Saturday, 29 August 2015

Passage To Mauritius

We arrived in Mauritius some weeks back, with an extra crew member on board - Sally Kempson, a marine biologist working with an NGO in Rodrigues.  Sally manages education projects for the the local fisherman and research on the local octopus habitat in Rodrigues. This was her first serious ocean passage.  Once again the Indian Ocean showed its ability for delivering nasty cross swells and very uncomfortable conditions, and Sally certainly had an aggressive baptism into ocean sailing, with 20 to 25 knot trade winds for most of the voyage.

Sally & Ley Celebrating Arrival At Port Louis, Mauritius
It took us two days and two hours to cover the 350 nautical miles from Rodrigues.  There are no navigational challenges and we sailed inside the outlying northern islands on approach, though I wouldn't do that if the sea state was up.  The final 16 nautical miles were a marvelous beam reach along the sheltered north west coast of Mauritius, fast sailing in flat water with an off-shore breeze, a great way to arrive.

Entry in Port Louis is simple enough, and after obtaining permission from Port Control we motored into the harbor and tied alongside the designated clearance berth - a concrete dock hosting a gaggle of restaurants.  We tied to the hand railings and awaited the formalities - Health clearance was first, followed by Immigration then Customs and Coast Guard.

We stayed two nights at the clearance berth, enjoying the excellent local Indian food and the beautiful view across the Caudan waterfront, while waiting for a slot to become available in the Caudan Marina.

To be perfectly frank, the word "marina" is perhaps not applicable here, as the basin is surrounded by a fixed concrete wall with a nasty overhang that is just waiting to trap the unwary gunwhale at low tide - careful fendering is required.   However the cost is reasonable, water and electricity are not metered, and if you don't mind being berthed in the middle of car park with no security, it is very good .....

The Unmarked Danger - Click To Enlarge
A word of warning for those following in our path - a rocky shallow patch in Port Louis Harbour is not marked by any buoys.  While it is shown on the charts, many sailors let their guard slip once safe within the harbour confines and three boats hit the rock in the week that we arrived, one needed slipping to undertake repairs.   A direct transit from the clearance wharf to the marina entrance will intersect the rock, so stay well north until you are opposite the marina entrance.

After a week in Port Louis we headed north to Grand Baie, anchoring in 6 meters over good holding sand with excellent protection.  Grand Baie Yacht Club provides a complimentary one month free membership, so we were able to use the club facilities including a dinghy dock, restaurant and car park - now that's our kind of club.  The club also has fuel and water available at the dock. The local National Coast Guard base also provides secure dinghy berthing in Grand Baie.  We rented a car and toured Mauritius from there, whilst also provisioning at the excellent western standard supermarkets.

Grand Baie has a very shallow entrance, around 2.5 metres at low tide, so arrival should be timed for the high tide.  The waypoints we used worked very well and can be downloaded with an entry chart here.

Our Mauritius Cruising Services Guide is now complete, and can be downloaded in .pdf format.  We'd appreciate any additional references for inclusion in that document - email us please !
Grand Baie Yacht Club - Cruiser's Haven                                                                  

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