After a couple of weeks in enjoyable, rustic Rodrigues, we moved on to Mauritius Island - Mauritius controls the islands of Rodrigues, Agalega and St Brandon.
Port Louis harbour, the only port of entry and one of two Mauritian harbours, looked like this as we entered. Beautiful mountains and waterfront area, busy harbour: much of interest.
The “marina” is really a small area at the Caudan Waterfront that has facility to tie boats onto the concrete walls, and supplies power and water (GREAT!). Unfortunately the wall was not designed to berth yachts, it would seem: it has a concrete overhang that causes huge damage to berthed yachts that move in the tides and swells and wakes from passing traffic. However, with enough fenders and planks and tyres and ropes, a measure of ingenuity, and constant watchfulness and adjustment the boat was left dirty but unscathed!
The area is tiny, so boats need to raft up alongside one other: here we are, tied to the wall, with a big catamaran tied onto us.
However, we happily passed the time in Port Louis. Le Caudan Waterfront feels a lot like (a tiny version of) Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront: a working harbour, mountains, shopping and eating-places. It is only a short walk from town, we made regular trips there: what contrasting experiences are provided in this small city!
|Hawkers under “Hawking Not Allowed” sign|
|The market interior from the craft level upstairs|
|Rougaille is a Creole sauce: tasty, rich, tomato-based – |
hence the plentiful ripe-tomato supplies!
|Lovely Company Gardens with restful shade and piped music|
|A typical street scene outside the CBD has fruit sellers, peanut roasters |
and all manner of retail
|Oosterschelde and Europa tied alongside Le Caudan wall|
|Looking towards the city over perfectly flaked sails |
– we watched them: its takes ages!
We headed for Grand Baie. Exploring Mauritius’ shores by boat is a challenge, as with so many Indian Ocean Islands. Mauritius is surrounded by fringing reef that provides few channels to the shore and then, once through the reef few areas that are deep enough to actually accommodate a boat with a draft of more than a metre. What is worse, there is no pilotage information available: you get your info wherever you can, and go slowly!
However, Grand Baie in fact has an easy entry channel and as a result is a favourite for the Mauritius boat-world. It is not a picturesque bay, but it has other attractions: notably, it is calm and gentle (hardly even rocks you to sleep!), and a great place to shop for provisions and eat out (although, being touristy, expensive). We found particularly delicious local food at La Rougaille Creole Restaurant, with spiced fruity rum made by the owner… we took that bottle home!
This is also a base for diving, and Megan (10) has her PADI Junior ticket: so off we went!
|Gunner’s Quoin Island (A quoin is a wedge used to elevate a cannon)|
|Looking across the boat to nearby rock-face|
We had dived down the line of the first mooring as deep as we could and it had looked okay – but could not get deep enough to get a close look at the rope to chain junction at the base. So after the beer Rolf secured us to our new base using a few additional lines, fitted two of our guests with scuba gear and dispatched them to check the entire mooring. Only at this stage could he smile as he regarded the Mauritian line, which had chafed through.
Then the world descended on us in a flotilla of boats! Evidently this island is a good stop-over for craft returning from their day trips to the other islands up north, on their way home. Afternoons here are not quiet!
Speedboats (four, with noisy beer-swilling passengers) arrived to snorkel, climb the rocks, and, um, drink and party. Catamarans (two, with noisy beer-swilling passengers and excellent / loud sound systems) did the same. There were not enough moorings available. No worries: some tied onto the other moorings, some tied onto Ketoro!
So it was that our new mooring held Ketoro, a speedboat hanging from our stern, and another party catamaran rafted onto us.
|Enjoying the music from day-cat alongside, while another one departs|
Eventually they left, the speedboats left, and we were left to enjoy the bay on our own again.
Initial research by dinghy was conducted using a portable fish finder (to measure depth), GPS, iPad (with Google earth map), writing implements and Phoenix beer.