||SEYCHELLES PART 1 - JUNE 2007
4th June – Eden Marina to Beau Vallon (Mahe)
We arrived in Eden Marina directly from the airport at 7.30am delivered by the ever cheerful Antoine, feeling sleepy after a long flight from London. We were greeted by Scott, Wendy, Joni, and Jen with a delicious breakfast already laid out on deck. After a quick tour of Victoria with the colourful fish and fruit market we set sail for our first port of call – Beau Vallon. John & Oliver swam out to a yellow buoy in the sweeping bay of Beau Vallon, John getting within inches of a friendly tern perching on the buoy.
5th June – Beau Vallon to Anse Mondon (Silhouette)
After a lazy get up (the London time zone still having its effect) we had our first morning swim and breakfast on deck in a tropical squall, the clouds gathering over our next destination, Silhouette, which wasn’t even a silhouette in the distance! A rolling sail followed for the next couple of hours until our arrival at a dramatic bay set below the rising cliffs and tropical forested slopes of Silhouette. We were on our own in this Jurassic landscape. After lunch we set out to explore the secluded cove and beach. We found coconuts and John broke one open with a crow bar he found hidden in the woods. We explored several mountain streams that wound their way down to the beach, cascading over rocks. Several of the party tried bodysurfing on the considerable waves, whilst Boo was caught unawares by one large wave and lost her new mask and snorkel, still gripping the mouth piece between her teeth!
6th June – Anse Mondon (Silhouette) to Anse Lasio (Praslin) via North Island
We set sail after breakfast, heading for North Island. A stunning location but no decent anchorage spot meant we headed straight on for Praslin, our first serious ‘passage’ of almost thirty miles. Sailing at almost ten knots, Olly was at the helm, with Boo, John & Giggy trying to read as the boat rolled over the large swell. Bored of reading, sunbathing took precedence, with John’s no suncream policy resulting in a perma burn that lasted the entire holiday! The first catch of the trip was a large tuna, unfortunately crawling with lice so it lived to see another day. Arriving at Anse Lasio, a few friendly faces from the Maldives also sailed in on two smaller boats, Tom the American inviting us all for drinks on his boat, Juno, to celebrate Simone’s birthday. A careless swing of John’s foot later that evening, and a concealed draining hole, meant his toe ended up at a right angle to his foot!
7th June – Anse Lasio (Praslin)
We had arrived in Paradise! A stunning stretch of virgin white sand, sweeping in a perfect crescent, palms and luscious frangipani’s casting their shade and smooth granite rocks framing the outer reaches. A lazy day full of watersports, diving – John got his first scuba lesson from Oliver, snorkelling for the rest of us, fishing and a walk to the top of the hill, were followed by a barbeque on the beach (or should I say perched above the beach on rocks as the tide swept in). A mad Swiss lady with her silent husband Pasquale - ten years aboard a boat together can do extraordinary things to the mind! The Rasta Jonathan with long blonde dreadlocks, and his girlfriend of the time – the very Germanic Simone, who had also opted for the travellers’ life. Tuna, kebabs, rum punch and a delicious magnum of 1995 claret made for an eclectic evening. Scott, with head torch on, slaved over the heat and smoke of the fire for hours to bring everyone the beachside feast.
8th June – Anse Lasio to Anse Petite Cour (Praslin) via Baie La Raie
A 7.30am start was called for to set off for our ‘three hour’ (what turned out to be forty minute) walk through the Vallee de Mer, a three hectare tropical valley, home to the famous coco de mer, infamous for its provocative female form. Palm leaves the size of sails arched overhead and the strange roots and towering trunks stretched tall from the magnificent boulders, creating a Hollywood film set effect, added to by the distinctive smell of sweet rotting foliage and intense humidity. Hard work and activity were evident from the six national park staff lounging in a broken hut at the summit, where they were ‘apparently’ fixing the roof. It should be complete in three years time.
Giant tortoises are the closest reptiles to the dinosaurs! An extraordinary sight, these lumbering ancient creatures, some over 150 years old, live happily in the sanctuary on Curieuse. Boo, Olly, Giggy, John and Joni spent an afternoon stroking their tummies and watching their amusing mating ritual. We were given a display on how to pick, open and eat a fresh orange coconut by Richard, the friendly park warden. A short hop back to Praslin gave us our anchorage for that night. A calm bay with an Eighties’ resort at its centre.
9th June – Anse Petit Cour (Praslin) to La Passe (La Digue)
Oh to see the most photographed beach in the world – we realised we’d seen ten better on the other islands already! Dismissing that therefore we headed to La Passe to anchor. Only bicycles are allowed on La Digue, the way of life is slow, and peaceful, with a charming harbour, beautiful church and a supermarket John called Harrods because it sells everything including Jacuzzi’s. John, Giggy, Olly & Boo set off on bikes to circumnavigate the island, only to find that half way round the road ran out! It was a fabulous way of seeing the island, with pretty villages and windswept beaches, despite the heat. Boo & Giggy took advantage of the shopping on arrival back in town. Back on deck that evening the customary glass of cool Sancerre followed by another of Jen’s mouth-watering dinners felt well deserved after the activity of the day.
10th June – La Passe (La Digue) to Port Launay (Mahe) via Cousine
A short sail round the bottom of Praslin took us to the island of Cousine. This is one of two very small islands, its sister being Cousin, to the west of Praslin, with abundant birdlife. Snorkelling and scuba diving (John and Oliver this time) built up a good appetite for lunch before we set sail for Mahe. In between watching the Thomas Crown Affair John managed to catch a tuna, this time lice free. The mountainous slopes of Mahe came into view with the sun setting over the stern, and with a never ending multitude of black terns and noddies flying eastward to roost, skimming the water as they went. As the sun finally went down we cast anchor in the lagoon-like bay of Port Launay, the distinctive scent of Mahe’s lush tropical forest returning again. That night, from the deck, we watched more fish than you can imagine swarm in abundance in the underwater lights of the boat.
11th June – Port Launay (Mahe)
Awaking to a clear blue sky and scorching sun we set off for a three hour mountain walk, with our friendly guide Jacques Barreau. Cinnamon trees, clove leaves, citronella grass, lipstick berries, rubber trees and palm roots were amongst the many flora we encountered on our climb to the peak. A spectacular view over Victoria and the islands beyond, as well as the welcome breeze, rewarded us at the top. On the drive home Antoine pointed out the tea plantations, Boo picking a few leaves for us to try back at the boat. Another snorkelling trip to the other side of the bay that afternoon revealed some spectacular rock formations, beautiful coral and a vast variety of tropical fish. We even saw a turtle from deck that afternoon (and Scott had seen eight across the bay when he climbed to the top of the mast). For Giggy & John’s last dinner, Jen prepared a delicious fish curry using local spices, preceded by an excellent roast quail. Yet more exceptional Chateau Croix St George 1994 was drunk from Olly’s extensive ‘boat cellar’.
12th June – Port Launay (Mahe) to Eden Marina (Mahe) via Isle St Anne
A morning swim and light breakfast was followed by the excitement of Scott spotting a shoal of Dolphin swimming directly towards the boat. John leapt in with flippers, mask and snorkel, to try and swim alongside them, with some success. As we type we are heading for lunch at Isle St Anne, just outside Victoria, as a final port of call before heading for Eden Marina and the airport.