Lat: 25 57.751′ S
Long: 32 58.634′ E

In our race against the southerly wind, we seem to have won. We arrived at the northeast tip of Inhaca Island just before sunset on Tuesday. There wasn’t time before dark to get around to the other side of the island where there is a bit of tourist-based civilization, so we dropped anchor by our lonesome here in about 15′ of water over sand. There was already a stiff breeze blowing and whitecaps starting to form around the boat. With the tide coming in, the boat was oriented perpendicular to the wind, and we were rocking back and forth moreso than we typically do at sea. We hadn’t seen anything yet, though. Just as predicted (I’m amazed by the accuracy of the forecast around here), the strong southerlies picked up late at night, and we listened for the anchor alarm through the night to ensure that we didn’t drag toward the reef, a mere 500′ away.

anchor The semi-circle shows how the boat shifted around according to the wind

The strong winds continued all day Wednesday. We hadn’t seen anything like it since we were in the Kermadecs and saw the solar panels dislodged and outboard flipped. The wind generators seemed like they were spinning out of control and at one point were putting 33 amps into the house bank, the most we’ve ever seen. For the most part, the motion on the boat wasn’t too bad, but when high tide rolled around again and we were sitting perpendicular to the swell, we were picked up and slammed down by steep waves — a pretty wild experience considering we were at anchor! I’m just glad we weren’t bashing into them out at sea. All that time spent motoring in light winds on the way here really paid off.

Today (Thursday) is completely different. The wind has died down, and the forecast shows a brief weather window that should allow us to get to Richard’s Bay and maybe even Durban before the next buster is due to arrive on Sunday night. We’re going to give the seas a chance to die down a bit and probably set sail first thing in the morning.

We’ve been passing the time here at anchor by playing cards and watching movies. The southerly winds brought us a break from the heat, and in fact it feels a bit like fall. I can imagine that it must be like this back home (probably a bit colder) where everyone is gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. Dallas and I are both fond of this holiday and wish we were home to enjoy it. We had talked about sharing some turkey and pumpkin pie with our American friends on S/V Bahati, but it looks like we are going to have to wait a while as they are already heading south from Durban. For now it’s just us. In the absence of a nearby grocery store, I’m having a hard time thinking of something special to make to mark the occasion, but I think some homemade bread will suffice.

For a brief time, we had a pet. Toward the end of the last passage we had a small, black seabird on board that was not at all shy. It began by resting out on the bimini but soon found its way inside and seemed to prefer hanging out with us, sheltered from the wind. Having it fly over and graze my head a couple of times led me to shriek in a stereotypically female way. Then it disappeared for a day or two, so I was pretty surprised to find it resting on the fan over my head when I woke up one morning. Unfortunately, I shrieked again yesterday when I pulled a pot from a top shelf in the galley and found it lying lifeless against the wall. I’m guessing that it got hold of a tablet used to kill roaches. R.I.P. little boat bird.

bird L.B.B. (Little Boat Bird) hanging out on the nav-desk light

The only other company that we’ve had here at anchor was a few dolphins that swam around the boat yesterday. If only it were a little warmer, I would have been swimming with them for sure. We’ve been out of the tropics for less than a week, and I’m already missing the heat! Not really. This is a welcome change, and there should be a nice blend of warm and cool days on the east coast of South Africa, depending on the winds. When it’s warm, I’m planning to soak up a bit of sun on Durban’s beaches.

With a population of 3.5 million, Durban is South Africa’s 3rd largest city. We haven’t been anywhere like that for quite a while. It will probably be a bit of culture shock after two months of minimal contact with other people, but I venture to say that I’m ready for it!