As we approached Madagascar in the early morning hours, the wind intensified; it came in blowing from the north, rising from 30 knots to gale force in a relatively short time. Soon after, a breaking wave ripped a gaping hole in the canvas that covers the first two starboard compartments. The crew dug in, rigged a temporary wind and wave screen from blue tarps to stop water from entering the sleeping compartments, and began the long and tedious job of mending the torn canvas. The mend was completed sometime in the evening.
These dangerous weather conditions forced Nainoa to reevaluate our plans to sail into Madagascar. Our intentions were to moor Hōkūleʻa to the dock at Fort Dauphin, which is located at the southeastern tip of Madagascar. However, the port is built in a way where vessels are fully exposed to the north blowing winds. A very small turning basin fronts concrete docks, which this kind of wind would likely push our canoe onto. The Port Authorities at dʻEhoala advised against entry into and anchoring in the harbor in these marginal conditions. With these considerations in mind, Nainoa concluded that entry into Fort Dauphin was too risky; we painfully relinquished the opportunity for the Madagascar port stop, where we hoped to celebrate the amazing connections that our Madagascar cousins, though distant, share with our Polynesian ancestry. As we continue our journey towards South Africa, our crew will offer mele and ʻoli at dawn to the rising of the sun, from the waters off Cape St. Maria on the southern tip of Madagascar. Our gift of A honua and ia waʻa nui will be offered to celebrate our deep connection to Madagascar.
Hōkūleʻa will then enter the Mozambique Channel and sail for Richards Bay, South Africa. We have about a week to cross the channel before the weather turns; an impending low is forecasted to enter the region and shift the wind to the south, right in the direction we need to sail towards. We will do our best to move quickly over the water and to mitigate safety for crews and vessels.