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Monday, March 07, 2011

March 7, 2011-Circumnavigating Mauritius

With our new crew, Jean-Mee and Jennifer, we sailed Wings on a six day cruise all the way around Mauritius early in March; the main destination was Grand Port, on the opposite coast from Port Louis.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Islands at Grand Port

Grand Port

In 1810 the British naval commander, engaging the French fleet in Mauritius, sailed his warships into Grand Port on Mauritius’ east side, where the French were based.

On the reefs inside Grand Port three of his frigates ran aground on separate reefs and the battle was lost.

This month we sailed Wings into Grand Port right among the reefs named after these ships, Nereid Reef, Sirius Reef, and Sappho Reef and we saw first hand how treacherous these waters are; even with GPS, depth sounders, and modern charts the navigation is tough here and we ourselves touched bottom just off Nereid Reef. It was just a slight bump as we were turning away from a sharply rising bottom. A man in his small fishing boat watched as we approached, bumped, and moved away. Then he attended to his fishing, impartial to our presence or our narrow escape.

We came here to Grand Port to feel some of the history of these waters and to visit the town of Mahebourg which is on the shores of Grand Port. On this cruise we have had some great sailing and have anchored in some beautiful spots. Anchoring near Nereid Reef presented a opportunity for a trip into Mahebourg town.

In town there is a naval museum and the battle of 1810 is depicted on large murals. We stared at these paintings of the smoke shrouded tall ships pounding each other in Grand Port and then we returned to Wings anchored in the bay and we could see the ghosts of these ships around us on the reefs carrying their names. We could almost smell the gunpowder drifting westward towards Mauritius’ mountains and hear the thunder of the cannons.

At the mouth of the southern entrance to Grand Port is the island of Isle de La Passe where fortifications and French canons once guarded the fleet inside. We crawled around the two-century-old fort and saw the soldier’s names carved in the limestone blocks: more history.

After a three day visit we prepared to sail back to Port Louis happy that we have visited historic Grand Port.

Return to Port Louis

A 60 mile sail meant another dawn start.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

Happy Crew

The forecast 20 knot winds never materialized and we had to work hard to make the distance before dark; three jib changes and three spinnaker sets and dowses were sweaty work. The portion of the trip from La Morne on the SW corner to Pointe aux Caves, a few miles south of Port Louis was the slowest but our perseverance was rewarded with a beautiful beat the final miles into port. We arrived at 18:45 and had the boat put away by dark: A nice end to a nice trip.

Click here for more photos of our Grand Port cruise

Click here to see the log book pages of our sailing trips in March, 2011

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mauritius

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Blogger jan roswold brown said...

Pictures are wonderful! Sounds like a great trip. Are you in preparation for the long haul trip? Keep us informed.

11 March, 2011 13:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great words as usual, Fred. Thanks for sharing. Kirk

14 March, 2011 06:33  

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