The blessing of the fleet

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 29 Oct 2010 12:25
The last night that we were in Mauritius, after a sumptuous meal at an
Indian restaurant in the precinct next to the marina, with Bev, Mo, and Bev’s
parents, we went to the casino and played blackjack using the last of the
local currency. When the chips were cashed in, we were paid out in local
currency, so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment not to win.
Next morning Mo went ashore to try to change the local currency that he
still held, into dollars. The banks and money changers were not interested
but he finally found that Thomas Cook would do the deal.
Checking out formalities took place between 8am and 9am. Then, at 9.30, at
the end of the quay, the ministers from six different denominations came to
bless the fleet. The Roman Catholic priest introduced each minister who
spoke for several minutes, making their blessings. First to speak was a
Muslim, then a Hindu, next an Anglican, then a robed woman from the Chinese
Pagoda, followed by a Jew and lastly, the Roman Catholic.
Each spoke in their own language, the Anglican speaking in English and the
Roman Catholic in Latin. The finale was an explosion of fire-crackers,
further along the quay. It was a very moving ceremony.
We crossed the start line with the parasailor flying and were soon ahead of
the rest of the fleet. After around two hours, we lost the wind and watched
as the other boats started to use their engines and pass us. Eventually,
after sailing at under a knot for over an hour, we also resorted to the iron
That night the boat was plagued by flies. Goodness knows from whence they
came. We hadn’t had any problem with insects while we were in Mauritius,
other than one huge cockroach I found lounging in the wet-bar sink in the
cockpit. I am afraid that I had to throw the critter off the boat. An
aerosol can of insect spray soon sorted the problem with the flies.
A huge black cloud loomed overhead but finally moved away and the wind came
up again. We sailed then with force 5, 6 and 7 knot winds until we were
within about four miles of our destination when we once again lost the wind.
We had sailed under mainsail and genoa, both reefed. We had no choice with
the mainsail, because of the damage to the sail but now we shook out the
second reef and unfurled the genoa completely. We managed to sail 2 miles in
two hours but that took us to the finish line when we furled in the genoa,
took down the mainsail and using the engines, made way to port, tying up
alongside the huge concrete dockside.
Most of the other boats were already in Le Port, only Basia and Destiny,
both catamarans, were still on their way. Destiny had not left Mauritius at
the same time as the rest of the fleet, they had still been getting their
boat repairs sorted.
Once again, the boats were rafted but we were fortunate not to be rafted to
another boat or to have another rafted to us..
That night there was a cocktail party on the quayside, courtesy of the
Tourist board and the Chamber of Commerce. An excellent night was enjoyed by
all of us, with finger food, rum punch and beer plus dancers and two bands,
quite different one from the other. The second band was made up only of
drummers, all being children.
Local people also came along and joined in, enjoying the entertainment and
watching the yachties making a fool of them-selves, cavorting to the band.
The seaman’s mission came to our aid and provided a bus to transport WARC
participants to and from the local town of Le Port, on Monday.
At 4.30am, Tuesday 26th October, we were awoken by a knock on the boat and
alerted to the news of a tsunami warning. We had been advised that boats
were not permitted to leave nor enter the harbour. We disconnected the power
and water from the shore supply, fixed a few more fat fenders between the
quayside and our boat and waited. A fire engine left the quay and a little
later a number of cars arrived. We were told that a surge had reached the
south of the island but we looked as if we were OK here. Nothing happened
and we were unable to obtain any further information. Most people who had
been disturbed were back in bed before 6am.
We now have a plague of small moths on the boat, both inside and out. Mo has
been busy swatting them and I have been catching them in a glass and putting
them outside. The situation inside the boat is much better, with perhaps
less than a dozen still around. As soon as they settle and I spot them I
will get my glass. However, outside the boat there are dozens of moths on
the windows, the door and other surfaces.
We hired a car for three days and explored the island. It is more like being
in the south of France than a tropical island in the middle of the Indian
Ocean. The flora is magnificent and I recognize many plants growing wild
that I have planted in my garden in Spain and many others that are grown as
indoor plants in the UK. As we drove higher up the mountainous terrain
towards the volcano, we drove through cloud and the temperature was greatly
reduced. The vegetation now looked alpine. Further on and we drove along a
road which cuts through the lava flow several times. This road periodically
has to be rebuilt after an eruption causes the lava flow to damage the road.
We climbed up to a viewing point on top of the most recent lava flow from
the 2007 eruption.
Tuesday night there was a WARC quiz and five teams participated. At least
half of the questions related to the places and things we had done since the
rally started in January, the rest were general knowledge questions. It was
great fun though the best score was a meagre19 out of 30 and that wasn’t our
team. Anyone would have thought that we must have been on a different rally.
Destiny left the port on Wednesday, to make passage to South Africa. They
did not have time to wait until the official start of the leg on Saturday
because they have crew arriving early.
On Wednesday, returning to Le Port around 6pm, having spent the day touring
the island, we found the west road closed. A coach was on fire and billowing
black smoke. We took an alternative road back to the marina.
We booked the tours we wish to take in South Africa, though found it very
hard to arrange the bank transfers and the insurance cover. The bank wouldn’t
let us do the transfers other than during UK banking hours and the insurance
cover web site, wouldn’t let us get beyond the display of the application

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