Sun 17 Jun 2012 07:07
Fleck arrived in St Louis, Mauritius, at 15.00 on Friday, 15th June. A rather unsatisfactory crossing from Rodrigues, considering that I had cut short my stay there to take advantage of an apparently favourable weather window. The first two days were indeed rather nice- 'cockpit weather' - but not enough hot sun to trouble me, even though the bimini has been stowed away since leaving Cocos Keeling. Then the anticyclone which we were riding dropped me in some sort of trough, and I was becalmed. Occasional squalls would come along from different directions, and it was quite uncomfortable. Moreover I fell behind my ETA time, and to avoid having a night time arrival here, I put the motor on for about ten hours: not what ocean sailing is supposed to be about, but the right decision, I think, and at 4am on Friday the wind came in from the SE, and we stormed around the top of Mauritius, and down the west coast to St Louis, in the usual Indian Ocean 25 kts of breeze.
My French shore team (!) were just finishing their lunch at a quayside restaurant, and were on hand to take my lines at the Customs wharf: a steep sided quay which would have been nearly impossible for a single hander otherwise. Easy clearance, and then off to the Marina in the old harbour basin, where we are surrounded by upmarket boutique shops and restaurants. But there is no security, and anyone can jump on your yacht as soon as your back is turned: it isn't really a safe place to leave a yacht for any length of time.
Mauritius is very wealthy: new 'premium' cars and SUV's everywhere, a motorway down the middle of the island, and developement everywhere. Tourism is important, but by no means the only source of revenue.Yesterday we (Pierre, Giles, and his wife Maureen), rented a car and visited the 1830's mansion 'Eureka' in Mocka, the Trou Aux Cerfs volcanic crater in Curepipe (named after the idea that gentlmen could sterilise their pipes against malaria by smoking them at high altitude!), lunch (de rigour for the French) at the Kashmir Reastaurant up in the hills somewhere, the Grand Bassin where Shiva supposedly came to earth and spilt some Ganges water to form the crater lake there, the Bois Cheri tea factory, followed by afternoon tea tasting, and finally a drive through the Black River Gorge National Park to the Coast. All this in heavy rain and cold winds. Giles drove, attacking the hairpin descents with French gusto: the passengers all wished they were back on their rolling boats.
As there seems to be no really satisfactory place to leave Fleck on the Island I, and Biloba, one of the French yachts, plan to move on the Reunion later this week. I am relying on Pierre to linguistically pave the way and ensure that there is a hardstand place there, so that we can leave the boat over the Southern Winter.