Safiya reaches Reunion
Harvey & Sue Death
Mon 22 Oct 2018 11:17
We had a very quick overnight sail from Mauritius to Reunion, all the
Oysters left at roughly the same time which inevitably (!) turned the
passage into a race. It was very comforting on night watch to see the lights
from the other yachts around us.
Reunion was quite a surprise, completely different to Mauritius in so many
ways. Whilst Mauritius is famous for its white sand beaches and luxury
resorts, Reunion's main attraction is its hiking. The black sand beaches and
shark infested waters (there have been 18 shark attacks since 2011 resulting
in 7 deaths!) are not conducive to lazy days on the beach so we got our
hiking boots on and went for a two day hike with some of the others. We
stayed in the pretty alpine town of Cilaos which sits 1200m above sea level.
The drive up was breathtaking (and scary!) with more than 400 twists and
turns, but the views on the way up were amazing with densely forested
volcanic peaks and deep ravines. We did some pretty demanding walking, 25km
over the two days up and down some very steep, narrow and twisty tracks. It
was very rewarding to reach the end though and to enjoy some lovely French
food and wine. Reunion is a wholly owned French overseas department and on
many occasions we had to remind ourselves that we were not in the French
alps but in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
There is only one marina on the island which is very shallow and the draft
of our boats meant that we couldn't get in to it, so we are moored along the
harbour wall. It is pretty isolated with few facilities so a rental car is a
must to get out and about. The local town which is a good hours walk away is
St Denis on the other hand, the islands capital could easily be mistaken for
a suburb of Paris with its chic shops, brasseries,and boulangeries.
We chose a busy time to come to Reunion as it is French half term and also
this weekend is the biannual ultramarathon race. A distance of 162 km across
the interior of the island with 9643m of elevation gain, it's reputed to be
highly challenging and brutally difficult. It is aptly called La diagonale
des fous - the Madman's Diaganol!
The winning time in 2016 was under 24 hours.
Our stay in Reunion has been extended because we are waiting for a suitable
weather window for our passage to Durban. We were due to leave last Friday
but it now looks like Tuesday will be our earliest possible departure. At
1450 nautical miles, its by no means our longest passage but could possible
be the most demanding weather wise. The Angulhas current runs parallel to
the East Coast of South Africa in a Southerly direction and it can be very
dangerous in strong Southwesterly winds creating confused seas and swell -
think very big waves!! We have a professional weather router providing daily
forecasts to the fleet and we feel confident that by leaving on Tuesday we
will have a relatively safe journey.
In the meantime we are preparing for the passage, relaxing and enjoying the
lovely food and wine in little France