Madagascar 2017 Cruising Notes

Last Updated:   18 September 2017

1.  INTRODUCTION
We spent two months in Madagascar in August and September 2017 on “Alba” our Hallberg Rassy 42F.  I was unable to find a definitive Cruising Guide for the country and relied on blogs and personal contact with cruisers who have visited in previous years.  These notes are a combination of extracts from various blogs and articles as well as our personal experiences in 2017.  

I've compiled another cruising guide on the Passage from Madagascar to South Africa.

Jason Trautz of SV Yolo produced a good guide in 2015 covering his experiences of Madagascar:
http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Madagascar/madagascar-clearance-cruising-information

If you find any errors in these notes or want to add new information then drop me a quick message using our Contact page and we'll have an email conversation about it.

The latest version of this document can be viewed on line at:
http://www.thehowarths.net/cruising-information/cruising-notes  

A PDF version is available from:
http://www.thehowarths/cruising-information/downloads

We kept a daily diary of our time in the Madagascar, which can be found at:
http://www.thehowarths.net/alba-chronicles/2017-indian-ocean

A set of GPX routes and waypoints (which will load into OpenCPN) can be downloaded from: 
http://www.thehowarths/cruising-information/downloads

A set of KAP charts (which will load into OpenCPN) can be downloaded from: 
http://www.thehowarths/cruising-information/downloads

2.  MADAGASCAR
Madagascar is a huge cruising area, so I have split the country into five cruising areas:  East Coast; North of Nosy Be; Nosy Be Area; South of Nosy Be; and the South.

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There are many National Parks being created in Madagascar and you can be charged 55,000 Ariary per person per day.  In particular - Nosy Hara.  Interestingly Tani Keli near Nosy Be only charges 20,000 Ariary per person.   Details can be found on http://parcs-madagascar.com/

 

3.  GETTING THERE AND GETTING AWAY

3.1  Introduction

The best guide for the passages to and from Madagascar is written by Des & Nell Cason of SY Gambit, who lived and cruised in Madagascar for many years.  It covers the strategy for getting to Madagascar from the Masculines and the Seychelles and most importantly gives great details and advice on how to get to South Africa via the Mozambique Channel:

http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Madagascar/madagascar-cruising-notes

3.2  Rounding the Northern Cape of Madagascar
2015 Yolo:  Cruising up the east coast: If you are anchored in Ile Saint Marie and want to sail all the way up the east coast of Madagascar, it will typically take you about three days.  Pick your weather window carefully, so that you approach the northern cape in southern or southeastern winds of around 15 knots or less.  Contrary to the Gribs, the winds and current really move at the northern tip, often twice the forecasted speeds!  In forecasted 15 knot SE winds YOLO covered 100 nm miles in 12 hours, at times going 13+ knots double reefed!  The current is like a freight train heading north along the northeastern coast.

2015 Yolo: Once you reach the northern tip, turn west and stay very close to the coast.  Most yachts stay within a mile of land at the cape and I stayed even closer in 25 meters of water. In most cases you will now have the winds on the beam and you will be screaming along in flat waters.  Try to time your turn to the west during slack water to avoid the clashing of the north bound currents.  Vessels who sailed a mile or more off the coast really got hammered in the wind and waves.

3.3  Northern Route across the Mozambique Channel to South Africa
2015 Gambit
:  Article gives advice on how to get to South Africa via the Mozambique Channel with waypoints for anchorages in Mozambique to shelter in bad weather:
http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Madagascar/madagascar-cruising-notes.

I've concatenated various blogs and other information into a separate article in our Cruising Notes.

3.4  Southern Route across the Mozambique Channel to South Africa
2015 Totem
:  A more unusual and direct route allowing you to visit the Barren Islands, but have to be fully committed with no place to hide in a southerly.
http://www.sailingtotem.com/2015/11/passage-hindsight-sailing-from-madagascar-to-south-africa.html

2015 Gambit:  Down the west coast of Madagascar towards Toliara approx 180degT.  This is a very pleasant part of Madagascar with lots of islands to stop off at, but you face a slight negative current coming up the coast and predominantly SW/S winds. This can become a bit frustrating if you are in a hurry. Normally yachties will head for Toliara or preferably Ifaty just north (highly recommended) and set off from there for Richards Bay. The draw back is that unless you can do 200nm a day you will get caught in a south westerly blow with no place to hide. If you elect the west coast stop at Morombe and then head for Europa Island and then Inhambane which gives you two hide aways en route to the Mozambique coast.

4.  SECURITY
We have an article on Boat Security.