Tag Archives: Mauritius

Back to the Indian Ocean

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.

Heading Home

For a week I did almost nothing but clean the inside of the boat. Plus a little time at the pool, and checking out the nearby restaurants, and half a day of riding around with the Maggie crew to check out the anchorage at Grand Baie. A week wasn’t quite long enough. I had hoped to empty every locker and clean inside. Didn’t get that far. But I cleaned the walls, the ceiling, the floor, the counters, the fridge, the freezer, the settee cushions, the heads (and replaced the diaphragm and valves in the port one). I threw out every bit of food that I thought might go bad or get bugs. I threw out some that I’m not even sure what it was (mysterious looking stuff labeled in mysterious languages). I gave a few items away to the security guards.

I showed our “guardian” – Xavier – how to start the engines, and the starboard one was very reluctant to start. He arranged for a mechanic to come this morning before I left. But of course with the mechanic here, it started right up. Xavier will call him again if he has problems when he comes to give the engines some “exercise.” Xavier also volunteered to spray our tiny ants while I’m away. He seems to know his stuff and be very helpful, which makes it easier to leave the boat unattended. No Regrets and I have been taking care of each other; I’m reluctant to leave her alone.

I planned to leave at 11am for the journey via three buses to the airport. But it was 1pm before I had everything put away and closed up. No matter — my flight leaves late at night so I have all day to make my way there. The bus service is not simple or quick. Yesterday Xavier raised his eyebrows when I told him I was taking the bus, and he quipped, “You better leave now!”

The first bus arrived right away. I was armed with Goggle Maps to see where we were, plus a list of all the stops on the route, up to my stop. I thought I was prepared, but… It was surprisingly difficult to match where we were with the name of a bus stop. Most of the stops have nice rain shelters, but no names on them. And of course you can’t simply count stops, since the bus may not stop at all of them. When I thought we were close, I asked the ticket-taker, who said he’d let me know. Stop after stop went by… Apparently they added a dozen stops not on my list-from-the-internet. He didn’t steer me wrong — when he told me it was my stop, we were in the expected town.

Next I had to walk to the town roundabout to get my second bus. But the town doesn’t seem to have a roundabout! I asked, and two people assured me I was going in the right direction, and the bus stop was just ahead. My next bus was #163, but only some of the buses showed numbers! So I asked another person waiting. “You can take any red bus, but not an express.” Sounded reasonable, but when I started to board a red bus and asked the ticket-taker to confirm the destination, he looked at me like I was crazy, and said no, it doesn’t go there. Then someone directed me to the next bus approaching — an express…#163. That worked.

When I got off after 3 stops, I confirmed that I wanted #198 to get to the airport. Yes. At the stop there was one other person waiting, so I asked if I could get #198 to the airport at that stop. Yes. But after several minutes he said, “To the airport? You need to be on the other side!” Normally I’m very good with my sense of direction, but that doesn’t help much with meandering bus routes.

On the other side I again checked with a person waiting. Yes, you want #198, but it will say Mahebourg – it may not have a number. Many buses went by. Finally a #198. But it didn’t stop! I asked my friend, “Do I need to jump in front of it to get it to stop?” He replied, “It was full.”

Many more buses went by, and along came one for Mahebourg. My friend indicated I should take it. But the ticket-taker said it doesn’t go to the airport; it goes to Magnien. Well, whatever. It was rush hour(s), and I figured I should take what I could get, and figure it out when we get “there.” At the next stop there was a huge crowd. The bus had a sign: Capacity 65 seated, 5 standing. We packed everyone in — to the point that it was nearly impossible for anyone to get out at the next several stops. Everyone (or at least most people) were smiling about it.

I didn’t know it until we got there, but Magnien is where the airport is. As I exited I saw a sign for the airport in 2 kilometers. Figured I’d just walk. But I didn’t want to walk along the highway, and I saw several people walking down a paved path through the sugarcane, so I ventured there. After 100 meters or so I saw a man getting into his car, so I asked if I could get to the airport via this path. No. But he was driving to the airport, so please hop in! The airport was just a stone’s throw over the sugarcane, but it started raining at that moment, so the ride was appreciated. Naturally he dropped me right at the international departures door.

So it only took three hours to get here, and cost about $4 instead of the $60 to take a taxi. Now I have 5 hours before I board, but at this point it’s like I’m on the escalator — just letting it carry me along for the next 30 hours to Boston.

Condos for sale. Moor your boat right outside. Very protected and secure.


Premises include restaurant and pool.


Le Caudan Marina, Mauritius

For me, Mauritius has been primarily about getting the boat to a safe place so I can come home, arranging to come home, and getting things ready to head to sea again at the end of August. We are currently parked at a “marina” at the glitzy downtown waterfront. The marina is not expensive, but then again it isn’t much of a marina. It is a small boat basin with concrete walls. Initially we were told there was no room for us here (despite Jimmy assuring us that they were “expecting” the BPO boats). But it is so close to the Customs dock that we walked over and identified a space on the wall, and got the okay to tie there. Occasionally a swell gets in here, primarily from passing ships, which makes it scary to be tied to a concrete wall. After the first night we rafted to another boat, which is far better. But I still didn’t like the idea of leaving the boat unattended here while I return home.

So we took the bus to a private development 15 miles south, that has a marina where sometimes the homeowners sublet their slips on a well protected floating dock. Very secure. Not much in the way of amenities; no showers. And far more expensive than where we are now. But I will feel much better about leaving the boat there. We have arranged to do so, and we will move there in two days. We have hired the “guardian” that Mauritius law requires if the skipper leaves the country. I have jumped through the hoops posed by Immigrations to get the letter that allows me to fly out (took three trips to their office, and once again our boat stamp turned out to be essential). Oh, and I changed my flights so I can come home in time for the family July 4th gathering.

We have arranged to have our damaged daggerboard fixed while I am away. We talked with a sailmaker about fixing our broken spinnaker sock. That didn’t work out, so we are going to use the sock from the old parasailor. We gave the torn spinnaker to the sailmaker, because they said they use the material to make bags and other items. Happy to be rid of it and know that the material will be reused. We talked with a battery company, and decided not to try to replace our batteries here. We took our nonworking computer to a shop; they say the motherboard is shot; they copied all our files off the hard drive. I’ll have to replace the board or the whole machine while home.

We changed the oil in both engines — a job that shouldn’t be difficult, but it is; and messy. We cleaned the stuck valve for the starboard head, and plan to service the port head tomorrow. We repaired a broken support for our cockpit floorboards. After we move the boat (and Tim leaves the next day), I will be doing a lot of cleaning. And attempting to eradicate our infestation of tiny ants. I’m hoping if I can remove or seal up all foodstuffs, and clean as thoroughly as possible, and then maybe spray nasty chemicals around just before I leave, that possibly they will be gone when I return…

So…we haven’t seen much of the island of Mauritius. We are in a city, but the well-guarded high end waterfront section, not the REAL city, which is teaming with people and vehicles. Our “tours” so far have consisted of our bus adventure, and walking through the city to get to Immigrations. I don’t much care about sightseeing here, but I know there are some nice places, and I feel like I’m not doing the country justice. I guess that’s why we visited the delightful part of Mauritius that is called Rodrigues! I also feel a little bad that my new crew coming in August won’t have time to see much of this island. But we will have some fun in the French island La Reunion, which is only an overnight sail away, and Luc will be there with a slate of activities!

Approaching Mauritius


Approaching Port Louis


Clearing in at the Customs dock


Rafted to Keyif in the marina


Our view


This boat has an all women crew from the Indian navy. I’m told that the skipper did a solo circumnavigation.


I like that the working waterfront is visible across the way from the touristy waterfront.


In addition the the restaurants, bars, food court, crafts shops, banks and boutiques, there is this.


Also some interesting art


And performances