Seychelles to Aden
After a spot of lunch we inflated the dinghy and everyone headed for the shore. The customs guys had recommended a local bar called the Pirates Arms as the best place in town so after agreeing to meet there we all went our separate ways to explore the town. As the sun went down we all laid a course for the bar and settled down to enjoy the first draught lager to pass our lips since Darwin. After an hour or so we got talking to some local guys that were at another table and they recommended that we move on as the beer prices were quite high. Not really sure where we were being led he took us to his Salon via the liquor store.
The owner of the Salon, called Ralph, had purchased a large box of beer at the liquor store and insisted that we all help him drink it. So with the beer flowing again we relaxed in his Salon with some local music. Unfortunately some of us relaxed a little bit to much and fell asleep.
The near constant flow of beer started to show some of its effects when Noel decided to test out some of the Salon's equipment.
It was the early hours of the morning when we decided that we had better head back to the boat. After leaving Amiria with Ralph, who wanted to prolong the evening, we headed back to the boat where we realized that we had completely forgotten about dinner. So after a round of cheese sandwiches followed by cheese crackers when the bread supply was exhausted we collapsed into our bunks. The next morning, despite some of us suffering the effects of the previous nights session, we headed into the town to do some exploring. The first port of call for most of us was the internet café as we had not been near a phone line since Cocos Keeling. We all meet at the boat later that evening and we decided that we should visit the late night market that was on the other side of town.
The market was full of food stalls and the odd person was there selling fresh fruit and vegetables. Martin even chanced upon a stand that was selling Ice Cream much to his delight.
After we had gorged ourselves on the local food we retired to the nearby bar and settled down to a cold beer.
As we were nearly out of gas we decided to fill all the canisters at one go so grabbing one gas bottle each we headed off to the local gas plant. After quite a walk around the complex we finally made it to the bottle filling station where an employee filled them for us. Whilst we were waiting for the bottles to be filled Gareth decided to test out his latest fashion statement.
That evening we decided to go out for dinner to a pizza restaurant that was on the other side of the Island and came recommended by a fellow yachtie. After we had all met at the bus stop we jumped on a bus and headed for the restaurant, then it was back to town and the Pirates Arms which was a much more lively venue.
Unfortunately as we had all eaten so much pizza we could only manage a couple of drinks before retiring back to the boat. Once we were back on the boat we did find that we could squeeze in just a couple of whiskies as a night cap.
The next morning, which was Friday, Noel decided to go for a hike on the other side of the Island. He stopped at the Internet café on the way past and after spending nearly an hour online and not much to show for it due to some problems with their computers he left the café in disgust and headed for the hills. After rounding a few headlands he came to a beach that completely changed his opinion of the Seychelles - it was a piece of paradise in paradise.
On Saturday evening we decided to invite Ralph over for a meal aboard Lista to repay his kindness, he very kindly insisted to cook a local specialty for us which was absolutely delicious.
After a beautiful dinner we headed for the bar, with the intention of heading for an out of town disco, that we had seen advertisements for all week, later on in the evening. When we arrived at the club it looked very promising, unfortunately when we got inside it turned out there was about fifteen other people. We decided to give it a couple of hours to see if it would pick up a bit more. Annoyingly it remained quiet, so quiet in fact that Martin fell asleep again on one of the sofas.
Despite the poor turn out the Lista Light crew were still seen to be on the dance floor making the best of the situation
After getting thoroughly bored of watching each other dance we decided to head back into town where we hoped that it would be a little more lively. Unfortunately due to the upcoming elections there had been a bit of a riot at the other venue and we decided to pass on going in there. Gareth and Martin headed off to get themselves something to eat while Noel and Jack headed back to the dinghy. Whilst Gareth and Martin were eating there was another riot just next to where they were with tear gas rockets and full riot control police as well. Not needing to be told twice they headed back to the dinghy where Jack and Noel were already asleep. We had left Amiria in the first night club with Ralph where she kept her night alive long after we were all asleep on the boat. The next day Gareth, Martin and Jack decided that exercise was the best cure for a hangover and headed off for a hike over the hills on the other side of the island.
It was a beautifully hot day for it and when we got to the waters edge we could not resist the temptation to go for a swim.
After we had cooled off we decided to walk most of the way back in preference to taking the bus. About half way along the beach we decided to stop at a hotel bar for a refreshing beverage.
When we finally dragged ourselves away from the beautiful beach and headed back into town we found there was another Raleigh going on in town. So after spending a few hours there we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the boat. The next morning was a rush to do the last few things before we left Mahe and headed to the island of Praslin. At about eight o'clock Amiria turned up again having spent the weekend with Ralph. As we motored out of Port Victoria and headed for the island of Praslin we had a Bonito hit the fishing line with Gareth doing battle with the beast.
We arrived at the anchorage in Praslin with no difficulties and anchored near to where all the other yachts were. We spent the afternoon snorkelling and exploring the beach before retiring to the boat for some dinner and a glass of wine. As you could only buy bottled beer in the Seychelles we stocked up with a few litres of wine instead.
The next day we planned to leave at about midday so most of us headed for the shore to do a bit of exploring. Amiria headed off over the hills on a bush trek, and Jack and Gareth headed down the main road.
By midday we had all returned to the boat, so the anchor was raised and we headed back to the open ocean. It was a fairly uneventful first day with Brutus flying for a few hours before evening when we replaced him with the mizzen, the number one jib and the staysail poled out on the opposite side. As we brought Brutus down he suffered a small rip so Noel got to work patching it up the next morning and as soon as it was done Brutus was flying again.
We went into the night with the staysail and the mizzen helped out by the Perkins. By morning the wind had picked up enough for a double reefed main to hold without engine assistance, so peace reigned on Lista again. Jack has turned his hand to making his own fishing lures and having just finished one he put it on the rod to prove its worth. Unfortunately it worked a little bit to well when a large shark hit it, which nearly emptied the spool of line before the cogs overheated and jammed causing the line to snap. It was our third night at sea when we crossed the equator at about one thirty in the morning. So after a glass of wine to celebrate Lista's return to the Northern hemisphere, and one for Neptune of course, we trucked on through the night.
Due to the unsociable our of our equator crossing we decided to have our equator party at lunch the following day. In the spirit of the occasion we decided that a little bit of fancy dress was required so a quick change later and we all posed for a picture.
After we had crossed the equator we pretty much stayed in the doldrums for the next couple of days with the engine being actively used a lot of the time which was normally backed up with the mizzen and the number one jib. Despite all of the books telling us that that we should encounter a current that runs up the African coast it wasn't until day five that we noticed we had a knot of current with us. Annoyingly by day six we started pushing a current of up to a knot. We were all slightly disheartened by this, but it was quickly forgotten when we were called down for dinner by Martin who had been working on a Spanish themed dinner.
By the next day we were managing to do about six knots through the water, but due to the current that had gone up to three knots against us and combined with the confused sea state we only made an average of three knots at best. So with a single reefed mizzen and the number one jib helped out by the Perkins to help us cut through the confused sea we plodded on. As there was no mention of current against us in any of the pilot books that we have we were justifiable concerned. So one evening Noel decided to get in touch with he who knows best, which consisted of sharing a dram of scotch with Neptune and asking very nicely if he could have a look at our counter current problem. The next morning the current had changed with us in a matter of ten minutes and we had an Albacore tuna strike on the rod. Noel was so pleased with our change of luck that he couldn't stop smiling for hours after.
With the wind just off of our port quarter we raced along with a single reefed mizzen, the number one jib and the staysail. As there wasn't quite enough wind for the main Noel decided to test out his tri-sail idea that he had working on. So we attached the medium jib to the main throat halyard and we used the top sail sheet for the sheet. So with fingers crossed we hoisted away and stood back to admire our handiwork. In all truth we couldn't have asked for any better, so with Lizzie powering on at speeds of up to eight knots beneath us we settled back to enjoy the relaxed motion.
The next day the wind kept picking up so we changed the big jib for the storm jib and bought the tri-sail down, we also put all three reefs in the mizzen. The wind kept picking up throughout the day and we bought down the sails accordingly, until we only had a three reefed mizzen and the storm staysail which still gave us a speed of nearly seven knots in the thirty five to forty knot winds. The sea had come up with it with the odd big wave breaking over us.
The next day brought little respite from the big sea and the wind. We even estimated the wave size at around the eight metre mark. Whenever a particularly big wave came through and crashed into our quarter the spray would regularly reach halfway up the mizzen mast. Despite the unpleasant and tiring conditions life went on aboard Lista with some real heart warming dinners being made and the bread making was taken to new extremes with everyone competing for the Hovis challenge.
Fortunately as we neared our way point of the conditions moderated enough for us to come onto our new course which brought the sea onto our beam. With the wind at a more useable speed we hoisted the tri-sail to compliment the staysail, a single reefed mizzen and the storm jib. With the sea now on our beam we were rocked about even more with large waves coming over the side on a regular basis. As we approached the next waypoint we had turn even tighter to the wind in order to follow our course around Suqutra we had the Perkins helping on and off as the wind varied. Once we were clear of Suqutra we came onto our course for Aden occasionally managing to sail without assistance but the majority of the time the Perkins was helping out as well. We did have a coalition warship come and circle us a few times. We had a quick chat with him on the V.H.F. and he confirmed that he had just had a safe run down from Aden.
On the morning of day fifteen we had a hit on the rod. As Jack was the only person on deck at the time he hauled it in himself unfortunately as he got it on board it flapped towards him stabbing him in the leg with the second hook that was sticking out of its mouth. Amiria hearing the commotion rushed up on deck and quickly cut the trace so Jack and the Dorado were no longer attached. With the aid of a scalpel and a pair of pliers he cut the skin around the hook and pulled the barb out through his flesh before cutting off the barb and removing it completely.
We had been pushing about a knot of current for the last few days now and it has just picked up to about three knots. Our instruments were giving us conflicting information in regards to our heading and distance covered so we put out the trailing log to give us yet another opinion.
After putting all of our readings together we realized that we were getting pushed about thirty degrees off of our line by a North Easterly current. As we were only making about two knots with the engine on at a thousand revs diesel, we realized, was going to be an issue. Noel spent the next couple of hours checking the charts trying to work out what our other options were. He decided in the end to head to Mukalla where we hoped to be able to fill with diesel. As we came onto our new course we were able to hoist the mizzen, the tri-sail and the number one jib and with this combination we were able to give the Perkins a well earned rest. We lost the wind at about midnight and had to motor through the night. The next morning brought our first sight of Yemen with it and we had anchored off Mukalla by eight o'clock to await the customs and immigration.
At about midday we were allowed to go into the main harbour where we tied up to a fishing boat. We were greeted at the dock by a friendly bloke who introduced himself as an agent and offered to help us out with diesel and water. Once we had finished with the formalities we headed into town where we got some local currency and some fresh fruit. We were duly surprised by the size of the town and the fact that they had an ATM machine and an innumerable amount of local shops as the pilot book described it as a dusty little town with only a couple of shops. After kicking our heels for a few hours whilst waiting for a fishing boat to move away from the dock so we could take his place and fill up with diesel, we got a call from the harbour master who said we could just tie up alongside him and fill up that way. Once we had finished filling up with diesel and water and deck loaded seven more jerry cans it was dark but we decided to head out anyway so with full tanks and dinner on the stove we headed back to the open sea. It was a fairly non-eventful run to Aden after that. We took the rum line directly to Aden which was basically a motor job. The wind would die at about nine o'clock in the evening and it would stay flat calm all through the night until about ten in the morning when it would pick up until the sea got some chop to it and we were averaging just under a knot. We got our first glimpse of Aden late afternoon on our third day from Mukalla. After carefully weaving our way through the channel we eventually arrived in the anchorage and got the anchor down just after mid night. In traditional Lista fashion we decided to polish off the last of a white wine cask and a few glasses of rum before retiring to bed.
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