Daily Archives: March 30, 2015

Sainte Marie here I am -

If it was Pirates who landed on the islands in the Indian Ocean several centuries ago, today it was Serge and Middleton who landed on Sainte Marie without trumpets and drums to welcome them but guided by a few local boats and dugouts and a considerable number of villagers who were on the beach. Landing was not easy because of the coral reefs, especially on the southern portion of the island. The lagoon and the reef are very large and you can go from a depth of several hundred meters to a few centimeters; the rocks as they are called here, are a danger for Middleton because: 1) the risk of running aground and 2) a risking of smashing into the coral because of the ever present waves.
We pick up Serge as he approaches the barrier because the SE wind pushes him alarmingly toward NW, and the barrier comes closer and closer. Our oarsman is fighting but it’s no use, we decide to tow him for 2 nautical miles along the coral reef to get him out of this scrape. I can’t repeat enough that Middleton in the middle of the ocean is a strong craft but near shore, and as soon as there is maneuvering to be done, she becomes fragile and vulnerable.
We looked at the possibility of taking the passage between the Ile aux Nattes and Sainte Marie, especially because Serge could easily have made it to the passage. But with a depth of 25 cm to the ocean floor, Middleton’s “FIXED RUDDER” would have been smashed. The only solution was to land at the south of the Ile aux Nattes but Serge was too far to the east to safely approach the west side of the island. So Serge took up his oars and went to the passage where there is sufficient depth and no coral, at the Hotel Bora near the airport and where a team of divers removed the rudder so Serge could draw alongside the pier of the La Varangue Restaurant. Without ruder or centerboard, Serge continued to row to the pier but again there is a problem because the slot is very narrow and Middleton is drifting with the wind and the rocks are right at the surface. Francis, the Varangue’s sailor takes the situation in hand and gets Middleton safely to pontoon, where there is music, dancers, villagers of Vohilava, the team from La Varangue and Vazahas (foreigners) from the neighboring hotels.
Serge alights from the boat, loses his balance on his first three steps, as if drunk or surprised. He did not sleep much the night before and his features are drawn; but he accepts the welcome reserved for him, even dances a few steps with the dancers and submits to a photo session. Then, his first dream comes true: A SHOWER! This evening Serge is exhausted but he who normally is in bed by 17H or 18H stays up until 20H. He has an appetite and eats but feels a bit nauseous. Serge sleeps well in a good bed, whereas René spends a windy night on a mattress on the dock next to Middleton and the watchman.
Monday, 30 March – Serge gets up but after standing 5 minutes does not feel well. He eats his breakfast and I can see even without a scale that he has lost weight. We suspect that he has lost 5 to 6 kg over 12 days which is enormous. He is going to have to build himself up.
Hubert takes us into town to have his ATA (temporary admission) book stamped. Everything is done in 2-1/2 hours but Serge can’t stand for more than 5 minutes; he seems to be in a state of permanent hypoglycemia: cold sweats, dizziness, loss of facial color and a huge general fatigue.
Once at the hotel he lies down, is glued to his bed and he begins to realize that his period of recuperation may be more bothersome than planned. We wonder if it will be proportional to the length of time he was at sea; we hope not.
Serge is on land in Madagascar, the first stage of this world tour. The second stage will be to run from the east coast to the west coast of the la Grande Ile. Tomorrow the boat will be towed from la Grande Terre at Mahambo and it is from there that Serge should start again on his two feet, we hope on Thursday!