Chagos to Seychelles
After we had all enjoyed a good nights sleep we decided that one of the biggest priorities was to get all our dirty washing done. So after Jack, Gareth and Martin had done a water run to the well on the next Island the washing machine was set up and the mammoth task got underway with Gareth as the officer in charge.
Whilst the washing mission was underway Amiria got on with her sanding work on the main wheel, and Martin and Noel started caulking the deck near the coach house and Jack was up the shrouds taking advantage of the calm anchorage to put up another ratline.
It was late afternoon before the washing was finished and we all settled down to enjoy a well earned sun downer. We all spent the next morning doing boat maintenance. After lunch however Jack, Martin and Gareth headed over to the larger of the two nearer Islands where they snorkelled the pass again from the other side seeing their first Chagos turtle and then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Island.
Due to the exceedingly warm weather most people had taken to sleeping on deck, unfortunately the weather can be a little unreliable with it normally raining for two or three minutes most nights. We did however get a couple of good nights sleep under the stars.
As we sailed in we spotted a wreck on the outer reef, so the next day Jack, Martin and Gareth set off again to have a look at the wreck. It was incredibly hard work wading through chest deep water for about a kilometre after swimming to the first island, across the pass to the second island and walking the length of the second island before heading off across the shallows.
On the way back to the boat we decided to snorkel over the nearby wreck of a yacht that had sunk on the reef. In typical yachtie fashion it had been stripped of all stainless steel and anything that was salvageable but it still made a very interesting snorkel.
It was three extremely tired crew men that boarded Lista that evening. They were greeted by the equally tired Noel and Amiria who had spent the day tying and replacing reef lines, and giving the mizzen gaff a good birthday.
Everyone was busy for most of the next morning. About mid afternoon we all trooped ashore to have a barbeque lunch and a game of volleyball with a couple of people from the surrounding boats. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with some very close games. Jack had suffered several small cuts to his left foot and by the next morning it had swelled up and was painful enough to make walking difficult. After some deliberation Amiria bandaged it up with plenty of her mother's tea tree oil on the wound and gave strict orders that he should stay out of the water.
Leaving Jack on the boat to rest his foot everyone headed off for an afternoon of spear fishing and snorkelling. It was a really beautiful snorkel having seen a turtle, a black tip reef shark, a lion fish and loads of other tropical fish and coral. Noel even managed to bag a good sized grouper with his spear gun.
The next morning we raised the anchor and headed for Peros Bahnos, which is another Atoll in the Archipelago. As we motored out of the pass we had a double bonito hit on the lines. Martin was first to the rod and after a spirited struggle he hauled a good sized bonito onto the boat.
After we had dealt with the fish and cleared the pass we had just enough wind to sail the thirty miles close hauled to Peros Bahnos. As the sea was so calm and we had the dinghy blown up on deck we decided to launch it and get some action photos of Lista Light sailing. Gareth and Martin got in the dinghy and circled around us a few times getting loads of great photos.
We arrived at the Atoll of Peros Bahnos at about midday and anchored off Ile de Coin. Ile de Coin is one of the few of the islands that has evidence of civilization. The people of Chagos were moved away to Thailand in the late sixties, but they do return from time to time to visit the graves of their ancestors. All in all the Chagos Archipelago is a very isolated place only visited by yachties.
Everyone trooped ashore to go exploring, except for Noel who stayed on the boat. There was rumoured to be some citrus trees on the Island, but after searching the length and breadth of the Island we were still fruitless. We did however get to see the ruins of the houses and church.
The next morning we headed out to the pass where we anchored for about an hour, so Noel and Martin could do a dive.
Once the dive was over and they were safely back on board we raised the anchor and headed out the pass and onto our course for the Seychelles. As we came onto our course we had the wind on our beam, so we put everything up except for a single reef in the mizzen to give us a good speed of five and a half knots. We were still pushing about half a knot of current though. We kept trucking along our course for the next three days, averaging about five knots, with the same sails. It was mid morning on the third day when we had our first fish hit of the passage which was a beautiful Dorado. It wasn't until the sixth day that we had a serious sail change to do. We dropped the main and jibed the mizzen and jib, only for the wind to change and force us to steer miles off of our line. So we jibed it back again and settled nicely back onto our course. The lack of sail changes did mean that we could get a lot of maintenance work done, or we kept busy by doing small projects as usual.
The current has been getting stronger the closer we get to the Seychelles and we are now pushing nearly two knots. The wind did pickup on the eighth morning so we raised the main with a single reef in, and the staysail to compliment the number one jib and single reef mizzen that we already had up. This gave us a very pleasing seven knots through the water but we only averaged five knots over the ground. So the Perkins came on to help the sails and ensure that we arrive by our first way point early enough to make landfall that same day. With the wind came the rain as well, but it was only in small showers and they were few and far between. As one small rain cloud went in front of us we had a beautiful rainbow that appeared to enter the water right in front of us.
After a frustrating final last night at sea where we were constantly either speeding up or slowing down to keep our arrival time for the next day. At first light we had our first glimpse of the Seychelles.
It was mid morning by the time we reached the main Island called Mahe, unfortunately the beautiful island was obscured by the rain and heavy clouds. After a quick conversation with the Port master we tied up to the emergency dock to await the customs and immigration. Within an hour the customs and quarantine had arrived. They turned out to be very friendly and one of them even had a quick play on Martin's guitar, much to everyone's enjoyment.
Once we had cleared in and done all the formalities we had to leave the emergency dock and anchor inside the harbour which was already full of yachts and the holding was not very good. After about an hour of messing around we finally got the anchor to hold and retired out of the rain to enjoy a good hearty lunch and a cold beer.
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