Amid a spectacular sunset last night we skirted the islands and reefs north of Mauritius: Serpent Isl, Round Isl, Pigeon house rock, Blacksmiths reef, Gabriel Island, Carpenters spit… Our bellies satisfied with fresh mahi mahi steaks on oven crisped baguette, topped with a mayo, black pepper and lime sauce, and finished with a few chunks of Spanish mackerel (caught at noon after an incredible fight!), the mood aboard was expectant and jovial. With still 30 nm to go it was obvious that it was to be a nocturnal landfall at Port Louis, an event we had prepared for through conversations with other boats on the HF radio nets: “Zee sharts are no verrrry goood, zeee GPS is putting me on zeee land ven I ees on zeee vater!…” warned one Austrian fellow. mmm, duly noted by the crew of S/V Khulula – don’t trust the electronic charts!
Night falls on a lumpy and windy ocean, shrouding the reefs and small islands in darkness. Khulula continues to surge along at seven knots, trailing a frothing white wake. There is the nervous, tingly feeling of anticipation aboard, the feeling of being near land in the pitch darkness.
Hugh and I head down for a nap, Dave makes tea, and as I fall asleep I could hear them in the cockpit discussing lights and ships and other visuals on the horizon. Two hours later Hugh and I are awoken to a boat that has definitely left the open ocean swells and is now peeling along a flat ocean at 7 knots, the awesome spread of Port Louis lights off the starboard bow. Brys and Dave head down for a nap, should be another hour or so until we get there.
90 minutes later we are on the opposite tack, most of the sails furled, dodging a MASSIVE tanker and its tug escorts making making their way into the shipping channel. We watch in awe as the lumbering illuminated beast passes within 150m of us, engines reverberating through the night.
After another 30min of feeling our way into the shore, me on the helm, Hugh on the foredeck and bryson calling out from the chart, we picked up the navigational aids and worked out the offset on the charts. Just before midnight, Khulula’s anchor splashed into the waters of Mauritius. 3600 miles (6550 km) has passed under our keel since Bali on 2 October; 25 of the 33 nights were spent at sea.
Plans for the next week are all up in the air. Dave Abercrombie flies out after an epic voyage across the bulk of the Indian Ocean, Guy Patterson flies in to take on the unpredictable South African passage. Swell and surf dependent are a short leg to Reunion Isl (110 miles), a stop at Tamarin Bay (10 miles south), a stop at Grand Bay (north). We are not making any plans just yet, for now it is time to check in, catch up with loved ones and spend a day or so in civilization. One thing for sure however, is that within a week we will once again be at sea, this time for the 1550 miles passage to Durban, South Africa, childhood home to myself and Brys!