Passage from Rodrigues to Reunion

Day 1

About an hour before we were due to check out, Matt was oiling the spinnaker pole and somehow the mast fitting broke – as the winds were forecast to be from behind, it meant we were going to have to try to 2 sail reach for the whole of the passage.

We set off as planned and went out into a slightly rolling sea and15 knots of wind from the east.  For the first few hours we had a very pleasant 2 sail reach with the occasional large wave disturbing the wind in the sails for a few minutes.  Around  9pm the wind started to go further round to the east causing the genoa to collapse and clank around.  We tried gybing at around 10pm but that was no better so had to gybe back again at around midnight.  We left the genoa rolled and sailed all night with the main only – even though the boat speed occasionally dropped to below 5 knots we were able to make an average of 6.6 knots.

This morning as dawn broke the clouds came over to give us a bit more wind so we were able to 2 sail reach again for an hour or so.  Matt has been working on a temporary fix for the pole and if he has the right bits in his toolbox, he may be able to cobble something together.  Meanwhile we are doing a respectable 6.5 – 7 knots under main only.  The sea is quite rolly but mainly on the aft quarter so not too uncomfortable.

Shipping trade has been busy but so far we haven't encountered anything closer than 10 miles.  No sign of any sea creatures but the occasional seabird.

Update:  Matt'll fix it has fixed it so we are now poled out!

Date and time: 10th October 10.30 local (GMT + 4 hrs) 

Position:   S20:15:054 E060:37:325       24 hours distance: 174nm

Day 2

Once we were back on track with the genoa poled out we had a very pleasant day – not too much sea – probably under 2m swell and not much wind waves.  As we were able to sail downwind, the waves were also coming more from behind so not too rolly. Wind hovered around 15 knots from the east most of the day. We are not going terribly quickly, but there is no point. Reunion is a three day, three night sail from Rodrigues, so there is no need to push hard to try and save a few hours. All we need to do is average around 160nm per day and so far that has meant a comfortable easy passage.

The current seems to be quite variable. Far from a continuous westerly set promised by the charts and pilot books, it's clear that the current is a series of large eddies. Early evening yesterday we had almost 2kts with us, then after a few hours it was against us and stayed that way most of the night. As a result the sea started to kick up and our speed dropped to around 5 knots – back to the “things that go bump in the night” scenario. This morning we have a cross current pushing us south so we are making around 7 knots in around 15 knots of breeze. The RTOF gribs suggest that the eddies should straighten out as we pass south of Mauritius in a couple of hours, then we should have favourable current again.

Mauritius is about 20m to our north. We can see some mountains, and amazingly we have one bar signal on the phone. We should get a bit closer as the day goes on, and who knows we might get a quick internet contact.

We have been trying to do SSB communication with a couple of boats in Mauritius and one on his way to Rodrigues from Cocos but not very good propagation. Just about managed to exchange positions, but that was it. Plenty of shipping movement with some getting as close as 3 miles! Lots going to Singapore .   No cetaceans and only that odd sea bird.

Date and time: 11th October  10.30 local (GMT + 4 hrs) 

Position:   S20:43:592 E057:38:296       24 hours distance:  180 nm

Day 3

A very pleasant day – with winds around 15 knots and swell of under 2m and not much wind waves.  We had to reef the mainsail as sailed between Mauritius and Reunion as the wind got up to over 20 knots and kept it all until we arrived.  We had to gybe twice (very cautiously due to the pole fitting repair) and then during the night sailed with mainsail only for the last 6 hrs. The island was lit up like a fairyland – ahh the excesses of civilisation!  Just as the sun was rising we were off the north east end of Reunion , with 10 miles to go to the harbour – perfect.  We're now checked in with customs and in our place for the next week or so. 

First impressions – very French, quite industrial around the ports, and judging by the lights it looks like there a quite a few towns/villages along the north coast. The interior seems very mountainous, lush and green.  So we're looking forward to having a break here whilst we watch for a weather window for the last part of our crossing of the Indian ocean .

Total time taken:  68.5 hours; Total distance: 499nm;  Average speed 7.2kts 

(although we may have to have another stewards inquiry into the distance – according to the chart it should be 476 miles so the GPS may be a bit wonky!) 




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