On the weather GRIB, the approaching low kind of looked like an invading force: Little magenta weather feathers multiplying and marching toward us—bringing 4 meter waves along with them. As the nasty weather feathers advanced, Evan and I used electronic charts overlaid with the approaching low to look at our options. If we held our speed we'd be into Bazaruto before the main army of wind. If we picked up the current we'd we could even bypass Bazaruto and hit the harbour 100 miles further south—but that harbour didn't offer the same protection as Bazaruto, and the stormy weather would overrun it first.
The prudent option was Bazaruto—and when we realized at least eight other boats would be taking shelter here—including friends that needed assistance with engine problems, we opted to duck into the national park.
In a perfect world we'd hoped to make Richard's Bay in one shot. Different from most passages, the trip between Madagascar and South Africa juggles a number of elements which makes route planning more complicated than normal. Not only do you have to have to pick a suitable weather window for an 8+ day passage (when most weather forecasts are really only accurate about 4-5 days out) but you need to decide where to start and end a passage to make the best use of the whirling eddies of current which can run several knots in any direction.
The result of the excessive number of variables is everyone has an opinion. And everyone thinks their opinion is best. But opinions about passage making often end up seeming like opinions about parenting. Most of us only do a passage once and we take in as much information as we can and then do what we can with the conditions we're given. Then despite all the research we've done, nature and circumstance take over. We get the kid we get and the passage we get.
For us—we decided that we wanted to cross the Mozambique Channel at its narrowest, where it offered the best consecutive positive current run and where we could have a bailout option if the weather deteriorated: which it will and so we did.
So we're safely tucked into a pretty bay—with soaring sand dunes, dugongs in the water and friends floating near by. It's all a stormbound sailor could really ask for.
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