Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Mon 6 Jul 2009 13:31
Praslin, pronounced "praleen", the second largest island in the Seychelles is only about 7 miles long and under 3 miles wide.  The scenery is very pretty with dramatic granitic rock outcrops and lush vegetation.  The marine life is also fantastic.  Although it's a popular tourist resort, the development is very low key and it's a very quiet and peaceful place.

The main tourist beach oin Praslin

We've had some trouble finding a comfortable anchorage.  At Anse Volbert (aka Cote D'Or), which is on the east side of the island, we were rolling about a lot even after moving inshore as close as we could to get shelter.  The SE winds bring large rolling waves that work their way around the headlands.  And, when the wind is blowing, most of the beaches have spectacular breaking waves, making it difficult to get ashore in the dingy without getting soaked!  Perhaps this explains why most of the charter boats here are catamarans, which don't roll so much when at anchor, but even so they have problems getting ashore by dinghy.

It looks as if it may rain

While anchored off Cote D'Or we went ashore for a day's exploration of the island.   We hired bicycles and covered much of the eastern coastline.  Then we headed inland to visit the Vallee de Mai, where many rare species of trees can be found, including the coco de mer.  It was a long climb up and by the time we got there we were dying of thirst but there was no drinking water available!  We had to freewheel all the way down to the other side of the island to get some much needed refreshment, by which time we'd lost our enthusiasm for seeing rare trees.  Another time maybe.  We made our way back along the longer, but much flatter, coastal route.

Honestly, it's steeper than it looks!

One of the good things about Cote D'Or is that it's a bit of a hub, with 3 supermarkets.  In this part of the world a supermarket can be a very limited enterprise, but these are reasonably well-stocked because of the self-catering apartment market.  And it's high season now.  (According to one local ex-pat we met, July is the time when German tourists come and in August it's the Italians.)  We stocked up and moved just a few miles north to a small cove called Anse Petite Cour.  The pilot said we would find no rocks until the depths became too shallow but in fact there are a number of coral heads to avoid.  After a few tries we found a nice sandy spot in about 5 metres where we could lie to anchor without snagging any coral.

Shark for supper?

Perhaps with some local fruit

Ashore at Anse Petite Cour is an exclusive hotel called La Reserve and we are moored close to the hotel's tripper boat.  The skipper, Billy, is very friendly and told us we were in the best spot on the island for shelter from the wind and swell.  The marine life is also superb.  At Cote D'Or we saw some interesting fish, including rays on the sandy bottom and shoals of colourful small fish around the boat.  Here we not only have all sorts of fish around the boat but just a short distance away we have healthy corals and reef fish of all colours and sizes.  All we have to do is put on our gear and go snorkelling!  We've yet to see any sharks, but we're told there are plenty around (it's common to see shark meat for sale here).  More of a concern is staying away from the many large sea urchins and other sharp or stinging hazards lurking amongst the reefs.

Anse Petite Cour

After a few days in Anse Petite Cour we decided to head north again to Anse Lazio, reputedly the most beautiful beach in Praslin.   Paul had had enough of snorkelling after inhaling/ingesting a large amount of seawater on one expedition.  As usual we anchored as close to the beach as we dared.  We were soon joined by a lot of charter catamarans as it's a popular spot with plenty of room for anchoring.  The beach is lovely but the water was not so clear.  On the shore we found a restaurant open at lunchtimes but little else.  We hoped to get a bus back to Cote D'Or but ended up walking and so treated ourselves to lunch at one of the hotels.  After stocking up on provisions and fresh fruit one of the locals tried to sell us a boat trip back.  Boat trips are a popular way for the local, often young, men to make money out of tourists and don't come cheap.  In the end we settled on a lift in his friend's car.

No reefs at Anse Lazio, but the anchorage is rather crowded

Apart from the charter yachts, that tend to rush around seeing as much as they can in the short time they have here, we've not met any other cruising yachts.  It was nice when we had a visit from Mattias and Dierdre, a Dutch couple on their honeymoon, who came over to say hello and join us for a few drinks.  They invited us to look over the enormous 8-berth catamaran they had hired.  (It was a last minute booking and the only one they could get.)   They were only here a few days before flying on to South Africa for a safari.  They were obviously not people who liked to sit still for long!

Looks like a peaceful cove - but Paul still got soaked going ashore

Since leaving Port Victoria, the weather has been steadily cooling and we are now sleeping at night without needing to run fans.  In the last few days the wind has been stronger and the temperature has stayed below 30 degrees C in the day.  In the night it is now going down to about 25 degrees C. 

With the stronger winds we were getting an uncomfortable swell in Anse Lazio so we decided to go back to Anse Petite Cour.  We anchored again on our nice sandy spot and were greeted by Billy the next morning, telling us we'd done the right thing!  There's not much swell but the stronger winds are churning up the water and so visibility isn't so good.  We also had quite a few rain showers.  They don't last long but as we don't have a waterproof enclosure for our cockpit we are trapped down below when the showers are heavy. 

Another crowded beach

We often see shoals of small fish around the boat, and some large batfish who congregate underneath our hull, but have no idea whether they would be good to eat and haven't tried to catch any.  Yesterday we had a small group of squid milling around so Paul had a go with a lure.  To our surprise he soon caught and boarded one.   Then a second one went for the lure and was caught but this one decided to make trouble.  Whenever Paul tried to bring it on board it squirted ink everywhere: all over the side of the boat, the cockpit, Paul's white t-shirt, etc.  It took ages to get him aboard and after all that excitement the rest of the shoal were very wary of us!  Still, two fresh squid made a nice supper, though if you count all the working cleaning up and a ruined t-shirt it wasn't really an easy catch.

A tasty morsel for supper, back at Anse Petite Cour