myself for not telling them to move yesterday afternoon, but if this was a normal anchorage, then they would have been fine, so it was difficult to tell them that they were too close.


By dawn, the wind was blowing hard from the SSE at 30 knots gusting to 35 knots, so it was gnarly and “Fortuna” were only 20 metres to our starboard side.   Thankfully, after a bit of persuasion, they re-anchored at 10:00 at low tide, slack current, 100 metres away from us.   I’ll sleep better tonight.


The weather forecast looks good.  These strong SSE winds should start to abate this afternoon and then will back to ENE 10 by morning.  We’re still planning on leaving at 14:00 tomorrow and during the first night we should have ENE 10.  The second day looks like NE/ENE 10 and the south winds just don’t reach north enough to affect us.  After that it should be NE to E winds at 5 -15 knots, which will be good for our south-west course to Richards Bay.  With the lighter winds, we expect to arrive at dawn on Monday 23rd.  The next southerly hits Richards Bay on the 25th, which gives us two days safety margin.


This weather never ceases to amaze me.  The switch from NE to S happens within a few hours and it’s interesting to watch the barometer.  It reached a low point of 1005mb yesterday afternoon and then started to rise, which heralds the switch from NE to S.  By dawn this morning, the barometer read 1015mb and at lunch time it was 1016mb.  When it starts to drop again, then the wind will slowly back to the east and we start all over again.


I find it very strange that we get no rain with these radical changes in wind direction and strength.  We haven’t had any rain for six weeks and that was only a short-lived squall.


I drank my last beer on the beach last night, but Karen from “Red Herring” said that she could give me a six-pack.  At midday, the wind was still blowing a hooley, so I couldn’t get into the dinghy to go to collect it without getting soaked through.  At 14:00, I cracked up, donned my swimming shorts and a cagoule; and set off into the 30 knot winds.  I spent a couple of hours on “Red Herring” sorting out some computer stuff and chatting about the plan for the passage.


The wind remained strong all day, but at sunset it had dropped to 20 knots and the sea state was much calmer, so we’re hoping for a peaceful night’s sleep.