Mauritius



Sept 12 - Anniversary at Sea

Dave and I have been married 42 years, which sort of surprises us because we forget we are even that old. Today is our anniversary - no dining out this year, but Dave made a last run into Port Mathurin for our favorite pork sandwiches. We made the rounds of officials, immigration, customs and dock police who might also be Coast Guard, not sure. No fees, just paperwork. A final call to the Coast Guard on VHF, then we were free to go. Estrellita was away first, followed by Priscilla and Contrails, with us as caboose. Just as we pulled anchor a squall hit, so we bobbed around in the inner harbor for a few minutes to let it pass.

Nice to travel in company! We have a sideband sched, but right now are in VHF range, handy for advising of freighter traffic. We plan 3 nights passage to Port Louis. Winds about 20, 2 meter short seas on our stern, making for a lively snap roll motion, uncomfortable but still easier than the monster seas we had last time. It is too rolly to sleep Starfish Mode, so we sleep Log Wedged against Leeboard.


Sept 14 - Landfall Mauritius!

Baraka is tied to the Customs dock awaiting clearance. We curled around Serpent Island during the night and approached Port Louis just at daybreak. Now we are rafted with 6 other boats to the quay at 20 009.589 S 57 30.029 E.

Relatively easy passage overall, but they do seem to wear us down, as it takes several days to get into the cadence of on-watch off-watch, and the Indian Ocean Motion seems to always be a churn. Now we get to be tourists here at Mauritius, planning to stay several weeks before the next leg.

Baraka clears in to Mauritius at the Customs Quay...

...then finds a spot in cosy Caudan Basin.


Sept 17 - Port Louis aka Poor Loo-ee

After clearance formalities, we moved across to Caudan Marina, which, despite being full, was elastic enough to take in another half dozen boats. The basin has room for only about 15 boats, but most will allow rafting. The marina doesn't care where you tie, just come in and take whatever you can. Priscilla grabbed the last open space on the end wall. Orca offered us their space and would raft outside of us. Contrails rafted to a Belgian boat, and soon Active Transport and Estrellita were also rafted inside. Dave borrowed 60 feet of power cord and grafted some plugs, and we have dock power for the first time since Nongsa Point. Water is also far away, requiring 3 lengths of hose, but what luxury! Moorage runs us 350 Rupee per day - about $12 USD which includes power and water.

Evenings we cram into Priscilla's generous cockpit and swap stories, all of us relieved to have much of the Indian Ocean behind us, and already strategizing for the final tough leg.

Saturday morning Suzie guided us to the wonderful market - a colorful emporium of gorgeous produce. We snacked in spicy roti - about 30 cents per wrap - and bought lovely fruits and veg, baguettes and other goodies. At night Marnie guided us to a good affordable seafood restaurant upstairs here at Caudan. The area around the marina was a waterfront slum until redeveloped as an upscale tourist mecca, complete with casino, Pizza Hut, boutique shops, museum and fine hotels. A few blocks away is another world, authentic Mauritius. Population is heavily East Indian, descended from workers imported to harvest sugar cane, with large segments of Creole, Muslim, Chinese, and others including the displaced Chagossians.

Yesterday I joined Barb and Suzie to catch a rattling cockroach-infested bus to Bagatelle, a spanking new shopping mall that could have been in Singapore. Oh-la-la! It contained 3 fantastic supermarkets, the best being Food Lovers. I crammed my backpack with lovely cheeses, dried tomatoes, sliced meats, pain au chocolat, and other delights, and very good prices despite Mauritius being far from any mainland. After so long in Asia, where most foods are either unrecognizable or odd to the western palate, it feels decadent to be able to find anything we desire. Maybe deprivation is the key to appreciation.

Today Dave is dismantling the autopilot, while I will inspect all the running rigging for chafe. We will use this welcome dock time to prepare the boat for the next passages.


Sept 22 - Tourists

Rashid, an enterprising taxi driver, hangs around the Caudan Basin marina to offer his services. We joined Contrails for an island tour, an all-day excursion that took in botanical gardens, an extinct volcano crater, a huge reservoir built by slaves, a model ship factory, the Rive Noire gorge, and a "natural bridge" - a spectacular arch over crashing surf. Lunch was a quick stop at a roadside stand for delicious roti. Fun day, and a chance to see a lot of this island. Yesterday Dave and I visited the Blue Penny Museum just across the street. The small museum is a treasure trove of beautifully presented maps which depict the layered history of Mauritius, discovered first by Arabs, then occupied in turn by Dutch, French, and British, finally winning independence in 1968. Each colonial era brought waves of workers, imported from India, China, Africa, resulting in the patchwork culture of Mauritius today.

Port Louis has a gorgeous daily market.

We visit the botanic gardens of Pamplemousse...

These Indian ladies are dressed for a ceremony.

Some views remind us of the Marquesas.

We visit a model ship shop...

...and watch workers build them.

Lunch is a quick stop at a roadside roti stand.

I can walk across the Pont Natural over roaring surf!

Waterfall at Riviere Noire gorge.

Metalic oxides colors sands at a park.


Sept 28 - Hop to La Reunion, a bit of France

We ended up staying here in Caudan Basin, enjoying the town and market, easy bus system, socializing with lots of other yachts. Major topic is the upcoming passage to South Africa, with its parade of low pressure cells every 3 days and the dreaded Agulhas current, which can only be crossed with wind from the north. The Agulhas is famed for spawning freak waves 60 feet high when the wind opposes the south-flowing current. We may use a weather router to help us across.

Meanwhile, we will make the final small overnight hop to La Reunion, an overseas department of France. We heard glowing reports of St Pierre on the south end, but the entrance is closed when a swell is running, and one boat advised not to enter unless you are willing to give up some paint, as the harbor has very limited maneuvering room. So we will head instead to Le Port, at the NW end of the island. We will clear out of Mauritius on Sunday, arriving at Le Port on Monday. Weather looks tame.


Sept 29 - Au Revoir Mauritius

Our last day in Mauritius, Daniella (Yelo) guided a bunch of us to the horse races. The Champs du Mars is a huge oval track in a bowl in the city, a short walk away. Men pay to get in, women enter free. We wandered up to the top of the stands near the finish line for a clear view, watched the horses in the parade ring, placed our small rupee bets at the tote, and cheered our losers home. Not a profitable day, but a fun one. The weekly races are all Saturday afternoon. For another $5 Dave and I had beers and sandwiches and samosas for lunch from the kiosk in the stands. Horse racing is a big deal here. The locals are enthusiastic gamblers.

This morning we worked free from tiny Caudan basin, making room for arriving boats, and motored across to customs for clearance out of Mauritius. No fees, even though today is Sunday. Soon we were sailing wing-on-wing in light winds, escorted away from land by a pod of dolphins. We are in loose company with 2 other boats, headed overnight for Le Port(des Galets) at tiny Reunion.

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