Leg 18 Part 1 - Rodriguez to La Reunion
By: Geoff On: 27/12/2013 09:54:55 In: SPENT
7th - 9th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
We were up around 07:00 to finish our preparations for departure and to clear out with the authorities. We went ashore at 08:30 first to the police station for immigration clearance and to have our passports stamped for exiting. Then it was across town to the customs for the clearance certificate and then after a coffee on the way back, we called at the Port Control building to say goodbye and thank the Port Capitan, G and Michael for their help and assistance during our most enjoyable stay.
We had been advised that we needed to call the Coast Guard on channel 16 as we were weighing anchor to leave but they came around to the boat for us to complete another clearance form. By 11:00 we had the dinghy, boarding ladder and fenders all stowed and after a couple of bits of toast and a coffee, had the engine on and weighing anchor. We were able to follow the track we had laid, on the chart plotter during our entry, to clear the channel and the pass into open water. Sails were then set to a port tack goosewing and the engine turned off. Initially the wind was almost directly astern which we hoped would veer slightly once clear of the lee of the island. Susan went off watch to sleep in lieu of another early start!
Shortly after clearing the north west tip of the island and its massive reef, the sky loomed dark ahead. Wolfhound was a mile in front and we called them on the VHF to be sure they had seen the waterspouts to the south of the heavily laden clouds. They soon disappeared into the gloom and our last sight was of them furling their genoa completely. We did likewise, transferring it to the starboard side and managing to beam reach along the southern edge of the storm, now that the waterspouts had gone. Even so we had to reef both main and genoa in the 25 knots of wind that lasted some time.
Wolfhound eventually crept out the back of the storm having received a good clean down in the heavy rain that gave them a good soaking. We were pretty even pegging at the time with them about a mile to the north but as the evening wore on their bearing from us fell back and by 10pm we had edged ahead.
Tony called at midnight to warn of a vessel at 264° and 22 miles heading our way with a current CPA of less than a mile. They will keep a close watch on him and advise if he looks threatening.
Friday 8th November 2013
A cloudy dawn with a large cargo ship passing to starboard with another one on its way. Left Geoff to sleep peacefully for four hours as there was nothing happening and in my considered opinion the sails did not require any trimming. Keeping a steady 5.5 - 6.5kts with Wolfhound directly across from us.
Radio-net was difficult again with us only able to converse with Valentine who are still motoring. Annie picked up, but was unable to talk with, Amelie who were 10 miles out from Reunion and assume from the conversation that Pearl were close to them. She also picked up that Stiana have left Reunion this morning. We tried the other OWR channels 26, 46 and 49 at half past the hour but had no response from there either.
Around 08:00 we had the super tanker 'Mystic' pass half a mile down our port side in the opposite direction. Tony had warned us in advance that they would be close but they had altered course for us turning across our stern, onto their original heading. Once they were clear, we moved the genoa across to goosewing and unfurled the staysail again.
During the day we rested then sat out on the back in the sunshine to have a trimming session. The wind backed to easterly during the day and dropped to F3. Wolfhound crossed in front of us still trying to carry a broad reach but having to go further south to do so. We joined them by changing to a broad reach around 16:00, in an attempt to stay together overnight for the benefit of his AIS, but these conditions really don't suit us! We never used to sail in less than 12 knots of wind! We are still moving, mainly due to nearly 2 knots of beneficial current but the sails are remaining full and not flapping about aimlessly so will continue for the time being.
Only Valentine were on the radio tonight and they will should be in Mauritius tomorrow morning but will be on the morning call at 07:00. They are slowing down to arrive in daylight as the port is closed at night.
By 19:00 we had got within a mile and a quarter of Wolfhound who were right on our nose with us looking at that familiar white light yet again! Back on watch at 23:00, he had pulled it out to 3 miles again! Time to goosewing and reduce his lead.
Saturday 9th October 2013
As we continued alone the rhumb line, Wolfhound continued on a broad reach taking the much further south. It was with some pleasure that before going off watch around 04:00, their infuriating white light finally turned green!
We could only receive Wolfhound on the radio call, although they were able to hear both Valentine who were making their approach to Mauritius and Stiana who are now 112 miles Southwest of Port Reunion on their way to South Africa - if the weather is good they will go direct to Durban if not then to Richards Bay. We were struggling with the wind all morning as it declined. We were still just about holding the rhumb line goosewinged but Wolfhound, who were still reaching, were slipping away first to the south then falling back to the southwest of us. We decided to start motoring around 14:00, to save on the wear to the sails, immediately noticing the reduced amount of roll. We kept Tony informed of our action but he wanted to remain sailing although thinking of changing to goosewing. Within an hour, he too was motoring!
On the radio-net, we only managed to converse with Stiana who basically repeated our conversation who also added that  there is a low scheduled for the South African Coast on Tuesday12 November for 24hrs which will then dissipate.
An hour later, we heard Crazy Daisy on CH41, they had left today and were 53 miles to the northwest of us. They then spoke with Babe who left at 16:00 today and are approximately 41 miles to our Northwest. Ed believes the only boats now left in Mauritius are Proteus, Sulana and Valentine.
By 21:00 the wind increased marginally, but directly on the stern. I spoke with Tony, who was now 4 miles behind, about us continuing to motor unless the wind got up a bit more. He hadn't thought to unfurl the genoa on the pole as we had but thought he had sufficient to now sail and keep the wind to hold the wind even when it passed 180° - this is gybe territory, We waited to be clear of the island passed Point Sud Ouest and Flinders Bank where we thought things would stabilise a little. Around 22;30, we decided on putting out the genoa on the pole which gave us an additional knot of speed. Shortly afterwards we decided to put out the mainsail, all of which helped.  
Have to say that tonight is one of the most beautiful star lit skies we have seen for ages it just sparkles all over! By 05:00 dawn had arrived with Wolfhound now back on the far horizon, only just visible until imperceptibly swallowed up by the brightness of the rising sun around 05:30.
There looked little likelihood of us requiring the pole again on this leg, so after breakfast in the sun, on the aft deck, we stowed the pole and the various lines, sheets and halyards. A couple of the snap shackles we badly rusted and difficult to open, which was all the excuse needed for Susan going over all the stainless steel ready for our arrival.
We printed up the documentation that would be required for our clearance in on arrival then centralised the boom. Just the staysail to furl, ropes and fenders to get out and we are ready! Time for a spot of lunch.......
14:30 found us at our waypoint, just at the western end of St Denis, were we made our call to the Port Capitan to report our position and give our ETA. We got no response. Wolfhound had been pressing the pedal to the metal and were now three miles behind us.
By 16:20 we were secure on the wall at Port Galets, with Wolfhound alongside half an hour later.