The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 29 May 2017 02:23



18:36S  065:17E


So far we've done 980 miles with 120 miles to go. We did 135 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 70% cloud cover and 15-20 knot SE winds.  We’re on a broad reach with 2 metre seas.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


28 May 2017   Chagos to Rodrigues (Day 7)

At dawn, we had 90% cloud cover – a grey start to the day.  The seas had reduced to 3 metres, but were very confused with wind waves coming from several directions over the prevailing south-east swell.  The wind was ESE 20-25 knots so, with our course of 220°, we were on a slightly broad reach.  We had 260 miles to go, so we’re aiming to arrive early on Tuesday 30th, which will be an easily achievable average speed of 5.5 knots. 


Our initial strategy for this route was to approach Rodrigues from the east, because there was a possibility of encountering strong south winds.  However, today’s weather forecast is for the ESE 20 knot winds to continue for the next 3 or 4 days, so after breakfast, we turned 20° degrees to starboard and headed directly for Rodrigues on a course of 240°.  The end is nigh.


The morning was very relaxing, the wind was over our port quarter at 130° apparent.  We had a ½-1 knot current with us, so we continued sailing with only the staysail and still achieved an average speed over the ground of 5.5 knots.  Our motion has changed from being constantly heeled over to gently rolling, with the occasional monster roll when a big wave catches us.


It was nice to realise that we’ve just completed the hardest part of our route to Madagascar.  The next 1,500 miles will be split into shorter passages between 2 and 5 days long and thankfully, it will be all downwind.  Over the next four months, we will visit Rodrigues, Mauritius, Reunion, Ile St Marie in Madagascar, Mayotte and finally the north-west coast of Madagascar.  At the beginning of October, we’ll be preparing for the passage to South Africa, which is another difficult 8-10 day trip, but that’s a long way in the future.


Glenys was definitely feeling more relaxed because for lunch she produced Quezadillas and fresh Coleslaw.  How has she managed to keep carrots and cabbage? – it’s been five weeks since the last time she was in a shop.  The rest of the day was very pleasant with a nice sunny afternoon and clear starry skies for our night watches.


At 01:00, I recalculated our ETA.  We turned onto this course 17 hours ago and since then we’d done 100 miles over the ground – an that’s an average of 5.9 knots.  That’s fast with only our staysail out, so we must have a strong 1 knot current pushing us along. We had 150 miles to go and at our current speed would arrive at three o’clock at night. 


It’s not a major problem to arrive at night because there’s an easy approach to the outer bay in Port Mathurin, but we don’t like to anchor at night if we can avoid it.  There was no chance that we could get to Rodrigues by sunset tomorrow (8.8 knots for 17 hours), so I rolled away some of the staysail and tried to slow down to 4.8 knots to arrive at 08:00. The sailing is very pleasant at the moment, so we don’t mind a few more hours at sea.