The trip from Reunion to South-Africa

Thu 8 Nov

Left at 11:00, after finally sorting out the main halyard. Seas were a bit rough on the first miles out. With winds just over 20 knots from the West. So started with a reefed main. Always a struggle these first miles out, it seems to require more thinking.

After a few hours, the wind shifted, and became light from the east.

Fri 9 Nov

During the day, the wind became lighter and turned to the NW. That is a sign that the cold from is approaching. Before sunset the cold front is on the horizon, and I can see some lightning.

You never know what winds the front will bring, so before sunset I tripled reefed the main. Wind completely disappeared for a while, and motorsailed a bit.

Sat 10 Nov

Somewhere this morning the wind completely shifted, woke up from the sails, and noticed we were going backwards. So, gybed and got on a course as close to the rhumbline as possible. Winds were not strong yet, but kept reefs in the main sail until daylight.

Was cloudy in the morning, and even drizzled for a bit. Too bad there was not a good down poor, the boat could us some good fresh water washing (in Reunion, we were docked so close to the breakwater, that the mist from the surf kept the boat covered in salt).

Once the front had passed the weather settled to a good breeze from the SE, so winds are now from the port beam, 2 reefs in the main, and the small yankee and the stay sail up. Seas are building up a bit, but generally a nice course.

Sun 11 Nov

Wind stayed strong till midnight, but got lighter nearer the morning. After sun rise I took one reef out of the main. Later the winds picked up again, so I put the 2nd reef back in. This afternoon it became overcast.
Set the clock an hour back, so we are now in UTC+3

Mon 12 Nov

Light winds during the night, but picked up again in the morning. Was overcast in the morning, but started to clear up and turned in to a beautiful sunny day. Late in the afternoon we gybed, created enough clearance south of Madagascar to sail in straight line (almost due west) to Richards Bay (wind permitting of course).

Tue 13 Nov

After the gybe we were on a westerly course only for a short while, winds got very light and turned a bit too far to the east to stay on course. Was drizzling slightly during the night and in the morning, but eventually cleared up, and with the sun, also the wind came back.

Barometer has been dropping since Sunday evening. Next cold front (behind a low) was forecast to arrive around Thursday. Keeping a close eye on the barometer.

Wed 14 Nov

Last night wind started to disappear, but not the swells. By midnight I had enough of the sails noise and started the engine. Motored with and without sails until 10, when the wind had shifted to the SW. For most of the this day we had a beautiful sail, close reached, almost free of waves and swell (a rare thing on the ocean).

Thu 15 Nov

By this morning the good wind had petered out, shift via S to SE, and became a beam reach. During today, winds have gotten lighter and lighter, but no the swells. This afternoon it is a bit of a puzzle to find the course the gives the boat some speed in the right direction without a terrible cork screw motion with sails slamming.

Fri 16 Nov

Winds gotting lighter, and finally decided to get to work and change out the small yankee head sail for the bigger genoa. I am sure I will regret this when it starts blowing again.

Sat 17 Nov

This morning the wind really disappeared, so motored all morning. After lunch there was the first sign of a breeze from the south west. Together with a gradually dropping barometer that is a sign of the next low pressure system (and cold front) to be here within about a day.

Sun 18 Nov

Last night the front hit, winds were from south west, turning to south, maximum about 25knots. But seas were chaotic, short and steep, made for a rough night. This morning the winds got lighter, and this afternoon there is about 10knots from just a little east of south, but still with some bigger seas, so it is a bit of a bumpy ride.

Mon 19 Nov

During the night very light winds, but after midnight made the right decision to gybe, the other tack was much better. during the day the wind turned towards the north and kept increasing. By the time it was dark the winds got so strong that it was looking like I would be arriving at Richards Bay in the dark. No reason to go for that extra adventure and reefed down to things a little slower.

Tue 20 Nov

Winds still blowing good from the north, making good head way. It is overcast and some drizzle limit visibility. But, I can start seeing the dunes of the coast. This is a pretty big port, so, talked to traffic control on VHF 12 to get permission to come through the channel. Was told to continue on to the small craft harbor, but, somehow had a hard time finding it, untill I noticed from yellow (Q) flags flying. It was tight turn to get into a spot along the quay, but got in there and docked with a little help from some French ladies. Was very lucky: the officials were just there to clear in yachts (some boats had waited as long as 4 days for that), and formalities were done on half an hour./font

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