Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Seychelles Shakedown

The plane was shaking from the cold Cape Town wind as we boarded. Dressed in thick clothes, our dress code had no hint of our destination.

Nothing really different in Johannesburg when we disembarked for the next leg to Mahe in the Seychelles. The wind was cold, the weather hazy and the wind was gusting through the Gauteng highveld dust.

Our third crew member joined us in Johannesburg. After checking him in, we were ready for our new adventure. Little did we understand the magnitude of travelling from the Cape winter to tropical summer in seven hours.

On arrival at Mahe airport it was already after sundown and quite dark. Luckily for us we arrived after dark. The temperature was still at twenty eight degrees Celsius as we disembarked in our jeans, two T-shirts and wind breaker jackets. Grossly overdressed, I guess.

We looked as out of place as can be. After arranging transport to the marina where SV Freedom was moored, we could sit back and start relaxing. The worst part of our journey, being the flights, would soon be over.
The owner of the boat met us at the hotel entrance and from there our hearts lifted. A change of clothes brought us back to reality. Then a cold beer in the hand and soon we were making friends with the owners and the boat which would be our house for the next month or so.

And my first ocean command. A Knysna 44 catamaran. Not bad for a 60th birthday present!
The next day we set out to the town of Victoria for some shopping and sightseeing before departing on out Seychelles shakedown.

This was to be a cruise to check out all the systems on board and to ensure that we have a serviceable boat for the long haul across the ocean to Madagascar and then on to Durban. Final provisioning would come later.

The weather looked bleak as we carefully watched the forecasts on the internet. We were getting worried that we shall be sitting in Mahe for another week due to adverse winds, but a local yachtie soon dispelled our fears. The internet forecasts for this area appear to be very unreliable indeed.

This is exactly what we found as we slipped moorings on a sunny Sunday morning and set sail for the island of Praslin some thirty odd nautical miles from where we were.

Of course, no cruise is complete without some fishing, so the lines were soon out. Two very nice fish were caught and we lost some tackle to another very big fish.

With a wind of sixteen knots on our beam we made good way and arrived at a sheltered anchorage just off a very picturesque beach. We went ashore to sample the local brew in a palm-thach bar, but to no avail. It was Sunday afternoon and all the pubs were closed.  Of course, being the Seychelles, the beach was filled with several young honeymoon couples, some not so young either.

We decided to call it a day and went back to the boat to fetch snorkelling gear. The snorkelling was very good and we saw a lot of reef fish towards sundown. The sea water also took care of all our Cape Town and Gauteng sinus problems.

Back on board we had dinner in the form of fried fish. This was the fish that I had kept aside from the other hungry sailors, who devoured the smaller fish as souchi. I must admit, the raw fish went down very well with some wasabi and a dollop of soy sauce. Not much in the way of cooking effort, with the presentation also leaving much to be desired. However, hungry sailors never complained about the presentation of the food served to them!

I dipped the fish in a scrmbled egg, then in spiced flour before frying them in light butter in a pan. The butter was flavoured with some bottled chillies and garlic that we found in the market. A teaspoon of this stuff fried with the butter was enough to impart a wonderful glow to the dish. The rest of our dinner was made up by some basmati rice and a cold salad.

After this dish I was officially appointed the designated cook as well! An interesting twist of fate, as this leaves me quite free from mundane duties on board. Like washing  the dishes, for instance. I happily accepted.

Today we sailed from our overnight anchorage to the islands of Curieuse and around Grande Soeur to our lunch anchorage at Ile Felicite. Again, the snorkelling was excellent. We saw a baby turtle and some very colourful fish.

The wind is from the south east, so we had some planning to do to find a lunch spot in this area, as the wind tends to creep around corners, making an otherwise nice anchorage quite uncomfortable.

The lunch anchorage was so beautiful and sheltered that we decided to stay the night. So here we sit on board, watching the sun go down and enjoying the beuatiful scenery. The crew went ashore in the dinghy to go exploring. Hopefully they will come back with some fresh coconuts.

Then we can have another fresh coconut curry, perhaps with the fresh fish we have.

This week, life is wonderful to me and I feel very rich indeed. Rich in friends, companionship, good food and adventure.

What more would one wish for?

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2014-06-09

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