Majunga to Baly Bay!……
12 November 2012
We departed for Baly Bay early as it was a long trip. The weather was perfect for a crossing to South Africa even. In fact, it was so good, we decided to go!
We set the reacher, the full main and set a waypoint for 5 miles north of Cape St. Andre, the western most cape in central Madagascar. It was still 40 miles from Baly Bay and we expected to pass the Cape just after dark. It\’s got lots of shallow areas, a few wrecks and other hazards, so we didn\’t want to be too close.
Well first, we started getting headed in toward the point. It became clear about 20 miles away, we\’d have to motor to get around so we did.
I went down off watch and came up to Nikki watching the sky to our south. A HUGE squall hit us and fortunately I\’d already taken two reefs in the main as I often do when motor slogging. The wind came up 35 knots and stayed for about a half an hour. The absolutely clear sky turned jet black in 15 minutes and rained hard.
This was most likely a short lived squall, but after an hour, I threw in the towel and we motor sailed back to Baly Bay. It turns out, it was short lived, but who knew! There was nothing in the forecast and this phenomenon is completely normal, though unpredictable for this area.
The trade winds on the west side of the island, (remember, it\’s the 4th largest island in the world), get compressed as they go up the eastern slopes. The air is cool and dry. It then gets really cold up in the mountains and falls on to the west side of the island like a rock. The warm, wet air on the eastern side collides with it and BOOM! A mini weather system with LOTS of punch.
As my Mother used to say, \”Discretion is the better part of valor\”. We turned tail! If we\’d gotten past the point, the seas in the VERY shallow water (much of it around 20 feet deep), could have been big breaking waves. As it was, our proximity to the shore protected us from big seas, but once that protection to our south would have disappeared?…NO FUN.
We got to Baly Bay at 11:00 pm. We were tired. A comfy night\’s sleep and we\’ll try again tomorrow…. Stay tuned. Scott and Nikki