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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Island Hopping- Reunion, Mauritius, Coco–Cargados. Chagos Next?

The weather mellowed down a bit after the shaking that we got rounding the Cape. It was almost like living inside of an earthquake for a week with no respite in sight. On several occasions I was flung out of my bunk (which is on the windward) into the foot of the galley, and this was invariably followed with the navigator's seat falling on top of me. I grew wiser and rigged the lee cloth after which sleep has been much easier.

Though the weather eased a bit I lost two important equipment onboard. The wind vane autopilot’s paddle broke at a welding putting it out of commission. On the same day the generater refused to start. While attempting a repair it caught fire at the point where the battery terminals are connected. I quickly removed the cables. Later on the galley caught a minor fire, the reason for which turned out to be ill secured gas cylinders that had dislodged and were lying horizontal. To top it all, even my wrist watch stopped working- all on the same day.

After sixteen days of sailing, I sighted Reunion. Sighting land after so many days at sea is an indescribable feeling. I made every effort to pass close, and finally I left the island five miles on my starboard at midnight. Pity I could see only the night lights and much of the island was hidden because of the night. It was a full moon night and it helped a bit, and by the next afternoon I had sighted Mauritius. Mauritius has become a milestone in all trans Indian ocean passages. Cdr Donde’s training voyage was to Mauritius. He passed Mauritius on his solo circumnavigation. We again sighted the island on our way to Cape Town. It is almost a mid ocean pilgrimage spot.

I spent the night in the lee of Port Louis and in the morning closed in on the harbour to pick up a supply of fresh fruits from the Mauritius Coast Guard. Another day passed till the escort was ready to leave harbour and on the 19th we set sail from Mauritius resuming navigation to Goa. Koman flew a few sorties to escort me in and out, and with him were KKK and Bhatt. On the way out CGS Guardian accompanied me till Sudan Bank where they peeled off after a gift of fresh water and Indian sweets among other things. Another minor detour saw me at Corgados a day later and at Nazareth Banks after that.

The trade winds are in full sway. It is 20 knots from the south east more often than not, and it will remain so till half a degree south of the equator. I am yet to decide which longitude to cross the line but it seems most likely to be between 67 and 69 degrees east . And then its a home run.

Passing Reunion at midnight

Passing Reunion at Midnight

A receding view of Reunion by day

A receding view of Reunion by day

Friends dropped in to say hello! – Koman and KKK

Koman pays visit on his Defender

Made it to Mauritius in time to see this splendid moonrise

Moonrise over Mauritius

The island by day

Mauritius by day


Koman pays a visit again- This time with Bhatt

Koman comes again!

MCG with a supply of fresh fruits right outside Port Louis

MCG with a supply of fresh fruits

This huge Ro-Ro almost split Port Louis in two

Gunners Quoin

Gunners Quoin

Another farewell…

Farewel to Mauritius

The Guardian of MCG as escort. Lt Cdr Athawle sent across a gift of Indian sweets and hot noodles before parting ways.

MCG Guardian privides escort. Lt Cdr Athawle sent across a pack of gifts that included some very delicious Indian sweets

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