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Old 07-03-2011, 07:32   #16
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

Some excellent perspectives and tips here from our good friends:

Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 22:24:11 +0100
From: deborah & rolf
To: Beth
Subject: Re: South Africa

Dear Beth,

Happy to provide info to people about to sail across the Indian Ocean and continue around South Africa. Sorry it has taken so much time to respond, but we had a final book editing deadline on Friday. (We made it!)

An Indian Ocean crossing
The Indian Ocean trade wind tends to be strong, and the water lumpy. It's quite a contrast to the tropical sailing most people have gotten used to, especially if coming from Indonesia. Although crossing the Indian Ocean can be uncomfortable, I wouldn't call it dangerous, assuming that is that the boat is well-prepared and kept secured for gale-conditions, the crew has offshore experience, and is in good physical shape.

The stats from 2009 tell the story: one third of the boats entering Richards Bay while we were there, had to be towed in by Search and Rescue. Engine failure was the most common reason -- more than a few regretted not having cleaned their diesel tanks. But disabling personal injuries also occurred: Ligament torn off a shoulder, severed finger. And there were damaged boats: one fiberglass boat had a huge hole in its bow, made by a poorly-secured anchor breaking free, and an inexperienced sailor who was not able to re-secure it. (Sailing with a "clean deck" is to be recommended over the Indian Ocean.) Another boat was leaking seriously because its skeg's welds were giving up. The mountainous underwater topography of the Indian Ocean coupled with plethora of surface currents is responsible for the lumpiness of the sea. Be aware that those conditions can create what you could call "minor freak waves" at any time. So hang on as you move around your boat. Use your safety harness if you are unused to the motion. And even though it's hot, it can be wise to keep hatches closed during the crossing. People were replacing mattresses and laptops in Richards Bay.

South Africa
December 2009, We cleared in to South Africa in Richards Bay. The authorities were disorganized, the process took a week, and we had to hunt down the health authorities to complete our paperwork, but we were allowed to be onshore in the meantime. (That can have changed. Check: noonsite.com). We were cautioned to not walk anywhere in South Africa after dark, and we didn't. We were cautioned not to walk daytime too; we were told that yachties are good/easy targets for drive-by gang attacks. But we did walk daytime, although never solo (and as often as possible in big groups) and always on major streets. We were lucky and never had any problems. We took the precaution to take a taxi back from the store whenever we had purchased lots of groceries, or whenever we took cash out from the ATM. We were told to never ride the bus; the risk is that someone leaves the bus with you in order to mug you. Rental cars are easily available. Our credit card got skimmed at an ATM inside the Richards Bay shopping center, and right under the nose of a guard... and that account was emptied. Our bank suggested we only take money out from ATMs that are inside banks, and that possibility exists in South Africa.

Other boats leaving Richards Bay went to Durban, but we avoided it -- it's one of the most criminal cities in South Africa. Friends were robbed at knife-point 5 minutes after stepping ashore there, on their way to clear in. Another friend who works on a commercial ship told us that ship's crew are not allowed to go ashore in Durban. We waited instead for a long-enough window to make it from Richards Bay to East London. From there, the favorable wind allowed us to skip Port Elisabeth. We stopped in Mosel Bay while a front passed, and were glad to be able to skip going in to Simonstown in False Bay. (It can take awhile for a window good enough to get out of there.) We also skipped Cape Town. We went further north to Saldanha Bay which is a great laid-back place, but although it's a commercial port and therefore a port of entry, they no longer cleared yachts there. So we left the boat anchored at the yacht club and drove back to Cape Town to clear out.

Best, Deborah
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Old 08-03-2011, 22:41   #17
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

It just gets better ... now we have to worry about crippling diseases for which there are no known vaccines and cures, as we try and navigate the currents and waves and storms of the southern Indian Ocean ...

sigh.


Crippling disease sweeps Indian Ocean island
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:02   #18
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

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It just gets better ... now we have to worry about crippling diseases for which there are no known vaccines and cures, as we try and navigate the currents and waves and storms of the southern Indian Ocean ...

sigh.
Lets make the glass half full . . . cruising still beats sitting in a cube staring at a computer screen.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:09   #19
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:49   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglauds View Post
It just gets better ... now we have to worry about crippling diseases for which there are no known vaccines and cures, as we try and navigate the currents and waves and storms of the southern Indian Ocean ...

sigh.
sigh indeed. Damned inconvenient! Currents and waves and storms and now crippling diseases! Thank the gods for Panama. Otherwise you'd have to sail around the whole world!

If [convenience] were a thing that money could buy,
The rich would live,and the poor would die,
All my trials Lord, soon be over.

I guess you could stop and fly home.

Or whistle a happy tune.

How about What do the simple folk do?
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Old 09-03-2011, 12:27   #21
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

My friends -- you lift me when I'm down ... advise me when I'm ignorant -- and make me smile when I need to ... many thanks.

/jjon
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Old 13-03-2011, 23:36   #22
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

We are planning on leaving Bali for Cocos Keeling in late August, then onto Chagos for a 2 week stay with a departure for Mauritius about early October. Then leave Mauritius/Reunion for RSA about early November. I looked at the routes on Google Earth and none include Chagos. Is there a reason for that?

Our original plan was to go from Chagos down the inside of Madagascar and then across to RSA. However, I have gotten more concerned about the pirates at the northern end of Madagascar. Are there any comments on that route.

Finally, I met a S. African in Darwin who was stopping at Port Dauphin on his way from Reunion. He claimed that was better than staying off southern Madagascar. It seems that it might be possible to avoid bad weather by breaking that passage up.
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Old 14-03-2011, 08:27   #23
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

Atoll should know more about this but my thoughts . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by wheumann View Post
Cocos Keeling onto Chagos with a departure for Mauritius.
Chagos is a common intermediate stop (between Cocos and Mauritius).

Its a lovely place and helps with the overall passage timing. There are just two reasons not to do it:

1. It makes the wind/angles a bit less desirable on both legs than they will be without the stop. From Cocos to Chagos you are angling up toward the doldrums with the prevailing winds right behind, which can lead to quite light a fluky winds during the second half of the passage. Then from Chagos to Mauritius you have the winds and waves further forward (somewhat in front of the beam perhaps) which will make it a wetter ride.

2. Also, if you look at the pirate attack zone, you could consider the chagos area within the (low likilhood but possible) corner of the attack zone. They would have to be somewhat nuts to operate close the the base there, but they have in fact proven to be somewhat nuts (for instance firing on full warships).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wheumann View Post
Finally, I met a S. African in Darwin who was stopping at Port Dauphin on his way from Reunion.
I would be inclined to give that a try. It does break the passage at a very useful point. The situation ashore on Madagascar has been up and down over the years, but the reports we have gotten recently suggests its an positive time to stop.
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Old 14-03-2011, 08:41   #24
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, wheumann.

Chagos isnít exactly cruiser-friendly.

See:

Chagos - Bad News for Cruisers !

Marine Sanctuary - Chagos Islands

Chagos: The Begining of the End for Cruisers ?

Chagos (BIOT) - New Rules
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Old 14-03-2011, 08:49   #25
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A Grand Heads Up Gord...... good to know stuff
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Old 14-03-2011, 09:35   #26
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?



The very handy chart above came from a 2005 Cruising World article written by Jimmy Cornell called Destination: Indian Ocean.
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Old 14-03-2011, 14:45   #27
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

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The very handy chart above came from a 2005 Cruising World article written by Jimmy Cornell called Destination: Indian Ocean.
And this will not be the first time, probably not the last one either, when I will not agree with Mr. Cornell.

Or am I reading the chartlet in a wrong way?

I do not think that the middle portion of the trades season is the best time to be sailing from Christmas towards Mascarenes. I think the trades blow hard then and there, and the best time is IMHO the early or the late part of the trades period. We sailed late, and there was nothing of the drama as described in some posts above. Rod Heikell writes up on this subject, and I will subscribe with his point of view.

I do not agree with the "best time" for the passage from Reunion to Durban either. Part of it falls on the mid-winter when storms travel furthest North and I am not sure who wants to get caught in the SW current with a SW storm blowing.

I am not saying the info is incorrect. But the way it is presented it might lead to some pretty inadequate decisions.

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Old 14-03-2011, 15:06   #28
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Advice ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Some excellent perspectives and tips here from our good friends:

Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 22:24:11 +0100
From: deborah & rolf
To: Beth
Subject: Re: South Africa

Dear Beth,

(...)

The stats from 2009 tell the story: one third of the boats entering Richards Bay while we were there, had to be towed in by Search and Rescue.

(...)
In 2005 none of the boats that sailed into Richards Bay while we were there had to be towed in. Bad year vs. good year.

I would not count 100% on RSA SAR either. They basically refused to open a search for one of ours (yes, they finally yielded, but we did have to press hard). Then the boat in question came into RB and the SAR and harbour master did not even notice it ...

One has to remember RSA is not yet (or, more correctly: it was not back in 2005) quite up to the standards of administration as seen in some well governed countries. But then again, in respect of maritime services, they may still be light years ahead of the countries in the Red Sea area. (My guess, as I have not sailed the Red Sea).

The comment on Immigration in RB will hold true. This is also what we heard from others. However, as soon as I commented on the officer's amazingly beautifully braided hair (it WAS a vie to behold!) ... we got our papers stamped in no time and had one of the best Immigration experiences ever ;-).

Smile, and the world will smile back ;-)

b.
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Old 15-03-2011, 16:47   #29
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Update ?

Hi all -- we have not fully decided to make the southbound passage this year, but are leaning in that direction (alternative is to layup in Australia).

A few questions for the assembled experts:

1. Seems a bit of divergence on when to cross the IO -- barnakiel suggests a late leaving to catch the lesser trades ... others a June leaving ... I've downloaded the pilot charts for June-December, and it's pretty hard to discern a difference in wind strength month-to-month, given their reliance on averages ... on wave height, pretty clear that August is a tough month for the portion NE of Madagascar. Any final insights welcome!

2. I love Beth's articles about the passages -- any chance of seeing the Sidebar to the second, which covers the Atlantic crossing?

3. We'd benefit from some additional crew on this extended passage; I've posted in the CF "Crew Wanted" pages, but would welcome suggestions or nominations! We are a 44' cat, and have already crossed the Atlantic and Pacific ... well-equipped boat.

Many thanks all!

/jon
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Old 15-03-2011, 20:57   #30
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Re: A Safe Voyage Westbound Around the Cape - Update ?

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2. I love Beth's articles about the passages -- any chance of seeing the Sidebar to the second, which covers the Atlantic crossing?
Here it is - sidebar - I was not sure it added very much to the discussion.

You might also look at St Helena
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