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The Mozambique Channel is a section of the Indian Ocean between the island of Madagascar and southeast Africa, namely Mozambique. The channel is approximately 460 kilometers across at its narrowest point between Angoche, Mozambique, and Tambohorano, Madagascar.
The channel reaches a depth of 3,292 meters about 230 kilometers off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of South Africa. It is around 1000 miles(1600 kilometers) long and the width of it varies from 250-600 miles(400-950 kilometers).
It is not wise to consider cruising in the Mozambique Channel between November and May as this is both the rainy and cyclone season. Towards the southern end of this region, a high incidence of cold fronts and gales can be experienced between July and August.
The Mozambique current is south flowing and because of the long cyclone season and the possible winter gales, renders this region as comfortable for cruising for only about six months of the year. But, for those six months, it is wonderful, interesting cruising.
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- Chart Number - Chart Name
- Chart Number - Chart Name
- Chart Number - Chart Name
Give expected climatic & weather conditions for this passage or refer to another page (a region or island group) that covers these conditions.
Sources for Weather forecasts:
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Add any navigation notes such approaches, dangers etc here. If this section does not apply remove it.
Also see World Cruiser's Nets.
Mozambique Channel Islands & Atolls
Possible Departure Points
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Passage - South to North
Also see Indian Ocean Passages
This passage is best undertaken after the "cyclone season" ends in May - the best periods being May/June and Sept/Oct. However, take note that gales tend to be worst and most frequent in July and August. It is therefore important to know where all the "bolt-holes" are should you wish to seek sanctuary. The South African weather service normally gives information about approaching fronts about three days in advance so you would normally have plenty of time to make important decisions.
- Durban -> Maputo (Mozambique) = approx. 300M
- Durban -> Tulear (Madagascar) = approx. 780M
- Durban -> Nosi Be (Madagascar) = approx. 1400M
- Durban -> Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) = approx. 1650M
- Maputo -> Tulear (Madagascar) = approx. 640M
May to July are probably the best months to set sail from South Africa. On a favourable weather forecast, sail north from Richards Bay staying close to the coast till level with Maputo (a possible "bolt-hole"). Cross the channel towards Tulear and inside of Europa Island where you can pick up the north-flowing counter current (hard to find at times) and head north. Course can then be made to Nosi Be and the northern tip of Madagascar. Alternatively, continue along the Mozambique coast and cross the Channel at it's norrowest point and head north on the back of the counter current closer to Madagascar.
However, it is a very controversial topic as to which coast in the Mozambique Channel to favour – both on the Mozambique side and the Madagascar coast (north of Tulear) have counter, northerly flowing currents of varying strengths with headlands mostly having current against one.
The “B.A Ocean Passages of the World” Sailing Routes suggests sailing east of Ile Europa and either side of Juan de Nova. By using this route vessels will avoid the strongest part of the southwesterly current and will hopefully have a favourable wind until around half way up the channel.
Either route should make for a fast passage to the northern tip of Madagascar from where you will pick up the west-flowing South Equatorial Current to cross back to the Tanzania coast (near Mafia Island) for onward passage.
Proceed as above to Maputo.
Cruise your way up the Mozambique coast and stop at as many of the wonderful, interesting stops (see Mozambique) as your time will allow (avoid Beira if possible). Remain as close to the coast as possible to avoid the full force of the Mozambique Current though from Mozambique Island onwards, the current is very close to shore and makes this section a little hard to sail. The good news however, is that you will get on to the north-flowing South Equatorial Current "freeway" near the Tanzania border. Allow yourself two months to "slow" cruise from Durban to Dar es Salaam if possible.
From Maputo, sail across to Tulear, Madagascar and "gunk-hole" your way up the west coast to Nosi Be for provisioning and onward passage on the back of the east-flowing South Equatorial Current to Mayotte and Tanzania. See the Madagascar section for the west coast ports and stops.
Passage - North to South
Best Time: September - October
Possible Arrival Ports
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Distance & Duration
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List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)
- Cruising Connections - Tony Herrick in Durban
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References & Publications
- Islands and Atolls in the Mozambique Channel Cruising Notes by Tony Herrick.
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