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Date: 14 Nov 2013 16:23:20
Title: Isle de La Reunion

Every country has it's little quirks when it comes to officialdom. Indonesia
was chaotic, over 30 officials, dozens and dozens of copies of our
paperwork, they seemed to be making it up as they went along. Arriving in
Rodrigues was such a contrast, but when it came to depart, a bit of head
scratching. I found the immigration office down a side street in town, had
the passports stamped, again confirmed we had no stowaways, but was then
told we had to leave immediately. Ah, but I want to do some final shopping
for some fresh food..... Not possible you must leave now. We negotiated...
give me a couple of hours. No not possible...OK 45 minutes and no more....we
settled at an hour and then left an hour and a half later and no one seemed
in the least bothered. La Reunion was different again. Oliver our son is
joining us on Monday, 5 days from now, but we have already cleared out of
immigration and customs. Oliver has cleared out 5 days before he arrives. A
Gallic shrug seemed to settle everything.
The sail to La Reunion was uneventful, light winds and slow progress but 3
days later we arrived, just after dawn and tied up in the rather industrial
feeling port.
The island is a department of France so we are in effect in France, spending
Euros. The contrast to Mauritius and Rodrigues is stark. Not just the
landscape, one a flat tropical island, the other a massive single volcanic
mountain, like Hawaii, but also the way the economy runs. The dead hand of
welfare handouts and subsidy means the motivation to work has disappeared
for many. Roads, government spending, infrastructure , it's all as in
France....and all by subsidy from France and the EU.
The island itself is spectacular, particularly the interior with massive
gorges, lunar like volcanic landscapes, 1000 meter vertical cliff faces.
We've rented a car and have spent some days exploring and some getting the
boat prepared for the next passage. The sail is in the sail loft to be
repaired, the water maker which sprung a leak has been patched up to get us
to Durban where some spares will be waiting and then .....horror.....we
discovered one of the shrouds, the heavy wire cables that hold up the mast,
has started to fail. Six of the 19 wires in the cable have snapped.
Fortunately we can get a temporary repair done here, again to get us to
Durban.
I can detect apprehension building among some fellow sailors. The passage to
South Africa can be the most difficult of the entire circumnavigation.
Potential for massive seas, strong winds and currents. We will have Oliver
aboard.... a baptism of fire.
Photos show the spectacular landscape of the island

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