Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique
Updated: Aug 16, 2018
For our first shakedown cruise on Irene, and my first overnight sail, we thought a gentle sail up to Ponta do Ouro just over the Mozambique border would be a great idea. The plan was to leave Richards Bay on the tail end of a big south westerly cold front to get us up to Ponta at which point we were expecting the wind to swing to a gentle north easterly to blow us home again to Richards Bay. In the calm period as the wind was swinging we would be anchored in the bay at Ponta having a wonderful day surfing and snorkelling. Solid plan.
The morning of the expedition dawned cold, overcast and a little bit miserable. The wind was still howling from the south east which is a bit onshore and usually brings rain too. We delayed leaving Zululand Yacht Club until 7am when it seemed the wind was starting to calm down a bit, but leaving the harbour was still a bit hairy for me. There's a section as you go through the breakwater where the swell gets quite lumpy and it's usually a bit uncomfortable, but on this day we had a solid swell from the cold front and I will confess to shedding a few tears of fear.
Heading up the coast it didn't take long for the guys to get the fishing lines out. We'd decided to leave the kids on land with the grandparents for this first trip and took some friends with instead, so onboard we had myself, Denzell, Josh, Alan and Lauren. Alan the fish whisperer caught the first fish, a Tuna, followed buy a Dorado and Barracuda. Dorado wraps were the meal of choice, the Tuna became sashimi and the Cuta was earmarked for a curry. Nothing went to waste.
The first day and night passed sort of pleasantly although the large swell was uncomfortable. I slept through most of it whilst feeling slightly seasick. In the morning the wind started dropping off and we arrived in Ponta around lunch time. The swell was too big to anchor in the bay which was not according to plan, and then the wind came up again from the south east which was also not according to plan. We weren't keen to sail further up the coast, which was the direction the wind was blowing us in, as there was a cyclone hanging around off the bottom of Madagascar and we weren't really sure what it was planning to do. So instead we hove to off Ponta and waited for the wind to swing. Lauren caught the biggest Dorado I've ever seen just as the sun was going down. More Dorado sandwiches for supper. It truly is the most delicious fish freshly fried. The night was pretty uncomfortable crashing around in the still large swell and the wind absolutely refusing to swing the way it was supposed to.
On the third day the wind finally swung to a direct east, which was not ideal but we could at least start sailing close hauled back to Richards Bay. The swell also calmed down and we had a really pleasant sail. We stopped off Sodwana to swim and have a leisurely lunch of cuta curry. Completely perfect day until sunset when I was suddenly spectacularly seasick after only having mild symptoms for the first three days. It was not pleasant.
Arrived back into Richards Bay just before sunrise and docked back at our home berth at Zululand Yacht club. Thinking we were following correct procedure we proceeded to immigration to get our passports stamped back into the country, only to be met by a surly immigration official who told us to go back to the boat and move it around to the small craft harbour, raise our quarantine flag and wait for someone to come down to the boat. Being that this is Africa we thought we might be waiting a while so weren't so keen for that plan. He eventually relented and deigned to stamp our passports but it was a bit of an unnecessary fiasco.
Video of the trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rREIObfJhxg