South Africa to Australia

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WorldSouth Africa to Australia

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing the Indian Ocean and crossing from West to East.

Indian Ocean Currents


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Africa to Australia

South Africa to Perth and Southern Australia:
This route is generally best in the midsummer months, as the frequency of gales in the southern ocean are lessened, and the weather warmer. The “Ocean Passages of the World”, suggest that vessels bound for Perth would make the passage about 39º or 40ºS. Those bound for Tasmania or New Zealand would do so around 42ºS.

Dependant on departure point, make full use of the Agulhas current, trying to reach one's chosen latitude at approximately 50ºE. Dependant on the location of the south Indian ocean high, one needs to keep south of this to have westerly winds. In these latitudes a favourable current of about ½ a knot should be found. Icebergs are frequently observed south of the 40th parallel, but have been known further north.

If bound for Perth it is suggested to make a direct approach from between 90º and 100ºE.

Be careful when in the vicinity of Ile Amsterdam and St Paul, and more so if in the vicinity of the islands further south, as these are often shrouded in mist and will only be seen on a very close approach. Both the above-mentioned islands are French possessions and are sparsely inhabited. In an emergency, ones best anchorage would be St Paul. The author has known of yachts that have moored in the crater of this extinct volcano. Sometimes a listening watch is kept on VHF CH 16.

If Adelaide is one’s destination, leave the latitude you are on around 115ºE, proceeding direct to Cape Borda.

Bound for Melbourne? Sail for the Bass Strait at 135ºE. passage west of Tasmania to New Zealand, in mid summer, to leave one's chosen crossing latitude about 110ºE, and sail south of Tasmania at 45º to 47ºS.
Excerpt from Indian Ocean Crossing Notes by Tony Herrick

Charts for Africa to Australia

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Islands/stop-overs en-route

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Africa to South East Asia (N Indian Ocean)

South Africa, via the Mozambique Channel, the Seychelles, Maldives, to South East Asia:
This is a passage being undertaken by more and more cruisers wishing to sail to Thailand or Malaysia and perhaps through the Malacca Strait and beyond. Timing is important!!

May to July are probably the best months to set sail from South Africa. 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.

The alternative would be to sail north on the Mozambique side and cross the channel at it’s narrowest to Cap St Andre. Beware of the reefs and shallows off this point. Course can then be made to Nose Be and the northern tip of Madagascar, where a strong easterly current avails.

The sail to the Seychelles should be pleasant with light to moderate southeast trades. Plan to cross the Equator around 54ºE, from where a direct passage can be made to the Maldives or Sri Lanka. During the changes of the Monsoon in this area, a mostly east to northeast wind (with often squally weather), will assist you in reaching your destination.

South Africa to the Red Sea:
It is practical to sail from South Africa, via the Mozambique Channel, from May to August. The suggestions in the earlier chapter are relevant as far as the Seychelles, from there a direct course can be made to pass well to the east of Socotra, for safety reasons. The goal would be to reach the entrance to the Red Sea by the change of monsoon in September or October when mostly east to northeast winds could be expected.

Kenyan Ports to South-East Asia:
Info supplied with thanks from Bob and Sally on the yacht “Seerose” who did this trip a few years ago, from Kilifi Creek, Kenya. Their plans were to sail up the coast, easting towards latitude 8ºN, before commencing the crossing proper. They had been warned to stay at least 60 miles offshore while passing Somalia, as it was rumoured that pirates still operated in the area.

This crossing is suggested to start in September at the onset off the southwest monsoon, where one would have mostly following winds. Their sailing was glorious, and on some days covered up to 200 miles! Just beyond Sri Lanka, the wind died though and the seas flattened.

Bob and Sally endured eleven days of hot and oppressive weather. At long last, a 30 – 35 knot wind, accompanied by squalls helped them reach their destination, Phuket. They arrived on the 29th October, dropping anchor in Ao Chalong Bay. Visit their website for an interesting narrative on “Seerose’s” cruise from Durban to Thailand.
Excerpt from Indian Ocean Crossing Notes - by Tony Herrick.

Charts for Africa to South East Asia

Charts reqd.

Islands/stop-overs en-route

Details of stop-overs, etc.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets


See Weather, Winds and Currents on the Indian Ocean page.

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