SHIPWRECKED IN AFRICA — We bring you part one of the full version of the loss of Rise and Shine, which we teased last month in Cruise Notes.
t is with a heavy heart that I report the loss of Rise and Shine, my home since 1987 and my traveling companion for the last 22 years. She was lost on the coast of
Bonnie and Nick Nicolle.
Mozambique while seeking shelter from what has been called the "Durban Storm of 2017." This storm, which struck on October 10, killed eight people, put two 125,000-ton cargo ships ashore, and damaged scores of yachts in Durban. Bonnie and I had departed Moramba Bay on Madagascar with a good 10-day weather forecast for a passage to Richards Bay, South Africa. Unfortunately, our buxom gaff-rigger would take two weeks to make the passage, so the last four days would be a crapshoot. As predicted, the weather held good until we were approaching Inhambane and I noted a falling barometer. The wind moved from NE to NNE, and the clouds changed in a manner that predicted a southwest gale. We were about six hours from the point at Inhambane that would provide shelter from the southwest. The trick would be to arrive just as the NNE wind died and
would be a very strong one — minimum of 45 knots and perhaps up to 75. To make things much worse, the 15-knot northerly that was pushing us toward Inhambane was expected to increase to a 45-knot gale at about 1500 hours that same day. That meant we could not shelter at Inhambane while awaiting the southwester. The net controller could only suggest that we try to find shelter behind the Linga Linga Peninsula — with the emphasis on "try." This was because we would still have to get over the bar at the mouth of Inhambane Bay before heading several more miles across the northern part of the bay to the peninsula. The cruising guide and coast pilot were not encouraging. But the alternative would be to try to ride out a potential 75-knot gale blowing against the 4-knot Agulhas/Mozambique current. Visions of 40-foot breaking waves danced in my head — and made the choice for us. If we put on all speed, we could reach the bar just before the NNE gale was due to arrive at 1500 hours.
ll of the information and sources insisted that a boat could only pass over the bar on a rising tide. We did not have a tide table for the Mozambique coast, but with the assistance of Bowditch and the Nautical Almanac, I determined that low slack would be right around 1500. It was our first glimmer of good luck. The chart showed an entrance, or 'safe water', buoy near the seaward side of the bar, and channel buoys leading into the bay. The book also said the buoys were hard to see and that it was wise to stay in deep water until they were identified. We arrived near the location of the entrance buoy right at 1500, but try as we might, we could not find the entrance buoy, nor could we see any of the channel buoys. So we plotted the position of the buoys on the chart and entered them as waypoints
under the keel! We turned into the rising wind and fled. I could see by the color of the water that the bar was only about three boatlengths wide, but from the back of the waves, it was impossible to tell whitecaps from the surf over the shallow water of the bar. We studied the color of the water and tried a likely place. We went soft aground. We backed her off and tried again, with the same result. Four times we went soft aground and four times we got off. The fifth time we stuck.
'Rise and Shine' was laid on her beam ends and waves started breaking over her. The propeller struck the sand. Her engine seized and the rudder sheared off. . . before the SW arrived when the anchorage would become tenable. (We had been told that the anchorage would be uncomfortable but not dangerous in 10 to 12 knots of northerly wind.) But when we tuned in the South Africa Maritime Mobile net, we learned that the southwest gale coming Page 70 •
• February, 2018
on the GPS. By this time, the northerly wind had increased markedly. As we approached the charted position of where the first buoy should have been, the water began to shoal. Bonnie was calling out soundings as I steered: 20 feet, then 14, 9… 3 feet
n the rising wind, Rise and Shine was immediately laid on her beam ends and waves started breaking over her. The propeller struck the hard sand, bending the shaft. Her engine seized when it lost oil pressure, and the rudder was sheared off. We were about a mile seaward of the Linga Linga Peninsula. As I had done previously when it looked like we might get into trouble entering an anchorage, I had packed a 'bailout bag' with our important papers and a few survival necessities. I told Bonnie to fill some bottles with drinking water and put them in the bag. I was preparing to launch the liferaft with the intention of drifting ashore when I noticed that even though we were lying on
The February 2018 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.