Laissz faire in Mauritius and La Reunion

After a short holiday at home I came back to the boat in Mauritius.

As I was carrying various spare parts from Germany, I had been a little anxious that they would make trouble at the airport in Frankfurt. Which I would have understood. I barely had any clothes in my luggage, but three electrical panels (switchboards) that really looked like bombs (because of all the wires connecting them). But no, the airport officials in Frankfurt didn’t seem to care. But when I got to Mauritius, the customs officials pulled me out of the masses of tourists. They didn’t even pretend this was a random sample, but asked immediately, WHAT do you have in this luggage??? Fortunately I was able to satisfy their curiosity and they turned out to be very nice and helpful. They gave me directions how to get to the harbour after they had written down all necessary information for their documentation. One of the things they needed was my permanent address. Unfortunately my passport only says: Keine Hauptwohnung in Deutschland, meaning not resident in Germany. Because i didnt want to make things more difficult than necessary, I just left him believing this was my adress. Lucky he didnt understand German.
Finally I got out of the airport, around 5 am. As i got into a taxi I was very surprised: Everybody is speaking decent English and they are driving on the left side of the road. My taxidriver gives me the first lesson in Mauritian history: The island was first colonized by the French, who brought a lot of African slaves. Before that Mauritius was not populated. In 1810 the British fought the French and won control over the island. They abolished slavery and brought a lot of Indian labour to work on the sugar cane plantations. But the population had gotten used to speaking Creole, a ”pidgin-version” of French. Therefore most people speak better French (which is close to their mothertongue Creole), while the official language used in the parliament and the administration is English.

Nowadays, Africans and Indians each make up about 40% of the population. The rest are Chinese, Arabs, French, British, etc. The cultural mix that comes out of that, is quite intriguing. For example Indian naan-bread with French cheese inside. This became our absolute favorite snack, while we were in Mauritius.

We spend a little more than one week in Mauritius. Andreas and me went to a small coastal town for a few nights, from where we also went onto a beautiful hike in one of the national parks. Mauritius has a very dramatic and distinct mountain range. I have never seen something like this on such a small island. 

   

    Seaventure was tied up in a marina in the middle of the capital Port Louis. After a month in the Maldives and 18 days of sailing (for the rest, not for me) it was great to be in the center of all the action. We emptied quite a number of rum bottles and made friends with the German crew on our neighbour boat. They were sailing this 62 foot, Americas cup winner ”Chancegger” from Thailand to South Africa. Inside the boat was just empty. Not even the toilet had walls around… Good they were three boys… But under sails, this boat must be something like a dream come true. They averaged about  200 miles per day, which is double of what we usually do.

   

     
But also the big winners from the 6o’s don’t come without problems. A week later in Reunion we got a message from them saying, they were also in Reunion and would have to stop their trip there due to imminent repairs. Unfortunately we got the message one day before we left. So we didnt have time to meet again.

Our stop in La Reunion was a very short one anyway. We only wanted to hike onto the highest mountain of the Indian Ocean: Piton des Neiges at 3090m. We got to Saint Pierre, a port in the South on a Thursday, which was ”Christi Himmelfahrt” and a holiday. Therefore the hut on the mountain was completely booked for the whole weekend and we had to wait until Sunday, before we could attempt the hike. The remaining days we spend in a park close to the beach, drinking French wine and eating baguette with Camembert, Brie and Olives.  

   

  

  

    

                       As Reunion is part of France, immigration was really easy and laid back. No gibberish like 5 crew lists, or filling out papers for cargo vessels, etc. Everything was very straightforward.

The hike was beautiful. We took a bus to Cilaos on 1200m and from there we hiked up to the hut on 2400m. It was a very steep, but otherwise easy hike of 8 km. It only took us about 2,5 to 3 hours to climb up there. From the hut we started the next morning at 4:30am in order to watch the sun rise from the top. We didn’t want to risk having to wait at the top for very long, so we started rather late. As the east was already turning red (and our headlamps went out of battery, one after another), I was afraid i wouldn’t make it to the top in time and decided to watch from a nice spot somewhat lower. It was nice, because Karoline and me were the only ones there and it was a very peaceful atmosphere. But I think I could have made it all the way to the top in time. And I regret a little bit that I didnt do that. Anyway, we went up to the top afterwards to enjoy the view and it was really beautiful. After that we went back down to the hut, had some breakfast and then continued down to Cilaos. The hike up might have been more demanding for stamina, but the hike down really made my legs shiver. I had problems going down stairs for days after that 🙂 Luckily we started sailing the day after, so that we all didnt have to move too much… 

                         

Annonser

Diving

what are the Maldives known for? Exactly, brilliant diving! 

We went to a nice reef and afterwards to a manta-cleaning-station.

Visibility was great and I saw loads of different fish. The corals in the Maldives are not everywhere great, but here in the south, the corals have not been bleached and are very nice.

   
              
   
   

Thousand island world

Maldives…

All the wonderful images that come to your mind when thinking about tropical islands, they are 100% true here.

Long white beaches, turqoise lagoons engulfed by beautiful reefs, colorful fish, turtles, rays, sharks and small islands with palm trees and usually not that much more on them. And the wonderfully relaxed islanders, of course.

We cleared into the country in Uligamu, one of the northern most islands of this long strech of atolls. Uligamu has about 500 inhabitants, although it is usually not more than 300 living there at any given moment, because most of them work on resort islands. The rest works mostly as fishermen, but of course they also have teachers, shopkeepers and a couple of agents for the sailing yachts. On one of the first evenings they arranged a barbecue for us on the beach.

  

  

     

After the hustle and bustle of India, I think we were all quite happy about some tranquility. We packed our hammocks, a small pan and some food and then set up our camp right on the beach. It was the far end of the island, with no people living there. But still it was close enough to get water and bread for breakfast in the village (on those days they had bread). Most islands in the Maldives are quite small. For as far as I know   ALL  islands here are very small. I think Uligamu didn’t measure more than 1.5km from north to south. Days were slow in the village and I have to confess that I didn’t make a big effort to get to know the people that lived there. I was very content with reading my book. Although there is one thing that I learned very quickly and that was repeatedly confirmed afterwards: Maldivians are incredibly friendly and helpful. They always have a smile on their lips and I have never seen anybody really angry. 

   

   

After 10 days in Uligamu we continued south, to the capital Male. This is a real city (or big town) that concentrates all the culture of Maldivians. On a tiny island of about 2x1km you find one office building to the next. Not real high rises, but just high enough to give it a cosmopolitan air. Between you find narrow streets and more cars and scooters than in all the rest of the Maldives. The houses are built right up til the sea front. In search for land Male-residents have even filled up the shallow water on the coastal reefs with rubble and sand. Therefor the coast needs to be protected by giant tetrapods walls all around the island now. So you find no beaches (except for one artificial one) on Male. Despite being so densely populated Male still has many trees, that are planted in whatever small niche you might find between two houses, or a house and a wall. This contributes to a very nice ”small-big-town”-atmosphere.

   

     

As it is completely overflowing, many people live on neighbouring islands like Viligili or the manmade Hulhumale (comparable to the Palm in Dubai), which is still in development. But Male stays the economical centre of this conglomeration of tightly populated islands. There are ferries connecting the islands that are going every 15 minutes and even all through night. The public transportation on Male itself though is not existent. It is just too small, and the distances too short.

  

  

  

In Male our last crew member arrived. Karoline from Germany is a medical student who is usually sailing Regattas in small 420-boats. She immediately fit in with the rest and we have an awesome crew now!

   

   

   

 

Thousand island world

Maldives…

All the wonderful images that come to your mind when thinking about tropical islands, they are 100% true here.

Long white beaches, turqoise lagoons engulfed by beautiful reefs, colorful fish, turtles, rays, sharks and small islands with palm trees and usually not that much more on them. And the wonderfully relaxed islanders, of course.

We cleared into the country in Uligamu, one of the northern most islands of this long strech of atolls. Uligamu has about 500 inhabitants, although it is usually not more than 300 living there at any given moment, because most of them work on resort islands. The rest works mostly as fishermen, but of course they also have teachers, shopkeepers and a couple of agents for the sailing yachts. On one of the first evenings they arranged a barbecue for us on the beach.

  

  

     

After the hustle and bustle of India, I think we were all quite happy about some tranquility. We packed our hammocks, a small pan and some food and then set up our camp right on the beach. It was the far end of the island, with no people living there. But still it was close enough to get water and bread for breakfast in the village (on those days they had bread). Most islands in the Maldives are quite small. For as far as I know   ALL  islands here are very small. I think Uligamu didn’t measure more than 1.5km from north to south. Days were slow in the village and I have to confess that I didn’t make a big effort to get to know the people that lived there. I was very content with reading my book. Although there is one thing that I learned very quickly and that was repeatedly confirmed afterwards: Maldivians are incredibly friendly and helpful. They always have a smile on their lips and I have never seen anybody really angry. 

   

   

After 10 days in Uligamu we continued south, to the capital Male. This is a real city (or big town) that concentrates all the culture of Maldivians. On a tiny island of about 2x1km you find one office building to the next. Not real high rises, but just high enough to give it a cosmopolitan air. Between you find narrow streets and more cars and scooters than in all the rest of the Maldives. The houses are built right up til the sea front. In search for land Male-residents have even filled up the shallow water on the coastal reefs with rubble and sand. Therefor the coast needs to be protected by giant tetrapods walls all around the island now. So you find no beaches (except for one artificial one) on Male. Despite being so densely populated Male still has many trees, that are planted in whatever small niche you might find between two houses, or a house and a wall. This contributes to a very nice ”small-big-town”-atmosphere.

   

     

As it is completely overflowing, many people live on neighbouring islands like Viligili or the manmade Hulhumale (comparable to the Palm in Dubai), which is still in development. But Male stays the economical centre of this conglomeration of tightly populated islands. There are ferries connecting the islands that are going every 15 minutes and even all through night. The public transportation on Male itself though is not existent. It is just too small, and the distances too short.

  

  

  

In Male our last crew member arrived. Karoline from Germany is a medical student who is usually sailing Regattas in small 420-boats. She immediately fit in with the rest and we have an awesome crew now!

   

   

   

 

India

Right now we are sailing out of the port of Kochi. Around us are thousands of small fisherboats with various  amounts of lanterns: strong working lights, all decklight on, just a single light or none at all. Some have marked nets, that light up perhaps, others don’t have any marks.
We are a little nervous that we might hit an unlit fisherboat. It is just like everywhere in India: totally overcrowded and overpopulated. And we can still smell it. Especially the dirty diesel engines of old boats
The boat has been in India for almost 6 months now. Me and Andreas came back about two weeks ago. It was quite a bit of work to do, but we also really enjoyed ourselves.
One of the first things we did, was meet a friend Dag had made last year in October: Deepu and his wife Christie. What a lucky choice! Deep had invited us for Dinner. Hearing that we wanted to head into the mountains for a little peace and private time, he invited us to stay at a resort, which he is part owner of. It was amazing. A luxury retreat in the mountains around Munnar, a hill station. Tee plantations, Spice gardens, monkeys, birds, etc. Best of all was the fresh air. Here in Kochi you can barely breath because of all the smog. And you never see the sun drop into the ocean. But it always just disappears in the mist, long before ever touching the ocean.
So we really enjoyed our 2 days in Munnar.
But we also loved Kochi. The food is absolutely great, the people nice and welcoming and the street life is intense. It is great walking through the markets that are so rich in aromas, with thousand spices and vegetables that grow right here in Kerala. Or eat porotas with vegetable curry at a street stall and finish all off with a chai.
I also fell in love with the Indian way of dressing. Because the Indians are very concerned about not showing any neckline or legs, I bought two very cheap Indian dresses. They consist of wide flared trousers and a dress like shirt on top that comes down to your knees. The trousers are always sold with a shawl in the same color and I got into the habit of covering my head with it, whenever I was walking in the bright sun. It’s just much more comfortable and I also hope it will protect my hair from falling out again.

A few days before we left Kochi, Krischan and Pål joined us on Seaventure. They are our new crew and will stay all the way til South Africa. I think they fit in very nicely and we will have a lot of fun together.
Together with them we were all invited to have dinner with our agent/guy for everything, Nazar. He had been looking after our boat for the while we had been to Europe. Now he had helped us finding workers for various tasks on the boat. He is a very honest, nice guy but we always had some trouble understanding him, because his English is not the best. Therefore I was a little sceptical about how this dinner would turn out. But it was very nice. All his children have very good education and speak perfect English. His daughter asked me, if she should do henna paintings on my hands. Of course I said yes. I think these patterns are very beautiful. She used a pattern traditionally used in wedding ceremonies and she wrote the name of my husband into my left palm. Unluckily she misspelled, so that it said ANDREASS.

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Nazar and his grandson

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The two and a half day sailing went smoothly, except for having no wind and a minor break down of the engine. The second day we had made a bathing stop after which the engine didn’t start up immediately. We thought the starter battery might be bad. Same day in the evening I suddenly noticed that the boat had filled up with a lot of water. For some reason the bilge pumps were not working. At the same time we had seen a red light on the the control panel, indicating hat the batteries were not charging. Andreas checked the level of the batteries and they were already quite low. We started emptying the water with our manual bilge pump while Andreas and Dag were looking for the problem. Luckily it was only a small problem: the belt had been put on too tightly (by a mechanic) and had ruptured. We only needed to change it. Of course we had spare belts with us. The bilge pumps then also seemed to work, although the automatic switch seems to be broken. We will have a closer look at that.
The whole incident looked quite serious in the beginning, but I am glad to have such capable people on the boat.

The day after that we reached Maldives. But about this beautiful country I will write another post 🙂

Off, off again…!

Not too long and we will be off again. My spirits are rising when I think about setting forth our great adventure!

Our winter in Europe was relaxing, rewarding, interesting, chaotic, cheerful, emotional and … COLD!
I’m so happy I met all the people I did and I am very content with how our winter stay worked out.
Now we have all the energy we need to continue sailing until July.
Very soon updates from exciting countries such as India, Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa will follow.