To South Africa

The last part of the Indian Ocean started with 3 days of flat calm, followed by 3 days of variable winds, then we finally got a proper breeze, then rather too much wind for the last part. Unfortunately we got a rip in the mainsail so we could only set it heavily reefed for the last days of the trip – OK when the wind got up though. Dolphins came to play, and we survived an attack by mutant kamikaze squid – how on earth do you get the ink off? Some of them must have been flying as it’s all over the boom and sail, at least 20 on deck from bow to stern. And a bit dry to cook by the time we found them. The cruise liner Europa 2 came past and the watch officer chatted over the VHF. Think he’d met quite a few of the rally fleet by the time he got to us at the back.

Arrived safely in Richards Bay, second to last in fleet, catamaran AirPower was just behind, welcomed with a bottle of champagne by the Zululand Yacht Club where we are berthed.


Leaving Reunion

And still have signal with the local sim in the iPad. It was a “Gate start” just motor out of Harbour, set your sails 1 nm out and take your own start time, supposed to be between 10 and 11 but almost all the boats left early – we started at 09.58 and only 3 boats behind. There is no wind so we are motoring in the sunshine. 1400 miles to Richards Bay in South Africa, we may have to stop in bay in southern Madagascar to avoid crossing the Agulhas current in bad weather. We had a great week in Reunion, it’s very French, uses euro and the phone even works. Despite much of it being so steep and mountainous Reunion is more developed than Mauritius but the public toilets are much better in Mauritius.

Parapenting in Reunion

Anita, and Ros and Howard from Misto, got in some alternative spinnaker practice, going parapenting. Great views, easy take off and landing. We leave tomorrow for Richards Bay in South Africa.

Parapenting above Reunion

To Reunion

The shortest passage of the World ARC rally, just 130 miles between Mauritius and Reunion. But during the passage we had wind from every direction, every strength from none to F6, every point of sail and just about every sail combination we have. Reunion is probably more French than France. A smallish high volcanic island – with one volcano still active, about 850,000 people. There is a mainly dual carriageway road all round the coast, though they are building a new bit out on stilts just north of here (you don’t expect your passage by yacht along the coast to be obstructed by road building!), then some steep and convoluted small roads heading into the mountainous interior of the island, none go right across. Though just when you think your hire car can’t possibly make the next bend, you realise that this is the bus route. Most of the cars, especially the hire cars are white. There was a trip to the volcano, then we spent a couple of days touring with Ros and Howard from Misto, going up to the Cirque of Cilaos (caldera of an old volcano) to do some walking and in fact we stayed the night in a sort of b&b. First time we haven’t slept on the boat since March.

Cocos to Mauritius

This is the long Indian Ocean Passage – 23000 miles. The conditions were interesting. We sailed over the start line and cleared the Islands and set course – into a flat calm. Got wind after a couple of days, then rather too much of it, a confused sea broadside on made for an uncomfortable and wet ride. First thing me I’ve ever seen our cockpit gratings floating, luckily we had just shut the hatches. It got calm again, but eventually after 16 days we made it round the north end of Mauritius to Port Louis. Mauritius is a lovely island and we were very pleased to be able to meet up with Steve’s old friend and medical class mate Vidia, who is from Mauritius. Vidia and his family just happened to be out here overseeing the laying of the foundations for their retirement home which they are building in a lovely location high up in the middle of the island. They also looked after us very well.

It is an island of contrasts, lovely beaches, some beautiful country inland, also some developed malls and the teeming city of Port Louis where we are berthed. We have not seen a Dodo but there are some giant tortoises, imported from Seychelles as all the native ones were eaten by the Dutch in the 1700s. Most people speak French or Creole although the island was most recently British until independence in 1968. There is a whole mix of French, African, Indian, Chinese and even British peoples and influences. The main export from the island is sugar from the many sugar cane fields.

Cocos Keeling

A good passage here, favourable current and almost enough wind. Here there is white sand, coral, blue sea and sky – and coconut palms! Dolphins around the boat as we came in to anchor, also reef sharks.