August 19, 2015

Enduring the Indian Ocean

Of all the sounds that have filled my ears on this 800 miles from the Seychelles to Comoros I never heard the noise when a big wave washed our foredeck free. The slatted wooden deck just sort of sits (sat) forward of the mast beam. Soaked with spilled wine and good memories it had been on the Thai 'to-do' list for upgrading. But Thailand never came and an Indian Ocean wave did. So now it's on the Madagascar to-do list. I hope Neptune appreciated the sacrifice.

We're on day 4 of an upwind passage in 20-25 knots. We don't have a windspeed indicator, but the boats around us do. And my ear is now calibrated. At 25 knots the wind is a high-pitched moan that resonates at the same frequency I grind my teeth. 30 knots clenches my stomach and sounds just like anxiety. The three meter waves hit with enough force to make dishes jump and drown out speech.

20 knots is better. Fewer waves crash into us or wash over us. Both Charlie the cat and I venture out of our seasick haze long enough to drink water and eat something. Charlie noticed the foredeck was gone and raised a meowing alarm. Each time he comes out he notices the sea where our deck should be and alarms anew.

15 knots sounds like exhaling. The short lulls where the seas uncrumple and we can sail without crashes and bangs and clenched teeth. Most of the passage has been under staysail and double reefed main. A few square meters of canvas catching all the power of the Indian Ocean as it compresses over Madagascar and hits Africa.

We're heading now into the lee of Madagascar. Boats that headed to the Mascarenes while we went north and boats that followed the entire southern route (this year they were so rocked by gales our 25 knots would have been appreciated) will converge on Madagascar and then South Africa in the next couple of weeks and months. Unlike the 200+ Pacific crossing boats, the Indian Ocean boats number in the dozens. But the sound of us celebrating together, with another ocean behind us will be still be huge.

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3 comments:

Jonathan said...

Diane, if 200 boats crossed the Pacific and only dozens crossing to South Africa, where are the rest? What percentage would you guess:
Being sold along the way
Piling up in ports along the way
Being shipped east
Being sailed east
Being sailed through the Suez. Is this now being considered an option now that piracy seems to have died down.
Thanks!

With Brio said...

"30 knots sounds like anxiety.... 15 knots sounds like an exhale of relief"

As another cruiser without wind instruments, my ears could not agree more!!!

Safe travels :)

Leah

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Jonathan--it's tough to know for sure but as a rough guide, of the 10-12 boats that left Puerto Vallarta the week we did: one has finished a circumnavigation, one is on the same schedule we are, five were sold in Australia and two were sold in New Zealand. The others I've lost track of but I think one is in SE Asia to ship to the med and one was shipped home from AU. We know that about 15 boats went through the Suez Canal this year.