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post #1 of Old 10-30-2012 Thread Starter
Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Ainia now in South Africa

Seems like we have missed all the excitement in the northeastern US and adjacent Canada, hope everyone is safe and boats are secure.

We are now in Richards Bay, SA after an 11 day passage from Mauritius. I mentioned in the last posting that there was a tropical storm northeast of Mauritius. We decided to take off because we had a 500 mile headstart and a good forecast to get south and into cooler waters. Good thing too since the TS evolved into a full cyclone (Anais) with winds to 115 mph (949 mb!). These things are not supposed to happen in October when even TS are supposed to be rare (3 in 10 years). One description was that it was like getting a Category 3 hurricane in the Caribbean in April. Anyway, it caused us no grief and we did not even get swells from it which seemed odd.

From Mauritius to the southern tip of Madagascar was pretty routine, but we were listening to discussions on the Peri-Peri Net in SA and they were suggesting that nastiness was going to happen to the west so we considered anchoring in both the SE and SW corners of Madagascar, but when it was time to commit the forecasts had changed (again) and conditions were good to go. The net moderators were saying that the weather was screwy with many fronts coming in short order. The issue along the SA coast are strong (30-40 knot) winds blowing into the Agulhas Current. Typically there are strongish NE winds before and after the busters. We had two southwesters to contend with and the forecasts for their arrival kept changing every day. At one point we had to avoid Saturday, then we had to get there Saturday. The forecasters would say that you had to be in by 8 pm for example. We finally decided to push harder when we were about 360 miles out and had a window that would last for about 60 hours. We had lots of wind (25 to 35) for broad reaching and probably a knot of favourable current so we expected to average 7 knots or more and did without difficulty although it was wet at times. We got in Friday afternoon and they had moved the arrival of the SW gales to 8 pm Friday so we did not really have 60 hours as it turned out. It is like playing chess with the weather gods, you know you can't win, but you hope for a draw, which we got. Some boats stayed in Madagascar for more than a week hoping for a window but I don't know how you could get a reliable window for 6 days or so.

The Indian Ocean is a great place if you destest motoring as we do. From Bali to Richards Bay we motored for about 20 hours but it would have been less if we were not playing chess. We never had more than 35 knots sustained although others did. It does suit a vessel that can profit from sailing in 25 to 35 and not have to consider shutting things down. Our last day was a fascinating highlight reel. I cam on watch at 0300 in the pitch dark and promptly had a wave land in my lap followed a few minutes later by a squall with 40+ briefly and heavy rain. At first light we got 35 sustained for several hours but then it all changed. The sun came out and we were doing more than 8 knots down the coast of Africa (had to remember that that was Africa there with a national park with lions and hippos et al). To top it off we had two pods of whales including one group of humpbacks that were mating? with fins in the air and even jumping out of the water. What an incredible change in only a few hours.

Now at the Zululand Yacht Club (got a dock which won't happen in another week or so with boats coming in from around the north and south of Madagascar, including 25 large boats in the World ARC. Getting going on the usual repairs and maintenance and then heading off to see animals and visit friends in Lesotho. Will be in South Africa until late December before heading into the Atlantic.

After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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