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Middleton does not want to leave the water -

Our ears are glued to the weather reports to know if Middleton will be able to get out of her bath or if she will stay in Mahambo. No, this is not a joke, and even if Middleton is 50 meters from the shore the wind and waves today are keeping us from bringing her out without risk of damage. We will wait until tomorrow morning at 5H30, an hour we are used to because this morning the alarm went off at 4H45, for breakfast at 5H00. At 5H30, 2 teams went off in 2 different directions: Serge, Momo, Tahine and I headed south and René, Danz and Pio headed north. One team for the « foot race » and one team for the « trailer ». Both teams will work all morning for the same result “to move forward”. At noon, everyone was back in Mahambo. The trailer is ready so the big day is here to bring Middleton out of the water.
But the weather has decided otherwise: the waves, strong winds and a violent undertow mean that Middleton must stay her Indian Ocean bath. This afternoon the mood is abnormally calm, if not to say grim and it reflects the dark clouds hanging in the sky. I can reassure you that it is still hot and that the mosquitoes still come out faithfully around 17H30 every day.
Tomorrow day will break at 5H30 and we will be at the water’s edge ready for action!
Via the attached link, you will see a paper prepared by the 3rd grade children of the Jean Renoir School in Bourges, a partner of the Run and Row Tour 2015/2016. They are following Serge’s trail and will give you information about the different countries crossed.

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!

Heading, Drift, Route …. Some explanations from Pierre -

The compass on land or at sea gives the heading in relation to the magnetic north, which we must remember does not always correspond to the geographic north. This angle between the true north and the magnetic north is called magnetic declination and the angle varies a few degrees every year. When moving from a map to a compass and vice versa you have to take this magnetic declination into account.
A boat which navigates at a certain speed toward a point follows a route on the surface of the water to a heading (the angle in relation to magnetic north). This boat moves on the water and is subject to different forces which can prevent it from following its trajectory, such as wind or currents, and which produce drift, i.e. the route the boat follows on the surface may not correspond to the route at a certain depth. Any floating craft, whether it has an engine, sails or oars is subject to the same drift, keeping in mind that a very tall craft which is high on the water or a light one which has little of its surface on the water, will have drift caused by wind. Serge’s boat, Middleton, is an example of the latter.
So, it is of utmost importance to take these elements into consideration when calculating the heading given to a boat so it can get from one point to another, and to monitor the changes in the strength of the wind and currents in order to modify the heading so he will not miss the point to which he is heading. GPS has brought a precious aid to navigation because at any time the navigator can know what his position is relative to the seabed.
At night or during periods of rest, without anyone at the oars to give Middleton speed, Serge’s boat will drift according to the force and the direction of the wind and current. Serge can compensate a bit by activating the moving parts of the boat: the rudder blade or rudder and the drift (a small plank that slides vertically in the water and helps to somewhat reduce the “lateral slide” or drift of the boat. Naturally, Serge has to wake up often to check that he has not drifted too far from his heading and if that is the case he changes the trajectory by regulating the appendages.

Pierre Katz
Serge covered only 30 nautical miles in the last 24 hours, and there was always a wind and swell that relentlessly pushed him westward, rather than to the north. Conditions should improve today or tomorrow. Follow his trail to Sainte Marie.

Middleton at the Le Port harbor -

Middleton came through the tropical storm unscathed, well lashed down to the pontoons of the marina of La Pointe des Galets. which is very sheltered. The reception there was marvelous and I would like to thank the Mr. Goulamoussènes, as well as the harbor masters, Jérome Belheurne and Pierre Dalerne, and not forgetting the port handling services as well.
Watched over and bailed out by Michel Besnier during our absence, Middleton is fine with only some 20 liters of water in the rear hold. Bertrand and Serge spent the day bailing and figuring out where the water came from. Three Go Pro cameras were loaded aboard. Monika supervised their installation and gave Serge some advice. Cécile, a young member of the association for mentally and physically disabled, who ran the first 21 kilometers on Sunday with the Run Handi Move Association, came with her parents and to see us and the boat. Between cloudbursts, the family and friends were allowed in the cabin to try to lie down in the very tight living quarters. And lastly, Middleton was baptized with sparkling wine, because we had had enough of the water sent to us by the Gods.

Serge goes to Fleury Michon -

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Serge paid a visit to the Fleury Michon Company at Pouzauges in the Vendée region.  The day was organized by Claudie and it gave Serge a chance to meet employee representatives, talk about nutrition with Barbara Bidan, Director of health and sustainable food source, organize communications for the coming months and visit the R&D unit (photo attached).  The day was riche in encounters and discussions and it sealed an enthusiastic partnership.  Serge chose 9 meals and I am sure we will be talking a lot about nutrition in the coming months, especially when he is at sea.

Potting Conteneur for Middleton -

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This 2 minute video will let you see Middleton before she went into her crate yesterday near Le Havre. For the last three weeks we have lived, breathed and thought only of the boat. Fully loaded, she has never been heavier. Bye, Bye Middleton, see you in Reunion Island for the great unpacking.
Many thanks go to Seafrigo Logistics, who have most generously given Middleton her trip to Reunion Island now and the trip back to France in two years time.