Saturday, 31st October, 2015

Luna Quest
W. Eric Faber
Sat 31 Oct 2015 13:12
Noon Position: 23.08S 54.37E

Run since La Reunion: 164 logged miles

Destination: Richards Bay, South Africa

The harbour walls in La Reunion were anything but inviting. Large black lorry tyres were suspended here and there and occasionally there was a steel ladder projecting from the wall to allow you to scale it from the boat. Luna Quest would not have felt comfortable tied up. As luck would have it, we were directed to raft up to Wayward Wind, a two-masted 17-ton Hans Christian that had come in 5 minutes before us.

The World Arc had laid on a tour of the island and of its one active volcano in the South. It took all day to get round the island, but access to the volcano itself had been closed for safety reasons. Nevertheless, we had a great impression of the island and decided to rent a car for visiting the interior, which is marked by 3 cirques (extinct volcanoes) and very mountainous terrain with hundreds of hairpin bends, tunnels through mountains and road narrowings. The east of the island is wet and verdant, whereas the west, where we were moored, is dry and hot. Peter Long of Wayward Wind came with us (his young crew of two having gone scuba diving) and the three of us oldies undertook a steep hike to the top of one mountain range to witness three waterfalls, which thoroughly exhausted us.

Our departure was planned for Saturday, 31 October, but because a large area of low pressure is coming up from the South of Africa giving us very strong southwesterly winds later in the week, we decided to leave a day early to make as much southing as possible so that by the time the southwesterlies arrive, we can veer off west and have less of a beat into the wind. We are hopeful our strategy will work, which was fully discussed and considered by the organisers and other participants. By 2.30pm we were ready and cast off. Others wanted to do the same, but could not because hire cars had to be returned and provisioning completed including dieseling up, which we had all done the day before.

A southerly moderate breeze prevented us from heading south, so we made southwest as best we could before hoping to tack to clear the island, but soon the breeze ran out and we motored for two hours on our desired course of 200 degrees when we were treated to a new moderate breeze from the Eastsoutheast. That breeze soon strengthened to a strong breeze, which had us reefing twice, but just before dark we decided to put the third reef in the mainsail and a couple of rolls in the genoa as the wind was piping up to near gale-force conditions. Life in the galley had become quite hazardous, where Julia was doing her utmost to prepare evening supper, but the seas had become rough and the gimbal was seesawing to its full extent when suddenly a huge lurch caused the stove to bang into its extreme limit. Instant chaos ensued in the galley, with one saucepan upside down on the saloon floor creating a first-class ski slope and another upside down in the stove’s housing preventing the gimbal to return the stove into its normal position. The meal was gone, but fortunately the cauliflower cheese had remained in its saucepan and with some bread the pangs of hunger could be managed. The next hour was spent trying to mop and clean things up.

Last night was rough. Being on a close reach, big seas slammed into Luna Quest’s port side. Occasionally, she would dive down a particularly large sea and bang into the bottom causing the entire ship and everything on and in her to suffer the consequences, but we were too tired to do anything about it and would clear up the mess the following morning. More cascading and more slamming. Winds rose to 30 knots and foretold us what we may expect when the area of low pressure reaches us later this week...