The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Wed 4 Oct 2017 04:53



16 :27S 043:12E


So far we've done 135 miles with 665 miles to go to Inhambane. We did 117 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 30% cloud cover and 5-10 knot SE winds.  We’re sailing along on a beam reach at 4-6 knots with 3 metre seas.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


3 October 2017   Madagascar to South Africa (Day 1)

The alarm went off at 03:00 and after downloading the latest GRIB files, we were soon pulling up the anchor.  “Red Herring”, “Moana” and “Luna Blu” were already 10 miles ahead of us as we motored out of the Bay with hardly any wind.  Out at sea, we found ourselves beating into a 5-10 knot wind from the south-west.  The sea was surprisingly choppy, making it difficult to sail with the waves stopping us regularly - we turned the engine on several times during the next few hours.


At 09:30, the sea-breeze finally arrived giving us 8-12 knot winds from the North-east, so I poled out the genoa to starboard.  By noon, the wind had backed to the North and dropped to 5-10 knots, so we dragged out our asymmetrical spinnaker, which added a knot or two to our boat speed.  We had blue skies all day, so it was lovely sailing.


The wind gradually backed more, moving forward of the beam and slowly increasing to 12 knots, so mid-afternoon, we dropped the spinnaker and pulled out the genoa again.  The remorseless rotation of the wind continued and by sunset, the wind was back to SW - dead on the nose, so we were forced to sail more and more south.


At the start of my 7-10 watch, we were on a course of 200° - a long way from our desired course of 245°, so anticipating the wind to continue backing, I tacked onto a course of 310°.  By 01:00, it increased to 20 knots from the SSW, so we were back on course again with one reef in the mainsail, beating upwind at over 6 knots.  The seas were fairly flat, with 1 metre waves and we had a full moon with scattered clouds so it was pleasant enough. 


Unfortunately, we had a current of 1-2 knots against us which slowed us down a lot.

It was a hectic 24 hours, using all of our sails on all points of wind.  Let’s hope that the wind speed and direction stays more consistent for the rest of the passage and that we can find more favourable currents.