The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Tue 20 Jun 2017 04:20



20°06.41S 057°29.89E

We’re anchored in a roadstead outside Port Louis, Mauritius waiting to go in to clear customs.


19 June 2017   Rodrigues to Mauritius (Day 3)

Dawn brought us overcast skies with 20 knot South-east winds, so we were bowling along at 6-7.5 knots.  At 07:00, we had 75 miles to go to the channel between the islands at the north of Mauritius, so we were hoping that we’d make it through before dark.  Once around the north of the island, it’s another 15 miles to a road stead anchorage to the north of Port Louis.  We’d be anchoring in the dark, but it’s a wide open approach.


At lunchtime, we still had good winds and Glenys spotted land.  The seas continued to build over the afternoon and by the time we were approaching the northern tip of Mauritius, we had 20-23 knot winds and 2 metre seas.  The headland is called Cap Malheureux - “the Unhappy Cape” and there are several small islands to avoid.  The charts show many places around these islands where there are overfalls, which are large steep waves caused by strong currents against the wind.  In the boisterous conditions, we wanted to avoid those spots.


The quickest route around the headland is through a channel between Cap Malheureux and island called Ile Coin de Mire.  The charts showed that there could be currents of 2-5 knots against us in a flood tide (low tide was at 15:30, so the tide would be flooding).  We were hoping to get through the islands before dark (at 17:45) and we didn’t seem to have any current against us, so I took a gamble and started to head through the Coin de Mire channel. 


Everything looked okay at first, with no reduction in speed over the ground.  However, by 16:45, as we approached the channel, the current picked up to 1 knot of current against us.  I couldn’t see any large waves ahead, but didn’t relish the thought of being trapped in overfalls with a 5 knot current against us as night fell - it could take us a couple of hours to go the three miles to the other side.

My bottle went, so we gybed, did a 90 degree right turn and headed around the top of Ile Coin de Mire.  It was a couple of miles further, but better for my peace of mind.  We made it through the islands before darkness fell and then had a good close reach in gradually calming seas as we sailed into the lee of Mauritius.


At 19:50, we anchored a couple of miles up the coast from Port Louis at 20°06.41S 057°29.89E in 12m depth.  The chain rumbled a lot, but held on something.  It was pitch black, so we couldn’t see where we were, but the sea bed shelved very slowly and it was a safe approach.  I sorted out the deck, putting the spinnaker pole away, while Glenys warmed up a lamb stew, which we ate with a nice bottle of red wine.