Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Enroute Mayotte - Arrived


 We arrived in Mayotte last night and had the anchor down at 1:00am local time last night. Its a 3 hour run into the anchorage from outside the entrance with a number of twists and turns that are all well marked and lit.

After we passed the tip of Madagascar and entered the Mozambique Channel the wind laid down. The Compression Zone was fairly benign.  We did a 128 mile noon-to-noon run with the lighter wind. Of the last 30 hours we probably motored 80% of the run.

Todays job, get cleared into Mayotte with the French officials.


Paul


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Enroute Mayotte Day 2 and 3

Its been a fast, good sail since after the bumpiness and winds of the first day and a half. Day 2 we did 188nm noon-to-noon, day 3 180nm. Both good runs. We made it through the 'compression zone' with no real drama. 23kts plus gusts and a few unruly seas. Two reefs in the main and partial furled jib. We are now into the wind and sea shadow caused by Madagascar. Winds are 12 kts or so and we are making about 6 kts toward Mayotte. Depending on how quickly the winds shut off completely, we will probably make Mayotte by late tomorrow.

Paul
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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Enroute Mayotte Day 1

Lumpy, bumpy start. After a day and a half at sea most of the crew is getting back to communicating in full sentences. We are down to two reefs in the main and a small jib up. Making good time - 188nm for the first noon to noon run.

Had some excitement a few hours into the journey. Crew says 'I smell propane'. Me, with my refined palette smel something but not propane. Seemed like some volatile concoction coming out of a paint can. Hunt all around and can't find it. I lay out to get some sleep on the settes bunk only to be awakened by the CO alarm, quickly followed by the fire alarm. I stumble out of my berth and the propane alram goes off briefly. It is over near the electrical panel I notice the on=deman diesel water heater is on. It accidentally got left on when Chris took an early shower before we left. I had put the exhaust plug into the hull to block any seawater getting into the heater. It did not like running with a blocked exhaust.

Paul


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Friday, October 8, 2021

Next Stop Mayotte

 

 

We did all of our clearing out of the Seychelles yesterday. Including paying usd$850 of daily anchoring fees for the 4 months the boat has been here.

 We are now anchored in a nice bay on the north end of Mahe (the main island in the Seychelles) for the evening. In the morning we will take off for a 5 or 6 day passage to Mayotte. Mayotte is a French island at the north end of the Mozambique Channel. This will be our first stop on the 2,800 mile trip to Cape Town, South Africa.


The 800 mile trip to Mayotte is a bit challenging.  To begin with you are sailing with wind from the beam forward. The seas are what has been generated by the few thousand mile open run that the SE tradewinds create. If you look at the wind image above, at the label Victoria in the upper right is where we are leaving from. The small islands that are in the middle left are Comoros and Mayotte. To left of them is continental Africa, to the right is the large island of Madagascar, of movie fame. We would have loved to stop in Madagascar and say Hi to the lemurs and check out a Baobab tree, but it is shut due to Covid season.


Looking at the wind in the image you can see where the SE tradewinds get compressed as they go above the north tip of Madagascar. This can make for some rough and unpleasent sailing. The trick to planning the passage is to try and do the 12-24hours as you pass northern Madagascar while the Compression Zone is light. It tends to have lighter days in October than in August or September. 



To add to the fun, the South Indian currents are also compressed as they hit Madagascar, making a strong, up to 3 knot current, over the top (bluish in the image). The current tends to make the seas very disorganised. 


I'll post a brief daily or every other day text-only update as we make the passage. You can track our daily position by looking at the map at the bottom of the blog page. (Don't see a map at the bottom? Then you are on the Mobile version of the blog. At the bottom you should see a blue link that says View Web Version)

One thing that should make this trip a little easier is that we will be sharing the watches with our friend Bill who flew in from San Francisco.

Paul

 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Tortoise Island - Curieuse

 

As part of our mini-shakedown cruise we headed over to the marine park on Curieuse Island to check out the Aldabra Giant Tortoises. The island had endemic tortoises when the Europeans showed up, but it didn't take long to wipe them out. Starting in 1978 the island was repopulated with the big guys from Aldabra island, also in the Seychelles. These beasts can weight 350 lbs and live over 200 years.

Chris fancies herself as a bit of a wild tortoise hunter, having stalked them when we sailed to the Galapagos. Me, I stay far enough back in case they start spitting.

The island was used as a Leper Colony from 1829 to 1965. 


The island has a nursey for youngsters. When the small ones are found around the island they are brought to the nursey and kept there till their shells are large and hard enough to protect them from the crabs and rats.


Chris was well on her way to sneaking one of these babies out as a boat pet until I showed her this sign.


The island is also famous for its Coco de Mer, the largest and strangest looking coconut in the world. These promiscuous looking coconuts are the national symbol of the Seychelles and you see the outline everywhere you look --on the visa stamps in your passport, on the tourist advertising, on many government forms, on graffiti on the walls. I even see the outlines of the Coco de Mer symbol on the back of people I see walking around. 


Paul


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Back in the Seychelles Again


    We arrived back in the Seychelles after a long, 28 hour, flight. Dulles Airport near Washington DC to Doha in Qatar (14.5 hours), a 9 hour layover in the shopping mall like Doha airport and then 4.5 hours to Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles. Fortunately the flights weren't too full. Pretty beat after these flights, we are getting too old for these marathons.
    The picture above should be a beautiful, lush green mountain side overlooking Eden Island Marina where Georgia has been safely tucked away for the last two months. The reason it is just a white box is because while we were away someone broke into Georgia and stole my Canon Digital SLR with its two zoom lenses. There was minimal damage to the boat, but we both felt deeply cut by the loss of every liter bottle of the duty-free Bombay Sapphire Gin we had brought all the way from Langkawi, Malaysia. They got some US cash and some custom jewelry too. 

    The Seychelles has a major heroin problem. Per-capita it is said to be the highest in the world, close to 10% of the working population being users. That accounts for the high petty property crimes in the country. Surprisingly, unlike other countries such as the US, this hasn't brought along significant violent crime. The drugs come through the Middle East often originating in Afghanistan. Seychelles being both a destination for some of the shipments as well as a major transshipment port enroute to mainland Africa.


    The Seychelles police were quick to come down to the boat and take a report. They were very friendly and as thorough as is practical in this case. They actually visited the boat four times. Above they are taking a fingerprint off of a plastic panel that was broken by the culprits.


    We spent about a week getting the boat back together and installing the various gifts for the boat we brought back with us. Installed a new autopilot control head which is clearly a very practical thing to have. But the best thing we installed was new, self-closing toilet seat. Doesn't get more luxurious than that. 

Now we are out at Praslin Island doing a little shakedown to make sure everything works and enjoying one of the Seychelles most famous beaches, Anse Lazio. 

One of the reasons to come out to Praslin was to clean the boat bottom of the slime growing on it. I jumped in to start cleaning was greeted by about two dozen Remora fish. These have a sucker on the top and typically attach themselves to whales, sharks and Mantas.

Next up is to provision and prepare for our 2,000 mile passage from the Seychelles to South Africa. More on that next blog.

A bossy local all dressed up to share our dinner out


Paul 

 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Overcoming Range Anxiety

 


    I'm not sure if Range Anxiety is actually listed in the latest DSM as a genuine psychiatric disorder, but to any new owners of all electric vehicles it is definitely viscerally real. Just how far can you go on the last charge and how accurate is the mileage estimate on the car's display?

    After driving the entire US West Coast and then across the country from San Diego to North Carolina on the East Coast in a 2012 Tesla Model S, I can definitely say I've overcome range anxiety completely - I now have lots more time to deal with my other anxieties. Too bad we don't own the Tesla, it was only a delivery. 

We stopped at lots of Tesla Supperchargers along the way. You can see the saguaro cactus behind the supercharger posts here in Arizona.


Most of the Superchargers are in mall parking lots, hotels, truck stops, chain hotels or near fast food restaurants. This one was in a 1920s gas station and rest stop on the original Highway 66.

Driving through the California desert was way hot. The Tesla AC worked hard. This is a dash picture while charging in the dessert. In the bottom right you can see the outside temperature at 116*F (47*C). At these temperatures the Tesla AC has to run at full blast to cool the batteries while they're charging.

If you drive a Tesla and use the Superchargers you are automatically part of The Club. That means hanging at a Supercharger off the Interstate you are bound to take up a conversation with another Tesla traveler. "Where you from? How far are you going? What year is that one? Did you hear the latest thing Elon Tweeted? Great cars, have a good day"

The car behaved beautifully all the way across. It should be super reliable too as it only has 17 moving parts in its drive train. To say the least, I've drunk the Koolaid and am totally bought into the Tesla.

Best stops across country: 
Winslow, Arizona and Santa Fe,  New Mexico
Best t-shirt:
 Make Orwell 
Fiction Again


Now that we've made it to Winston-Salem, North Carolina,  with the Tesla intact, we are busy packing up and getting ready to fly back to the Seychelles. That's if we can successfully jump through all the Covid-induced hoops to get approved for entry. Then it'll be boat maintenance and a shake down before we can start our passage to South Africa.


Paul



Saturday, July 31, 2021

Land Passage

 



We made it back to the West Coast after a 24 hour flight. Headed the next day to get our second vaccine dose. Then we started on the projects we had on our must do list, kind of like prepassage planning. Doctors, dentists, eye checks, pokes and prods, unload the car and reload the car , visit friends,....... I can tell you visiting friends has been much better than going to the dentist.

Our 5 year old granddaughter is moving to North Carolina. She has decided to bring both of her parents along and both dogs. Our contribution to the move is to do a delivery drive of the all electric Tesla S to North Carolina.

The first thing we had to do to prepare for the trip was to stop at all the local hardware stores and stock up on extension cords. I figured we needed enough to stretch halfway across New Mexico just to be safe.

The map at the top of the page is our planned route. Not the shortest way but  gives us a chance to visit cruising friends, old friends and family on the West Coast. The red symbols on the route are the Tesla Superchargers on our route that are carefully selected by the Tesla app for recharging. Most of the time it's a 20 to 40 minute charge. Because of the age of the Tesla we are driving, the fill ups at the Superchargers are all free. The max travel distance from a full charge is 250 miles. Given the geriatric age of the crew delivering this ship, we've figured out that by the time the batteries need recharging, the crew needs to unlock the knees, stretch the back,  pump out the bladder and top off the stomach.


Heading down the iconic Big Sur coastal route, foglights on, batteries charged. This is bucket list driving! With the Tesla's regenerative breaking system you can drive the hairpin curves for hours without ever hitting the breaks.

We've made it as far as San Diego. Plan is to start heading east mid next week.

Paul





Monday, June 28, 2021

Seychelles Prep

 

View from Port Launay anchorage

We've been busy doing boat projects here on the island of Mahe, Seychelles. Not the least of which is dealing with Seychelles paperwork. When you arrive by yacht you generally get a 30-dy visa for the crew and the boat gets 30 days in the country. To keep the boat in country longer you need to get a Temporary Import Permit (TIP). This requires providing a lot of additional paperwork, including proof of boat insurance and a  builder's certificate. A a local agent s required to get to the finish line. We are in process. We got an email that said our TIP was approved and attached. The attachment was an official looking document with official stamps on it. The only problem was the TIP had an expiration date of June 30, 2021.  We called our agent about this and got the explanation that this was just the first phase of getting a longer term TIP. Now she will apply to extend the TIP to cover the duration of our expected stay.


Another big project was replacing our 11 year old Rolls-Surrette AGM house batteries. We found some Victron AGM batteries in a local chandlery. We moved Georgia into the Eden Marina and I hired a couple of  the marina dock workers to pull the old batteries out and put the new ones into place. These batteries weight about 150lbs each  -- basically back breakers. Much better done by young guys. Even for them there was a lot of: "un, deux, trois - allez!"

We did get to spend a few days sailing around the northern end of the island. The picture at the top of the blog is from Port Launay, a nice marine park, if a bit rolly at anchor. Above is small islet of the end of the island. These photos were taken during a bit of inclement weather, generally it's been sunny with brisk SE trade winds each day. A welcome change from the heat and humidity of the eastern Indian Ocean.



We also stopped at Baie Beau Vallon. This place has magnificent long, white sand beach. I'm sure it is a bit of a zoo in normal tourist times, but in Covid Season it was mostly empty. We did get some rain and low clouds coming off the mountains, along with a swell coming through the anchorage that made for an uncomfortable sleep.


On the way back we past these two Sri Lankan fishing boats that are tied to a Seychelles Coast Guard cutter in the quarantine anchorage. They were caught illegal fishing within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone of the Seychelles. The Seychelles do a lot of patrolling their waters both for illegal fishing and to try and interdict the heroin trade from the Middle East. The heroin comes in both for local consumption and for transportation to mainland Africa.

The country makes good money in leasing out fishing rights. The red ships above are 295ft Tuna Purse Seiners. They are a non-stop feature of Port Victoria and bring in tons and tons of tuna clear cut from the oceans every week.

Georgia is now tied up in Eden Island Marina and we are getting ready to do a 6-8 week tour of the US. Pick up our car, get some doc appointments done, store stuff that came out of our now sold trailer and visit family and friends. First up is Bellingham. Before we can board our Emirates flights, 4 hours to Dubai followed by 14.5 hours to Seattle,  we had to get our PCR tests. Neither one of us cried as much as the 2 and half year old who went in before us.

Paul



Monday, June 14, 2021

Chagos with Pictures (part 2)

 


After a week moored off Boddham  we moved down to Fouquet. For most of our time Chagos the weather was good, but we did have the occasional squall come through.  (We anchored in two places on Ille Fouquet. 05*20.645S,072*15.484 in 15ft on sand. This end of the island had less swell making though the pass. Later we anchored at the larger sand area at 05*19.961S,072*15.87Ein 15 ft on sand)



Not all is easy going in Chagos. This is the wreckage of a large cruising catamaran. In the foreground is the tall mast laying in the clear water.  Sometime, apparently after this wreck, BIOT started requiring Wreck Removal Insurance prior to issuing a permit to visit.


Red footed Boobies are everywhere on the islands.

While Chagos has experienced coal bleaching incidents similar to the Maldives, the general health of the reefs and abundance of coral seemed very good. It's really nice to be diving with such a variety of corals an coral colors. The water clarity was not crystal clear while we were there, but fine for our daily snorkel. Water temperature is perfectly legal in my book, we're guessing it was mid 80sF!


No shortage of Parrot fish.




Quite a garden

This is an 18-20 inch long Giant Clam shell. I remember watching some black and white movie as a kid where the hero got his arm stuck in a Giant Clam. Been leery of them ever since.

This is a live Giant Clam almost as big. It turns out Giant Clams aren't big threat to skin divers, as they are plankton eaters.



Add a little red to the coral colors


This coral colony is probably 10 or 12 feet wide.

Got my eye on you!


Turtles cruising by weren't too concerned about us.

A little closer view

A juvenile snapper of some sort.
Banner Fish enjoying their coral surroundings




The beginning of a nice forest

Tide pool starfish

Practicing taking selfies on the sandbar while shell hunting

Had to stop and investigate this large buoy washed up on the beach. Looks like it may have come from some Naval exercise down in Diego Garcia. Too big to take home as a souvenir, even though I think it would make great yard art.

There are Hermit Crabs almost everywhere to land in Chagos. They are the bane of shell hunters, as they claim all the good ones early.

This is a smaller Coconut Crab using a coconut shell as her home. The young Coconut Crabs use shells and coconuts for protection. The adults use claws.

Coconut Crab looking to me for protection.

Not sure why, but you sometimes see a party of Hermit Crabs up on the trees.

Met up with our old friend Wilson.

A nice shiny Cowrie shell.

When you walk around the islands the bird pass by at eye level for a look. 

Grouper, checking us out

There's a lobster (crayfish) hiding under that coral shelf.

A close up of the crayfish.


Extra low tide on the ocean side of the island

Pre-sunset view

My beach toy. Notice the clean shaven model holding it.

Georgia at anchor. The light blue is about 15 feet deep and where our anchor is. The dark blue is about 50 feet deep where we came to rest. It is very convenient that they color code the water for us.


Boobies nesting with young, fluffy white nestling in the center.

Space alien eyes

This was a less than clear day snorkeling. Mark, this black-tip reef shark, decided to start circling us. He made at least three loops around us that we could see. Needless to say, Chris managed to keep the dinghy or me safely between her and Mark.

Check the length of this Unicorn Fish's horn

A little green coral to add to the seascape

These two pictures are hard to make out, but they are of an octopus hiding among the crevices in the coral. 



It was a windy late afternoon and Mark and his friend stopped by to see if we had any shark treats to share.

The friend even wanted to show of his black tip.


The Noddies decided to take up residence on the bow pulpit.



All in all, Chagos is a pretty magical place. Glad we got the opportunity to stop by and add to the memories.


Paul