Indian ocean

SOUTH AFRICA Richards Bay to Knysna - A high-risk passage

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On board Jangada, there was a back-toschool atmosphere for the crew. It was back to the business of sailing around the world! Tomorrow, we would be leaving for South Africa, via the south of Madagascar. Given the sluggishness of the maneuvers, I realized that our minds were still ashore. Jangada was snorting. Her hulls were dirty after four weeks along-side the dock. She too has to get back to work, out on the ocean. We were bound for Richards Bay, South Africa, 85 miles north of Durban, and 1,356 miles from Reunion Island. A large bulk commercial port, which has the advantage of being located inside a well-protected lagoon. It is home to a reputedly friendly yacht-club, the Zululand Yacht-Club. On our way is the southern continental shelf of Madagascar, which has a bad reputation. It’s a zone where the winds accelerate, coming from opposing directions, over shallow depths, with the swell generated by the depressions of the Roaring Forties, which succeed one another to the south.
On the third day at sea, the memories of our last days on Reunion Island slowly faded away. An immaculate white strawtail came flying over us. It is curious how this bird, which seems at first sight to be a poor flyer with its jerky, insecure flight, is in fact able to live far from land, out on the open sea.

First stop: Richards Bay
On the 8th day of the crossing, we still had a good fifty miles to go as the pale sun set, which meant an arrival in the depths of the night. A few hours earlier, the electronic barometer had sounded its alarm for a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure, a sign that we were heading straight into the depression located on Richards Bay... I didn’t feel like hanging around at sea, at the risk of getting hammered by 35 knots of wind just 30 miles from the finish. Speed 10/11 knots, salty spray and a choppy sea. I decided not to slow down. At 03.00, we passed the breakwaters. The full moon was playing hide and seek with the clouds, running low in the sky. Suddenly, the calm of the river, the red and green buoys, the scent of wet earth, the smell of mud. This is the magic of arriving by sea, as travelers, in a country we do not know. At dawn there was a surprise for us: monkeys everywhere on the quay and on the surrounding roofs too! They get on the sailboats, inhabited or not, and sneak inside, preferably on those whose companionways or saloon doors have been left open. They then come out with a packet of cookies, a bag of chips or a stolen pineapple, settle down in the cockpits, and quietly start eating... After the customs formalities, we left Tuzi Gazi for the small river of the Zululand Yacht Club. We found a good spot, right next to a green park, a small swimming pool and a small beach. We were almost at the end of our Indian Ocean adventure…


The entrance pass to Knysna harbor, in good weather. In the center, you can see Emu Rock, which must be avoided. In spite of appearances, this pass is classified in the top 10 of the most ...

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