Cocos to Rodrigues - the full story
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sun 30 Sep 2012 07:30
We travelled 2004 nautical miles in a little over 13 days in what can only be described as good sailing conditions. Winds were a little light some of the time and in squalls close to rain showers at 30–35 knots they were a little too strong for comfort. Swells were consistent with the wind strength so after a couple of days of 20–30 knots the seas built up from the port quarter and the boat rolled rather. But we never experienced the “large swells on the beam all the way up from the southern ocean” which have caused some mariners such distress. All in all we consider ourselves to have been very fortunate during the second stage of our Indian Ocean experience.
Jim has been invaluable when we needed his technical expertise and the whole crew has gelled well so that everything has been done with the minimum of fuss – what we usually hope for and expect. The extra sleep, particularly during periods of stronger winds when so much energy is spent just keeping upright, has been very welcome.
We are now reaping the rewards of being good boys and girls. Port Mathurin is a small, sleepy town on a quiet island. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and it is now Sunday morning so there has been little opportunity to explore but the signs are good. We spent a very quiet and restful night against the town quay having been dealt with in a most courteous and friendly way by four sets of officials: Health Authority, Customs, Police and Immigration – I think; there was little sign of uniform although one chap showed me an identification card. It is difficult to imagine more helpful bureaucrats, but the forms! They kept coming, sheet after sheet, 17 in all, often requiring information already given to previous officials. There was even a significant form to be completed and signed authorising Customs to charge extra for out-of-hours working (they close at midday Saturday). But when I sighed, inaudibly I thought, the officer pointed out that this was all as it should be and just as prescribed by a previous British administration. I shut up. It all took a very long time while my last can of beer, poured out prematurely, was getting warm. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was so relaxed, the bonhomie so pronounced that there was really no excuse for even mild irritation. A particularly charming moment came when the Health Officer sat back with a smile and asked whether there were any more questions because, if not, he would turn off and remove his hearing aids and then there would be no opportunity for further enquiries.
Mags and I went shopping for breakfast croissants this morning and on the way were accosted by a smart, grizzled old-timer, well into his 70s, clad in bright yellow shirt and lime-green corduroys keen to have his suspicions confirmed that we were English. He had enjoyed two spells as Port Captain and now that his most recent successor had “passed away” he thought he would apply for a third spell. He was somewhat sniffy about this last office-holder because he did not speak English and when an English-speaking yacht called up on the “walkie-talkie” he was wont to put down the hand-set, turn his back and walk into his office. Not at all the thing. Full of good-natured advice and tales of the quayside in days of yore he held us spell-bound with his glittering eye until we finally persuaded him to give us directions to the boulangerie and, with multiple hand-shakes, he let us go.
Tonight we are going out to a celebratory supper at the Restaurant du Quai; Mags and Jim reconnoitered last night and although the house rosé was execrable the food looked excellent. We have invited Ian and Lyn from Cloud Nine, just ahead on the quay, to join us. We met them in the Royal Phuket marina. They sailed from Langkawi to Chagos, didn’t like the look of the swell and exposure and travelled on. They took 27 days to get here, mostly in very light winds. They are short of fuel.
We felt rather sober this morning. Our friend Ray in Geneva sent us a blog from the World ARC, now just behind us anchored in Cocos. One of the boats hit an underwater object, filled and sank. No loss of life or injuries but a sad reminder that anything can happen at sea.
We must leave this convenient spot on the quay before 0600 Tuesday when the next supply ship comes in. We shall have to anchor just outside the harbour. Our present thinking is to stay for three or four days but it is too early yet to finalise plans for departure.
We are now at UTC plus four hours.