Reunion Island

Wednesday 24th October 2018

Magnificent landscape around Reunion Island

As I swap the current charts on the table for those of the Madagascan and South African coast, the wind howls into the cockpit and the boat rocks on the fetch building in the dock here at Le Port on Reunion Island. We are rafted to a lovely 62ft Swan with a blue hull, luckily the winds are from the SW and pushing us both, off each other and off the wall.

Raya rafted in Le Port, the Oyster fleet behind us, all waiting for a weather window

The weather here is very variable, the normally reliable SE trades being affected by a continuous procession of high and low pressures. The 8-9 day crossing from here to Durban is unlikely to be straight forward, the forecast changing from day to day. On top of which the last day into Durban we will cross the infamous Agulhas Current. Running south down the South African coast it is not a place to be if the winds turn to the SW, which in unsettled weather they, suddenly, often do..

Finding a good weather window to make the crossing is difficult, the Oyster World Rally Fleet that should have left last week are still firmly tired to the wall. A few months ago we decided to ask weather guru Chris Tibbs to help route us for the passage. He confirms that once this front has past over, tomorrow there is a window opening up, so we are preparing to leave.

If we had known how nice Reunion Island was we might have planned a longer stay. High volcanos, one of which is still active, form the base of the island. Lush with tropical rain forest, near vertical cliffs, formed from numerous rivers, cut through the landscape. It was as if we were driving through a geography lesson on V shaped valleys.We followed the steep road around tight hair pinned bends admiring the views. The sides of the hills were streaked with waterfalls.

Waterfalls streaked the hillside

While we had the car we also went down to the beach for a late afternoon paddle and sundowners overlooking the surf crashing onto the reef a few hundred meters off the coast at La Saline la Bain. The lagoon inside the reef is one of the few safe places to swim in Reunion, as well as being famous for its magnificent interior it has a less favourable reputation for having the highest number of shark attacks per head of population in the World. Most marinas have no swimming signs posted around the dock, but we’ve never before seen them say no swimming : beware of sharks.

Nice spot to watch the sun go down

With brilliant French supermarkets the freezer is full of not just passage meals but pastries and bread, the fridge has soft cheese, ham and salami. Raya is shipshape, Richard who accompanied us from Cocos Keeling, has been safely waved off at the airport, and customs officers are due in the morning to stamp our departure papers. Africa here we come…..

Or do we? Tuesday night suddenly the weather doesn’t look so good, the last few days into Durban are now looking difficult. This means we either need to make a stop after three days in Madagascar or slow our speed down perhaps even heaving to (stopping mid ocean) to wait for an improvement in conditions before we cross the current. The Oyster fleet already a week behind schedule decide they will leave, we on the other hand have no time pressures and conclude that perhaps we should enjoy Reunion a bit longer.

Unfortunately, this morning the Marina has different ideas, with the arrival of the World ARC boats due in the next few days they refuse to let us stay. This is very unusual, normally a port would make every effort to accommodate you, realising the weather is our ruler. However it seems in the Indian Ocean the rallies are King, individual boats having to fit in were and when they can.

Back to plan A, a departure in a couple of hours, we’ll have to work things out as we go.

Angel trumpet shrubs brighten the mountain villages

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