Question on South Indian Ocean routing

Published 15 years ago, updated 4 years ago

In a “standard” westabout circumnavigation, the segment which gives me most concern is the southern Indian Ocean, particularly from Chagos to Durban. The route via Mauritius and south of Madagascar is known for frequent gales and rough conditions. And likewise, the approach from the east rounding Cap d’Ambre has it’s share of difficulties as well, even staying close to the Madagascar shore. So I then considered a route to the Seychelles (which we’d love to see anyway) and from there to Mayotte (from your World Cruising Routes), followed by cruising the NW coast of Madagascar, and down the Mozambique channel to Durban (crossing the Aghullas current at a point reasonably north of Durban). I believe this would avoid most of the nasty conditions around northern Madagascar, and allows easy access to Mayotte and the lovely islands of NW Madagascar. It seems “perfect”. Am I missing something here? What is the “downside”?

I sailed that same route: Chagos to Richards Bay (via Mauritius), one year in August-October and it was ok. The weather around the south of Madagascar can get boisterous, but not too bad. But you are right to avoid, if you can, Cap d’Ambre. So, your longer route, via Seychelles, sounds quite good and I don’t think you need to worry too much about really bad weather, provided you do it in the right season, of course. Boats that sailed through the Mozambique Channel to S. Africa had reasonable weather. Richards Bay is a good landfall in S Africa.

Jimmy Cornell

Dirk and Loretta Jacobsz add:

We love Noonsite and use it frequently. We were reading your question re-routing in the Southern Indian Ocean. We were of the same mind as you, concerned about the South Of Madagascar. So we sailed from Chagos to Seychelles. Spent 8 weeks there and then sailed to Mayotte. We did the Mayotte run in early September.

It was a bumpy fast ride but not as bad as those that had completed it in July at the height of the SE trades, we had friends who got blown way off course. We tried to sail as close to the wind as possible, hard for a cruising boat heavily loaded. We went a bit too close to the Farquar Group (20 miles to port) and had HUGE waves. A day and a half out from Mayotte the wind died and we had to motor to get in.

Seychelles was wonderful, Mayotte was a dive and I would not go there again. Madagascar was magnificent and we only spent 4 weeks from Nosy Be then down to the Barren Islands, where we waited till Fred on Peri Peri Radio in Durban gave us the go-ahead to jump across the Mozambique Channel to Maputo.

I would do it again that way. A lot of boats go that way and you have to be out of Madagascar by late Nov early Dec due to tropical Cyclones. We were the last in a bunch going that way and went into Maputo to keep out of the way of an SW coming up the SA coast.

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