Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Made it to Durban

The wind turned exactly one mile out! Talk about close. It is starting to get a little unnerving, how the wind works on this coast. I need a minimum of at least three days for this next hop which is the longest. I will leave as soon as there is a window.

I made it into the media again. I was called over to the boat Tantrum for a photo opportunity so the vanity in me won out. I had no idea what the article was about... Apparently the South African marinas are all taking over the Port's role in handling international arrivals. This is bad news for us because it means it will cost more. Here in Durban there is no longer a grace period on the "wall" and they have eliminated the anchorage. Great... We are forced to pay.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Headed towards Durban soon

There is talk of trying to make Knysna for new years but plans change daily. It has been getting harder to leave Richards Bay as the cruiser's "village" has grown in size significantly. A lot of the recent arrivals are younger. So many young cruisers in one spot is something almost all of us have never seen. Of course, quite a few older sailors seem to be getting younger everyday, like Henny (video), who is well over seventy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Madagascar Flashback

Still here in Richards Bay waiting for the weather to improve before trying to get underneath the southern tip. Summer is supposed to arrive any day but it sure doesn't feel like it. I haven't seen a window more than about two to three days long. The plan (which seems to change everyday) is to not spend too much time in South Africa, and instead jump to Brazil from the Capetown area in January. A stop in Namibia only if weather forces me (I haven't heard anything that great about Namibia).

Here is a collection of videos I put together a few months ago in Madagascar. The guy giving me a hard time from the Imfolozi video is in a few of the clips. He is one of the very few members of the "under 40's club" I have met since I left California (John and I are both under 40 and have less than $40,000 US invested in our boats. He bought his Ranger 32, Dancyn, in California for $15,000 US). The clips also star another American singlehandler, Napolean, on "Ana Paula". I've put together a different video of Napolean and I in Baramamay, Madagscar that I might edit before I post so I don't risk the blog being labeled "adult content". Napolean says quite a lot when he drinks which can be considered entertaining depending on how you see it. A local Malgash guy who named himself after the American hip hop musician, Tupac, is in a few of the clips. He is infamous around the entire Indian Ocean amongst the yachtie scene. Stories abound about this "ruthless boat boy" who is to be avoided at all costs when in Hellville. Tupac's reputation comes from having done things like plant marijuana on cruising boats and then tipping off the local police or mixing seawater with diesel and selling it to refueing foreign boats. He is the one dancing on Pelican's stern.

The track is by Docteur J.B. (pronounced zhi-bey).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Imfolozi game park

Videos like this tend to dilute the theme of this blog but what the heck... Game parks with other cruisers is the main activity here in the Tuzi Gazi International jetty and marina.

I should post clips of the front that swept through the harbor earlier today. We had 35 to 40 knots out of the SE...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Richard's Bay, Republic of South Africa

I made it in late last night. About five hours before the wind shifted. Talk about close timing. If I didn't motor the calms or delayed the Maputo departure due to tide I would have been nailed. Nothing catastrophic but it would have been absolutely unpleasant and I would still be out there... The current out front was 3.3 knots and the wind reversed against it this morning at about 20-25 this morning. I had 20-25 with the current all of last night which was what the window predicated which made for an average speed of over 8 knots. Talk about flying.

Great reception in Richard's Bay seeing all the boats I have now bumped into along the way over the past three years... I am seeing people form 2007 that I met in the South Pacific. It was a strange and somewhat of a revelation to realize how these other boats, places and people are such a part of me. I guess it is how danger and adversity make the community tighter. The scene at the International Jetty is about as world cruising as it gets.

Richard's Bay is not that ideal a setup. No easy internet, nothing within walking distance. The cruisers just hang out in their own community. I will be here at least a couple of weeks and will try to figure things out...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Might leave today

Strong NE winds tonight and all day tomorrow. The key is Friday which does not look dangerous but not completely favorable.

If this post does not change it means I left.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Got into Maputo today. Check out that gale infront of Richard's Bay tomorrow. I was getting my butt pushed with high twenties last night listening to everyone freaking out on the Peri Peri net. Boats by me that didn't want to play the "officials" roulette here in Mozambique and were desperately trying to make Richards before the gale were asking Roy, the net controller, how wide the entrance at Richard's Bay is and how a fifteen foot swell would affect the landing. Those conditions are for today and as for tomorrow, I don't think anyone would want to be in those waters... At my pace I would have made Richards early on the 9th which would have been too late.

I am now using the Port Captain's computer while he is away. Who knows what the bad news will be money wise. Once they get wind I didn't play ball in Ilha, they will start to squeeze. I already am getting hit for twenty a day at the small boat harbour. It is blowing like stink outside so no anchoring... They originally wanted fifty a day and after a bunch of theatrics on both of our parts it came down to twenty. Immigration and the Captain are next.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Headed South

I will take the plunge and head South tomorrow.

There are really only five spots to duck into on the way down. 17 S - Perlas Islands, 18 S -Quelimane, 21.5 S - Bazaruto, 24 S - Inhambane, and 26 S- Inhaca. We will see how far I can make it with this upcoming window. The goal is Bazaruto. If the weather stays, I keep moving. Inhambane to Richard´s Bay is the critical zone. Weather for the coast can be obtained here.

Three boats have lost their engine use in the past week on this passage. One from a lost propeller caused by colliding with a whale!

If there isn´t a post within a month, contact Roy at the Royal Natal Yacht Club as he runs the Peri Peri Net.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ilha de Mozambique

Once you get over the spell of the old colonial architecture, you realize that hundreds of years of being underneath slave traders followed by decades of civil war does not do a people much good. Yesterday I felt that this place is actually quite miserable. The faded grandness of the town contrasted with the most thorough langour I have ever witnessed brings it home.
When I leave here the challenge officially begins. Technically everyone says the influence of the Cape weather can reach 18 south and right now I am at 15. I am dividing the Cape into three phases. Phase one is getting down the channel, phase two is rounding the cape and phase three is getting back up into the tropics.
Phase one is where I am now. Either Richards Bay or Durban in SA is the goal, Richards bay being a bit closer. The Mozambique current is strong right now, up to 4 knots and sets SW. When a low pressure system from the Arctic or the mainland moves from West to East it creates SW winds which work against the strong current creating rough seas. Typically 15 knots of wind is no concern, even on the nose it is just a little banging. Here in the channel it means 7 to 10 foot seas. Over 25 knots of wind and the seas start to become "boat breaking." Gale force winds create nightmarish visions of "freak waves."
The traditional circumnavigation route has one heading for Durban from Mauritius or Reunion which requires one to pass underneath Madagascar. This is a long passage that exceeds how far into the future a weather forecast can see. The advantage I have by being already on the coast of Africa is that I can use weather windows. The strategy is to use the strong current while the wind is favorable (NE to SE) and get into shelter when it is not. The longest distance without shelter in phase one is about two hundred miles which is fairly short and should take about two days or three at the max. Weather forecasts are about 75 to 80 percent accurate for 48 hours out. The challenges for phase one will be the bad recption of the Peri Peri net in obtaining weather info, getting into some of the sheltered ports because the majority have bars across the entrance that require precise timing as well as mild conditions, and, finally, dealing with corrupt Mozambique officials that have been known to try and fleece the stranded yachtsman. At 15 South the charge was twenty dollars for immigration and about eighty for clearance which I will not give them (pay when you leave arrangement). Rumor has it that Inhaca can be as high as two hundred dollars.
I have been listening to the other boats doing this passage over the past month and most are getting through fine. Hopefully it will be my experience as well. I will post before I head off.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ilha de Mozambique

Nine days to cross from Madagascar which was an average of twenty or thirty miles a day and then the last day I hit the current and averaged eight knots an hour!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mozambique bound

Back in Nosy Be. Mayotte was pretty bland. I should leave Madagascar for good at the end of this week for Mozambique. I will stay north and head for the fabled port of the Island of Mozambique. No excitement for the channel until I get to about Bazaruto. From there south the gauntlet begins but I am playing it right by having waited till at least October maybe even November before getting too far south. I have already begun participating in the Peri Peri net which is 8101 at 0500 zulu and again at 1500 zulu.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mayotte bound

I checked out of Madagascar yesterday. Should leave Nosy Be early next week. Probably will stay in Mayotte for a day or so. Most likely no internet update from Mayotte because internet along with everything else is so high priced. I am thinking of heading towards Southern Madagascar. Maybe Morondava, Morombe or Toliara. Probably stay on the SW coast until late October before jumping off towards the Mozambique/South Africa border area.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Afternoon sail to Baramahamay

I will upload a clip as soon as I figure out how to do it.

Been cruising locally a bit. Back in Nosy Be for the Wewa concert this weekend. My visa will expire soon. I may sail to Mayotte and then back here as it is too soon to head down the channel.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hellville cont:

Still here and no major problems yet. This afternoon I had to quickly raise anchor and move the boat to avoid getting hit by a large rusting container ship adrift with no power in the small bay. There are more singlehandlers here than any other port I have been. Not having roller furling does not make one stand out at all. Most of these minimalist sailors are French guys about twenty years older than myself with girlfriends about twenty years younger than myself. There are "normal" tourist types here but they are starting to really stand out. I spent part of last night in the company of another one of these hard core sex tourist sailor types. In and out of local prison for not paying the prostitutes that you have a different one of every night. No condom use either. Some of these guys are going all out, just burning through their life... I did spend the earlier afternoon with some Canadians getting info about the trip down the channel. They are deliberately staying completely clued out to what is going on on the boats anchored right next to them. There are lemurs and other interesting animals to check out on nearby islands according to the Canadians, but then there are these animals right here in town.

Cell number here 0326562408

Monday, June 29, 2009


This place definitely has a rougher edge to it. I spent a couple of days with an older German singlehandler who has been cruising between East Africa and Brazil for many years. He gave me a tour of the residential sections of Hellville which are amazingly close to the center of town given the contrast. The main areas are pretty dilapidated to begin with. Mostly unmaintained buildings built by the French that are crumbling away. The residential section has no electricity, is unpaved, uses well water, and has open sewage canals right on the surface. The tour consisted of visiting many of my friend's ex Malagasy girlfriends. He speaks enough of the local language to break through the many barriers. Practically every single decent looking girl between fourteen and twenty five is a prostitute here. There are huge UNICEF anti child prostitution posters on the sides of the crumbling French buildings. After the tour, we went to a disco where we stayed till about two am. We were mugged on the short walk back to the harbor. I got away unscathed. My friend lost his cell phone, a small led flashlight and two teeth. His first comment after things settled down was, "I love this place". There is another American boat in the harbor, "Soularity - Chasing Life". They don't seem to love this place at all and basically never leave their boat after catching someone stealing their dive tanks right off the deck in the middle of the afternoon. They chased the thief, caught up with him and the husband held a pistol to the guy's head. The only reason they haven't left is that they are having engine problems. They tried leaving once but I saw them return using their dinghy to tow the boat back to Hellville.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nosy Be

I am in Nosy Be. Not too sure how long I will be here. Security may be a problem. Might try Komba in a day or so.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Diego Suarez - arrived

This coast has got loads of wind. I sat in Baie de Loky for three days wondering if the wind ever gets under 20 knots. It does but for about four hours in the early am...

I am looking for to getting around the tip and out of the wind. I should not be here long. Will post before I leave.

Pelican is anchored in the port which is on the west side of town. There is one other yellow steel monohull anchored right infront of me. Also there are two catamarans farther out. The port is walking distance from town.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saint Marie, Madagascar - arrived

In Madagascar. Will head north towards Antsiranna, Diego Suarez this week.

French keyboard. Spotty connection. Will try internet again in Diego.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leaving Port Louis

I'm out of here in a couple of hours. The destination is Saint Marie, Madagascar. The winds are not strong at all so this will be a longer passage than normal. It is five hundred miles with a light but favorable current. If I do a dismal thirty or forty miles a day it would take twelve or thirteen days max.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

1996 Flashback

The novelty of Port Louis is starting to wear off. This place feels like being on the campus of one of those two year vocational business colleges. Loads of minorities all "dressed for success" working grunt office jobs in the financial district where there are a lot of foreign corporations represented. The rest of the population is screaming at the top of their lungs, "cinquante, cinquante" while standing infront of a pile of plastic clothespins...

I've had to do a whole lot of custom CMAP printing of my "new" route as my destinations have changed given the piracy situation. The printer, generously donated by a fellow cruiser, also has a scanner! I just figured this out...

The dawn shot is the approach to Mazatlan, Mexico, and the at anchor shot is San Blas, Mexico. These photos are all from my first cruise aboard a Pearson Vanguard I did in the mid 1990's.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Port Louis, Mauritius

I'm in Port Louis, Mauritius. Got in yesterday.

Galle to Mauritius took 29 and a half days. I got about a two hour respite while motoring through Peros Banhos at Chagos.

The first part out of Galle went well. I only lost a degree to the east while close reaching against about a 10 - 15 knot early SW monsoon wind. Once I made it to the equator I tried to use the occasional southerly wind to head west to Gan but gave up after four days with a daily average of about 20 miles of progress. I knew there would be more wind south so headed toward Chagos and got there on May 8th. With no permit, I didn't want to risk a fine and plus, the SE anchorage off of Fouquet was crowded! There were eight other boats there... The thought crossed my mind that I wouldn't mind having had to pay 100 pounds if I got to be the only boat there but that wasn't the case. The "word" at Chagos was "piracy". Apparently conditions in the Seychelles had deteriorated since I'd left Galle. It was like none of the boats in Chagos wanted to go any farther west. The Cornell waypoint from Chagos To Madagascar passes you well to the North of the Saya bank at about latitude 10 degrees. I decided to cut through at the 13 degree latitude for insurance which gave me more distance from the Seychelles. After about a day out and studying the chart, I got a bad feeling for the whole area and decided to do the obvious - head for Rodrigues. The Southern Indian Ocean is notorious for large seas but I figured May shouldn't be so bad. The only danger I'd face is a late in the season hurricane but I'm so slow that by the time I got in the affected areas, it would be late May. The sail down was once again against the wind. When it lightened up I could make Rodrigues, when it picked up I could make Mauritius. Finally about a hundred miles out of Rodrigues, I got hit by some nasty stuff, thirties on top of a eight to ten foot swell. I put that on the bum and lost the chance for Rodrigues but made it here instead. Oddly, the worst wind was yet to come. The lee side of Mauritius was experiencing an "anti cyclone" as the locals called it. In the morning I approached the island from the west in about 12 knots of wind. Once I got close to the point, the seas were flat but it was 30-35 from the tip to Port Louis. The wind was coming straight off the land like it didn't want me to come in. Just four miles out, I had the engine going and was barely making a knot and a half. With the fuel filters clogging and the engine dying out once in awhile I limped into the Caudan Marina, complete with Mcdonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC within walking distance...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leaving Galle

I should be out of here tomorrow or the next day. I got yelled at today for diving on the bottom. They don't permit diving in the harbor. Of course I continued to clean the bottom until they sent out a couple more boats to harass me.

The winds don't look good for a stop at Gan in the southern Maldives. I will actually be sailing back towards Indonesia for the first bit to get to the SE trades in the Southern Hemisphere. Chagos will be skipped as I'm not willing to fork over the 100 pounds for a permit. Madagascar is the destination.

This will be a long one. Maybe even a month.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Galle Sagas...

Here are a few clips of the neighborhood right outside the entrance to the harbor where Pelican is moored. I've endured this neighborhood for over a month now and can't wait to leave.

Sri Lanka has been a real low point. I've met other yachts that couldn't stand this place so much, they have taken on strong headwinds and adverse currents instead of waiting around for a change in weather. It is a combination of things that make this place such a disappointment. The theater of war which is everywhere, the "begging" side of the culture, the over the top amount of bureacracy. The list is long and right now I would love to vent but that would be giving in too much... Trying to get some cooperation in having Pelican repaired has exposed me to a lot of "culture." I've dealt with dozens of officials, metal workers, carpenters, retailers, importers, etc.. The amount of my time and energy they have used up could have fixed dozens of boats. A couple more hurdles and hopefully I am out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Therapuththabaya versus Pelican

How does it feel to watch a 100 ton harbor tug lose control and come whipping towards you on a collision course? Not very good. Especially when you are moored fore and aft with no mobility and had about twenty seconds of advance notice before impact (Notice consisted of hearing a lot of yelling you don't understand and the sound of an engine revving way too high for the tight quarters of the harbor.)

Putting out another fender won't do much when the boat is that big and the skipper has the throttle wide open...

Luckily the damage is repairable and Pelican can continue her voyage. Therapuththabaya was almost headed in the same direction Pelican was facing so the only contact was the tug's starboard quarter on Pelican's port beam. Damage was mostly to toe rail and genoa track through bolted through the rail. The solar panel mounted on the port side had its glass shattered and three stanchions bent including their bases. Chain plates and associated rigging hardware were all well forward of the point of impact.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Galle, Sri Lanka

Just to help clarify. I am in the port of Galle which is in the south of Sri Lanka. Magalle is the harbor portion of the town.

You can't cruise this country. The country is at war so restrictions and bureacracy are of the suffocating variety. The boat has to stay put inside a Navy compound.

While in Thailand I met a journalist that wrote an article about me. It is in a magazine for expatriates living in Thailand.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Jum to Magalle

I made it in yesterday. 16 and a half days. Seems the NE Monsoon died off early this year. I was warned to make the crossing before March, but it petered out even earlier.

I had bad luck with the gennaker. The spinnaker shackle opened after the first six hours of use and there was still too much swell until the tenth day to get up the mast. At least there was the current otherwise the passage would have taken longer.

Your first indication of a country's culture is how the fisherman treat you. Those from Sri Lanka were the most aggresive encountered. Collision course the second they hit the horizon. If you changed course 90 degrees they immediately changed course 90 degrees. I used the engine a lot, not to make progress, but to avoid extended sessions of having seven to eight males leering at the boat dangling coconuts and fish while making guestures of smoking. I engaged them a couple of times to not be a complete jerk about it, but it got old pretty fast...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rare footage of Pelican

These short clips were taken by Glen and Katrina from their catamaran, Highway Star, when we both left Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea the same afternoon back in July of 2008. They are here in Ao Nang and were able to pass on the footage earlier today. Thanks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Anchored at Ao Nang, Thailand

It has been over two months since I've sailed more than sixteen miles in a single passage. Nice to take such a break. One more month to go here in Thailand before heading west...