POSITION REPORT ON FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER 2017
POSITION REPORT ON FRIDAY 20 OCTOBER 2017 AT 0700
So far we've done 107 miles with 390 miles to go to Richards Bay. We did 107 miles in the last 16 hours. We have 10% cloud cover and 15-20 knot E winds. We’re sailing on a broad reach at 5.5 knots + 1.5 knots current with 1 metre seas. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.
19 October 2017 Benguerra Sandspit, Mozambique
At dawn, the wind was 10-15 knots and then slowly backed to the NE. We spent the morning tidying up, running the watermaker and getting ready for sea. There wasn’t much to do, so we were ready to go by 11:00 and then had to wait for the tide, so that we could get over the sand bar in the pass.
We were planning to leave two hours before high water at 14:00. This would ensure that we had an incoming tide which would flatten the incoming swell from the east. The worst time would be to try to leave in an out-going tide, which would mean that the current was against the swell and would cause steep “overfall” waves. The other factor in our timing was that, just before high tide, the tidal current would be less and we would have more water over the bar.
“Luna Blu”, “Continuum” and “Fortuna” cracked up early and left the anchorage at 12:00. The least depth that they saw was 5 metres and the sea was fairly calm, but they had to battle against a strong current over 3 knots. “Fortuna” have an engine problem and can only run at low revs, so they were only making 1.5 knots over the ground.
We were good little bears and stuck to the plan, pulling up our anchor at 14:00 together with “Red Herring” and “Mowana”. There was still a strong 3 knot current against us in the narrowest part of the channel between the two islands and the water was very turbulent, pushing us around. However, it calmed down to 0.5 to 1 knot after that and we made good progress - the waves also settled down to a smooth 1 metre swell.
Our route went along a channel to the south of the shallowest sand bar - the lowest spots were 6.5 metres (2.5m LAT) in a few places after 21°48.10S 35°29.05E. (Our way points were:21°48.23S 35°27.55E; 21°48.05S 35°28.09E; 21°48.10S 35°29.05E; 21°47.56S 35°30.21E; 21°48.06 35°31.02E.)
Once clear of the bar and in deeper water, we turned SSE and reached away from the reefs. There was a smooth 1-2 metre swell from the east; east 10-15 knot winds; and we had current with us, so we made good progress doing 6.5-7.5 knots over the ground up to midnight.
On our 19:00 SSB radio net, Luna Blu was 13 miles ahead of us, with the rest scattered about, going in slightly different directions trying to find the best current. Our strategy was to slowly creep away from the shore to a point 15 miles off Barra Falsa and then maintain that distance off shore. It seems to be a reasonable plan because we had at least 2 knots with us at midnight.
“Jackster” came up on the radio – they left Madagascar four days ago and are only 70 miles behind us, so they’ve had a good passage. They are 53 foot long (10 foot more than us), so they are much quicker and, despite the fact that they left Madagascar 10 days after us, they will probably beat us to Richards Bay...
We encountered several trawlers on our route, moving at 3 knots in surprisingly deep water (>300 metres). They were well lit, had AIS and a very consistent course, so they were easy enough to dodge.
At our 01:00 watch change, we altered course more south, which put the wind at 50 degrees to our port aft quarter, so we gybed the genoa and poled it out to port. Unfortunately, an hour later, the wind dropped and we were only doing 1-2 knots of boat speed, so I turned on the engine and we motored for the rest of the night.