Lat: 14 53.895′ S
Lon: 41 19.938′ E

The last couple of days have been two of the slowest of the entire trip. We’ve had light winds and a contrary current running at 1-2 knots. The wind has been too far forward to put up a spinnaker, so we’ve inched along on the main and jib, with both of them flapping loudly when the light swell that’s often on the beam rolls underneath us and rocks the boat from side-to-side. Yesterday we somehow managed to make 80 nm and didn’t even have to use the engine, so maybe it’s not as bad as all that, but with the sails flapping and 3+ knots being a good speed for two days, it gets a little annoying. There have been a few squalls, mostly in the evening, with a bit of lightning both times and the sound of thunder once or twice. Luckily the lightning passed well away from us.

The day before yesterday we were sitting in the salon when we heard the unmistakable sound of a jet airplane buzzing us. We ran outside to see an unmarked twin-engine jet, about the size of a small commuter or corporate plane zooming away. We were a little concerned, but a few seconds later a French voice came on the radio; it was a French Navy plane patrolling the area and checking on shipping traffic. We provided the typical information and they were able to confirm that there had been no pirate activity in the area. It was a bit unexpected, but definitely nice to know that they were out there. In general, we haven’t seen much shipping traffic since crossing into the Mozambique channel, although a number of the ships we have seen, even since well before Madagascar, have had their AIS transmitter turned off. It makes watches a little more exciting, but I can definitely understand not wanting to advertise the position, heading, speed, destination, etc. in this part of the world. The only ship we’ve seen since leaving Mayotte did have its AIS transmitter turned on, and it showed that they were headed to Dar-es-Salam, this week’s hot spot. I’m definitely glad we’re headed the opposite direction and should be well clear of the pirate region by now. You can see a live Google Map of piracy incidents by going to and clicking on “Live Piracy Map”. If the link doesn’t work, just Google “IMB Piracy Reporting Centre”. Their maps helped us settle on a route across the Indian Ocean that we thought would be reasonably free from the risk of a pirate attack.

Life aboard has fallen back into the familiar at-sea routine. I’ve found that with the absence of a long night of sleep a 4th meal sometime between 3am and 6am makes a big difference in terms of not feeling seasick and staying in a good mood. Lauren usually makes a little extra for dinner and I finish it off sometime around sunrise. Last night’s dinner was tortilla pizzas. I’m happy to report that just like regular pizzas, tortilla pizzas make a great breakfast the next morning.

In the last couple of days we’ve also been able to make contact with the Peri Peri net out of South Africa. The net provides a free service to sailors, allowing us to check in and get localized weather forecasts once or twice a day. The net operators are really nice and offer whatever help they can to the boats that call in. Back in the states, Wes is helping us by keeping an eye out for tropical storms that we wouldn’t see in the localized GRIB weather files that we download.

The general plan for getting to South Africa is to take advantage of weather windows when the wind is blowing from the north or east and try to be anchored somewhere when the wind blows from the south. Although we were headed for Ilha Mozambique, it looks like our window is going to last 2-3 more days, so we’ve just changed course for Ilha Casurina. Ilha Casurina is uninhabited except for the possibility of a few fishermen, so we’re just planning to anchor off the island and wait for the next window to head down to the Bazaruto archipelago.

Changing course let me put the spinnaker up this morning, and now we’re finally making good speed. Although it’s definitely easier with two people, it’s not too much trouble to take advantage of our wide, stable deck to raise and lower the spinnaker by myself in light winds. Now that we’re nearing the west side of the channel we’ve left the contrary current behind and should pick up the helpful Mozambique current soon. Our pace of late has definitely reminded us that a 2-year circumnavigation, essentially the fastest possible tradewind circumnavigation, requires a lot of time on the move. Between being at sea more than a third of the time and dealing with the check-in/provision/fuel/water/repairs/check-out routine at each stop, a lot of the 2 years is spent keeping the boat moving.