An ‘Unforgettable’ Sail in the Seychelles!
August 20-30, 2022
“Where are the Seychelles?” That question came up quite a bit pre-trip from friends and family. “Are there pirates?” “Isn’t it off the coast of Africa?” Well…..from the East Coast USA it’s about two days travel by plane. We flew Emirates Airline through Dubai, which was very good. The Seychelles are a group of about 155 islands, four of which we visited, approximately 700 NM off the coast of East Africa. It is stunningly beautiful, remote and unspoiled. It is an independent republic and home to a UNESCO world Heritage site. The republic’s goal is to protect 30% of their waters.
We began our Flotilla on Mahe at the Eden Island Marina and The Moorings Charter base amidst Monsoon season. Nate and I had arrived a few days ahead to finalize the itinerary, provisions and reservations. The Eden Island Marina is in an upscale resort area attached to a mall which made for easy, last-minute provisioning. Participants in the Colgate Sailing Adventures® flotilla vacation arrived from Colorado, Alaska and Kansa, among other states, to begin our adventure on August 20, 2022.
It was a 10 am boarding, so Skippers and Navigators did the boat check-outs and Navigation meeting first, then we all loaded our gear aboard and stowed provisions etc. Our flotilla consisted of three Moorings 4800 catamarans, “Unforgettable’ (Skippered by Nate), ‘Coronat” (Skippered by Ian Stebbing) and ‘Jaudinic’ (Skippered by John DiToro) and 15 souls. We were off the docks by 2:30 that afternoon and powered in 17 knots of gusty breeze around the tip of Mahe to Beau Vallon where the Meet and Greet dinner was planned. We dropped anchor in the bay that was busy with beach walkers, fishing boats, jet skis, restaurants, bars, and stunning rock formations. We dinghied to shore and arrived wet-bottomed and carried the dinghies up the beach for safe keeping. We enjoyed the Meet and Greet dinner at La Plage….it was tasty, especially those of us who opted for the Beef Bourguignonne Fondue. Fun, meat on a stick! We celebrated Ed’s 50th birthday, (he and his 18-year-old son Spencer were traveling together) feting him properly. Getting off the beach après dinner proved challenging for some and we had to circle back to give a hand to shove off with the surge. Some of us were worse for the wear and beach landings with surf proved to be one of the challenges of the trip!
After relaxing morning of egg and peppers breakfast, the daily navigation meeting took place at 9 am with a good amount of time spent on putting the second reef in the mainsail and talking through the day’s navigation. But, just as ‘Coronat’ was preparing to raise anchor we received a radio call that their windlass was not working. Déjà vu Elbow Cay 2016. Nate dinghied over to discover that the bolts holding the quick windlass to the hull were severed. A call to the base was made and we are all in a holding pattern. Stephen from the base came over and with Nate’s help was able to replace the capstan of the windlass and secure with new bolts. Phew…..disaster averted. In retrospect, nobody seemed to mind an extra day to relax and recover from jet lag. We hosted a cocktail party aboard the lead boat ‘Unforgettable’ and we all introduced ourselves ‘Ditty style’ with a short explanation of our sailing background and a bit about ourselves. It was nice to gather informally and get to know one another a bit. That night I fixed a chicken curry with veggies and rice. Sleep came easy!
Today we sailed to Anse Lazio on Praslin Island approximately 30 NM. We raised anchor at 8:50 am after the navigation meeting and sailed smoothly in the lee of the Island of Mahe. Once in the open Indian Ocean, it built and the sea was 2.2 meters. It was a nice breeze 17-22 knots, 7 knots boat speed on a broad reach across to Praslin leaving all the isle and rocks to Starboard. The sky looked threatening, but we only had a small shower at the end of our passage. We reached Praslin about 2:30 pm and as we turned on our engines and furled the genoa and dropped the mainsail into the stack pack, we got a radio call from ‘Coronat’. Their Port engine would not start. We quickly anchored and Nate dinghied out to them. After going through a check list, it seemed like a fuel pump problem so they deployed their auxiliary anchor, because the Port engine powers the windlass, and called the base. While everyone went about their plans to check out Anse Lazio, Nate and I took care of the mechanic who fixed the issue in a few hours’ time…along with repairing their refrigeration which also had gone out. Meanwhile, exploring the beach, snorkeling and beach bar hunting were in order. One of the advantages of a Colgate Sailing Adventures® Flotilla is when the inevitable issues arise with charter boats you can continue to enjoy your vacation while the leaders deal with the issue. Anse Lazio is touted as the sixth best beach in the World! The Honesty Bar is an institution where you used to leave your cash for self-served drinks…however it is staffed now.
We witnessed a gorgeous sunrise over Anse Lazio before Navigation meetings all around, then we picked up anchor, “Coronat’ by hand with their auxiliary anchor, and off we sailed to Anse St. Jose off Curieuse Island, home of the Giant Tortoises. Once anchored, we beached the dinghies and enjoyed a 1.7 kilometer hike up and over to the bay where the tortoises live. It was a stunning combination of boardwalks, mountain climbing amidst jungle foliage, and views to the water all around. We saw salamanders, crabs, fish, and birds of all types and of course the protected tortoises. We even witnessed them mating…. quiet the surprise. I was not expecting that! After the hike back, we enjoyed a delicious beach barbeque under a pavilion next to the Drs. House. At one time the island was a leper colony, among other things. At the barbeque we feasted on tasty Barracuda, chicken, rice, salad, Lentil mash, noodles and fixings. Yum and done by the locals that boat across from Praslin to cook for sailors and tourist alike. It was a beautiful day and we dinghied back to the boats to head to our anchorage for the evening, Petit Coeur, which we were told by the base was a good anchorage. When we arrived and started to anchor, all three of us had trouble holding. It was hard pan bottom. After several tries, we decided to head back to Anse Lazio which had great holding but not before ‘Jaudinik’ hooked a huge stone on their anchor. The crew were all trying to knock it off but it was Donna who finally did the trick and somehow dislodged the massive rock from the anchor. Luckily it was not damaged and we all anchored in Anse Lazio without incident. We were back in time to go ashore, snorkel, swim or relax after a busy day.
We were traveling from Anse Lazio to Bay of Saint Anne today. We did navigation rounds and set off around 9-ish. We got a call on the radio this time from ‘Jaudinik’ that their windlass had failed….so we anchored and Nate went over by dinghy. He determined the problem and was able to repair the windlass. Thankfully, we did not need to call the base again. We headed out into the prevailing winds SE 20-26 knots so it was lumpy. We went around Praslin between Curieuse and St. Pierre to the Southern End of Praslin. We were comforted to see a few other boats out sailing with reefs in and we reached St. Anne around noon. We had reserved three moorings from Robert and the local Seychellean helped us to tie on to his moorings. We were secured for the night. We made a bite to eat for lunch before heading on an adventure. We had arranged for transport by Genieve to the Valley de Mai where our guide Dora gave us lots of information about the flora and fauna, specifically the Coco de Mai coconut tree that is unique to the Seychelles. Oh Boy it is unique…it’s their country’s passport stamp and you see them all over. Honestly though, they kind of look like a monkey butt. It was a great tour and we all enjoyed it. After the tour of the National Park and the gift shop, we loaded back into the van and off to restaurant Les Roche. Offshore Sailing hosted a great meal in a fabulous setting, a thatched roof, open air, luxury dining experience….and the food was good too J Crab and Prawn curry, chicken and onion casserole. We meandered back to the boats via hairpin turns and hills on this beautiful Island of Praslin.
Some boats got water from Robert then we retraced our steps out of the channel (Red right leaving the harbor, opposite our buoy system). We traversed a few miles to la Digue and anchored behind the breakwater. But it still did not feel very protected although there were a lot of boats anchored there. All went in to explore colorful la Digue by bicycle or on foot. There is a lot to see and do here. Lively streets with all manner of bikes and trikes and bicycles built for two. I saw people biking that were carrying ladders, boat fenders, babies, teenagers, grandfathers on bikes, babies in baskets on bikes, and all kinds of things with wheels. You can rent a bike and ride out to Anse Source d’argent which was a flat and very pleasant ride. Walking through the park was like the BVI’s Baths times 10….it was a phenomenal sight and nice to walk to the end and back. The Boulders are pink granite and very unique to the Seychelles making a stunning visual arrangement.
We stayed at La Digue for the morning for further exploring and visiting the bakery ashore for fresh Croissants and chocolate croissants. We set sail for Anse Lazio about 12:30 pm and enjoyed a really nice broad reach. We still had our two reefs in and full genoa and we hit 9.4 knots in 18 knots of breeze on ‘Unforgettable’. Those catamarans sure loved that. We anchored, explored, and ate dinner aboard that night.
Early rise and anchors up at 8 am for the 30 plus NM passage back from Praslin to Port Launay on Mahe. It was a blustery day, 20-24 knots breeze from the SE. We averaged about 7 knots. The sail was a bit rough; the seas were approx. 2.2 meters and confused at times. The Moorings 4800 seemed a bit ill-equipped to handle some of the wave action as we experienced cabinets opening and breaking glasses and mugs. We ended up securing them in the open position to the best of our ability. Sailing in the open Indian Ocean is not for the faint of heart. The crews of the flotilla proved themselves on this trip. When we arrived at Port Launay around 2:30 pm, some snorkeled, others went ashore for dinner.
We awoke to rain but it cleared by the time we met up with our local guide Terri. He took us to the waterfall along the busy road. We saw red legged crabs, fruit bats, top hat flowers, spiders, bananas, coconuts, ripe papaya, cinnamon all spice tree, lemon grass and orchids. Spencer, the 18-year-old in our group, represented us when he jumped into the falls. Some of us ate lunch at the restaurant Del Place, while others had a beach barbeque hosted by Terri’s mother. Del Place was a special place right on the water with excellent food and good service. We walked back via the Kabana in Hotel Ephelia, another special place where we hob-knobbed with the rich and aimless.
We picked up anchor in the pouring rain and fog. We estimated about 1 mile of visibility. So, I put up our radar detector just in case. We passed by the stern of the luxury expedition yacht ‘Andromeda’ a 351’1” vessel. We powered back to the base which took about 2 plus hours and docked at The Moorings base around lunch time. We did the boat checkouts after lunch and handed them our lists of “What is broken on the boats?” as we always do. We finished up the Flotilla with a final dinner at Bravo near the base where many of us had special cocktails and the daily catch which was fresh Job fish. All in all, it was an amazing area to explore and challenging conditions to sail the catamarans in. I believe many people on the Flotilla learned a ton and will be back for more adventure vacations to come!