27/10/2015 – Vive la France

We left Mauritius last Thursday afternoon as planned. In the morning we had a multi-faith blessing ceremony followed by tea and nibbles. It was a lovely way to end our stay on Mauritius. Our start was something best forgotten! The plan was to deploy the cruising chute moments before the start and slide across the line in the rather feeble wind. The skipper opted for no mainsail as it would blanket the chute. I'd hoisted the sail, it was just a question of pulling the sock up to allow the sail to fill with wind but, with seconds to go, there was a windshift! I had to get the sail down quickly so John could pull the genoa out on the other side and we drifted over the start line, very nearly last. As expected, the wind shifted back quite soon so John rolled away the genoa and we pulled up the chute. Disaster, try as I might I couldn't pull the sock up. Yet again we were dead in the water while we dropped the chute, pulled out the genoa and subsequently raised the mainsail. A couple of hours later the wind died completely so we motored until we had a water leak. (Old engine, old pipework....). Engine off, no wind so we drifted backwards, not helpful. We actually had a good sail from early evening onwards but we had too much catching up to do. We arrived in La Reunion soon after midday on Friday, about 140 miles in 22 hours 30 minutes approximately, better than it might have been but slower than we had hoped. We have hired a car for 6 days so discovered the local hypermarket on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we had a very good day trip to an active volcano though the action was happening on the far side from our viewpoint, a good lunch then a tour of the lava flows from previous eruptions. It's not quite Old Faithful, but the volcano erupts roughly every 14 months, sometimes for weeks on end. The lava flows down to the sea in the south east corner of the island, cutting off the coast road fairly often. The last big lava flow was in 2007 and the lichens followed by ferns, then small plants, small trees and bushes are beginning to colonise the area. It was a very long day, with an 0700 start and a return to the boats at about 1915 but well worth it. John wanted to swap the propellors as we have a refurbished one from Brunton to replace our one which lost a blade. At somewhat short notice, he arranged a lift out for about 1215 on Monday. Changing the propellor was quite quick and easy but we had to wait until after the lunch break for the workers to return to pressure wash the hull. We were back on the wall by 1545. Today we set off to do some sight seeing after first finding the Apple iShop. Not completely unexpectedly the technician said my i-pad couldn't be repaired because it had already had a new screen fitted, but not by an Apple technician. We'll see how expensive they are in South Africa, I'll be totally lost if this one freaks out completely and we find they are too expensive in S A. I'll just have to wait and see, in the meantime I think I'll just tape the screen to the backing and hope it controls the random movements of the screen. We'll see. We did very little else today except spend a lot if money in Carrefour, a typical French hypermarket in St Denis, the island's capital, because the rain started as we arrived outside the iShop. La Reunion is one of France's 'Departements outre mer' or 'Overseas departements' like Martinique and Guadaloupe in the Caribbean. Everyone speaks French but the day to day language is Creole, currency is the Euro but prices are 30%-40% higher than in France because most items are imported from Europe. The baguettes are just like the real thing! It is a very interesting island and we are hoping for a sunny, dry day tomorrow so we can explore more of the island. Joyce

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