Summer in Maine was fun and oh so comfortable. No worries…until the day before I was to leave. It wasn’t about packing — I had plenty of time for that. But I made an bad decision to update all the apps on my iPad, which included my backup set of electronic charts. After the update all the charts had disappeared! I fired off some desperate emails to both the app company and the company that licenses the charts. They were helpful, and I got some of the charts back before I left, and they were working on a complete fix. Then while waiting for my plane at Logan Airport I saw they had released another update, which I downloaded, and it worked. Very nice to have the chart issues resolved as I departed.
The travel was grueling. About 45 hours of it, including a flight from London to Johannesburg that was delayed. When we landed in Jo-burg I sprinted through the airport to try to make my connection. The departure gate was already closed, but was still attended, and it appeared I might talk my way aboard. But no. The airline, recognizing that those of us bound from London to Mauritius would miss the connection, had already booked us on other flights. Oh well, I made it to the boat eventually, and it was a relief to confirm that Nora and Liam were already there.
I don’t think I’ve introduced the new crew. Nora is the daughter of my boat owner/partner Bill. She sailed with us from Charleston to Florida when we were heading for the BPO start in Key West. Liam and I connected through a mutual friend who directed Liam to my blog. When I posted many months ago that I needed crew, he contacted me. Given that this sailing adventure was born over the Internet, how appropriate that the Internet has led Liam aboard!
The boat seemed to be in pretty good shape. No trouble starting engines. The daggerboard had been repaired, and it looked good. But when we went to slide it into its case, it wouldn’t go! They had built up the thickness of the board, such that it no longer fit. We don’t need to use both daggerboards, but it wouldn’t work to leave one lashed on deck to be fixed later. More stress, given our very tight schedule. We called our boat caretaker, and he was there in the morning with a grinder. An hour later the repaired board fit, though much of its new antifouling paint and some of its new fiberglass were now gone. I can live with that.
Our tentative plan was to do major provisioning before leaving the marina. But emails from other sailors warned us not to stock up in Mauritius — that due to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, many foods were being confiscated by the authorities in La Reunion, our next stop. We still did a round of provisioning, but with minimal meat, milk, fruits, veggies, cheese, etc. And we left on schedule to sail back up the coast to Port Louis, where we had checked in, two and a half months ago, and where we had to check out.
It was only a three hour sail, but I found it stressful/exciting. I’m out of practice at this sailing thing. So many details to forget; so many things that can go wrong. Plus we didn’t know if there would be any space available back at Le Caudan marina. But it was splendid to pull in and see Tahawus and Maggie there, and space to raft up alongside Maggie. Also delightful to have a shower available — my first since leaving home. The complete BPO fleet (of 3; Joyful has dropped out, Tahawus has dropped back in) assembled for drinks that evening.
One thing that surprised me about returning to Le Caudan was how happy I was to sail into a place that was familiar. In the Rally we are always moving on to the next place, so it was a rare and pleasant experience to arrive and know where the shops are, where the showers are, what it will cost for dockage, etc.
In the morning we checked out. Not surprisingly there was some confusion. Rob was told we could check out without bringing the boats to the Coast Guard dock. I was told the opposite. But it got done (without our having to move the boats). And off we went to “tropical France” (La Reunion Island), 130 miles away.
It was a challenging night for the new crew. Wind was mostly in the 20s, and at least once up to 30. Seas right on the beam, occasionally breaking against the side of the boat. Spray flying so you couldn’t enjoy being outside. Both Nora and Liam got sick. But I wouldn’t have known if they didn’t tell me, because they continued to be active and pull their weight.
Now we are settled at Reunion. Yes, they searched the boat, and confiscated the things we knew they would take, plus a few more. Oh well. Nice to see Luc once again. Nice to have Internet once again. Tomorrow the fleet has planned a “work day” (i.e., no activities planned by Luc). Our #1 task is to determine what’s wrong with our anchor windlass. In the coming days we will pile into our two tiny rental cars, and go exploring.