Wed 17th Oct07 I found the reef nearby...!
I knew the weekly supply ship was due in & I'd have to move very early in the morning to allow it room to manoevre when docking. The dock superintendant had promised to give a wake-up call to make sure there was no problem - so by 6.15 I was up & soon after let lines go & moved away to the far side of the harbour area with the intention of circling around until the big ship I could see approaching in the distance was safely docked.
All went fine until I went close to what I thought was a crabpot which I tried to keep my propeller well clear of.... 4m depth suddenly became 1.4m.... and I found myself aground on the reef edge.... seems that the crabpot was a 'marker buoy' warning of the reef very close by! Oops!! Revved up the engine & slowly tried to edge my way off - but wind and current were taking me further on.... eventually, the Coast Guard inflatable came by, took a line from me and passed it to one of the two tugs also circling who pulled me free.... phew!!
So much easier to have the friendly crew of the tug (who'd been inshore of me on the dock & knew me) help me rather than struggle unaided - no guarantee I'd have freed myself although I think I might have been doing so - but at a snail's pace...!
I'd expected a large ship - but this was enormous!! During all this, the weather had turned horrible and we were all drenched in heavy rain with strong gusty winds. But by 7 o'clock, the ship was docked, taking up the greater part of a very long dock, and we were all able to return to the far end of the dock - two tugs, 'Bowtie Lady' and 'Nereida' all rafted up together in a very small area!!
Then came a visit to Immigration to organize, as I thought, Clearance ready for Thursday morning departure .... Oh no! Not so simple - they insisted that it had to be done on the day of departure...... despite the fact that Customs weren't normally available until after 7 or 8 o'clock and the ship was scheduled to leave at 7 a.m. - which meant that, again, we all had to be clear of the dock so it could get away unhindered... Complications.... finally resolved by a very kindly Customs 'chief' who made lots of phone calls & arranged for his official to see us early without the normal 'out of hours' charge - around 6a.m., as soon as Immigration have been to complete their Clearance formalities. The Coast Guard will also be coming by at the same time. So hopefully,I'll be able to follow the ship out through the reef on the basis that where it goes, I can safely follow! (To be honest, having got in OK, I should be able to leave OK ... and it's quite a wide reef opening... and I now know where the transit is that I couldn't find when entering last Saturday)
Then I did final shopping, said farewell to helpful Mariana at the Tourist Office (who later sent me a Rodrigues/Mauritius courtesy flag to the dockside), visited the local Internet centre (to find it kept going down & was painfully slow), walked up the steep road to the Weather Centre for a useful and highly interesting visit there and finally got a bus over to the lovely sandy bay fringed with reef at Cotton Point on the far NE side of the island - worth a second visit, even if only a short one.
So I'm now all set to leave for Mauritius - assuming there are no more hiccups over the 'Clearance Out' paperwork before leaving!!..... I'd better got to sleep!!