Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 14: The Mascarenes page 84 of 109

Mauritius Island

Map: Mauritius Island. Rodriguez is the small dot on the right. View Larger Map

The boats M'Lady and Joggins accompanied Suka out the channel. We sailed in their company for a time, but eventually diverged away to the south. As we angled ever southward, out of the trades and into the variables, the wind fell light. Laggardly progress notwithstanding, though, we celebrated our crossing the circumnavigation's antipode. San Diego lay some 8,000 miles directly below Suka's keel, so we had sailed half-way round the world.

During our third evening at sea, we approached a tremendous wall of black cloud extending from the north-east to the south-west horizons. This was the typical manifestation of cold-frontal activity in the southern hemisphere. Quickening to this portent of impending gale force winds, we battened Suka tightly, reefed the sails, and prepared for the worst. Oddly, though, the frontal system was not approaching quickly, and we sailed into it perhaps an hour later. The wind died - the next indication of an imminent lambasting gale. Yet even after we had motored into a virtual wall of rainfall, the wind remained inanimate. Nevertheless, Heaven's floodgates had been thrown open; the downpour was astonishing.

Half an hour later we emerged from the backside of the deluge, and met once again with clear skies. Looking aft at the unbroken wall of black cloud, we saw that it resulted not from a cold front, but a compression wave streaming off the island of Mauritius like a volcanic plume.

Throughout the night we motor-sailed onward into an ever-heading breeze, while the lights of Mauritius beckoned temptingly, 30 miles to the north. Reunion stood another 120 miles farther on, and here we decided that rather than slopping about and motoring into head winds, we would detour from our course and visit Mauritius for a few days before resuming the jaunt under hopefully more favorable winds.

Nearing the south end of Mauritius.

Suka sails past a commanding, 1,800-foot high bastille of rock called The Morne.

The air was so remarkably clear that Mauritius appeared to stand fairly close; but incredibly we spent the next 15 hours closing the coast and motor-sailing along the island's seaboard to Port Louis. At the south-west corner of the island stands a commanding, 1,800-foot high Bastille of rock called The Morne, and farther along the west coastline rise the gantries of several spectacular peaks. These provided a striking backdrop, while in the foreground a few local fishing prams sprinted homeward with surprising agility.


Zoom out to see where we are, or click on logo.

At dusk we sailed into the small port, and found a dozen yachts rafted clamorously together in the back of the harbor, dancing out of step with the rhythm of the incoming surge. The packet seemed ridiculously over-crowded, and unaccommodating to yet another yacht, so groping in darkness we motored about the harbor searching for suitable mooring.

We decided to tie alongside the wharf between two large ships berthed against the port's sou-southeast wall. The evening's off-shore wind was now blowing with some vigor, necessitating that I keep Suka moving briskly in order to maintain steerageway. About 100 feet from the jetty Suka's keel struck the bottom with a bone crunching jolt, and she shuddered to a standstill. We had heard many warnings about Mauritius, but none included the danger of grounding within the principal harbor. How ironic, I thought, to have safely crossed most of the infamous Indian Ocean without mishap, only to converge with a submerged pile of rocks within a major harbor.

We inflated the dinghy, and Jenny pulled a line aft and made it fast to a gargantuan buoy. Then I nearly wrenched one of Suka's primary winches from the cockpit coaming while attempting to grind the brig free. After unshipping the Danforth from its chocks on the foredeck, we flaked its line from its naval pipe, then Jenny rowed and deployed the kedge athwartships. I rove the kedge rode through a block, which I made fast to the halyard and hoisted aloft. From there the kedge rode led to an aligning block at the toe rail and thence to the other primary winch. Essentially pulling from the masthead, we heeled Suka far over, but even with both of us grinding full strength, and with Perkins straining mightily in reverse, the ketch remained grounded.

Speaking into the microphone, I summoned assistance. "Suka calling M'Lady and Joggins. Hey you guys, we've run aground!"

A French yachtsman named Michel Martin radioed the French speaking Port Control on our behalf, and asked for suggestions. Michel then related to us that a tug could be dispatched, but at great expense. Otherwise, we could simply await the rising tide. Well, I reasoned, at least we had obeyed one of the fundamentals of running aground: doing so on a flooding tide.

John and Ned came to our aid, and helped pull the heeling anchor rode. This rolled Suka a little farther. Finally the rising tide, with the added help of my winch grinding, lifted Suka's keel free of the rocks, whereupon she sprung backward, relieving the stretch of the bar-taut stern warp. Not wishing to have another go at the wharf, we made fast between two mammoth buoys, using long lines as though Suka were a freighter.

“Oddly, John fell asleep at the table during his own party. But then, the day had been a long one for us all.”

"You two come over to Joggins," John admonished. "We caught a beaut' today, and everyone's invited over for dinner." Oddly, John fell asleep at the table during his own party. But then, the day had been a long one for us all.

The following morning after we had checked in with the officials, the immigration officer asked if we had any booze to sell, as though we were bootlegging. "But don't tell the customs officers," he implored in a transparent tone that suggested a collusion.

Grand Baie

After visiting the post office we set sail on the 13 mile jaunt north to Grand Baie, where one could anchor anywhere within the expansive cove, and reputedly, from where one could ride the bus back to Port Louis to check out. M'Lady sailed with Suka in close formation, and for such an occasion the respective crews had exchanged cameras, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to obtain photographs of our respective yachts under sail. The entrance to Grand Baie proved remarkably shallow, but Suka negotiated it without grounding. And indeed, the anchorage was pleasant, save for two inconveniences. Potable water was scarce, and the surrounds, in fact the entire island, seemed to be infested with thieves. For example, rumor had it that five yachts had lost their dinghies here during the previous month.

The brine was transparent, so wearing mask and fins I dove overboard and surveyed the keel for the damage undoubtedly incurred during the grounding. All I found, though, were a few insignificant scratches.

Port Louis

The bus ride to the generally sordid city of Port Louis proved interesting on a once-only basis. The countryside comprised small fields of sugar cane surrounded and interspersed with large piles, up to 15 feet high, of big rocks. These rocks had of course originally festooned the fields, and the farmers had laboriously cleared them by hand. Statistically, this island supports the third most densely populated country in the world, with over 500 persons per square kilometer. As such, the second half of the bus ride was through unending urban sprawl.

In the city we visited the offices of customs and harbor revenue. Then after a long walk in search of the immigration office, stopping a few times to ask directions, we located the sought-after office. There, a supercilious functionary refused to grant us clearance, until such time as we had brought the yacht back to Port Louis.


There was no arguing his decision, so from his office we ambled to the thronging market, and mingled with the locals while conversing with a few of them. Fresh fruit and vegetables were bountiful, and the vendors worked over their displays industriously. The market place was redolent of herbs, spices, incense, and flowers, baked bread and sweets. Live chickens were caged in wire crates, stacked half a dozen high. Recently slaughtered beef seemed to abound. I found the kaleidoscopic sights and smells intriguing. Central markets are unique, for here the visitor can interact with the locals as they buy and sell their produce and wares, and one has the opportunity to be a part of the everyday scene. This was the same feeling I had experienced at similar markets at Papeete, Vava'u, and Suva, and even at Rodriguez.

With our day-packs loaded with fresh food, we wandered among the outdoor stalls where craftsmen and vendors peddled their wares. These people were oftentimes more aggressive; men, women, and children clamored for our attention, insisting we come inspect whatever they were selling.

Not far from the waterfront we located the Merchant Mariners Club, where yachtees were welcome. Inside the high fence, the grounds were clean, well groomed, and delightfully shaded and cool. Indoors we escaped the bustling, dusty sidewalks, and while relaxing each with a cold drink in hand, quietly we visited with a few other yachtsmen.

The afternoon passed quickly. Soon we caught a bus that jostled us for two hours back to Grande Baie. We were weary from our day of dealing with officials, and of shopping in the boisterous city, so we were glad to paddle back to our quiet home.

Port Louis

A few days later we sailed back to Port Louis, and after gaining our clearance papers we filled away, happily taking leave of the moiling din.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 84.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
> GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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 1981 Baja8 Ed 
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