21/10/2015 – Mauritius

Sorry, it’s nearly two weeks since my last log and a lot has happened since then! I celebrated my birthday at sea by eating. John cooked scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast, I made smoked salmon, cream cheese and salad wraps for lunch then John cooked steaks for dinner. Other than that, the day passed like any other day at sea, on watch periods, radio nets and regular entries in the ship’s logbook. The breeze stayed with us all day and we made good progress with a Tuesday arrival looking possible. Sadly it wasn’t to be and we arrived at first light on Wednesday. We had one further piece of damage which John noticed on Tuesday morning. The radar was dangling from the mast supported only by its wires. The seas were rather bouncy and John didn’t fancy climbing the mast so he managed to stabilise it with a couple of halyards snagged on it and tied so that it couldn’t swing. The first few days were dedicated to repairing the boat: remove the radar and order two new aluminium side arms for the bracket from a local metal working company; remove the damaged alternator, discover why it was cranked around at an angle (found to be wear on the alternator itself), source a replacement; refit the alternator and tighten the belt on the other one; fit the new end cap on the heat exchanger which Joel brought from England for us; fit the new diesel lift pump, also carried from England by Joel; start the engine, check that the batteries are being charged, no water leaks. The final job, refitting the radar, had to wait until yesterday (Tuesday) when John collected the new side arms. The good news is that the radar still works. We dedicated the weekend to exploring the island. On Saturday we travelled to the east coast then followed the coast road to Maheburg and Blue Bay. We passed numerous very colourful temples with lots of relief carving on them plus Hindu temples, Mosques and Catholic churches. This island is a bit of a melting pot, originally settled by the Dutch, taken over by the French who brought in slaves to work on the sugar plantations then won by the British in 1810. After slavery was abolished in about 1830 workers were brought in from India. There is also quite a large Chinese population. Mauritius gained its independence in 1968, however it retains a lot of British systems. Rather surprisingly, given about 150 years of British rule, the predominant language seems to be French though the language of government is English. The southwest of the island is more interesting, which was our destination on Sunday. Apart from the Back River Gorge area we found the tea trail and visited the Bois Cheri tea factory and museum. The factory itself was closed (Sunday) but the museum was open, then we had a lovely lunch in their Panorama Restaurant at the top of the hill followed by a tea tasting. The National Park surrounding the Black River Gorge included various waterfalls. We really enjoyed exploring this area and returned to Port Louis by the coast road. On Monday we went on a trip organised by the tourist office to the northwest corner of the island. The first stop was the Chateau de Labourdonnais, a magnificent historic house which has been very well restored. This was followed by a rum tasting, then a visit to their shop to buy rum! The next stop was the sugar museum, very well presented in an old sugar mill, more rum tasting then lunch. After lunch our final visit was to the botanic gardens where the excellent guide kept everyone interested. It was a long day but very enjoyable. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Mauritius but it is time to move on. Tomorrow we leave on the shortest leg of the rally, about 130 nM to Reunion so we should arrive sometime on Friday. Joyce

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