Sailing Towards a Storm

The past three days, after leaving Bazaruto, we have been sailing south to find an anchorage that will be safe from a southern storm heading our way that is supposed to hit us on the 1st. It’s now 2 AM on the 31st and we are motoring towards that anchorage although it’s still about 40 miles away. What disturbs me, however, is the lightning that has been going off on the horizon ever since I came on shift at midnight.

There haven’t been a lot of things I’ve seen Brian run from as we’ve been sailing together since Darwin in May, but lightning is definitely one of those things. In today’s sailing world of electronics and batteries, lightning can be one of the scariest things on the ocean. A single lightning strike can wipe out all of the electronics on a boat, including GPS, plotter, radar, lights, refrigeration, as well as anything else you might have plugged in.

We are running to beat gale force winds coming up from the south, but I believe it would be scarier to be in a massive lightning storm from a damage to the boat perspective. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a little anxious since coming on shift. The problem is this is the only safe anchorage in the area and we want to get to it in the next 24 hours as this storm kicks up. But rushing to the anchorage which is where the lightning appears to be is not a pleasant proposition. We ended up getting through it unscathed. Luckily the radar started showing the clouds as we got closer and we were able to weave our way through the bigger ones.

Later during the night shift, after I went to bed, the auto-steering stopped working. So the last 6 or 7 hours of sailing to the anchorage were steered by hand. It wasn’t too bad, though, and Brian thinks he knows what happened and if he’s right it’s an easy fix, once we anchor.

We have now arrived at the anchorage, called Inhaca Island, and it’s really not a huge shield from the coming storm, but it will have to do. It is better than actually being in the storm even if it’s a rough anchorage. We have already repaired the auto-steering which was what Brian suspected. A nut came off of the hydraulic ram and it just had to be replaced. Luckily, all the pieces fell neatly under the auto-steering and didn’t move much despite the wild waves we had this morning sailing here.

Looks like we’ll be here at this anchorage a few days until the storm dies down and hopefully there won’t be another one shortly behind it and we can make a mad dash for Durban, South Africa, our next stop. As long as there isn’t another storm right away, we should be there by the 8th or 9th of November.

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