Nov 98 Enews

We send out an Email newsletter about once every couple of weeks. Here’s the latest installment from Alex.  If you’d like to be included in the future, send an Email to Jeff and he’ll sign you up.  By the way, our list is not used for advertising purposes nor is it ever sold or passed on to Email marketers.

Hi Everyone!

Out of Bounds has officially completed her Indian Ocean crossing!! Finally, after a long trek across the world’s second largest body of water, we arrived here at the Tuzi Gazi Marina at 6:00 AM Saturday morning, 31 October. I haven’t worked out the exact mileage but its approximately 6,500 nautical miles from Darwin, Australia to Richards Bay, South Africa. This most recent leg down the Mozambique Channel has been anything but ordinary. Here’s a quick update on our progress along the East Coast of Africa.

When last we left you we were about to depart the Seychelles for the island of Mayotte. As luck should have it, when Bill went to clear Customs in Mahe, he made an interesting discovery. Under normal circumstances, yachts clearing out are not allowed to stop at any of the outlying islands of the Seychelles. That was fine by us, as we had not planned to stop. However, in talking to the head customs official, Bill learned that they were offering departing yachts a special opportunity to stop at the island of Aldabra 600 miles to the south. Knowing that this was a very rare opportunity, Bill made the necessary arrangements and returned to the boat with huge grin on his face. This was going to be an incredible stop!

Because of the change in plans and seeing as we had already cleared out, we decided to pull the hook and sail around to another anchorage for the night. The following morning at first light we set off for the Aldabra group of islands. Aside from the excitement over our destination, no one was looking forward to the journey. It was a windward passage and, no matter how you cut it, its no fun to be hard on the wind for days on end. It was, however, an uneventful sail with one exception, we were missing part of a chart. Had it been during the day that we would be covering this uncharted area, we would have been fine. Not so much luck! We were missing 10 minutes of chart from an area of the Amirante group of islands and we were due to pass through in the middle of the night. We decided against it. Having made the decision not to proceed we chose Ile Desroches to stop for the night. It seems we’ve been making quite a few anchorages in the dark lately, but all went well and we arrived just after midnight. After a good nights sleep, well rested and all ready to go, we discovered a failure in the electric head pump. Because we close off the forward head on passage, for obvious reasons we needed to fix the problem. At about the same time, the warden (head guy on the island) hails us to find out who we are and if we are legally anchored. We tell him of our chart problem and that we have some repairs to do and then we would be on our way. He acknowledges our dilemma and asks if we need any assistance. We reply no and thank him for his offer.

With the head fixed, we pull the anchor and head out. As we are leaving, Bill calls to thank the Warden and asks if he might have any knowledge about the area in the Amirantes that we would be passing through. The Warden replies that he does but that its best if we take his chart to be on the safe side. Surprised that he was giving us his chart, we offer to pay for it. He tells us not to worry about it and that there would be a fishing boat coming out to drop it off. After thanking him profusely we take the hand off from the fishing boat and point the boat toward Aldabra. Only 500 miles to a one of a kind place!

At this point, I’m quite sure most of you are wondering what’s so special about Aldabra. To start with you have to understand that it is inaccessible by any other means than by boat. Then you might ask what makes it different from Chagos if both are remote and uninhabited atolls. The answer is several things. First, it’s out of the way, where as Chagos is a major stopover for yachts traveling north to the Mediterranean and south to Africa. Second, it’s normally off limits to yachts, as opposed to Chagos which is a perfectly legal place to anchor. Taking nothing away from the pristine beauty of Chagos, there is nothing that uniquely distinguishes it from many other atolls.

Aldabra is different! First of all, it holds the distinction as being the largest raised coral atoll in the world. That combined with its rare plant and animal life makes it an unspoiled place visited by few people. To give you an example, Aldabra has more than 150,000 giant tortoises, compared with 10,000 found in the Galapagos Islands! There also exists one of the largest colonies of Frigate birds in the world, not to mention countless other species. What has probably helped save Aldabra is that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. As such, it remains a fragile ecosystem not to be found in any other place in the world. There is much more to say about Aldabra and our stay there, so keep an eye out for an upcoming story on it.

The passage from Aldabra to Mayotte was only a day and a half and although it was supposed to be to windward, we did a lot of motoring. The changing of conditions we experienced was only to be the start of our woes transiting the Mozambique Channel. The only way for you to truly understand what I mean is to check out the daily passage logs posted on the Out of Bounds web site. Sufficed to say, it lived up to its billing as a very unpredictable and potentially dangerous body of water. Our brief stop in Bazaruto Island turned out to be a wise choice in terms of weather. The day following our arrival, a SW buster blew through bringing with it a lot of wind and seas. We saw 40 knots of wind across the deck of OOB in the lee of the island!

I know you’re all waiting to hear the rest but that’s all for now. Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep up with all the writing, as there is just so much to tell. However, now that we’ve arrived in South Africa, well be able to concentrate on filling in some of the gaps so you’ll have the whole story. Of course we’ll be busy here too, but you can count on some exceptional updates between all the safaris! At the end of every newsletter, I find myself thanking you all for your support. I don’t want to sound repetitive, but we really do appreciate it when we receive all the great emails from people. They are an inspiration to us to continue writing about our travels and experiences.

Alex for the crew of Out of Bounds,
Bill, Suzie, Mick, Sally & Lucy the dog!
Tuzi Gazi Marina
Richards Bay, South Africa
Lon. 34 04.75 E, Lat. 28 47.69 S

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