Lat: 12 08.785′ S
Long: 48 42.587′ E

Land ho! Dallas was able to see the landscape of Madagascar as soon as the sun came up this morning, at which point we were about 25 miles offshore. I crawled out of bed after 4 1/2 hours of sleep to get a look for myself. The landscape is different than any we have seen before from sea. There are several small but steep mountains with pointy peaks with rolling hills in between. Unlike the lush volcanic islands that we are used to seeing, the land here fits with my vision of the serengetti with its yellow, brown, and red tones. Apparently Madagascar was quite a bit greener in the recent past but was deforested by the residents. It’s hard to imagine.

madagascar First sight of land in quite some time


Madagascar was calling my name

After exactly 3 weeks at sea, it was exciting to be in the proximity of land. When approaching a new place, it is always interesting to see the landscape unfold, and there are usually fishing vessels around. Today we haven’t seen a single boat, but a highlight for me was spotting two sea turtles not far from the boat.

With the landscape of Madagascar becoming more and more distant behind us, it would be inaccurate to say that we’ve “made landfall”. It is rewarding to know that we’ve crossed the Indian Ocean but a bit, well, anticlimactic. This is the first time we’ve approached land after an offshore passage without dropping the hook and exploring the place, but we have to cut corners somewhere in order to get out of the way of cyclones ASAP. Up until just a few hours ago, Dallas was still toying with the possibility of spending a few days in Nosy Be on the northwest coast of Madagascar, but after speaking to a rigger in South Africa who has the part we need, it was confirmed that shipping to Mayotte is more reliable, so to Mayotte we will go. Our rigging toggle should be there when we arrive.

Mayotte is only about a two day sail (or motorsail, more likely) from here. I’m sure we can hold out that long. It should be an interesting spot — as a French territory, it is supposed to represent a mix of French and African cultures with a bit of Arab thrown in. My French must be awfully rusty by now, but I know enough to order some croissants and red wine!

Apart from being farther away, my biggest reservation about choosing Mayotte over Madagascar is that, Mayotte being French, it doesn’t represent Africa per se. For example, the wages and standard of living in Mayotte are comparable to those of Europe, whereas Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. However, we should have a chance to see the impoverished side of Africa and distribute our balls, clothes, etc. while we are coastal hopping along Mozambique.

We pulled in a barracuda about an hour ago, so I’m going to cook up a small piece for dinner. I would like to have a big piece, but since we caught it in an area where there are reefs, there’s a chance that it might have ciguatera toxins, so I’m going to sample a bit and see what happens as suggested by our fishing handbook. Symptoms (in minor cases) include tingling lips, nausea, and vomiting, so hopefully my craving for fresh fish won’t come back to bite me!