Charm - To South Africa 1

The constellation Orion is rising higher in the southeast and it’s a pleasant evening on the Indian Ocean as I do my 9 pm – 12 am watch. While I have made some half-hearted attempts to learn more constellations, I have decided that I am actually quite content with the small handful that I know. I do find great comfort in Orion, who is, for me, easy to identify with his 3-star belt and heroic pose. Wherever we are in the world, he seems to eventually appear during my watch and I don’t have to understand why in order to enjoy his presence. So I will write this entry with Orion peering over my shoulder and hope he lets me know if he has anything to add.

We’re having an excellent passage so far. It is a long haul across the Indian Ocean from Indonesia to Africa. While we’ve had pleasant stops along the way, they have just been delaying the inevitable – getting across the most difficult stretch of ocean on our circumnavigation. So each day that we are not facing miserable weather, I consider a success. We emerged relatively unscathed from our crossing to Mauritius, with some unpleasantness but no overt hostility from the ocean.

Yesterday, we left Reunion on Marin’s 9th birthday and had calm conditions, even requiring us to motor for three hours to get to the wind. Today the wind has picked up to 20 knots but it’s a “calm” 20 knots, with long, rolling waves coming from our stern quarter. We have three reefs in the main for the night and Spinny, our hard-working little all-weather spinnaker, flying faithfully in front of the bow.

Carl completes our crew of six to Richards Bay, South Africa. While it means more watches and less sleep for Joe and Carl, our smaller crew (compared to the leg from Cocos to Mauritius) does make life on board a bit simpler. No offense to Talia or Josh, whose energy and enthusiasm are missed, but 25% fewer people on the boat makes a difference in many areas.

I will give you the details of our Reunion trip in another entry. It’s hard to beat the combination of French food, beaches, mountains, and rivers and Joe and I both agree (a rare thing worth noting) that it is somewhere we would like to visit again. During our last days, I went a bit overboard in trying to cram in as much French food as possible, both into my body and onto the boat. Mainly this involved lots of visits to boulangeries to acquire fresh baguettes and other delicious bakery-related items. Fortuitously, on the morning we left, Matt of the World ARC staff gave us a parting gift of . . . .a fresh baguette! This meant that we left Reunion with way too much bread.

Despite having lived in countries that regularly consume baguettes, I have never mastered the ability to gauge the right number of baguettes for our family’s needs. Either I buy too little and it’s fresh and hot and delicious and I should have bought twice as much or I buy too much and we have awkward-sized bread loaves tucked in everywhere. I have always wondered what people do with excess baguettes. I have made French toast before and just today I learned the joy of homemade croutons, but what else do you do with rock hard loaves other than feed the fish? I will have to remember to ask the French family on Fidelio for their secrets, although now that we have left Reunion, I will have to wait until the French islands in the Caribbean to try out any new recipes.

If the possible uses of baguettes are the only thing that plague me for the next week or so at sea, I will be grateful. Once we get closer to Madagascar, things are supposed to get spicier with shallow areas and currents and winds against current that creates dangerous sea conditions. There is a delightful man named Des in South Africa who gives free weather-related cruising advice to boats traveling to and from South Africa and we are in communication with him. So far, he told us that there are no remarkable conditions in our immediate future. I will leave you wih that good news as I end my shift and Carl takes over.

Photos are Marin’s birthday, spectacular water color from our windows that look in between the hulls, and the view out the porthole window as we left Reunion.