Pos: S13deg32.181min/E047deg59.834min. We motored over to Russian Bay this morning from Sakatia. Can you see a pattern here? No wind to talk about, lots of current, and the necessity of an iron genoa. Charts are accurate for the entry, although I'd suggest favoring the west side until the range line (on Navionics and Garmin, not on our CM93 charts) is reached. We dropped anchor in 40' and enjoyed lunch. In the late afternoon, we went into the small bar/restaurant/store and met its owner, an Austrian named Andre, and enjoyed a warm beer (as Andre explained, "the English way") and talking with him. Not too many fishermen are coming in and out so far, but we'll go exploring by dinghy tomorrow. Of note, we're not getting internet here, and are a bit far for VHF communication to Hellville (about 18 mi).
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com
Pos: S13deg18.019min/E048deg10.733min. We departed Crater Bay about 0700 and motored over to see Des & Nell. These ex-pat South Africans are delightful, full of information to share, and ex-cruisers. Their boat, Gambit, is lying in Richards Bay, SA, and we went this morning to get a better understanding of strategy and weather for our crossing to SA, as they have made the crossing 6 (or is it 7?) times. We'd advise all our friends to stop in and see them; it's time well spent and they are wonderful people to befriend.
Pos: S13deg23.966min/E048deg13.172min. We anchored in 45' outside about 30 other boats. Most are on moorings from the marina here, run by Rudy (0320442667). Many yachties leave their boats here to do land cruising, and we decided to check things out. Crater Bay has kind of a mixed reputation; in years past there have allegedly been some unsavory characters around. Rudy, himself, cautioned me to not hire any locals; the marina provides security and he felt that was good enough. One is, of course, free to do whatever one chooses, and having a boat boy aboard to ensure night time security is always an option. Rudy suggested stowing everything down below, outboards included. In the afternoon we walked to the intersection of the small town of Dar el Salam (sp?) and took a taxi into Hellville to go to a travel agency as well as do a bit of shopping. After, we ate a delicious pizza and had a few beers in the marina bar/restaurant (total cost 20000Ar, about $9USD) and talked over our upcoming travel plans. Nothing was decided; what a surprise there....
Pos: S13deg29.016min/E048deg14.352min. Last night we experienced the dreaded Nosy Komba Roll, which was bad enough to prevent us from sleeping soundly. Shortly after first light, we raised anchor and departed, glad to get away from the constant beam-to motion that was so uncomfortable. We motored the 5 mi to Tanikely National Park, and took a mooring in 35' water. There were a few moorings further in, but depth would become an issue. The water was crystal clear to over 40', and I took the opportunity to use our hookah rig and change out the MaxProp zinc anode. Schools of fish swam around us, some of the larger ones actually bumping our hull! At the beach, we paid 10000Ar each for the Park entry fee and walked to the old light house structure. Built in 1908, it no longer is functional, but there is a small museum with placards in 4 languages, and we felt it a good place to learn about the history of the area, as well as imagining school children learning and enjoying a picnic lunch. There are two varieties of lemurs on the small island, but feeding them is prohibited. Dark skinks scampered everywhere, and the view from the light house was awesome. We snorkeled after lunch, accompanied a turtle for about 10 min, saw a small gray shark, and lots of beautiful kinds of fish. A nice place to visit, and anchoring is allowed in sandy areas just in front of the beach (about 35'-40' depths); this is considered a day anchorage as it's somewhat exposed.
Pic: No coaxing...you stand under the tree with banana in your hand and they drop on your shoulder/head. Their paws? are surprisingly velvety soft.
Pos: S13deg26.605min/ E048deg21.231min. We topped off with diesel (gazole) at 2860Ar/liter and gas/petrol (essence) at 3560Ar/liter. At this time, the exchange rate is $1.00USD is 2360 Malagasy Ariary; 10000MGA's is $4.24USD. Going to the bank is interesting; you walk away with over a million Ariary in your pocket; no bill is over 10000Ar, but it all goes fast! Free internet and pretty good, very thin pizza can be found at the Nandipo Cafe. Jimmy and his helper had deposited our jerry jugs on the side deck of Infini, met us at the wharf, and we loaded up the dinghy with more provisions, this time fresh veggies and fruit from the market in the center of town. This is a large market, taking up a city block, and has lots of great fresh stuff. We couldn't wait to get back to the boat and prepare the huge prawns we had bought there, along with the fresh baguettes and salad makings. There was a nice rain shower during the evening and the decks finally look a bit better. By late morning we were motoring to Nosy Komba, about 5 miles away. We've anchored in 35', run the watermaker, are still catching up to emails, and decided to put off exploring until tomorrow. Since it's Happy Hour, we're tasting a local rum we just bought. Called Cuvee Noire ("Black Vintage"), it's a dark rum which apparently won a Silver Medal at the 2012 Renaissance Rum Festival in Miami Beach. Cost: $3.09USD/bottle. Hmmm.
Pos: S13deg24.459min/E048deg17.039min. We spent the entire morning (0715 to 1215) checking into Madagascar with Officialdom. We had made arrangements to meet our boat boys at 0730, and they were at the wharf promptly to take our dinghy and petrol jerry jug to allow us to meet our taxi. The boat boys here ensure the safety of the dinghy because there is no proper place to tie up to. I took my outboard engine key and fuel lines with me when I got out of the dinghy....Unfortunately, the taxi guy never showed up, and after waiting 45 min we used another taxi driver and had a pleasant chap, Sergio, along as interpreter. (Details: we used Jimmy as boat boy 0328479237, and Sergio 0347238698) It got a bit complicated as we had to first check in with the Policia, then go to the bank for local money (all fees have to be paid in Ariary), then Immigration, then Customs, then Treasury, then the Port Captain, and finally back to the Policia for the final stamps and signatures into our passports. Everyone was very pleasant and total monies were approx $125USD for two people for 3 month clearance. We then took a lunch break at the Papillon Restaurant (rated highly), went to the Orange shops for SIM cards for phone and data, and did a bit of shopping at the Champion and the "big market" (Ahkam Market). We had hired the taxi until 5pm and returned to the wharf at 5 pm sharp where our boat boys helped load the dinghy and we returned to Infini tired but a bit ahead of the game. Tomorrow we'll get diesel, pick up our laundry, and do more provisioning. Also of note is that the anchorage here in the present SW wind is quite rolly and uncomfortable, so the sooner we provision and get going the more sleep we'll get....
Pic: Cruisers gathering for a fish fry/potluck at Boddam, Solomon Atoll, Chagos. Picasa picture albums will have to wait for strong internet!
Pic: The lighthouse at the northern tip: Cape Ambre. Nice with double reefed main and a scrap of jib, about 1/4 to 1/2 mile off.