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16Nov07 Day11 from Reunion to S. Africa - end of Indian Ocean crossing close!

Friday 16th November '07 - end of Indian Ocean crossing in sight

I'm very close to making landfall - always exciting to arrive at a new place, but especially at the completion of such a big ocean crossing!!

What a difference a few hours can make in the weather!! Around noon yesterday, it was hot & sunny with light NNE winds. By just after sunrise, there were dark grey skies - and rain!! I'd not long spoken to the cargo ship 'Maple Ace' to check they knew my position to stay clear of me as they passed me by on their way to Durban, when I realized that the wind, which had backed to the SSW earlier but was still light at 11 knots, was suddenly gusting up... All was busy activity in the cockpit for
a time after, in the wind & rain, the 'Maple Ace' having a grandstand view as she passed very close by, as I hurriedly put two reefs in the mains'l. I also furled an equivalent amount in the genoa, as the wind rose to 25 knots. No complaints now about not being able to sail well! We were making excellent speed close-hauled with stays'l & reefed mains'l, having furled the genoa to under half in the strong wind and big seas. The wind stayed up for a couple of hours, although backing into the SSE,
but gradually slackened until by afternoon, & in to the evening, it was around 15 knots. Nice sailing - I let out all reefs and enjoyed the sailing conditions.
A major frustration since early today has been a complete failure to connect with shore radio stations to send/receive emails & weather info despite constant efforts to do so. Only late tonight was a connection finally made.
At 1700 today, after yesterday having had light winds forecast for Saturday, I spoke to Fred on the 'Peri Peri' Radio Net & it now seems there's a 'blow' due later tomorrow - so I've turned on the motor to help my speed & I'm now motor-sailing as fast as I can, hoping to get in early enough to avoid the problem of a strong S wind against the S-going Agulhas Current (dangerous conditions!) as I close the coast headed for Richards Bay, at the end of this ocean passage... I may yet have to heave to
& wait for the strong S wind to abate, if things don't turn out as I hope!

P.S. At 0600 (SA time), Saturday morning, the sky is clearing up, the sun is getting out & we're leaving the leaden grey clouds of night behind ... The wind is from the SW at 7 knots, having backed all around the compass overnight with rain coming through!! As I write this, I've about 50 miles to go.

Written by : Mike

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