To live…to live will be an awfully big adventure. Peter Pan’s last quote in the feel-good movie ‘Hook’. A classic performance by one of my favourite actors, the late Robin Williams. RIP.
Our winter sojourn in Mauritius is over – what a super place to spend time whilst traversing the Indian Ocean. In a few days it will be spring and we plan to arrive at Réunion Island this weekend. The spring trade winds will begin to ease as the stronger weather shifts southerly and cruisers that returned to a European summer will also head back soon to continue their journey. For the past month Blue Heeler’s home was on anchor at Grand Bay in the northwest corner of Mauritius. The northern end of the island is quite flat so each day the roaring south-east trade winds blew relentlessly. White-capped waves made dinghy trips to and from the Grand Bay Yacht Club a little wet. At the GBYC you can join as members while you’re there and access their dinghy dock, showers and have a drink or two. In the evenings the wind would ease and the temperature at anchor was deliciously cool – down to 13degC – days were glorious at around 25degC. Only a few wet and miserable days kept us aboard, but those days came and went as highs and lows passed to the south of us. Grand Bay is a tourist destination and the main esplanade has everything for tourists. Surrounded by fancy resorts, Grand Bay is busy with water skiers, small dinghies, large tourist catamarans and members of the GBYC sailing in and out of the bay on their small sloops.
I was asked recently what we do to keep busy. Staying busy is a challenge for many cruisers anchored in one place for a while. Yes, I know, there’s always ‘the list’, but even three months in Rodrigues/Mauritius, most of the important items were ticked off. But there’s other things to do – research, read books, study French, surf the net, polish woodwork, get into a debate with random folk on Facebook, watch movies in the evening, clean water filters, oil and fuel change, clean oven, pickle beetroot (again), plus for a bit of variety, the annual income tax returns!
Even though there are things to keep busy, the slow life at anchor for some may be a bit stifling. A result of years holed up in a windowless office still haunts me and I go a little stir-crazy and start bouncing off the bulkheads. Every couple of days I need to go ashore for a long walk and a large dose of vitamin D (and to give Wayne a break from me driving him nuts). Luckily supermarkets are close by so the walk usually ends with me lugging fresh supplies back too. There’s plenty of places to go via buses in the north. A day out on the public bus to the town of Goodlands is the Historic Marine Factory where you can walk through the factory and watch the tradesmen make beautiful replicas of ships from all eras. They were even building a model of a Hallberg Rassy 34 which would then be shipped to the owner in Sweden. A bus trip along the northern coast arrives at the touristy but quiet at this time of year Grand Gaube. Along this road are great views of the small island Gunner’s Quoin (or Coin de Mire) to the north west of Mauritius. During these winter months the lack of tourists is obvious, but there are a few of them around at the many resorts.
If you enjoy walking, as I do, there’s plenty of walks along the roads where you can end up on the western coast alongside the pleasant Mon Choisy beach to Trou au Biches, then catch the bus back. A walk along the beach to Cannonier Point and back is about 10kms. Walking north about 2kms from Grand Bay is Pereybere, where you can have an ice cream or lunch, and watch people swimming at the beach.
Catching the express bus from Grand Bay to Port Louis you can ask to be dropped off at the L’Aventure du Sucré Factory at Pamplemousses. You can easily spend a few hours here reading all about the different types of sugar, the history of sugar cane and the development of modern Mauritius. After a taste of freshly squeezed sugar cane and perhaps a taste of rum at the shop, you can walk across to the botanical gardens. The bus back to Grand Bay runs every hour or so and you can catch it near the impressive Pamplemousses church or outside the sugar museum/factory. Local shopping complexes include the trendy Le Croisette and Super U – both not too far away from the centre of Grand Bay. Plenty of western style shopping for those interested in it. I just go for the food…
Our final days in Mauritius we returned to Caudan Marina to stock up and clean the boat before we leave for La Réunion. Unfortunately though the marina was pretty full so we ended up in a berth without access to electricity and tap water.
Fellow yachties aboard Kantala were still at the marina so while we were there I joined Sheila plus the crew of Aussie boat Black Billy to hike up Le Pouce (the ‘Thumb’) the third highest point in Mauritius. That’s a fairly easy trail, although the pointy bit at the top was a little slippery! So that’s it for our winter wonderland. With all that’s on offer, plus the genuinely friendly people, Mauritius get’s a 9/10 from me! The trip to La Réunion is 140nm and should take one day sailing. We’re looking forward to the next leg of the ‘elephant’. We’ll spend two or three weeks in Réunion to enjoy some hiking and the French culture before moving on towards Madagascar. Thanks for reading. – Ally. Here’s a link to some notes for yachties.