Hello Madagascar!

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Madagascar! I still can’t believe we’re here and have needed to repeat it.

It’s been a week since we made landfall. We might have kinda sorta not quite checked in right away, which you really should do, as failure can result in some unpleasantness…fines, expulsion, etc. But we hoped the angle a bit farther north would give us some sailing. Unfortunately, that also requires WIND…

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And we were keen to stretch out our official entry date just a bit. And we had a message from friends on Delos that they’d be up north a bit – wouldn’t we like to meet up? Why yes we would!

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This quiet village turned out to be the perfect place to ease into a new country. It’s intimidating, facing an expressionless crowd of villagers, all staring at you, when you land on the beach in front of their homes – while you wonder if it’s really OK to anchor in their front yard. In rural island cultures, it’s the norm to ask permission. In Fiji, we’d be bringing kava for the chief. In PNG, we’d have a fish for the village elder/leader. We had no idea what to do here, and we don’t speak French, so … well. A combination of the terrific French for Cruisers book, a little physical humor (Jamie entertained kids trying to juggle shells on the beach), and a smile seemed to make everything right. I think we locked that in when we traded a snorkeling mask and some fishing gear for four of the biggest lobsters I’ve ever seen. The guys asked for a picture…who am I to refuse?!

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It was all right enough we ended up on the sidelines of a soccer tournament / party. A team from another part of the island had walked more than two hours (on dirt footpaths–there are no roads) to get there: this field had recently been cleared, and the goals built, for the purpose of such an event. The home team, barefoot, was intimidated that some of their opponents wore shoes.  Sounded like the perfect time for a little soccer ball diplomaDSC_4865cy, so we inflated one from our stash to donate. After some coaching in the appropriate words in Antakarana for gifting the ball immediately went into play!

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Because it would be surprising if our experience here unfolded in any kind of expected manner, it seemed perfectly normal that speakers blared dance music on the sidelines while the game was in play, and the event was also described as a “discotheque.” We got to do some serious hip-swaying while the game went on.

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Our days were filled with exploring. A small island nearby used to have a resort, but was empty save a fishing camp and a handful of ruins.

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Nice beachcombing. Crazy big trees (Mairen and Max demonstrate: you can put your WHOLE BODY in this one).

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Plumeria trees were left untended on the tumbledown resort grounds, their fragrant blooms just beginning to bud.

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A pretty coral garden in about 4 meters, perfect for Siobhan’s first dive (thank you Utopia!).

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A memorable night with Delos, and waving them off in the morning, nudged us to get south to Nosy Be as well.

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Nosy Be is the big smoke, by local standards: grocery stores. Paved roads. Internet. Yachtie watering holes with old friends to catch up with…

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…pigs to roast.

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It’s pretty special to be back in the company of good friends. But I’m grateful for our slow introduction farther away, the wide open bay and peaceful village, where the only lights at night were the stars and the only sound was wind in the rigging.

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It’s special to have the chance to connect with a community like the little village that first welcomed us to Madagascar – we’ll be back there, very soon. And not just because of these crazy bugs!

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3 Responses to Hello Madagascar!

  1. Cheryl Geeting September 15, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Looks great. just the name sounds exotic .. Madagascar! What a great place for your daughter to have her first dive too!

    • Jim September 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      You said to ask questions and since we are preparing to start our cruising life in a year we have two topics to start.
      I noticed that you carry your dinghy on the stern and foredeck. Which do you prefer and what modifications or equipment are needed to carry on the stern?
      Do you prefer the solar or wind generation and what equipment recommendations could you offer?
      If these topics have been covered in earlier posts please direct me to those. I have been learning slowly and feel at times that starting this sailing life will happen too soon and not soon enough.
      I appreciate your assistance,
      Thanks Jim

      • Behan September 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

        Hi Jim, we’d never use our stern davits for a passage. It’s a bad choice in a seaway: boarding seas could rip out the dinghy, which besides losing the dink could mean serious problems for the boat. A couple of boats around us that carry their on the stern for passages way have nearly lost their dinghies in some of the rougher passages this year.

        That said, we really only put the dinghy on the foredeck for a passage. It takes longer, and it limits airflow because some hatches are either covered or can’t be fully opened. It’s a lot more convenient to pull it up on davits for short hops, or to just get it out of the water for safety/security at night. A solid set of davits that suit your boat will do the job, and can integrate them with existing structure (like a solar panel arch). We do really like the fact that our davits pivot so that the arm swings out; this makes it easy to use them for lifting heavy objects onto the boat. It’s hugely helpful for getting the outboard up and onto the rails for stowing. We’ve also used for things like lifting up the new batteries. You can see pictures of that on this post:
        http://www.sailingtotem.com/2014/04/battery-bank-replacement-power-projects.html

        We love having green power! We like having both solar AND wind: see this post (link below) for some of the rationale for adding a wind turbine for more details. I don’t have specific brand recommendations for solar panels, except to say I’d be cautious about getting flexible solar panels…they seem to be prone to problems. For wind, we are very happy with SilentWind.

        http://www.sailingtotem.com/2014/05/choosing-wind-generator-power-projects.html

        One of the great things about cruising is that we’re learning ALL the time! don’t worry about being an expert before you go. 🙂

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