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.