Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Madagascar: Big Skies -- and a Waterspout in Sumatra (November 2015)

We are in our last days in Madagascar, and we have a lot more to say about it, much more beyond those first impressions from our other posts -- but in this post we're just going to share the big sky that we wake up and go to sleep to every day.

When we arrived in late August, the sky was big and blue. As the season has worn on, it is weighted some days with graphite grey, and rain threatens to loose itself on the anchorages and shorelines. Sometimes the clouds open up and drop a barrage of large droplets -- once with what sounded like hail on our cabintop. But often they hover, low and hulking over the mainland, threatening to come our way but staying just beyond our northwestern island anchorages.

And then evenings bring soft pinks and golds.

The best morning skies we've seen have been in the early dawn hours as the sun starting to show, before the heat presses in. I usually don't have my camera if I'm out on deck at that time of day. And on two of those occasions we were outside chasing down a stolen dinghy -- stealthily cut from our stern in the night and recovered in the peaceful pre-dawn of an almost-perfect anchorage. But that's another story and part of the next post. For now, nothing but sky...

Blue Skies -- a lot of days in September and October looked like this:
Afternoon on Nosy Be

Blue skies and waters

Mud flats and sunny skies up Honey River

Typical clouds over the mainland, looking west 

Shades of blue at the Russian Bay pass, looking out from the anchorage

Happy skies

Sunshine over Nosy Be and Nosy Komba

Beachside resort, west coast of Nosy Be

Days begin pink and purple:

Lop To in Honey River, September, just before sunrise

Looking west to the entrance of Honey River in the early morning light

Lop To, just off Momo's bow - and here comes the sun

And sunsets look like this:

And then there are the crazy storms that blow in more regularly now that we're in the shifting seasonal month of November. This sky is from November 4, Crater Bay, and we watched the clouds roil and creep toward us for an hour, with one lone dhow coming into the anchorage just in front of the threatening steely line:

And just the other day, they clouds gathered again and rolled toward Momo:

Looking south, out of Crater Bay

Looking east, where the weather formed over the mainland 

And then brought rain!

Whiteout at coming our way, but I snapped this just as the drops starting hitting us

Some mornings we wake to it being so grey the photo looks almost black-and-white:

But many days Momo is anchored against the backdrop of blue skies:

...which is a lot better than watching an approaching waterspout. We saw this form one afternoon in July, back in the Straits of Malacca, heading from Langkawi, Malaysia, to Sumatra. In the span of a few minutes, we watched -- with growing worry -- as this first formed then gained strength and speed, and headed directly our way; then, as quickly as it had formed and a little too close to Momo for comfort (we dropped our light-wind sails and turned on the motor to get away from it -- and instructed our children to head inside and hold on), it dissipated and was gone. Hard to capture on camera but here's what we saw: