From There to Here … Into the Indian & on to Africa

 Our first sight of the Cocos didn't appear quite as much like paradise as advertised.

Our first sight of the Cocos didn't appear quite as much like paradise as advertised.

Our 10-day, 1,468 nm passage from Geraldton, Western Australia to Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean was pleasant enough. We had our share of challenges, but in general, we enjoyed the trip and welcomed our arrival to a place Joshua Slocum described in 1897 as “...a paradise on this earth”.

 Paradise was much too crowded when we first arrived.

Paradise was much too crowded when we first arrived.

Paradise, however, was somewhat disappointing when we found that the ARC rally boats had taken over the anchorage and Direction Island. This much anticipated, off-the-beaten track Shangri-La, was instead loud and buzzing with the activity of 26 boats! Then the ARC boats departed on schedule and peace returned.

 Now we're talking paradise!

Now we're talking paradise!

We enjoyed a leisurely life of living on island time for a couple of weeks. Chores and repairs were completed as necessary, but as always, the clock was ticking. Time to move on to the next port of call, Rodrigues Island, ~2,000 nm away. There's always a bit of regret when we leave a place we've enjoyed and been comfortable. There's always a bit of apprehension mixed with anticipation and exhilaration as we haul anchor and head out of a harbor and across a vast ocean. What's out there? How will the weather be? What will break this time? How long will it take us?

Click on any of the thumbnails below to make them larger.

The 13.5 day, 2085 nm passage to Rodrigues was not our most difficult passage ever, but it certainly wasn’t a cakewalk. Arriving in the calm of Port Mathurin was a relief. We found the island to be friendly, welcoming and quite interesting. From giant tortoises, to lunches on the beach, to a vibrant market with fresh baguettes and sweets, we relished it all. And, once again, after an all too brief respite, it was time to move on. Want to learn more about our passage to Rodrigues and explore the island with us, check this out.

 Approaching Port Louis, Mauritius ... WOW!

Approaching Port Louis, Mauritius ... WOW!

Sailing from Rodrigues to Mauritius was painfully slow, but since it was only 372 nm, it was much easier to handle. From the moment we sailed into Port Louis, we knew Mauritius was going to be a special place and we weren’t disappointed. There was lots to see and do and we took advantage of it all … museums, horse races at the famed Champ de Mars, markets, Hindu temples, tea factories, sugar factories, national parks. We wandered and roamed and took it all in, then made plans for the quick trip to Reunion. More Mauritius?

Neptune and the ARC had different plans for us, however. Because of weather, we were delayed several days in our departure from Mauritius and the ARC fleet, always just ahead of us, had also delayed its departure from Reunion. When we finally set out, we were feeling pressured to get to South Africa before the cyclone season. We saw Reunion on our radar, shrouded in dense fog, but regretfully gave it a pass.

 Regretfully, we gave Reunion Island a pass.

Regretfully, we gave Reunion Island a pass.

Durban, South Africa lay 1600 nm ahead and we were hoping to arrive in time to celebrate our American Thanksgiving. Neither Neptune nor the weather cooperated with us, however, and the long, boisterous passage seemed endless. Thanksgiving was celebrated at sea.

 Whew ... Durban at last!

Whew ... Durban at last!

The relief of finally arriving in Durban and tying up at the Customs dock was palpable. Without a doubt, the Indian Ocean had given us a run for our money and would remain the most challenging of our ocean crossings. Want to read our daily passage blogs? Just "search" our blog page for Indian ... you'll definitely get your fill of our Indian Ocean passage!

Join us next week for some inland travel in southern Africa and a trip down South Africa's infamous Wild Coast on our way to Cape Town.