To Reunion from Mauritius Sat/Sun 27/28th Oct07

Wow! What a rough but fast ride that was!!

I left Port Louis around 11am Saturday in near-calm conditions and arrived off Port des Galets ("Le Port") by 8am Sunday - nearly 150 mls in twenty-one hrs, averaging just over 7 knots. Winds backed from SSW 4-5 soon after leaving Mauritius to S6 by evening & SE 6-7 as we approached Reunion (being around 25kn, gusting over 30kn, most of the evening & night) with a swell which increased as the evening wore on and was regularly breaking on deck and into the cockpit. We really heeled over as each large wave passed & were also hit by breaking crests which caused quite a few things to fall about down below (Note to self: check those items are secured before start of next long passage to S. Africa!!) I had also omitted to close off the dorades, not expecting such a rough passage, so we shipped some water down below also... a lesson not to be forgotten for future ocean passages, however short...

As I finally took in a 3rd reef at 4am, I was drenched from head to toe by a mass of water! But it did reduce our heeling a bit without reducing our speed by much. At the time, the impressive volcanic slopes of Reunion were in sight, made clear in the darkness by village lights & the almost-full moon. I was concerned to ensure I stayed well offshore until daylight, partly in case of chart error - which turned out to be around three miles out in the case of the northern coast - until arriving just off Le Port, when it was suddenly spot-on.

On arriving, the Capitainerie was closed (Sunday!) and the nearby visitors' dock was busy but someone kindly found me an empty slip to come into. Everything here is so French!! Almost as soon as I was docked, I went down below to catch up on sleep - I'd been awake from about 3.30am.... I understand that the formalities here are minimal - unlike in Mauritius where the need for Customs & Immigration paperwork led to my departure being delayed by quite a bit due to certain officials not arriving until later in the morning.

I was pleased to have finally got to the Public Market before leaving Port Louis - a crowded, lively place crammed full with piles of inexpensive fresh fruit and vegetables- I even found some broccoli there! And on Friday evening, all the cruisers got together for an enjoyable time - this time on 'Bowtie Lady', who also made the passage over to Reunion at the same time as 'Nereida'. A lot of the other boats are bypassing Reunion to make directly for S. Africa where we hope to meet up over the coming months.

All the people on the dock here in Port des Galets have been extremely friendly - and given my French a good testing! One lent me his water hose so I could give 'Nereida' a thorough freshwater rinse and another offered to help with my shorepower connection, seeing I had a problem with that. The evening was rounded off very nicely by finding a little restaurant a short walk away in St Denis serving delicious but inexpensive Madagascar food - it got quite crowded with friendly locals who were very happy to chat to me.

Written by : Mike

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