Crossing the Indian Ocean

mauritius mileage
Rodrigues to Mauritius

Day 1 – 350 nm to go

We were up early and the day seemed to fly by. We were busy making Skype calls and doing last minute e-mails before we left. Though the passage will be much shorter than the last two, we still wanted to be as up-to-date as possible.

By 10am, we hurriedly gathered all our paperwork together for our checkout scheduled at 10:30 at the Port Captain's office. Captain Gilbert Mallet has been unbelievably helpful and friendly to all of us cruisers. With the supply ship at the dock, all the cruisers tie their dinghies to Albion which is rafted to the tug, Solitaire. It's a scramble getting across the boats and onto land. Customs, Immigration and Coast Guard were waiting for us. Voila … it was done in a flash.

Technically, once Immigration stamped our passports, we weren't allowed back into the port. Our bad … we should have been more organized and gone to the market early as we did last week. But we didn't and Captain Mallet gracefully forgave our faux pas and let us go to the boulangerie and the market to pick up some last minute things. You'd think after all the times we've left on a passage we wouldn't have this last minute scramble, but we always do.

Back aboard Nine of Cups, we hauled the dinghy and it needed scrubbing. While David scrubbed, I stowed the groceries, made a passage soup (Lemay Special again) and began prep below decks for the passage. When David finished with the dinghy, we deployed the whisker pole so it was ready to go and then we sat for few minutes, caught our collective breaths and I made us some lunch. Whew!

We were planning on a late departure … around 4pm … so that we could slow down if necessary on the other end and arrive in Mauritius during morning daylight hours. The wind was a brisk 20-25 knots from the ENE. Everything was stowed and Cups was ready to go. We read for about an hour, but our impatience finally got the best of us, and we raised anchor and headed out through the small channel about 2:45.

On our way to Mauritius...

Day 2

Day's mileage: 89 nm (19 hrs)

Miles to go: 261

With a 3-day forecast of winds 15-20 knots, we braced ourselves for stronger winds based on the typical Indian Ocean trades we'd experienced thus far. We were fast off the mark, charging out of the channel at 7 knots, with a wicked rocking motion that just wouldn't quit.

The wind lessened as did our speed , but the rocking continued ... worse when we slowed. The motion of the boat coincided well with the jostling of our bodies ... especially our stomachs. We were both nauseous and feeling a bit green around the gills. We hadn't taken Stugeron, thinking it wouldn't be necessary. We still had our sea legs. Au contraire! We could have taken it after we were sick, but kept thinking it was a temporary condition. Instead, the nausea nagged on and on along with a slight headache.

A reader had suggested wearing an eye patch. I didn't have one, but kept one eye covered for 30 minutes or so. I found I needed two eyes when I was heaving. Perhaps, I didn't give it a fair enough try. Another reader suggested physical exercise (beyond puking maneuvers). I did some arm and leg exercises while sitting and it did seem to help momentarily, but then the boat rocking increased and so did the nausea. This was not an "I hope I'm going to die" sort of seasickness. It was more of an inconvenience. This is probably the only time on a passage I get bored because I feel crappy and I can't read or write without feeling worse, so watches seem very long.

We'd slowed to 3s and low 4s. We tried different sail configurations, but the wind just wasn't there ... only the continuous rock.

No birds...no marine critters in the scuppers. Just rocking. Ugh!

Day 3

Day's mileage: 109nm

Miles to go: 152

Neptune is known for enjoying the pranks he plays on sailors. This is a good one. No wind in the tradewinds? We've been lumbering along, making low mileage, feeling better, but now off course to take advantage of what little wind there is. We're cautious about complaining too much. "Be careful what you wish for."

The days have been gloriously sunny. No squalls, no showers...just the incessant rock and even that has dissipated with the light winds. We had consciously planned our departure time for late in the afternoon to give us the best chance of a daylight arrival in Mauritius. Neptune, being the prankster he is, sent the light winds to insure we would arrive later than anticipated and certainly after dark.

Our morning cuppa was pleasantly interrupted by the appearance of a whale about four boat lengths off our port beam. He was heading for Mauritius, too. David scrambled for the camera, but too late. Our visitor gave us the big eye and then headed off rather abruptly. He obviously wasn't interested in poking along at our slow speed. David identified him as probably a Bryde's whale based on his hooked dorsal fin and our location.

Day 4

Day's mileage: 61

Miles to go: 91

And we thought we were moving slowly yesterday. Well, there's slow and then there's SLOW. Saying that we're moving at a snail's pace would be an insult to snails and definitely overstating our forward progress. We've had 1-2 knots, mostly on the beam. You can't go too far in a sailboat without wind unless you want to crank on the engine. We don't ... we prefer to go slowly to burning diesel. We considered fabricating some oars and drawing straws to determine who'd be the galley slave, but in the end it sounded like too much work, and, as you know, we're lazy sailors. We're I content to just poke along.

There's plenty to do to keep us occupied. David whipped lines. We re-calibrated the wind vane. I began polishing the stainless. No sense wasting time in port on chores we could be doing at sea. Reading, a game of Sudoku or two, writing, cooking, cleaning up, chatting, making plans ... we certainly haven't been bored.

Sooty shearwaters have been flying lazy circles around us ... like vultures maybe?