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Monday, February 28, 2011

Feb 28, 2011-Update From Julian Mustoe

Julian Mustoe, the voyager pictured below, has sent me an email indicating his safe arrival in Africa.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Julian Mustoe in Mauritius

Dear Fred,

When I left Port Louis I intended to sail directly to Simonstown. But on the way I had several exasperating gear failures and so I have put into East London for repairs.

If the same thing happens to Wings you can haul out at East London. A boatyard operated by Stuart Astick and Keith Wirlcox. Keith's mobile number is 073 788 5929.

Repairs, repairs, repairs!


Click here to read the original post.

We're glad he made it, through the most dangerous part of the year from our perspective, and we hope to do as well when we leave in April. We'll post his journal of the trip when he sends it to us.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings. Mauritius

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feb. 23, 2011-Bingiza Missed Us (and a thought about Piracy)

We're fine; the cyclone missed us.

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Route of Bingiza

We moved into the cyclone shelter, then when Bingiza didn't come our way we moved back out to the marina where we have power and water and easier access, then Bingiza reappeared south of Madagascar and, while it didn't actually threaten us, it pulled a flow of humid equatorial air southward over us, which, besides from being uncomfortably hot and humid, brought a long ocean swell in from the North, which made the marina untenable, so we went back to the cyclone shelter, where we are now.

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Calm in the Cyclone Shelter

It is peaceful and quiet here in this little basin in behind Port Louis but not without aggravations. Like rain which makes us close the hatches. Like mozzies! The first night in here we were eaten alive! We put on bug repellant. Then we were sticky. And it was hot. We tossed and turned all night in the heat with bugs buzzing in our ears. Woke up all tangled in damp sheets with bites everywhere.

Needless to say we spent the next day fixing our bug screens, which we had not used since the Solomon Islands in 2003, and our awnings so we can keep the rain out without closing the hatches. We have more work to do on that second item but at least we now have no mozzies, and we have been keeping cooler.

There are a few other boats back here in the cyclone shelter with other people aboard so we have some human contact. And we have our new Mauritian friends who are fun to be with. There is a nice hotel nearby with a very nice bar and we go there for happy hour and to upload stuff on the Internet.

So life is good as we wait for the safe time to depart to Africa, which we hope will be in early April.


Which brings us to piracy: It was shocking to read about the outcome of the pirate attack on the vessel Quest. Judy and I both know that their family and friends are greiving and it again makes us realize what we put our families and friends through just by being out here. I think there is more to be told about this event as the statement from the US Command, as reported, was more than a little ambiguous. It’s not that I really smell a rat but we need to hear the complete version.

I suspect that this occurrence will change the situation in the Indian Ocean somewhat. At a minimum it will make people more reluctant to set out to cross through pirate territory. It might make the world powers do something, although what I am not sure; it is a very difficult situation to correct. Maybe every boat found in the Indian Ocean should be boarded and all guns thrown over the side, or maybe the whole coast of Somalia blockaded, but where is the legal basis for this type of response? Pirates are basically not pirates until they attack, before that they are just Africans on an old boat, and then when they do strike it is too late. The Navy can't very well go around shooting every boat which has Africans on it in case they might be pirates. But I want them all blown to hell and back again too (as my normally peaceful sister suggested) only they don't very well announce themselves and say, "shoot me". Still, the US and other countries will, must, do something, eventually they have to I think, I hope.

Our route is far away from the known pirate areas, at least those know to be pirate areas for now. It may only be a matter of time before other countries start imitating the Somali's excellent business model. Once they get past the risk that some of them will get killed, and in a country where there is no government, no food, no jobs, and much death already, that isn't much of an obstacle, it is pretty attractive; you invest a few thousand dollars and can get a few million dollars for a tanker, even if it goes wrong once in a while.

That is not just cynicism, it is a fact, so again, I think, I hope, the world powers will take some action, what ever it is.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mauritius

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feb. 18, 2011-Remembering the Indian Ocean

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Indian Ocean

This Indian Ocean passage had been going on for a couple of weeks and was nowhere near over. Each morning, as we came on deck for our watches, we surveyed the sea around us and saw the waves extending all the way to the horizon, topped with white foam and blown by the never-ending trade winds and it was hard to fathom the vastness of the ocean. The scene never changed day after day.

And it wasn’t easy sailing.

One morning, the duration of the passage having started to weigh on me, I went onto the very bow with a book and my music player thinking I could relax and pass some time, but I couldn’t relax and I didn’t stay long; the noise and motion and tension of our progress through the water was simply too intense up there and it soon drove me off.

We were flying across the ocean with the great pressing power of the Southeast Trades coming constantly from behind and huge white topped swells from the south passing endlessly under our keel. The stern would rise on the front of the swell until we were pointed straight down into the trough, then, as the wave lifted us, slide forward with a roar until the crest passed beneath and the bow, 10 feet in the air, and I with it, pointed skyward, poised for the next drop into the trough and the next mad surge down the next front, nearly burying itself again, then rise up and repeat that process on the next wave, and the next, and the next; carrying us forward at a mad and unrelenting pace with every line and spar and square foot of the hull straining and each of us in the crew feeling it all and hearing it all and wishing it would ease off a bit.

But it didn’t.

I could have slowed down too, but I didn't. We were making good time and we had a long way to go and I pressed onward. There is something that drives me to put miles on each day.

The waves were at an angle and they threw us to the side and the wind vane, half a step behind and working overtime to keep up, yanked hard on the tiller on each wave. At the extreme forward end the swerving of the boat was exaggerated and threatened to toss me off into the sea, or maybe the rudder would simply lose it’s grip and we would spin out of control, as we certainly must if ever we got a bit too far off course, into the wild flapping frenzy and chaos of a round up and knock down, crashed onto our side in the boiling sea, spilling the air from our sails and maybe spilling ourselves too. God only knows what damage we’d suffer in that event. It was a fine edge we walked and the disaster was always close by and we knew it. I dreaded it. If it happened while I was on the bow…I couldn’t imagine it.

I gathered my belongings and made my way back to the cockpit. There was no relief from this passage other than achieving the destination, and that was a week away.

It's not surprising that this image of our Indian Ocean crossing is the one which sticks in my mind but the funny thing is, as terrible and stressful as it was at the time and still is when I remember it, the memory compels me and makes me think about the next one. I want to put myself out there again.

Why I don’t know.

Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in October 2010

Fred Roswold, SV Wings, Mauritius

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Feb. 12, 2011-Cyclone Season

The talk around the marina is about cyclone Bingiza, a few hundred miles to the north of us.

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Cyclone Bingiza, projected to turn west

We check the satellite photos, the weather bureaus, and the GRIB files twice a day.

I talk to Patrick, who owns Haere Maru, the boat behind us, on the phone frequently. We discuss the situation.

Jean-Mee sends me grib files.

Right now Bingiza is heading toward us but it is supposed to turn to the west.

We stay close to the boat, in case we need to move; if Bingiza doesn't swerve away we’ll have to go to the nearby cyclone shelter.

We already did that once this year, in late January, when the last system, just a low, not a cyclone, pushed big waves into the marina.

Bingiza is already bringing rain and wind; we guess it will last a week or more. The air is humid. We're a little worried.

When you live in an area subject to cyclones, hurricanes, or typhoons, you watch the weather closely.

Click here to see more weather images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mauritius

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Just Posted-Sailing to Oz

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Judy Steers in Oz

We've just posted a couple of old stories from our first trip to Australia in November 2000.

Click here to read about a great sail we had (after a bad beginning) from New Caledonia to Bundaberg Australia.

Click here to read how we managed to beat Warrior, a super cool boat once from Seattle then with some nice people, Sandy & Lloyd Banta, with their family, on board, on the trip to Oz and afterwards an eventful sail to Mooloolaba.

Click here to see again the photos from The Pacific Arts Festival in Noumea in 2000

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mauritius
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