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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.  

October 25, 2010
Position: 28 47.41S 32 04.94E Berth E24, Zululand Yacht Club, Richard's Bay, South Africa (east coast)

G' Day mis amigos, many of us think of South Africa as being full of game animals and there are. Reading brochures picked up today from an I Site, nearby Richard's Bar are a number of animals including zebras, hippos, wilderbeasts, crocodiles, monkeys and other stuff I can't remember. Something I didn't mention was when Egret was within 12 or so nm from Richard's Bay we ran into 3 groups of whales, 2 groups quite close. Because they were so close they seemed HUGE. Speaking of monkeys, we had a South African couple from the catamaran at the head of the dock aboard Egret this afternoon. She warned us about the local monkeys and said don't have any fruit out. They had one of the little devils board their boat, grab a bag of apples off the counter and split. We saw 2 monkey's around the garbage can this morning.

Mary and Annette from the catamaran were talking while her husband was asking all kinds of technical questions. They have cruised extensively so know what the deal is and his questions were well put and pertinent. So while we boys talked about boy stuff, Mary and Annette were talking girl stuff. Annette stopped by later with a fresh batch of gonnabe thick yogurt who's recipe has been in her family for 200 years. So now Mary has the culture and can make her own. We fell in love with thick Greek yogurt while in Greece and have been buying Greek yogurt ever since. Annette told Mary friends of theirs are selling their boat and moving to Samos in the Aegean Greek Islands. Guess where we fell in love with thick Greek yogurt? Yup, the Blue Chair Restaurant in a small mountain village in Samos. Mary and I bought a case of local wine made by the owner of the restaurant and were later served lunch by his daughter. As a gift she brought us a giant plate (no, not a bowl - it was thick enough to serve on a plate) of yogurt topped with fresh cherries and 4 spoons (we were with another cruiser couple*). Small world indeed.

* The cruiser couple were Americans from a 50' steel sloop named Bear. We later met the Bear crew in Auckland, New Zealand. Small world indeed. (Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Small world among the world cruising contingent is just what it says, small world and just a few boats away from knowing most of the group.)

OK, Egret is in her slip for a month at Zululand Yacht Club. We actually had to back in from outside the fairway. It is a tight spot AND there is a sportfish to the east making the channel deeper and the steel sloop next to Egret has a platform type projection beyond the transom that further narrowed the space. AND the tide was heading out accompanied by the wind in the same direction meaning we had to back INTO the wind and tide. We did it however without much fuss, no threats of extreme punishment, counter threats of extreme chastity or any raised voices....except for Dick who was a helicopter pilot most of his career before management and has a crook left ear (doesn't work too well) so Mary had to tell Dick in a raised voice to tie off the aft spring NOW. He did. So anyway, Egret is in a berth with doubled lines and all is well.

Zululand Yacht Club is wonderful. There is a boatyard on the property, a nice clubhouse with a first class restaurant and el cheapo pricing (how about this dwellers?.......1.1lb (500 grams) T bone, potatoes and salad for about $9.00 U.S.P. Oh yes, we were there at happy hour so local kick butt beer was about $.50 U.S.P/bottle. Ho hum, Egret's kind of deal. The manager and I had a discussion this morning. He stopped by last night and told us on Wed nights new arrivals are given a bottle of champagne and a yacht club burgee. So we ate our steak and drank beer with some other cruisers but NO champagne and burgee. This morning the manager said the new commodore didn't know about the Wed night program so went for an after work sail. Today they are coming around with the welcoming goodies to each boat. The timing is good so tonight we can get trashed before Mary has to leave on her bazillion hour flight back to the States in the morning. It will serve her right for leaving Dick and I......the wench. (Next day) The champagne didn't show so we were good and just had a glass of local red. Mary left this morning. I miss her already.

Believe it or not there are no marine fuel stations in Richard's Bay. There are two locals including the Zululand marine store owner who deliver fuel in large tanks on trailers with gasoline driven pumps. Today we ordered 2,000 liters of fuel (526 U.S.Gallons) at 8.11 South African Rand or about $1.15 U.S.P per liter or $4.37 U.S.P per gallon. We ordered enough fuel to make Cape Town with a healthy reserve. In Cape Town we will fill everything with duty free fuel before leaving for St Helena (island). We sent an e-mail back to Florida and have our money folks wire money for the fuel. Everything needs to be complete before next Wednesday because fuel is going up about 10 - 15 cents SAR. After sending the money transfer e-mail we transfered fuel from the port tank to the stbd. The tank was spotless and didn't have a single drop of water so we didn't bother transferring the fuel back across and inspecting the stbd tank. We won't check the tanks again until Florida unless the circulation pump starts clogging the filter between here and there. We use a 10 micron filter on the circ pump* and it hasn't been changed since New Zealand. That is how clean New Zealand, Ozzie and Reunion fuel has been. We cleaned the tanks in NZ and they were spotless there as well. *We turn on the circ pump a couple days before leaving and don't turn it off until Egret reaches port.

I saw them building new floating docks for the %$#@#^& rally folks who are on their way. Friends on largish sailboats Lorna and Ventana will be here soon so I was trying to get them a berth. The manager said "we don't turn anyone away even if we have to put member boats on private pontoons across the way. We get them here and hold them as long as we can. We have boats that signed up for 2 weeks and have been here 2 years". The game parks are nearby, the club has a couple young folks with cars who give inexpensive tours and we already met a Frenchman who is building a small resort and gives tours from his place. When Mary gets back we'll hit the game park trail. Its such a shame we can't stay longer and really get to know this area of the world but if we want to cross the Atlantic this coming year Egret needs to move on to Cape Town by December, 15th at the latest in order to do what we want to do this coming summer. (A day later) We called Royal Cape Yacht Club and they said they were full of Cape to Rio race boats. They gave us another number of a local private marina and they said stop by when we were in town. So I guess we'll show up at the Royal Cape Yacht Club and see what happens. Like here, face to face means more than a phone call or e-mail.

Just outside the yacht club office is a large thorn tree full of bright yellow and black weaver birds (black backed weavers). They are weaving lengths of stripped palm frond into super interesting nests that look like a nautilus shell hanging upside down. The weavers enter from the bottom, up over the hump and nest in the enclosed side. We picked up a couple nests that fell and they are quite intricate. Fortunately is is early enough in the spring there aren't any eggs or kids yet. We heard if the female rejects the nest the male must start over. (I'll leave that alone.....but its hard) A year ago some yachties found a fallen nest with a little one inside. They took it to their boat and raised it to maturity. It still hangs out here and lands on folks working on their boats. The American single hander next to Egret had it land on his arm. He about stained himself. I forgot the bird's name but it is the only one with a leg tag so we'll be on the lookout for it. We have wifi so it will be easy to send along pictures of the little home builders.

So there you have it. Egret is snug in her berth and half her crew is on her way home to see the new grandson. VofE will slow down because Dickiedoo and I are batching it and won't do much until the Admiral returns. Ciao.

 

October 25, 2010
Position: 28 47.69S 32 04.71E Small Boat Harbor, Richard's Bay, South Africa (east coast)

Trip Statistics:
Distance traveled from Le Port, Reunion, to Richard's Bay: 1371.26nm
Passage time: 201 hours, 8 days, 9 hours
Average speed for trip: 6.8 knots
Average speed for the last 21 hours: 7.7 knots
Fuel burned: 571.33 U.S. Gallons/2171 liters
Nautical Miles per gallon: 2.4*
Nautical Miles per liter: .631
Water used: 120 Gallons/456 liters
Generator hours: 0
*this is Egret's worst mileage on any long distance trip ever. AND this is what excessive fuel reserves are all about. We did not cheap out on expensive fuel and the extra gallons/liters gave Egret the option to run hard to miss weather.

G' Day mis amigos, I wish you could look out Egret's pilothouse glass just now. It is calm with seas under a meter and wind to match. It is just, just coming light and the bright orange African moon is getting ready to set. The coming daylight has taken the moon's reflection off the water that kept the Indian Ocean bright all night. Mary mentioned last night at sunset as the sun went down the moon was already up. I know you are back home slaying dragons and have bigger issues to deal with but when you are at sea all we have are little big things. Little things like a sunset or a moon set are a big thing in an uneventful day. Same with our sea bird friends, flying fish or even a small Portuguese man of war bring a little joy into the day.

So what will today bring? Lets see. My day starts at 0400 when Dick goes off watch. First it is quick engine room checks, then a gps/speed check, radar expanded from 12nm to 24nm looking for targets then a sitting period looking out the glass at whatever. After an hour or so its up to make a cup of tea and have a little snack. This morning it was a slice of a bread loaf Dick made. Dick makes a tasty sweet bread like a diet fruit cake. I'm not sure what he uses for the recipe but it is a heavy dark brown bread full of walnuts, raisins, dates and perhaps some molasses. Other times it is a couple Arnold's biscuits we discovered in New Zealand and are available in Australia. I believe they are a British tea biscuit deal. Then its an e-mail check. This morning we received 3 e-mails. One from OMNI Bob with the latest weather report and it made us very happy we made the decision to speed up and arrive on Sunday (tomorrow) vs getting killerated on Monday. One was from a crewman from the NAR (Dean/Photo Grunt/Bacon Boy) who gave us the latest personal news and one from sailboat friends on their way to New Zealand from Fiji telling us the wind has been all wrong but finally is pushing them in the right direction. The moon is now down and it is getting lighter as the big orange African sun rises from the sea. There are no targets on radar. So that's the day so far.

Let's expand on this a bit and explain life at sea. Prior to leaving your previous destination you will have put in your waypoints for the upcoming trip. With Max Sea software using C-Map charts, here's the deal. Left click on a red circle with a cross inside that sets waypoints and move across the charts left clicking and putting in waypoints. The easy way is to use a small scale chart and put in general waypoints, then zoom down and by clicking on an icon that looks like a silver cross, put that over the waypoint circle, click and drag the waypoint where you want it. This is very simple. You can lay out an ocean crossing in just a few minutes then enter the waypoints into the gps/plotter. A coastal trip will take a bit more with more waypoints and more fine tuning. After clearing the harbor or anchorage, enter the first waypoint in the gps/plotter and tell the autopilot where to go*. The autopilot** is the most valuable item on any powerboat after the main engine and steering. After you punch the waypoint into the autopilot, life at sea is a series of watches (in Egret's case they are 4 hours, with or without crew), meals, snacks, engine room checks (early on in the trip we check every hour or so then every 2- 3 hours or so), reading, naps, conversation, fishing and gazing. Having access to e-mail and receiving news from friends brightens the day. Typically we check e-mail 3 times a day because we receive e-mail from a number of different time zones. When its calm or not much motion it is easier than when it is rough. The chance of having a serious problem at sea or when it is rough is minuscule. Rough just means you move around the boat carefully, cooking meals is more difficult but with all Egret's miles there are perhaps 5 days or less Mary didn't turn out 3 meals a day. Rough always comes to an end then you are back to something reasonable and its easier. Other than repairing Egret's $@@%&% Whale tubing (fresh water system) under the master berth and fuel filter changes occasionally, I don't remember anything we fixed at sea. Well perhaps changed a water system pump (5-10 minutes work) and a couple times had to hand steer when the autopilot pump went out. If you remember, we fixed that problem for good in Tasmania with a modification to keep the autopilot hydraulic pump seal in place. All other maintenance items have been taken care of in anchorages or at the dock. So at sea, you put in your time and the miles melt away and before long the arrival alarm goes off and you arrived at a new landfall and a new adventure.

*Most charting software programs will allow the autopilot to automatically change to the next waypoint and steer the boat all the way to the destination. We NEVER do that. It is dangerous. By manually changing the waypoint each time, you have a PERSON looking at the change and making sure the boat is going in the right direction. I'll never forget on a trip up the Intracoastal Waterway watching a white plastic go fast cabin cruiser making these erratic sharp turns and a jerky course. That Intracostal weenie probably programed his course at home and let the computer drive the autopilot thru the different turns. One slight mistake at that speed could be a disaster.

**A prior to departure routine we started a few years ago is bleeding the autopilot pump. Egret's hydraulic steering lines run thru the engine room ceiling and get quite hot, then cool after shutdown, then heat again and so on. This gives a chance for expansion and contraction and possibly introducing a tiny bit of air into the system. It is best to have a helper to bleed the steering. Mary and I have a simple routine that works. She opens the lazarette hatch and waits for my signal to open the bleed valve for the steering. (This is the valve you open to disconnect the steering so you may use the emergency tiller) You bleed the highest helm pump first, in Egret's case it is the flybridge. I tell her to OPEN the valve then with the Simrad autopilot standby button pushed (like you were going to hand steer) I hit the port turn arrow and hold it down for 45 seconds, then hold down the stbd arrow. I tell Mary to shut the valve then move down to the pilothouse controls and repeat the bleeding. When this is done, Mary closes the valve and I reattach the bungee cord to keep it shut so if we are bouncing and something hits the valve handle by chance it won't open.

I need to clarify something I wrote last VofE. I made the statement below about being happy.

"Currently Egret is 404.4nm off the entrance waypoint to Richard's Bay, South Africa. The weather is calm, we don't expect any truly rough seas before landfall and for the time being life at sea is as good as it gets. So what does this have to do with you? Nothing much really, this is what makes us happy, not you".

What I need to clarify is if Egret had been 404.4nm off the entrance waypoint to Richard's Bay, South Africa 8 or 9 years ago this would NOT have made us happy, in fact, quite the opposite. Reaching happiness in an offshore situation is a learned thing, not something where you or we start or started.

It is 1016 Sunday morning, arrival day. At about 200nm out we hit another head current. At 110nm out Egret entered the Agulhas Current and took off. Most of the night she was in the mid 8 to 9 knot range. Then she got 25 knots of push behind the beam and picked up even more speed. She wuz flying!! Just now the speed is 9.1 knots and the wind is forward of the beam giving the once washed by rain little girl a sea water bath. It doesn't matter. We can see land. Just 27.77nm to go. This is very exciting!! Another ocean down, another continent in the distance. Two ships just passed giving Egret a squeeze job. All three are heading for Richard's Bay. Egret had the right of way. So what? We moved 30 degrees to port and let the big guys thru. After arrival we'll give you the customs details and first impressions. For the time being it's time for a round of showers and wearing something besides tee shirts and shorts to meet Customs and Immigration. There is a simple rule meeting officials for clearance. You look good, you get treated good. You look like a cruiser slob, you may not get treated as well.

OK, Egret is berthed alongside a seawall in the small boat harbor, Richard's Bay. Here's the deal. Arrival was very straight forward. A VHF call to Richard's Bay Port Control allowed entry into the harbor. Port Control notified Customs and Immigrations of Egret's arrival. C-Map charting was exact. At the second large green buoy (stbd side) the turnoff to Zululand Yacht Club was clear and straightforward. At the third buoy was the channel leading to the small boat harbor which we took. Fortunately there was no wind. The harbor was packed but there were two small sailboats we met in Mauritius fore and aft on the wall. They graciously rafted up and let Egret squeeze into a very tight spot between them and the rafted boats behind. Customs came by first just after the first rum n coke slid down, did his deal (very nice guy and one of the easiest customs clearances anywhere) then later Immigration stopped by and did his deal with the same nice easy going professionalism. Because Egret came from Reunion the Health folks didn't have to stop by. He said if Egret had come from a couple African countries he named, Health would have been by. So now Egret was legal, Dick raised the South African flag and put the Q flag away until the next time. So off the crew went to the high end shops and restaurants at the head of the harbor for dinner. Then it was back to the boat to crash. Crash we did.

This morning I walked with Bjorn, a Norwegian from a 1982,10 meter (32') Ta Shing (Taiwan) built sailboat, to Zululand Yacht Club this morning to see if we could both get a berth. With the majority of Indian Ocean cruisers including the $%#@#$%^ rally descending on Richard's Bay and other east coast ports it is imperative to get a berth asap. He said 4 boats left Mauritius at the same time. His was the only one to escape damage. The older Amel (about 52') behind Egret got trashed. The genoa on the forward furling got shredded, the hydraulics to the steering went out so they had to hand steer with the emergency tiller for over 1000nm. I almost forgot, the engine filled with water as well. The Dutch owners told Bjorn they didn't think they would make it. The small Swedish boat rafted off Bjorn is being single handed and suffered a knockdown that ripped the dodger off the boat, skewed the solar panels into strange shapes and washed all the fuel jugs off the deck. The fourth boat couldn't make the turn to Richards Bay and had to keep going south and even more storms, eventually landing about 470nm south of RB in Port Elizabeth. They had serious damage as well losing their wind generator, solar panels and dodger. It is simply luck that Egret scooted between systems with no wind over 25 knots and an 8 day trip. However, part of it wasn't luck. First, even if we had been in the same storms, Egret would have had no damage. Second, because of OMNI Bob's professional weather forecasting we knew the possibility of storms coming in the distant future and we sped up to miss today's big SWly blow. Being power gave us the option to run hard for the last half the trip. Egret's trip took 8 days, everyone else's took between 14 and 18 days. They didn't have wind to give them the speed and when it did come they got mushed. So why didn't Bjorn suffer when the rest did. All 4 sailboats are competent, long term voyagers. The other three boats were lighter, a bit faster in the right conditions, but when the weather turned to junk, the tank like construction carried Bjorn thru with no damage.

Showing up in person at Zululand Yacht Club early on Monday morning was a wise move. Bjorn got a berth for a month. He is flying home to see his wife. There is a large local sailboat coming out of the water today for a month at the local boat yard so Egret got their berth. When today's wind lets up we will move over to the floating docks at Zululand. Mary leaves Friday for Florida for 3 weeks. Dick and I will do boat chores and hang out with yachties until she returns.

Mary invited Bjorn from s/v Josephine and Leonard from s/v Quilla (Swedish) over this evening for a fish fry so after a beer or so I'm sure we'll hear a lot about Quilla's knockdown. More to follow. Ciao.

 

 

October 22, 2010

Position: 28 00.66S 38 28.31E
Seas: 1m, NE
Wind: 12 knots NE
Speed: 7.7 knots
Average speed for trip: 6.7 knots
Nautical miles to go: 338.3

G' Day mis amigos, there be whales. Dick was on watch just before dark and he saw a spout close by off the port side. He called out "whales" and brought Mary and I up to see the sights. Mary opened the pilothouse door and went to the side and started her 'talking routine' by tapping her ring hand on the side of the boat and cooing to the whale. Like many dolphin, the whale going in the opposite direction turned 90 degrees and passed close under Egret's stern. This was a little to close for comfort in the choppy water. By this time it was just dark and all we could see was its spouts and splashes.

To sum up the past couple days we could simply say slow, slow. Head currents have been fierce. One 24 hour period Egret averaged but 5.4 knots at 1450 rpm. The seas have been kind except when a front blew thru and gave Egret a couple hours of confused seas and a nearly 180 degree wind reversal from NE to SSW. After a few hours the new prevailing wind and seas obliterated any residual swell from the NE. This meant seas forward of the beam for the first time in the trip but 6 hours later we finally got a favorable current and the speed started climbing, slowly at first then to a high of 7.9 knots near the end before we turned WSW early this morning toward Richard's Bay, SA. The speed has decreased because at this point she is still caught in the southbound current and we have 20 degrees of set and drift to the north (crabbing). The speed now is in the 7.3 - 7.4 range at 1550 rpm. We increased the rpm in order to try and average 6.5 knots for the remainder of the trip. If Egret can maintain 6.5 knots we will arrive at Richards Bay in daylight on Monday. Even though it is a large commercial port with good lighting we would still prefer a daylight arrival although we have excellent harbor details in the South African Nautical Almanac, by Tom Morgan. So how large is the port? Two nights ago we had a 958' (299m) ship with a 185' (58m) beam and a 33' draft (10m) with a destination of Richard's Bay*. So if they can do it, I believe teeny, tiny Egret can. *Richard's Bay is a coal port.

So after whining above about head currents, how about this? Since 1600 yesterday afternoon when we reset the daily log, Egret logged 199.02 nm (1600 today) at an average speed of 8.3 knots. This is a record for the Egret crew since leaving the U.S. Of course she is running at a nearly unprecedented 1750 rpm trying to make port before a predicted front arrives Monday. She is also guzzling fuel at a scary rate of about 2.75 gallons per hour (10.5ltr). However, she is still getting 3.01 nm/gallon, .79 nm/ltr. We are riding thru an area of light variable winds between systems meaning the 8.9 knots shown on the anemometer is a true couple knots and the opposing current shown on the Pilot Charts hasn't kicked in so far.

A small recent incident brought something to mind, so instead of continuing this VofE with the dream trip in Antarctica we need to climb up on The Box (soapbox) and reinforce a common theme we mention from time to time. Currently Egret is 404.4nm off the entrance waypoint to Richard's Bay, South Africa. The weather is calm, we don't expect any truly rough seas before landfall and for the time being life at sea is as good as it gets. So what does this have to do with you? Nothing much really, this is what makes us happy, not you. The key word here is happy. Mary and I were happy in the Chesapeake the summer after retirement. We were happy in the Bahamas the winter after. And so on. ALL that matters in boating is making yourself happy. Happiness is not pounding out the miles, doing great deeds, scaring yourselves witless or anything else that makes you uncomfortable. ALL that matters in boating is making yourself happy. Don't think for a second if you don't end up in South Africa, or any other far away place in the world some day, you haven't done the deal. If you have been happy boating anywhere, THAT is as good as it gets. I pains me to see folks put their boats on the market after a short ownership. I believe if you could look deep into their hearts* 5 years after selling the boat they would say their time on the water were some of the happiest days of their lives. I believe what they didn't come to grips with was confidence in themselves. Boating isn't like driving a car. You need to learn more, however, boating is a lot safer. It isn't difficult but you must learn the basics and build on that. Fear sends some new owners back to dirt dwelling. By fear I don't mean fear for their lives but fear of damaging precious ego's. Docking mishaps, fear of the engine room, lack of this or that or a simple incident of some sort that passes their comfort level or understanding. So what I'm saying is, you reap what you sow. If you learn (keyword - learn) as you go in baby steps, keep a Positive Attitude and use common sense, boating will reward you with a sense of accomplishment of something YOU DID like little else. And it is a pure visual and sensual accomplishment, not a business deal or a profit orientated accomplishment. When you are in a quiet anchorage relatively close to home in the Pacific North West, ogling the reef thru crystal clear water in the Bahamas, exploring Scandinavian fjords, the Mediterranean rim countries, the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Island or anywhere else in the world where you are alone in your boat, ALL the posturing and pretensions are gone. You are back to the innocent happiness of childhood. Like finding a pretty shell on a low tide beach. This is true happiness. You get the picture. Here endeth The Box.

*What their hearts tell you, not what they tell you.

The weekend is coming up and it is time to fire this VofE into space. Early next week we will give you our first impressions of South Africa.

Thanks for your position reports and weather.

High pressure near 35S 57E is expected to move slowly eastward the next 48hrs or so. As it does, a weak weather front extending N-NW across SE Africa is expected to move across the Richards Bay area, then stall during Sat/23. As the front stalls, a somewhat elongated low pressure area is expected to develop over southern Africa through Sat/night, remain somewhat stationary through Sun/pm, then deepen and move SE through Mon/am-aftn. At this time, the low should stay west of Richards Bay through Sun/midnight, but a trailing front to the north should cross the Richards Bay area during Mon/am, then continue to move seaward through Mon/night-Tue/am while the low center moves SE-ward.

High pressure is expected is expected to ridge quickly toward the north/east across SE Africa allowing for wind/sea conditions to improve steadily through Tue-Wed.

This slight delay in the freshening/shifting winds might give you just enough time to get closer or even arrive at Richards Bay before the winds have a chance to shift. Even if they do, at your current speed the time spent in these higher conditions would be minimal thus creating the roughest conditions for a shorter period of time. The roughest conditions should occur from Mon/am-sunrise and thereafter off the coast of SE Africa.

Wit this in mind, it is still best to arrive at Richards Bay before the cold front passes, if possibe by Sun/midnight. Along the direct route to Richards Bay at your best speed, expect:

Fri/22: NE-NNE 12-20kts. Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs. Swells ESE to ENE 1.5-2.0mtrs.

Sat/23: Range NNE-NE to ESE-SSE 12-20kts. Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs, as low as 1.0-1.5mtrs at times. Swells E-ENE 1.5-2.0mtrs, possibly more confused during Sat/pm.

Sun/24: SE-ESE to ENE 15-20kts Sun/am. NE-ENE 20-25kts and gusty during Sun/pm. Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs, upto 2.5mtrs during Sun/pm. Swells ENE-Confused 1.5-2.0mtrs. If arriving late Sun/night winds stay NE-ly 20-25kt, gusty with ENE sea/swells 1.5-2.5mtrs to arrival.

Mon/25-arrival: NE-NW 15-25kt, ENE-confused 1.5-2.5mtrs to arrival (thru early Mon/am), Shifting by/shortly after sunrise NW-SW 20-30kt, gusty/35-40ktskts with building seas 2.5-3.0mtrs and confused-SW swells 2.0-3.0mtrs if you are still at sea beyond Mon/am (after sunrise). Combined 3.5-4.0mtrs very possible as the front passes, again, if you are still at sea during this cold frontal passage.

Please send your position reports and weather daily, while enroute. We will continue to watch/update. Please advise your ETA daily until arrival. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

 

Monday, October 18, 2010
Position: 24 02.79S 050 12.72E
Speed: 4.7 knots
Speed average for trip: 5.9 knots
Wind: 16 knots NE
Seas: 1.5 - 2 meter swells NE
Distance to go: 1027nm

(Ed. note: A last-minute update from Scott indicates the going is slow for Egret which faces a nagging head current, slowing them to an average 5.3 kts for the day. "It's been a long time since we got stalled like this," writes Scott. "At least the weather has been nice.")

To: Captains Scott & Mary Flanders - M/Y EGRET
Fm: O.M.N.I./USA www.oceanmarinenav.com, Tel: 1-302-284-3268
1750UTC 18 OCT 2010

A stationary weather front/trough pattern extends NNW from a relatively weak low center near 35S 51E. The low should move slowly south/east across 40S 55E through late Tue/19, but the front/trough should weaken. This will allow more of an influence from the high ridge pattern extending WNW-NW toward southern Madagscar to help maintain the E-NE winds to southern Madagascar through Wed/20. As you move through the front/trough during Tue/19 winds will tend to shift NE-NNW to SSW-SE thru Wed/20 then SE-NE through Thur.

A new weather front approaching from the west will tend to weaken through Thur/21st as a blocking high ridge over a new/broad high pressure ridge pattern develops to your south/east through Thur-Fri. Longer range data indicates a stronger high ridge developing west of the front and extend eastward across the southern African Cape region which should allow for S-SE winds to freshen and SW-swell to develop Sat-Sun.

Along the direct route to Richards Bay (SE Africa) via abeam Fort Dauphin (SE Madagascar), expect:

Mon/18- eve-night: NE-NNE 15-20kts. Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs. Swells NE 1.5-2.0mtrs.
Tue/19: NE-NNW 15-20kts, Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs. Swells NE-Confused 1.5-2.0mtrs thru Tue/am. Shifting NNW-SSW to SSE 15-20kt, and gusty during Tue/eve-night. Swells Become confused to S-ly 1.5-2.0mtrs during Tue/pm.
Wed/20: SSE-SE to ESE 15-20kt, Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs. Swells S-SE 1.5-2.0mtrs, upto 2.5mtrs possible. Winds tend more ESE-ENE 15-20kt, occ 25kts with SE sea/swells 2.0-2.5mtrs Wed/pm.

Thur/21: E-NE 15-20kts, ease to 10-16kts. Sea/swells SE-E to confused 1.5-2.0mtrs.
Fri/22: E-NE 10-15kts, freshen to 15-20kts during the pm/hrs. Confused to E-NE 1.5-2.0mtrs. Combined sea/swells upto 2.5mtr by Fri

G' Day mis amigos, here is the latest before departure. We did have to pay dockage in the end. The total was 200 euros including VAT (about $260 USP). We called Customs for a Saturday morning checkout and they came within the hour on Friday. They have a large ship coming in and will be busy Sat am. So the Egret crew is stamped out of Reunion for Richard's Bay, South Africa. Mary bought the last French bread for a while. She filled a large bag so we will have bread for the trip. Mary wraps it in tin foil and it stays pretty well. The volcano erupted tonight sending ash into the sky and giving off a red glow from time to time. Picture 1 was a long exposure tripod shot where you can see the glow from the lava in the ash cloud.

It is dirty here n the marina. The marina is in a waterfront industrial area. Dick hosed Egret this morning from top to bottom but within a couple hours it was dirty again. We will wash the boat with soap and water tomorrow morning just at daylight and will leave soon after. OMNI Bob's forecast shows 4 days of great weather in mild trade winds AND the wind will be behind the beam so we should make good time. More on that later.

The alarm went off at 0450 local. We were up taking showers, coffee, then started the soap and water quick wash. Once that was done it was washing the docklines that spent time in the polluted water, washing the fenders that sat in water and remove the shore power cord and putting the water hose away. Off with the lines, up with the fenders and Egret was on her way at 0600 exactly as planned. She cleared the harbor 12 minutes later and was under way to her first waypoint 647.9nm away, 68nm below the southern tip of Madagascar. Our sailing friends said we must pass at least 100nm and up to 150nm south of Madagascar. So I took a look at it. The Madagascar current flows south down the east coast of Madagascar, around the southern tip and back up the west coast. What you don't want to do is get caught in current when a SW'ly blows thru. The usual wind once south of Madagascar is from the north between Madagascar and Africa. This puts sailboats on a beam reach and a favorable wind for them. However, looking at the charts, there is a deep water channel between the shallow shelf south of Madagascar and a sea mount farther to the south. Egret's waypoint is about 20nm in each direction between the shelf and sea mount*. The areas 100 - 150nm south of Madagascar has a series of sea mounts and a convoluted bottom that tells me there will be confused seas in a blow. Egret's waypoint gives us a wind push and an Agulhas Current push toward Richard's Bay, SA instead of crabbing like the more southern route. So we'll give our waypoint a try and see what happens. (For those of you with access to charts, the below Madagascar waypoint is 26 44.67S 045 18.45E. The next waypoint is 705.1nm WSW off the entrance to Richard's Bay. 28 47.47S 032 13.26E) *You DO NOT want to get caught on top of a sea mount in a blow and particularly when current is involved. When it is not blowing and it is safe to fish, sea mounts are where fish hang out letting the upwelling current bring baitfish to the surface.

It is now about 4 hours after leaving. Egret is running at 1450 RPM and making but 5.7 knots. While still in the wind shadow of Reunion it was quite calm with no wind and she averaged 6.7 knots but now there is 15 knots on the beam, a 1+ meter chop and an adverse current. The opposing current is clearly shown on the Indian Ocean Pilot Charts. About mid way to Madagascar we hit a southerly current that sweeps around the southern tip of M. From there on the Pilot Charts show a favorable currents to South Africa.

We are pulling two small, sub surface baits hoping to lure a tasty snapper to snap and by using small sub surface baits, hope to keep beakfish away (billfish, like marlin). Oh yes, the early morning wash got rid of the dirt dirt, but now we are starting to ash up from la erupteau Volcan.

For a little techno, this morning soon after getting under way I was doing the first thorough engine room check. In checking the view port to the sump in front of the day tank I saw a hose clamp to the master stateroom air conditioner pump had corroded and snapped in half. Nightmare of nightmares. Of course the centrifugal pump is below the waterline and that hose connection is relatively important had the hose come adrift. "Relatively" is slightly understated. Cluster drill is more like it if the bilge was filling and alarms were going off. Fortunately the yard at South Coast Marine in Taiwan who built Egret uses a black rubber like sealant on all their hose connections, so that alone and the fact the hose had long taken a set is all that kept the hose from leaking or coming adrift. We had planned all along to change all the hose clamps in Ft Lauderdale when we return as well as most of the hoses themselves as part of her nearly 10 year refresh. In the hose clamp department, if you don't know there are three general types of marine stainless steel hose clamps. The traditional U.S. hose clamp like a Breeze or Ideal is made of 304 stainless that corrodes in time (as this one). There are two versions made in Sweden that are better. One is 304 with a rolled edge that doesn't cut into the hose and is not perforated thru the band like a traditional American hose clamp. The best from Sweden is made from 316 stainless with a rolled edge and non perforated band. Before the NAR we replaced all Egret's larger hose clamps with the 316 Swedish clamps. I believe today the two U.S. companies are making the same clamp as well. The only weakness of the Swedish clamps are they have a shallow screw slot so using a straight blade screwdriver is difficult. However, a 7mm socket, 1/4" drive ratchet is what we use and it works perfect. American clamps use an 8mm socket. Our 1/4" drive ratchet is from Snap On and has a universal joint at the head that is perfect for hard to get areas. We also have most sizes of Snap On 1/4" drive extensions from 1 1/2 to 18".

It got calmer thru the night. It is dark out now but there is little boat motion. Egret's speed has been up and down with the current but her average for the past 19 hours is 6.0 knots at 1450 RPM. There is but 3.3 knots of wind. Egret's kinda deal. A few rain showers have been moving thru but we haven't been lucky enough to get a rinse. There is zero salt on deck but it would be nice to get rid of the ash from the volcano. For most of the daylight hours it was overcast from the ash cloud but in the afternoon the sun did come out. The sunset was special with the orange fireball disappearing into the clouds. Sunrise will be in a couple hours and it should be special as well. There were no snappers yesterday. We did see one group of birds circling but no activity on the surface and no snaps. So we'll try again today.

Back to the dream trip to the ice. Your time in South Georgia is coming to an end with full summer in bloom. Now is the time to leave and enjoy exploring Antarctica in great weather and sunny days. Leave with the first good weather window for the 3 day run to Elephant Island, the place of wait for the majority of Shackleton's crew. Looking at the chart of EI there is a place on the SE coast named Point Wild. I know there was a prominent Wild in the Shackleton crew so perhaps it is their landing place. In any case this is a good starting point for your research. There is a warning on the chart telling the need for extreme caution in this area but extreme cruise ships make the stop and send passengers ashore. If they can do it, so can you. Here will you will have some protection if a westerly blows thru but at the first chance beat feet for King George Island in the Shetland Island Group. Charting here is good and off the beaten cruise ship path. Here you can explore at your leisure. Greenwich Island is just to the west with good charting and Livingston Islands a little farther west also has good charting so take your time here. Next you are off to the usual first stop in an Antarctic adventure at Deception Island. Surprisingly C-Map charting is poor for Deception but paper charts will have the details. Deception is a crumbling relic from the whaling days set inside what appears to be an ancient volcano caldera. The bottom is foul in most places with debris from the whaling days. Teflon Bay to the NW inside Deception is where to go in a blow. There is a moraine barrier at the entrance with good holding. On the beach just off the whaling station you can swim in thermal pools. By now a nice hot bath would be most welcome!! Leaving Deception for the Antarctic continent is just a half day run. C-Map charting from now on is very poor. Here you need a combination of charts from British Admiralty, U.S. and perhaps from Chile. On the continent itself there is just an 85nm stretch that is really worth exploring, ending with the Ukraine base to the south (where it is tradition to drink vodka with the residents.) There are a few good anchorages in case of a blow. Weather reporting is good and because the cruising area is so small it is not difficult to retreat to a good anchorage. Holding is poor in Antarctica because there is no mud on the bottom except in Deception. The bottom is scoured rock ground smooth by ice. Most anchorages require lines ashore to boulders or in some cases to pins wedged in the ice. However, usually there is little wind so holding isn't that big of a problem. Ice moves with current, not wind so it needs to be monitored as well. Do not let any of this discourage you. If you come this far you will have the skills to deal with whatever.

Now for the only downside for this story. While in Ushuaia, Argentina, planning Egret's Antarctic trip we accumulated all the hand drawn charts from the English speaking adventure charter sailboat group and French friends gathered the same from their countrymen. There were some duplicates but these little jewels were indispensable. I loaned my charts and hand drawn charts to a boat who made the trip, including S. Georgia and the Falklands, with the understanding we would get them back. We didn't even after 2 e-mails. I need to phone and ask for the charts to be sent to Florida so we may have them aboard. If any of you do go, not dream but actually put together a program for this trip, I'll send copies of the hand drawn charts once I retrieve them. More to follow.

Today was a good day. It was calm, there were adverse currents most of the day but now 1930 local, Egret's speed is up into the mid 6 knot range and her average speed is back to 6.0 knots from 5.9. This afternoon the left rod went off but we could tell it wasn't a big fish. Dick reeled in a nice tasty wahoo approaching 10lbs (his first). We did a quick fillet and release. A couple hours later the same rod went off and Mary reeled in an upper 20ish mahi mahi. So the freezer has space for 1 more of the same and dinner this evening of fresh wahoo was super. We fixed Wahoo Islamorada. It is a simple recipe and we'll pass it along. Cut the wahoo fillet into narrow strips about 1/2" (13mm) thick, dip in a mixture of 1 egg and milk, cover it with bread crumbs and put in a plate ready to fry. Take a large frying pan and fill it with enough olive oil to cover the bottom plus a bit. When it is hot enough to pop when a drop of water is flicked in, add the fish from back to front moving quickly. As soon as the fish is white about 1/3 of the way up turn it, wait about 2 minutes and it is done. Wahoo is an exception. If you cook it a bit longer it takes the texture of a tenderloin and it is superb as it was tonight. So now we have 4 meals left of wahoo and 8 or so of dolphin. Tomorrow we'll put the worms out for one more snapper then that is it for fishing for the trip. No more space. In Richard's Bay we will host a fish fry aboard Egret. We have done a number of these in the past and they are great fun.

Last night was a calm affair with little boat motion. The wind picked up to a roaring 15 knots from astern pushing up a little swell, again on the stern. So Egret is toodling along in the low to mid 6's waiting for the Madagascar current to kick in and rocket her to Africa. That's the plan at least. Later this morning we'll put the worms out for one last fish then that will be it. Mary was already whining about no freezer space but I moved things around and there is enough. She is also going to vacuum pack the fish so there will be even more room. Shipping was relatively active last night. Most passed at least 6nm away but on Dick's watch he had one pass at 1.5nm but he watched the radar and AIS carefully so he was comfortable with the pass.

Today the seas built from the NE in the 2 meter range and winds mostly under 20 knots. Later in the morning we pulled the baits in because catching a large fish would be a chore. We still have 7 days to catch the last fish so no biggie. We changed waypoints slightly adding an additional waypoint more to the east than the waypoint we mentioned above. That waypoint is still close to a second we added and the Richard's Bay waypoint is the same. Egret was being headed by a harsh current on the bow so we fell off a bit and gained a full knot. This will also give Egret a farther offing from Madagascar so may ease the wind off the island. The trip's stats are at the top but basically it is 2 days down and 7 to go. Ciao.

 

 

October 15, 2010
Position: 20 56.53S 55 16.96E Marina in the village of Le Port, Reunion, Indian Ocean

G' Day mis amigos, remember the rhum fest on the Swedish boat? Well we did the deal and it was great fun. In addition to the American and Norwegian on s/v Ventana they invited the crew from s/v Blue Dolphin who arrived that day from Mauritius. Blue Dolphin is an interesting story. It is owned by a fortish South African who flew to Ft Lauderdale to buy a relatively inexpensive sailboat and spend some years sailing from surf spot to surf spot. Blue Dolphin had just finished a circumnavigation with American owners and was for sale at a reasonable price so he snapped it up and left. Five years later here he is in Reunion. We asked him what was the best of the best for surfing and he said the north east coast of New Caledonia. Now he is on his way back to South Africa to go back to work but will have one last surfing fling on the east coast of Madagascar. A few pesos, beans and rice and fish can take someone with a lot of ambition and drive to live their dreams just like John and his crew. So back to the rhum, ron & rum. We all behaved but still had a fun evening. The stories kept flying and as long everyone stayed I don't think anyone wanted the evening to end.

Bo (Bu) from the Swedish boat wanted to come and visit Egret for a thorough tour. He came this afternoon so we took him around and showed the little details he was interested in. Bo and his wife Vivi have been out 11 years so he has a good idea of what to look for. Short term their boat, s/v Lorna, is on their way to South Africa, Brazil, Caribbean then on to Turkey. They plan to do extensive inland touring Turkey during the winter. Their long range plans are to sell their Amel ( 53' - 16.5m sailboat), buy a trawler like Egret and spend their time between the Pacific North West and Alaska boating, then land touring New Zealand during the Northern Hemisphere winter and Southern Hemisphere summer. Sounds like a great plan to me. Along those lines, we heard from our long term Swedish friends who originally planned to head to Alaska via Japan and Aleutians. This meant spending typhoon season near the equator before heading north. They are in northern Fiji now and I think the prospect of that much equatorial heat changed their minds. They, like Mary and I have now spent so much time in cooler areas we find heat difficult. They are on their way back to New Zealand. In March they will head north, back thru French Polynesia, up to Hawaii then north to probably Kodiak Island (just guessing but it makes sense). So it is not just the Egret crew that changes their minds. We ALL do it.

More and more we are giving you details and stories of travels of other boats here and there. We are doing it for a reason (you). If not by now, in time you will see these travels of others that may seem improbable or impossible to you just now really isn't. Every one of these boat owners are just like you and started just like you have or will. They learned and kept going. That's all. Something else you will figure out is Egret is just another boat doing essentially the same thing. The exception is, Egret is certainly doing it more comfortably and probably safer because Egret is designed to do specifically what she is doing and who's design and fabrication has been refined over many years. Most of the boats we talk about are sail boats even though more and more little white fiberglass ships are stretching their sea legs.

Two days later. The first day was a trip to Le Volcan (the volcano). We left early to miss the usual coastal traffic jams and stopped for coffee at a small restaurant in the hills on the sub route to the volcano. The owner spoke a bit of English then his daughter arrived. She spoke excellent English. Her dad sent her to Australia (Perth) to learn English and work in her trade. She is the only female welder in Reunion that is certified in all disciplines like aircraft for example. Here she runs her own sandwich bar and her only welding is done with cheese. So we arrived at the volcano without much information so we followed the crowds. First it was a straight down steps about a bazillion feet to the floor. Let me back up and explain the deal. In the big picture there is an ancient volcano caldera (rim) and a floor of volcanic activity. There are areas of solid rock in swirls, super light weight rock full of holes from gas, puddles of rock, rusty red shiny rock, rock glittery with gold and silver and black plus sorta black ash plains with no vegetation. In the floor are small volcanic conical vents perhaps 3 stories high. In the distance is an high ACTIVE volcano that last erupted in 2007 that sent molten lava flowing everywhere and exploding stuff flying. The last eruption before the 2007 deal was in 1957. The marked trail took you across the lava field with NO vegetation to the HIGH volcano in the distance, up the face of the volcano, 3/4 of the way around the rim to a view point inside the volcano itself AND back. It was a 9 kilometer deal in all. (5.5 miles) The three of us really enjoyed the experience but were a bit tired at the end, THEN had to climb the bazillion steps back to the top. THEN fight rush hour traffic for 2.5 hours back to Egret. Lets see. Dick broke one of his brand new sandals in half. Mary's Teva's chafed her feet. My Tevas had a blowout on each sandal. It shed the bottom rubber in places AND did a rub job as well. So we limped back all sunburned and VERY dry. The last of the Ozzie beer took care of the dust. So that was day one.

Today was different. First we got lost but in the end we dead reckoned our way to the main road then all was well. Sort of. You remember the trials of mountain driving we mentioned before. Well, that was kid stuff. This was the REAL DEAL. No rumble strips warning you of impending worm farm, no nothing. Lets see, two lane twisty roads, 1 1/2 lane twisty roads, 1 lane twisty roads with NO vis around the corners AND 2 way traffic, one way bridges, one lane two way tunnels and so on. Most tourists wuz freakin. Of course we were cool. And the locals ran over all of us and we moved out of their way because they are cooler and know the way. I'll post a couple pictures to give you and idea (an old Citroen in a one lane - two way area in the mountains, and a bus coming out of a two way traffic, one lane tunnel). So anyway we made it to the resort area in one of the three cirques in the interior of the island. In a big picture look, the interior of Reunion is a giant circle from an ancient volcano. The outer rim is crumbling but still quite visible. Inside the caldera of the ancient volcano are three newer volcanoes. These too are crumbling but are more defined. Inside these three volcanoes are upland towns, the first two we visited before and included it in VofE. Today it was to the third and more popular of the three. The town is Cialos. We entered from the south via a gap in the rim. Lonely Planet raved about the place and we can see why. Here surrounded by a high sided, vertical faced rim of an ancient volcano sits a village of 6,000 folks on the floor with smaller villages doted here and there up and down within the crater. The setting to say the least is spectacular. Spectacular is an overused word but here it really fits. The area is SO good, tonight we were talking about going back for 2 days and spending one night up at altitude in the village. We drove to the end of several roads so far into the hills we came across a family tossing grain of some type into the air to blow away the chaff just like folks have been doing for thousands of years. Dick said today's drive is one of the most memorable he has been on. We'll have a couple pictures of this as well but without showing you 25 pictures with captions there is no way you can imagine the experience.

I must mention Dick's lunch in Cialos. He ordered an "American hot dog" and a small fries. What he got was a long baguette with tiny sausage like 'hot dogs' lined up inside, a thick layer of French fries covering the dogs and the whole shebang covered in white cheese. It must have 17,000 heart stopping calories. And then he also was served the small fries. Mary's and mine was more disgusting to say the least. The sandwich shop owner had BIG eyes as we scraped everything away but a little baguette and cheese. The rest went into the waste basket. It was the first French meal we had that wasn't better than good.

We decided tomorrow will be a lay day organizing Customs and fuel. We are paid at the marina thru Saturday (today is Monday) and a single day longer costs a week's dockage. So we are hoping to leave Saturday after clearing and fuel or early Sunday morning at the latest. This is of course if weather allows.

Next day. Fuel was a nightmare. What seemed so simple turned out to be a half day deal for 2 people. When Egret checked in, the Customs officer told us after we checked out we would receive a form allowing duty free fuel. Today Customs told us a different story. Eet ees impossebeele for a non professoneel bateau (boat) to buy dutee free feuel. To make a long story short, the Total Fuel Reunion manager was helping us (us being a marina employee who took me everywhere and myself) with the problem. First he quoted 1,450 euros for 2,500 liters of fuel (658 U.S. gallons) duty free. Then he called Customs and got the story that Customs related to me. Now the price was 1,900 euros for 2,000 liters of fuel (525 U.S. gallons) or about $4.70/ gallon. This was a departure from $2.86 USP/gallon. So anyhow, we ordered 2000 liters then had to go to an ATM and pump the machine for euros. The only thing that went right today was we were able to get that many euros in a single day. The fuel will arrive by truck tomorrow morning at 9:00. I will post the fuel information on the noonsite.com website so cruisers in the future will be sure and get duty free fuel in Mauritius before arriving in Reunion. I believe in the future, Mauritius and Reunion will be attracting more world cruisers until the Somali problem is resolved.

Speaking of Somali's, 3 days ago they seized an Asian factory fishing ship jut 300nm north of Reunion. The large factory ships have booms for launching small boats for reef fishing and the pirates need that facility to launch their smaller attack boats. We met a number of ships using Mauritius as a turning point on their way north and south to and from South Africa. Hopefully the Somalia's won't move this far south and start working this route. We saw formidable Coast Guard ships in both Mauritius and Reunion so I don't think there will be any pirate activity anywhere near these islands.

In any case, we e-mailed OMNI Bob and asked he start watching weather coming up from South Africa. We will do our own internet research but as you know, internet here is a hit and miss deal. We will check out with Customs on Saturday and ask permission to leave for South Africa early Sunday morning if weather allows. More to follow on weather.

Here's the latest from la Volcon (the volcano). Riding around today with the marina employee helping with fuel, money and so on he mentioned la Volcan may erupt tonight or tomorrow. Yikes, that is cutting it pretty close since our hike a couple days ago. The volcanologists (whatever) have been monitoring it for a while. It started to rumble a month ago but now things are heating up. This afternoon we rented the car for 3 more days so if la Volcan pops we'll get some photos of the ash cloud and perhaps of molten lava.

Today it was a trip diagonally across the island, south down the east coast, around the bottom and back up the west coast to Le Port. The SE coast is the prettiest coastal part of the island. It is lush from rainfall and has a steady breeze from the SE trades. The ride was a collage of various islands Egret visited in the past from Mangarava in the Gambier Islands (French Polynesia), French Polynesia, American Samoa and the sugar cane from both here and Mauritius. The cane harvest is in full swing with the roads full of large tractors towing cane carts to offloading centers. Here the cane is offloaded, weighed then stocked in a large pile for a semi dump truck to pick up large amounts and take the cane to a sugar plant. Of course we had to stop for cafe' and pastrie in the morning. Later in the morning we came across lava flows that in their day crossed the coastal road into the ocean. There were flows from 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008. We mentioned on the volcano hike there was a flow from 1957 and a major settling of the volcano floor where it dropped nearly 300 meters (nearly 1000') in 2007. So it seems every couple years the volcano becomes active and pumps more lava.

This morning before we left there was a bit of activity on the small boat dock behind Egret. A local had emptied his cooler of fish bits into the water and a HUGE octopus was chowing on the tidbits. One of the fishermen got a long handle gaff and snagged the beast. Next he purposely attached octopi to the dock ladder and it clamped on with all its might. I think here is where it lost its head and guts. When the fisherman pried its legs off the ladder he was inked up pretty bad but the octopi was a bit smaller. He was thrilled (the fisherman, not the octopi). He saw the camera and held it up for a snap. It is the largest octopus the three of us have seen.

Now for the good news. The marina employee who helped us with the fuel stopped by to say hi. We gave him a couple bottles of wine for all his troubles and got good news in return. We said we would like to check out of Reunion on Saturday (with OMNI Bob's report to confirm our research) and would like to pay the bill early. He said the first week is free. It seems the week Egret spent in the port and not in the marina didn't count toward marina time. So that is a good thing and will make the fuel charge a bit more palatable.

Tomorrow will be spent getting Egret ready for sea. Hopefully Customs will arrive Saturday morning according to OUR plan (we'll see if their plans match) and check Egret out for the 1360nm trek to Richard's Bay, South Africa. This will be a 9 day trip and hopefully will go well. We had 3 reports yesterday. An Amel (53' sailboat) got trashed and lost its steering but is making its way to port. A second smaller boat, single hander, got its sails blown out at night in a surprise blast. A Norwegian boat we met in Mauritius is drifting because of no wind and little fuel left. We'll opt for the no wind scenario, thank you. So we'll see.

The next VofE will be from sea and we will resume your dream trip from South Gerogia Island, to Elephant Island and on to Antarctica in the new N56* super long range expedition motor yacht (SLREMY). (*This is of course part of the dream as well) Ciao.

Currently, high pressure is SE of Reunion Island and it should move slowly eastward through Sat/16 while stationary ridging extends WNW-NW to southern Madagascar through Sat/night. This ridge will weaken as a weak weather front SW of the ridge also weakens through Sunday/17 and allows a new high to move eastward.

However, this high will stay further south and this will allow a new low center to form over southern Madagascar Sat/night-Sun/am that moves quickly SSE across 33S50E through Mon/midday. As this occurs, ridging from the stronger high ridge, now to your south/east, will extend WNW-NW toward Madagascar through Wed/afternoon.

This ridge should persist through Thur-Fri/am, but a new cold front to the west is expected to move across the S/African Cape on Thur, but it may stall across SE/Africa Thur/21-night and it could develop an area of deepening low pressure.

Overall, the trip westward toward southern Madagascar and even the SE-S coast of Africa looks good at this point with mostly SE-E to ENE winds/seas toward southern Madagascar.

Based on an ETD Sat/16 from Reunion toward Madagascar, expect:

Sat/16: Easterly 12-20kts, seas 1.0-1.5mtrs, swells SW 1.5-2.0mtrs.
Sun/17: ENE-NE 12-20kts, seas 1.0-1.5mtrs, swells SW 1.0-1.5mtrs.
Mon/18: ENE-NE, occ NNE 12-18kts. Seas 1.0-1.5mtrs. Swells SW-confused 1.0-1.5mtrs.
Tue/19: E-NE 12-20kts, Seas 1.0-1.5mtrs. Swells Confused to easterly 1.0-1.5mtrs.

Please keep us advised of your intentions as well as your departure and positions while enroute.

 

October 8, 2010
(Ed. note: once again, being on a remote island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Scott is having internet issues and cannot send photos. They'll be posted as soon as he gets a reliable connection.)

Position: 20 56.53S 55 16.96E Marina in the village of Le Port, Reunion, Indian Ocean

G' Day mis amigos. We moved Egret into the marina and took a local catamaran's usual space. The catamaran returns tomorrow from Mauritius and the marina told us he will raft off Egret which is OK with us. Mary and I put two long fenders horizontally on the outboard side to make it easy for the cat to raft off. We have shore power and water PLUS reasonable weekly rates. The first week is free and from then on it is 220.71 Euros (EU) plus 8% VAT (Value Added Tax) per week (about $1 U.S.P/foot/day). This includes water and electric. The 53' (16.5m) Amel sailboat will pay 257.31 EU if they wish to stay. They may move to the other marina on the island but it is on the windward side of the island and not as protected. This marina has a narrow rocky inlet and the inlet can be closed for a week at a time. However, when you arrive you get a free weeks stay so theoretically you can stay two weeks in Reunion at marinas for free. If you get stuck in either marina by weather you still pay for a week even if it is for one day. Also, you can only get duty free fuel here in Le Port and not at the other marina. There is no anchoring in Reunion except off the beach. That is really taking a chance except during guaranteed settled weather.

Today we rented a car for a week and will pick it up tomorrow. The baby Citroen cost 25 EU per day plus vat with unlimited mileage. I'm putting cost figures in to give you an idea of expenses and will continue to do so for fixed expenses like dockage, fuel costs and so on. In time you will get a rough overall cost of moving here and there living as the Egret crew. You can travel for less than Egret in a similar boat and most owners will spend more. Early on readers would ask on the Forum the specific cost of cruising. How much does a car cost? There is no answer to that question nor is there any answer to the cost of cruising. The simple and accurate answer is you spend what you have.

If you are waiting for Your Time and think you may choose to cruise internationally, do yourself a favor and at your leisure learn a little Spanish and French. If you have a small working vocabulary of both languages this will bring elementary Italian on line as well as understanding conversations in heavily accented English if you are a native English speaker. Folks from Scandinavian countries typically speak good English and locals in Mediterranean rim countries and Greece tend to speak a bit of English as well. Even in countries like Argentina and Chile where you wouldn't think locals would speak much English except in tourist areas actually do. Turkey is the same. We find by being friendly, using what little local language we may know, elementary English and pantomime we get by. Reunion gets very few English speaking tourists from what we have seen so far and wish we knew more French. However, like everywhere we are getting by. It gets frustrating at times not having a technical vocabulary like now when we are having trouble sending pictures via the internet. The internet cafe's don't have towers and access to plug in a memory stick and my laptop has trouble with wifi. My computer skill rivals a 4 cell amoeba (I'm giving myself a break here and not saying a 2 cell amoeba which is more accurate). At times like this I wish I wasn't thinking about fishing, hot cars or ladies back in school but spending a bit more time on languages. Even so, it is perfectly natural these days to be in a group of international cruisers all speaking English of sorts and picking up the far majority of the conversation including non English speakers (this includes Kiwi's interpretation of the mother language).

A perfect example of language just happened. A local stopped by driving a BMW suv and was inspecting Egret. I stopped writing to answer questions and between us he got the information he wanted. He spoke very few words of English and I French so I had to write numbers of length, draft, engine horsepower and so on. In the end we shook hands and he said in perfect English "my dream". I gave him the N.com, VofE website and told him to look at pictures to get an idea of Egret's travels. He gave me his card and he is the local Peugeot dealer. I bet he'll be back. If he does return we will invite him aboard. Like all Dreamers, if he works at it he can turn his dreams into realities. Wouldn't that be great?

Speaking of pictures, Mary's pictures of Mauritius have been posted on the VofE site. A number were shot from the car window as Dick, Mary and I drove a whirlwind tour of the island.

Our youngest son wrote and was concerned about Egret's oil burn for the trip. So lets talk about it. Egret ran continuously for 557.9 hours during the trip from Western Australia to Mauritius. This is about the equivalent of a year's engine hours in a well used car. Her happy little Lugger burned about 3 quarts/liters of oil (it is normal for a diesel to burn a little oil). If the Lugger were a typical 5 quart passenger car engine it would be a disaster. In her case it wasn't. A 668 non turbo Lugger engine like in Egret has an 18 quart sump. Ask any N 46 owner how much oil is in their engine and they will universally say 21.5 quarts. It takes 21.5 quarts to fill a N46 engine to the full mark. This is because the engine sits on a down angle toward the propeller and the dip stick is toward the front. To make oil changes easier I drained the oil during an oil change then added 5 gallons of oil, ran the engine then let it sit overnight to cool and drain into the oil sump. I measured the difference on the dip stick then used a tubing cutter in conjunction with a shop vac (to catch any metal shavings) and cut the dip stick tube to match 5 gallons of oil. (for you metric folks, 5 gallons (20 quarts) is the standard pail of oil in the U.S.) From then on we would completely empty a 5 gallon pail and the engine was exactly full. Since leaving the U.S. we buy oil in 20 liter pails (5.25 U.S. Gallons - 21 quarts) so we always have a little oil left after a fill. Bottom line for the trip; Egret burned 1 quart of oil below a factory 18 quart fill. No biggie.

OK, so we have had a rental car the past three days. Here's the deal. The first day it was a relatively short trip east into the mountains. Once in the mountains the roads narrow and have drop off's at times straight down with NO guard rail AND there is always a deep ditch on the inside for drainage and again NO guard rail. Your only help is a narrow rumble strip to tell you in seconds your stuff is going to be in the wind and you will die very soon. Unless of course you linger on life support. Trucks and buses honk the horn in the switch backs and carve a wide swipe of both lanes as they turn up or down hill. Yes it is steep. It is first and second gear work most of the way. However, the views will knock your eyes out. High up in the mountains are tiny villages stuck here and there. Most are small plot farmers of the highlands growing market vegetables. The lower elevations are mostly sugar cane. Along the way are perhaps a dozen waterfalls falling like tiny silver ribbons from under the clouds down a sheer cliff face over a thousand feet high. Several in particular are different that they disappear under a kudzu like carpet of large green leaf vines and reappear at the next vertical drop. The largest is called Bridal Falls. The first day we hiked in a loop up into then above the clouds. It was quite cool but we were so heated the cool mist from the clouds felt great. Several of the trails were along the top of a razor back ridge where the footpath was perhaps a meter across with drop offs on both sides. That was kinda cool. Of course we left the food and water in the car because the trail said 15 minutes to a lookout but the trail kept going and we kept going to see what was over the next ridge and finally found a sign we could recognize that said parking with an arrow so we followed that back to the car park. Yea, I know that was a run on sentence but so was the %$###%^& trail. So after a few hours playing cruiser-hikers in the mist we arrived back at the car and chugged the water and ate the goodies. We had crunchy peanut butter and jam on single slice French bread with a crust so tough you had to rip it with your teeth. It was wonderful!! So were the pastries from a French version of a roach coach parked in the hiker car park.

The next day it was farther into the mountains on a road from the east coast walking thru tiny villages and snapping a few pics. We drove every road up high until it ended in dirt. I will say the island roads are well maintained and local drivers tolerant of visiting drivers. In one village we bought some large bottles of local rum. One was cane rum and the other was tamarind. Both are tasty and super cheap. We'll load up when we get a chance. (We had a few samples back at the boat.) Driving in this area was even more adventurous. I'm not sure Dick thought he would survive the day. When he is in the right front seat he normally has a steering wheel in his hands and judging by his body language he needed one even if it wasn't connected. (The French drive on the right side of the road unlike the Pom's, Kiwi's and Ozzies.) Nevertheless it was another great day.

Today was a visit to the huge Friday market in St Paul, the next town south. (Almost all of the coastal towns are named after a saint.) Local markets are so much of the international cruising life we take them for granted and shouldn't. The St Paul market stretched for perhaps a kilometer and was 3-4 rows deep. There was everything from all known vegetables, fruit (mostly imported from South Africa) spices, chilies, flowers, tourist trinkets, clothes, decorative bags, carvings, jewelry, food stands, juice stands, coffee stands, meat vendors, fish vendors and so on. The buyers were a few tourists (mostly French) with cameras, locals loading up for the week and every ethnic group you can imagine. Mary filled two large bags with fresh goodies. So far it appears the majority of folks on the island are creole descent with a few white French and Chinese mixed in. Everyone seems happy and friendly. After the market we took a Lonely Planet tour to an old cemetery south of St Paul. The two main residents were a poet who followed Victor Hugo's (Tale of Two Cities) class in school and an Indian Ocean pirate named Olivier Levasseur, nicknamed La Buse (the buzzard). Olie had a good 10 year run until he was caught and ended his career with rope burns on his la neckou. Olie's treasure was never found.

In a couple weeks is the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show. There is still time to make reservations, fly to FLL, do the deal and end the pain. If you can't make it we'll keep pounding out this drivel until the little light goes on. Then it will be Your Time. Oh yes, we are invited to the Swedish boat for cocktails at six. Sounds like a rhum* fest to me. Oh well, someone has to do it. Ciao.

*Rhum is French for rum. Ron is Spanish for rum. You see, foreign language isn't so difficult.

 

 

October 4, 2010
Position: S20 56.41 E055 17.02 Temporary berth in Le Port, Reunion Island (Indian Ocean)


Life at sea
Dick at work

G' Day mis amigos, Egret is at sea once again in route to the French island of Reunion. She left the harbor at 0908 local and it is now 1030. Reunion is but 133nm away and Egret is going to fast. Yup, 1275rpm and she is rocketing along at an average speed of 6.4 knots since leaving including idling thru the harbor. So we put out a couple worms to see if anything snaps. If there are any snappers it will take a bit of time to land the fish, do a fillet and release then clean up. We are still in the wind shadow of the island so it is quite calm but the sea swells are starting to pick up. Our speed over ground is fast enough to troll relatively effectively but our speed thru the water is quite slow so it will take a learning impaired fish to snap.

Today was Gerard's lucky day (the local who helped Egret with this n that). He saw Egret at the Customs dock and stopped by to say hi and goodbye. We still had a few Mauritian rupees so we gave them to Gerard and he was thrilled to say the least. Gerard isn't his real name but he named himself after a Canadian cruiser who helped him get started in the yachtie business. His name in Chinese borders on sounding quite obscene if slightly mis spoken. Gerard gave us a very brief description of the island folks and their last few hundred years heritage. The French brought in African slaves to work the cane fields. Then the Brits kicked the French out and freed the slaves. The slaves refused to work for money in the cane fields. So the Brits imported Indians to work the cane fields for pay (very little pay and near slavery) and brought in Chinese to become shop keepers. These days the Indian ethnic group seem to be in charge of most visible things (I don't know where the real money goes or who to), the Chinese are a very small minority and still operate small village shops. There are a smattering of local French folks as well. The ethnic pot has been stirred for the past few hundred years so there are many mixed ethnic folks. The official language is English. Road signs and most instructions are in English. Locals speak Creole first, French and English second. Every person we came in contact with spoke some English however I don't think we will find that in Reunion except in the tourist areas.

Later in the afternoon the right rod went off. Big time!! So we moved things around and got Dick set up for battle. At that point it was almost over because nearly all 800 yards of line were gone. We fish 80lb (37kg) line on a tight drag and 2 speed reels. It didn't matter. I thought it was a large tuna because it didn't jump like a billfish. Those two are the only fish that pull this much drag this fast in the deep ocean. I ran to the flybridge to start the round em up deal we detailed before. Dick finally was able to put some turns on the reel so we had a chance. Of course it was chopped up with up to 28 knots of wind and a confused sea. Let me condense two hours to a few sentences. It was Dick's will against the will of the fish. Both were determined. Finally Dick got the fish close enough Mary took over steering and was able to idle down sea where Dick could try to get it to the transom for a release. Oh yes, well into the fight a blue marlin was greyhounding (leaping) in the distance so then we knew what it was. In the end both Dick and the fish were whipped but we couldn't get it near the transom. The problem was it was a large fish and we were surfing down sea in wind and waves going 4 knots (the slowest we could go) so it was pulling drag not by fighting but sheer weight. Finally Dick pushed the drag lever 'over the top' and it was like connecting a steel rod to the fish. We managed to get its head on the swim platform but I couldn't get the hook out with a new de-hooker I couldn't get to work. Rather than kill the fish we cut the line close to the bait so the plastic head will slide off and the hook will remain. The hook had torn a hole in the side of its mouth so hopefully it will drop out. Mary got some great close up photos. It weighed something over 200lbs but Dick insisted it weighed 500lbs. It didn't. A real fishing boat could have cut the fight time down at least half with a skilled crew and angler. Of course all Dick caught before were girlie blue cod back home in New Zealand. Our baits were that big. Dick had a great time even though he was a bit knackered and had a boo boo on his hand where he donated a bit of skin to the fishing gods. However, I must give Dick his due. Most guys would have been whining after a few minutes. Dick never complained and kept hard at it until it was over. Goodonem.

An hour after daybreak Egret entered Le Port after calling Port Control on channel 12. We were given permission to enter the port and proceeded to the marina. Already rafted off each other along an industrial seawall were the sailing boats Ventana and Lorna who left ahead of Egret yesterday. They said it was the weekend and the fellow at the marina wouldn't issue a berth. So Egret docked 90 degrees to the two sail boats at the end of the industrial dock. There is quite a surge in the harbor so we three all have short lengths of chain or straps to attach to the dockside rings so the docklines don't get shredded. We loaned two fenders* to the 53' Amel on the inside to give their toy fenders a hand. Tomorrow (Sunday) a very large French sailboat docked behind the two rafted boats is leaving for Mauritius so we three will string along the dock. Where Egret is parked there is a strange type of railway that has a boat coming Monday to haul. Now every rail we have seen in the past is a fore and aft deal that hauls boats up the hill. Not here. This one goes in the water sideways so divers and folks in dinghys get to chock the boat under water. Perhaps there is a Darwin Award candidate lurking for the designer AND the bureaucrat that signed off on the deal. But then again, it may actually work. We'll see Monday.

*LEARN from this mis amigos. You need BIG fenders. BIG fenders are heavy and hard to stow unless you have inflatable fenders. Egret has six large inflatable fenders from Aere (www.praktek.com); four 12" x 72", and two 2' x 4' (and would like an additional 2" x 6' or 8' for floating pontoons). They work great and are super light. Mary does the fender work and they are soooo much better than the giant heavy fenders we used to use. For Med mooring we use the 12" x 72" fenders horizontally (2 per side). This arrangement works perfectly and don't ride up as you back in and rub another boat. Here we are next to a high rough seawall so the tall fenders not only protect the rub rail area but also the boat deck edge. Today the fenders are hung vertically from the boat deck rails. The inflatable dinghy maker Caribe also sells inflatable fenders and I'm sure others do as well.

Mary and folks from another boat ventured into the local town on Saturday. Lets see, they found a couple rental car shops, an internet cafe AND an ice cream shop. Another boat found a small grocery store. Most important of all, Mary came back with REAL French baguettes!! NO ONE does bread like the French. For a light breakfast this morning we had French pastries, for a morning snack it was slices of crusty Baguettes, crunchy peanut butter and Australian jam, and for lunch it was tomatoes stuffed with chicken and more baguette. You get the picture. Now its time to go. Ho hum, the other cruisers are coming to Egret in a few minutes for flybridge beer (FBB) and snacks. The locals are returning to the marina down the way, a long narrow canoe went by with 20 kids paddling to the beat of a drum from a young girl on the bow, the sun has lost its heat and we are thirsty.

Later. The group arrived and we had a nice flybridge visit until after dark. All three boats have been out for a number of years and the stories flew. It was an interesting evening. The Swedish boat raved about SE Alaska. They spent two years cruising this area then dropped down to New Zealand and used NZ as a base for 6 years heading north each summer into the islands. They visited Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia among others. Vanuatu was their favorite. The American boat spent a couple years in the Caribbean and more years in the Pacific. The American boat plans to refit in Cape Town, South Africa and spend a year there. The Swedish boat is on their way to Brazil and don't know after. And so on.

This morning we were asked to move for the day by the Port Captain. We moved just around the corner to the port itself. There is no power or water but it doesn't matter because it is just temporary. He is also trying to get we three into the marina. Mauritius and Reunion aren't usual stops on the around Africa boats. The usual route is farther west in connect the dot islands starting with the Seychelles, the French islands, Madagascar and so on. The marinas here are built for local boats and the far majority of them are small weekend boats vs larger world cruisers. There is a second marina to the south but it isn't as protected from the trades and is full as well but have space along a wharf with no power or water. So we'll stay here. Today it is finding a rental car for a week for a reasonable price. Fortunately from the letter from the Brits back to the Germans in Fremantle we have a base line price to shoot for.

The Baltic fisherman looking steel ketch in Picture 6 is an interesting story. It is French owned. Its owner spent a number of years in the Caribbean on a very small sailboat. He sailed back to Europe and found this boat somewhere for 53,000 euros. He sailed to Venezuela and spent a few years there and loaded with VERY cheap fuel. That was 6 years ago. These days he is down to 800 liters and only uses the engine to move in and out of port. He sailed to Reunion from New Caledonia where he spent a couple years working refilling the cruising kitty. The trip from New Cal took 72 days traveling about 2 - 3 1/2 knots (steering by sail trim - no autopilot) because the bottom is an upside down living reef. The boat has reasonably new anodes but hasn't been hauled for 8 years. When the Swedish boat asked if his hull was sound he said he had to pour concrete patches inside where the water was starting to percolate thru the rotten bottom. Dick is infatuated with his independence but none of us want that particular lifestyle. We are all to happy with our pleasure ships.

We are learning a little more about duty free fuel. Duty free fuel is sold by the metric ton only (1000 liters - 265 gal). We are in the early stages of making a 3 or perhaps 4 boat (French sailboat) purchase of fuel. There are a lot of details to work out but this is a start. So we'll see.

We're off to town. What will the next days bring? You'll see. Ciao.

 

October 1, 2010
Location: Maritius

G' Day mis amigos, first a bit of techno. A friend from Ft Lauderdale phoned the fuel bladder folks and asked if we could remove the fill plate and clean the inside of the bladder. One bladder in particular, the 75 gallon bladder behind the Portuguese bridge was full of contaminated fuel. It was a gel of some sort, not the usual black algae. The bladder folks said we could take apart the fill plate assembly but to be careful on re bolting the inner plate together. The torque is but 7.5 foot pounds or just over finger tight. So here is the deal. After removing the bolts, the top fill plate lifts off. Under the plate is a single piece cork gasket that we reused. On the underside of the plate is an aluminum casting with tapped wells for the bolts. With both plates and the gasket removed there is quite a large hole to clean the tank. We first emptied the tank completely then used two hand towels to wipe the inside perfectly clean. Then back together and all was well. We emptied the other two bladders of the last bit of residual fuel and neither were contaminated so we didn't bother with cleaning.

There is a sailboat rally coming to Mauritius soon after the first of October. We were told at the marina office Egret needs to vacate the marina by the first. So, after tomorrow's rental car tour we may decide to do a second day but then we must leave or go anchor somewhere else. After a weeks stay the rally will move to Reunion. So that will be the next issue with dockage. We heard that even now Reunion is full to overflowing with boats AND the rally is coming as well. I believe given a choice we will spend more time in Reunion than Mauritius. Reunion's mountainous interior is supposed to be spectacular with great hiking.

In addition to the rally issues we have to work out fuel. I talked to the large powerboat captain this afternoon and got the fuel deal here in Mauritius. With a Duty Free Fuel Request from the Post Authority we should be able to get duty free fuel. We had the local who guided the mountain climbing group call the Shell distributor asking about duty free fuel. Basically they want us to pay retail for fuel. Then they didn't want to bother with our pitiful amount of 2200 liters - 580 gallons. The yacht captain said you have to negotiate. After the car trip I'll talk to the Shell lady myself and tell her we will get the permission paperwork she was whining about and if they can't sell us fuel duty free we will buy duty free fuel in Reunion. Duty free fuel in not an issue in Reunion according to the captain, BUT Reunion if full with cruising boats rafting off each other on the fishing boat dock and the marina is full. This time of year the class of 2010 around Africa are all moving west. The savings in Mauritius between regular price and duty free is about 33% or about $740 U.S.P. Now you know what we know.

Back to the %^$#@#$^& rally. After Reunion the rally is going to Richard's Bay, South Africa. Of course that is where we are going as well. Same with Cape Town. So we'll see.

Yesterday was island touring day by rental car. Gerard came along as a guide and it is a good thing. Road signs in Mauritius are not very good. (That is being Chamber of Commerce kind) Even then we had to stop a number of times and ask for directions. Once out of the morning traffic jam leaving the city it was easier going in the country. Basically we traveled across the island to the east coast, down the east coast, up the middle central coast then returned along the west coast coastal highway. Looking at Le Pouce (The Thumb) the mountain we climbed from the backside was a bit scary. The backside was near vertical and would take real climbers, not cruiser hikers. Traveling thru the small villages were like playing a video game (something neither Mary and I have done but can only guess) with targets popping out from everywhere without warning. Cars, kids, adults, dogs and trucks were popping out along with cars, trucks and buses parked in the road were the norm. So we passed in town, over solid lines, whatever seemed appropriate at the time before the vehicle behind over ran over our little Nissan Micra. The only thing we didn't do was pass on blind curves but some made that choice. Other than small garden vegetable plots the only crop seemed to be sugar cane. It is harvest time and there were large tractors pulling cane wagons on the road. At least they were slow and easy to pass. We did not see a single cow or sheep in our travels. We did see a couple small herds of goats.

The south and east coast are shallow with off lying reefs. We stopped a few places along the coast to snap a few pics and talk to the locals. All the folks were friendly and happy to talk. One fisherman was skinning a fish we didn't recognize but he told us it was a stone fish. Stone fish are found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and are a reef fish. At low tide in some places they lay in shallow tidal pools. If you step on one it is REAL bad if not the end of the trip. The Mauritian government tells folks they can't eat stone fish but it is probably because of the danger in handling it. The fisherman told us he was 68 and had been eating them since a child but his father showed him how to clean the fish without getting hurt and he demonstrated the technique to us. We met a group of 5 fishermen coming in from diving the reefs for octopus. Each had a small bag with their catch. There was a Chinese fellow waiting with his bicycle and his scales to buy the catch. Each fisherman put their octopi in a tin on one side of the scales and was paid by weight. In the end the boat owner got his cut and the merchant cycled away to sell the catch to individuals and restaurants. The small fishing boats are in interesting design. They are about 20' long, made of wood, have a very long and narrow entry before widening to its full width. They have a removable bow sprit and a short mast. They motor out to the reefs in the morning and ride back in the afternoon with the sea breeze flying a tiny jib. Because of their long and narrow shape they are quite efficient and move amazingly fast flying their tiny sails in about 20 knots of breeze.

While in the mountains we had a family of three Mauritian monkeys run across the road into the trees. They are tall, thin and light gray looking like a spider monkey for lack of a better description. One interesting area is what they call the colored sands. This is an area of less than an acre where the vegetation is gone and are a series of waves of different colored sands. The description said the sands are a combination of iron and aluminum. We spent a couple hours there waiting for a slight break in the clouds to light up the sands. Mary took the picture here and its our best effort. One day doesn't tell much about a place but we did get an overall impression of the island. I will say once away from the world class areas of Port Louis and a few resort areas the country as a whole seems quite poor. The picture of the two ladies sitting in a field waiting for their ride home tells a lot. Both worked the day in the fields with their hoes and it is backbreaking work. The smaller of the two walks quite stooped.

Now back to the fuel deal. Today we put a lot of effort into fuel. There are three major suppliers of fuel; Shell, Total and Indian Oil. All three said their fuel was reserved and would not sell us fuel unless we jerry jugged it from a gas station at off the shelf price, not duty free. The local, Gerard, learned when he called around the fuel distributors are waiting for a tanker and are holding their fuel for their commercial accounts. The 98' boat behind Egret took on fuel today for example. So, we have 255 U.S. gallons of fuel (970 liters) and its a well less than 50 gallon trip to Reunion.

Our new friends from s/v Ventana (Seattle) are leaving in the morning. They have a 48' ketch built at Ta Shing (N fame) in Taiwan during the 80's. Overall, Ventana is much longer than 48' so they are hoping to get a spot before the crunch. The Swedish and Norwegian boats are leaving today. So we need to be gone soon. The next VofE will be from sea or Reunion. Weather for the next few days are 20 knot easterly trades so it should be a quick overnight downhill run.

Here's the latest. We will check out tomorrow morning. We will dock early and Ventana will raft off Egret. They will check out first, then Egret. Sometime Saturday morning Egret should arrive in Reunion. Ciao.

 

Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

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