15 June 2017 Port Mathurin, Rodrigues
With the good weather that we have at the moment, quite a few boats have already left for Mauritius and we’re getting ready to leave on the morning of the 17th. It’ll be a Saturday, but the customs and immigration don’t charge overtime as long as we do the formalities before midday. The added advantage is that we’ll arrive in Port Louis, Mauritius on Monday or Tuesday and won’t have any hassle with customs there.
In the morning, we pottered about doing a few chores, running the water-maker and researching future destinations. We still have four months to explore Mauritius, Reunion & Madagascar and we’ve suddenly realised that we have time to fly home to the UK for a few weeks in July. It’s been over a year since we visited our family and our next opportunity will be in South Africa in January. So, we’ve extended our booking in the marina in Reunion and Glenys is now looking at flights, which being complicated by the shockingly slow internet connection here.
After lunch, I put on my 3mm wetsuit and jumped into the water, which is only 23°C and feels freezing to me. I was shocked to find hundreds of small Gooseneck Barnacles all over the back of the boat, stretching from the middle of the keel. In addition the rudder had grown a mat of 3 inch long weed, which was so thick that it’s swirling about in the current. The propeller wasn’t too bad with a light covering of slime and a few barnacles. I laboured away for an hour and I've cleaned the propeller, the rudder and the aft 3 metres of the hull. It will have to do until we get to a calm anchorage.
In the evening, we invited Alan and Vicky from “Wairima” over for a beer or two - they arrived yesterday from Cocos Keeling and had a tiring 12 day passage with waves of 6 metres and 50 knot winds at one point.
They left Cocos Keeling two days before our friends Graham and Karen on “Red Herring” and have been in radio contact with them. Unfortunately, Red Herring’s autopilot has failed, so Graham and Karen are hand steering, which is very tough and tiring in these conditions. They still have 260 miles to go which means that they’ll arrive here in a couple of days, probably after we’ve left, which is a pity. No doubt we’ll catch up with them in Reunion.
16 June 2017 Port Mathurin, Rodrigues
It was a very calm night, which unfortunately brought the mosquitoes out into the anchorage, so I was up at three o’clock, zapping the blighters, putting up the mosquito screen in our cabin and plugging in our vapour mat heaters.
The weather forecast for our 3 day passage to Mauritius is for light winds, so I topped up our diesel tanks from our jerry cans. I then took the dinghy up into the small fishing harbour and landed at a concrete slip about 20 metres from the town’s petrol station, which is very convenient (and they take credit cards). Back at the boat, I poured the three jerry cans into the main tank, making it a total of 126 litres added, so our tank is almost full.
We then wandered into town and, while Glenys did some provisioning, I went to the Customs and Immigration offices to arrange for our clearance at 09:30 tomorrow morning. The Customs is called the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) and is in a small shopping mall behind the Mauritius Bank, just around the corner from the boulangerie. Immigration is in a small office on the ground floor of the Police Station.
While waiting for Glenys to finish shopping, I couldn't resist sneaking off for my last Dhall Puri on Roti. Definitely the best food in Rodrigues...
We had a quiet afternoon. Glenys prepared some meals for passage and I tidied up. It’s amazing how relaxed we are about going on this 340 mile trip. We’ve sailed 3,500 miles in the past five months, so we’re pretty well geared up to leave at any time and I know that everything is in good working order. (Although after hearing about “Red Herring” hand steering for days, I did a quick check of our autopilot and steering cables…)
In the evening, Glenys cooked the dried octopus we bought the other day and produced an Octopus Curry. She soaked the (three) dried octopuses in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes, meanwhile cooking up a Caribbean style curry sauce. During soaking the octopus swells up a tiny amount and softens a bit, but is still fairly tough. Glenys chopped the whole thing up into 1” long pieces and then cooked it in the curry sauce for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. It was chewy, but very tasty. (See Dried Octopus.)
17 June 2017 Rodrigues to Mauritius (Day 1)
There was hardly any wind in the morning with frequent showers - not the best weather to start our three day passage to Mauritius. I looked at the weather forecast and it’s going to be another five days before the wind picks up again. We’ve enjoyed Rodrigues, but we couldn’t face another week here, so we went ahead and cleared out, knowing that we’ll be motoring for the first 24 hours.
The simple clearance process was done in the small offices at the port entrance. The Immigration officer was already waiting for us and he put exit stamps in our passports, despite the fact that Rodrigues is the same country as Mauritius - we will be issued with new visas when we get to Port Louis. Customs turned up as soon as we’d finished with immigration and he handed over our port clearance. There was only one form to be filled in by the coast guard, so we were done in 20 minutes.
Back at the boat, we prepared for sea – I lashed the dinghy on the front deck, while Glenys cooked up a lamb stew for the first two meals on passage. We were on our way at 11:00.
The weather brightened up and it was sunny as we motored out of the harbour. However, as forecast, there wasn’t much wind, so we motored for an hour to get away from the island and then tried to sail for a couple of hours. I rigged up our spinnaker pole and we ran wing-on-wing for a while, but when our boat speed dropped below 3 knots, we had to turn the engine on.
By night fall, we’d rolled away all of our sails. We normally leave our mainsail up when motoring to give us a little more drive and reduce rolling, but the apparent wind was going all over the place and causing the sail to crash and bang. Fortunately, the waves were only about 1 metre and from our stern, so we didn’t roll too much without sails.
At our 01:00 watch change, the wind finally picked up to 7-10 knots from the SSE, which allowed us to sail on a starboard reach (after 20 minutes dancing on the front deck, swapping the pole from starboard to port.) We then had a lovely sail for three hours, under a bright half moon, but the wind gradually petered out and we motor-sailed for the rest of the night.
18 June 2017 Rodrigues to Mauritius (Day 2)
At 07:00, the wind picked up to 10 knots from the south-east, so we were able to start sailing on a broad reach with the genoa poled out to port. It was a lovely day with mostly blue skies and 25% fluffy white cloud cover, although we had a couple of showers. The nice thing was that the showers didn’t alter the wind strength too much, although the wind veered and backed a little causing us to gybe the genoa a few times.
As the afternoon passed by, the wind picked up to 12-15 knots and, with the slight 1 metre seas, it was fabulous sailing. Glenys produced a tasty Beef Vindaloo curry to end a pleasant day. The first half of the night was very dark, but the good wind continued. The wind gradually increased to 15-20 knots, so the second half of the night was more boisterous and we had a few showers, which increased the wind by 5 knots and had us reefing and gybing the genoa a couple of times.
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