Smoke and Roses - The Sporty Indian Ocean
Logged 2350 Nautical Miles
14 days, 7 hours and 45 minutes
314.75 hours sailing, 29 hours motoring
October 1 – 24
Cocos Keeling to Mauritius
Our next two legs include the second longest and the shortest sailing distances of our circumnavigation. Both are on the Indian Ocean which has a reputation of high winds, big seas and strong currents. Today is the start of Leg 11; we will 2350 nautical miles west to Mauritius for the next two weeks. To my surprise the first couple days had light wind and we were motoring. The clouds were unusual looking, like a thin veil on the horizon. Over the next several days the wind increased to 25 + knots, we had stormy grey skies, there were 10 foot waves sometimes breaking alongside the boat and we sailed fat. One afternoon while I was napping a large wave splashed in through an open transom port hole douching me and the bed. Getting soaked n salt water and having to wash the bedding, did not make me very happy. We have always had that port hole open and water has never come in before, my welcome to the Indian Ocean. Seam is working out well, he does course adjustments and sail changes on his own. The weather is very inconsistent and gusty; there is 19 knots of wind then31 knots over and over. We continue sailing with two reefs in the main sail and a reefed genoa, big waves hit the port aft of the boat. There are flying fish all over the boat, Dan removed 30 of them one day, their slim and scales were everywhere. A flying fish even hit Dan at the helm. At night they look like red and green shooting stars in front of the boat when they fly past our navigation lights. We have been cruising within a few miles of “Cayuse” for several days and can see them; it is nice to have them near. By day nine we finally had sunshine and lots of wind, we sailed 196 nautical miles in 24 hours. Day 11 was not a good day, the wind gust to 40 knots and we sailed with just a reefed genoa bouncing around in lumpy seas, one of the dinghy davits broke. Fortunately Dan caught it right away and prevented the dinghy from falling into the water. He and Sean secured the dingy to the boat with the remaining davit and a spider web of lines. Also the new inverter/charger we installed in Fiji, is not working. The wind let up some the last couple days and with just three boats ahead of us, we arrived at Le Caudan Bassin under grey skies and light rain. Rally Control welcomed us with a fruit basket and a shot of Mauritian Rum. After one of the roughest rides, it was good to be tied to a dock.
Mauritius has a multi-cultural population including; Indian, African, Chinese, French and British, all living in harmony. It has a range of natural landscapes comprising plateaus, mountains, valleys, craters, a volcanic skyline, ponds and waterfalls. The Caudan Waterfront offered a sophisticated shopping mall and craft market. The vibrant tropical city of Port Louis was in walking distance through the underpasses. I had been looking forward to visiting Mauritius for its variety of outdoor activities, unfortunately many of its sites were tourist traps, and it was much commercialized and heavily populated.
During our ten day visit we rented a car for touring, got dinghy davits welded, worked on getting the inverter replaced, did the usual boat chores and leg preparations. Driving an underpowered, manual transmission on the wrong side of the road in heavy traffic, without good maps was stressful. WE had a couple nice days of touring the “Cayuse” and a great dinner out with Hal and Marcia at the Sailors Place. We hiked the Macchabee Forest Trail in the Black River Gorges National Park to a viewpoint and waterfall. It was a luxurious tropical forest with lots of ferns. Another day we visited Grand Bassin, the sacred lake with Hindu Temples Near the impressive Hindu Statue we saw lots entertaining little monkeys called Crab Eating Macques. Next we went to a park with 23 colors of earth called La Valle des Couleurs Nature Park. I thought we would do some hiking but it was short walks through the park. I was expecting expansive hillsides of colored earth (something like the Badlands of South Dakota) instead it was an area about a couple of acers. Unique and interesting, the multi colored earth evolved from the weathering of different metals and minerals found in the volcanic ashes emitted by Bassin Blanc Volcano which overlooks the park. They claim the metal emanate positive energy and gazing at them you will receive and absorb such energy, averting anxiety while bringing inner peace.
Another day of touring was with Dave and Wendy from “Mischief” to Le Morne on the Southwest coast. Stopping of r coffee we had views of a crystal clear lagoon. Thence went for a hike to the first viewpoint on mount Le Morne. The mountain is a testimony to the resistance to slavery and quest for freedom. Used as a fortress, escaped slaves climbed to the top and found refuge in caves. Classified as a lowland dry forest the hike was in a colorful, varied and open forest. Driving east on the picturesque south coast then through a sugar cane field (which was and adventure) brought us to Rochester Falls, It was a beautiful short water fall where we walked from the top to the bottom guided by some local people, one of whom jumped from the top of the falls. On arrival they offered us fresh pineapple and fresh coconut water, when we left they asked for money and we gave them some.
Our final day of touring with World ARC took us to Pamplemousses in northern Mauritius. Here we visited Chateau de La Bourdonnais an 18th century colonial home. This mansion had been restored while most of them have been destroyed by cyclones. Next were a rum tasting and a delicious lunch. We also toured L’Aventue de Sucre (a sugar museum). I was amazed at the size of the equipment and the manufacturing process. Mauritius specializes in the production of natural sugars from cane and produces fifteen different types of special sugars which we sampled. The final stop was the SSR Botanic Garden, here we saw trees from around the world and some flying foxes as well as flowers like the Giant Lillie, scared lotus flower and mountain rose. It was and interesting and informative day.
During the prize giving Smoke and Roses was awarded 1st place in the multi hull for the challenging leg across the Indian Ocean. We also heard Niki from “Aranui” tell the detailed story of Karen (his crewmember) that got knocked unconscious when she hit her head in the salon during rough seas. He had to wake her every hour to check her comprehension, arrange a rescue at sea and continue to sail his boat, while his other crew member was stricken with sea sickness. Karen is now at home doing fine.
A very special send off from Mauritius took place on the quayside with a multi-faith blessing ceremony. Short prayers were given by Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Catholic officiants. There were delicious snacks and a performance with bright yellow Chinese dancing dragon to ward off evil, as well as individual boat blessings. Our boat was blessed on year and one week ago by Pastor Ken of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, when we departed Florida, it was very nice to have the Blessings renewed.