Passage to Port Louis in Mauritius

On Tuesday morning we completed the clearances to leave Rodrigues starting at about 9 AM. Our friends on s/v Gryphon 2 decided to leave in the morning as well. Karen and I got in the dinghy and rode back to Tahina, raised the dinghy and prepped the boat for departure. We raised the hook and followed Gryphon 2 out the ship channel. As soon as we were out of the channel, we put out our jib sail and turned off our engines to head downwind for a mile or so until we were clear of the large reef surrounding Rodrigues.

Spinnaker flying

Spinnaker flying

The winds were east at about 12-14 knots, and we were headed west. Sunny with a few clouds, and the seas were pretty calm. Perfect weather for our spinnaker! So, once we were clear of the reef, we put out the spinnaker and were making about 7.5 knots. The weather held all day and we had a delightful sail. By 4 PM, the winds had picked up a little to about 18 knots, and was now coming a bit south of east – as we expected. We were sailing pretty fast (8 to 10 knots), but we decided we didn’t want to fly the spinnaker at night.

So, we took the spinnaker down and went to main and jib. We were able to sail mostly on course the whole night. The moon was waning gibbous and rose a bit before 10 PM, so we had that to help light our way. During the night it clocked a bit back towards the east, and we were forced to “tack” a bit by either going wing on wing or going a bit south of course with both jib and main. In the first 24 hours we had made 177 nautical miles (just past the half-way point since the trip was 350 miles total). By mid morning we were flying the spinnaker again and made good speed on another very nice day of sailing. The seas were up a bit, but were behind us. We again took the spinnaker down at 4 PM, and the winds had clocked to east-south-east. So, we were able to sail at a very good pace with the main and jib with a reef in them.

The night sail into Mauritius was wonderful. I was back on watch at 2 AM with a the moon up. We could already see the lights of Mauritius. We had occasional swells behind us up to 6 to 9 feet, which we just surfed going up to 10-12 knots average. Our arrival time estimate showed us getting there at first light. Perfect! At about 5 AM we passed the northern tip of Mauritius about 2 miles off shore.

The winds actually clocked a bit further to the southeast, which made it possible for us to sail right around the north west side and down south towards Port Louis, which is the port of entry at Mauritius. It was another 15 miles or so, and by that time it was 7 AM and the sun was up. Plus the seas were flat. What a delightful sail!

I awakened Karen 45 minutes before we arrived. We called the port control and got permission to enter the port. Cargo ships were arriving and getting clearances as well. This is a busy port as we saw a couple dozen ships inside and anchored out as well. We dropped our sails at the entrance and motored for the first time since we left Rodrigues. By 7:30 we were at the customs wharf after just short of 46 hours door to door! By 8:30 we had completed the paperwork for everything but immigration. The immigration guy showed up at 9 AM and a few minutes later we were done.

Here is the map of our location. Zoom in to see our exact location in the marina and to get a better look at the waterfront area.

Port Louis and Waterfront

Port Louis and Waterfront

We then moved Tahina across the water to the Cuadan Waterfront where there is a small marina. The waterfront is a nice modern shopping complex with a movie theater, lots of restaurants and bars, and shopping stores. We found several of the boats we knew from Rodrigues still here. They gave us some important tips on the marina and area. Karen soon went back to sleep as she needed rest. I spent the rest of the day getting the boat situated, paying the marina, and washing down the boat with fresh water.

Port Louis is a modern city with all the expected pluses and minuses. Familiar fast food places, modern shopping stores and malls, sky scrapers, and lots and lots of people. It also has the familiar sounds of police and fire sirens, loud music on the weekend nights, and traffic. We are told crime is a bit of a problem here and its best to take taxis at night rather than walking in the city.

We will soon be moving Tahina to a large bay to the north called Grand Baie. This is the preferred place to lay at anchor as it caters to visiting yachts and is not situated near a big city. We can take a bus or taxi, or hire a car, if we need to visit other parts of the island.

It turns out the movie theater near the marina doesn’t show movies in English. Only in French. But, we found out there are two malls that show movies in English at 6 PM. We ended up going to a movie on Friday night with the crew of s/v Solace (a New Zealand boat with Gina and Paul on board). At dinner we ate at a really nice brewery and restaurant called Flying Dodo. We saw “Edge of Tomorrow” which was entertaining, but very Hollywood – not great sci-fi.

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