Blog Post 6 by Jon Sanders: 19th December 2016
Five days behind me is the Isle de La Réunion. Obviously French. Very French.
Got a live volcano. 8000 ft high. (Americans understand feet and inches). There are mountains, awe-inspiring ravines, valleys. Scenic. Very scenic.
No one speaks English much. Just French. Bring a dictionary.
The principal harbour is in the industrial area – like the rest of the world. Not all of it is now used; so much of it has been converted to yacht marinas. (Power and sail)…
Being at sea level on the lee side of the island, it is summer hot, and like Darwin Australia, rather humid. Cooler in and up the mountains.
I arrived at 9am in the morning. The Marina Manager was on the dock – he caught my lines – so too was the Douane (Customs). Three of them, in uniform. Like our lot, wearing guns.
The French call them Douane, Aussies just call them ‘Border Force’.
All that aside, they were nice. Home too.
The Douane handle all three: immigration, quarantine and customs.
I was required to fill in the simplest one-page piece of paper. Arrival form. They looked at my passport and were gone. (All within half an hour).
Coming into Le Port, I saw four youngsters riding the break on their surfboards.
Normal thought I.
Maybe not so. Illegal to surf Reunion. ‘Bull Sharks’.
Signs all around the marinas, ‘No Swimming’, ‘Sharks’: In French, of course.
It is French. They speak French. Second language – French.
Three years ago I sailed into Mauritius. 100 nautical miles north-west of Reunion. Official language: English.
People on Mauritius speak French, Creole and English.
Tourists come from South Africa, Australia and everywhere else.
The supermarkets are stocked with ‘produce of Australia’ and ‘produce of South Africa’.
La Reunion supermarkets are stocked with the produce of France. Tourists are French. Direct flights.
La Reunion locals are friendly.
As somebody put it, like Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, Reunion is first-world.
I didn’t have much wind when I departed. The marina manager, Jerome, cast me off and a civilian dressed lady, ‘no gun Douane’, gave me my clearance paper. Nice.
25 nautical miles out I found the trade winds blowing from the north-east; for the first four days around 12 knots. On Monday 12 December the wind dropped out and I motor sailed, with the B&G Simrad tiller pilot steering the boat. (I can do course adjustments in the cabin on my B&G screen) Which is new for me. I like that.
It has been hot in the middle of the day but the nights are cool.
I am sailing south-west to Cape Town and bit by bit it gets a little cooler each day.
By the way, I am going to Cape Town next. South Africa. Around the bottom of all of Africa. At the moment I am 100 Nautical Miles south of Madagascar.
After leaving Australia, (seems yonks ago) I could pick up Radio Australia, and of late I get Voice of America and the BBC.
If I start using words like ‘extreeeeemly’ for extremely, it means I have been listening to ‘Donald’. He is going to put doors, big wide doors, in The Wall. (He is so).
Best regards to all.
__ Jon __
Notes from Robin
Jon is currently south-west of Madagascar and headed for Cape Town. He has crossed the Madagascar Basin and the Walters Shoal; the Walters Shoal being a series of seamounts that reach to less than 20m from the ocean surface. No doubt an excellent fishery. At the time of writing, Jon will likely be crossing the Mozambique Basin. These sub-surface topographical features are part of a complex area of oceanic crust associated with the breakup of Gondwanaland.
In the early phase of Gondwana continental breakup in this region, about 148 million years ago, the small piece of continental crust that is Madagascar was part of the Indo-Australian and Antarctic Plate. However, Madagascar itself separated and ended up becoming part of the African Plate – when spreading centres between Africa and Madagascar failed.
Check out this video to see tectonic plate interactions. Note also the way India tears north across the former Tethys Ocean.
For Jon and Perie Banou II: “As for myself, the wonderful sea charmed me from the first.” Joshua Slocum
__ Robin Morritt __