By Clive van Reenen & Crew of ZAP.
It is strange how some of the best ideas and decisions arise when a few guys sit around a table drinking beer solving the world’s problems. It was sometime mid-2015 as we were chatting to Frosty about chartering yachts when the seed was planted. Most people can only get leave at the end of the year so we needed to look at somewhere in the southern hemisphere relatively close to Durban to minimise travelling time. The Seychelles, just south of the equator in the western Indian ocean, appeared to be a good venue. I googled different sized monohulls and cats, flights etc. looking to depart from Durban on Friday 11 December and return on Tuesday 22 December. Once Graham, Anne and Nicky had committed themselves, air tickets were bought and there was no going back!
We decided to buy a reasonable amount of dry provisions in SA partly to reduce costs – things are relatively expensive in the Seychelles. We each carried about 4,5kg of food in our allowed 30kg of luggage.
Although we sailed on a Dream Yacht Charter boat, all negotiations were done through Late Sail who were very helpful and professional.
We left Durban at 09:00 via Johannesburg and landed at Mahe at 20:30. Seychelles Air have chartered Qatar Airline for the SA route – an excellent airline. We were met at Mahe and taken to our home for ten days which was moored at Eden Island.
Our Jeanneau 409 ‘Sauterne’ was shoehorned between lots of beautiful boats.
We were more than pleased with our boat!
Eden Island is a newly developed upmarket waterfront providing mooring for the very rich and famous. It was great to find a Super Spar in the centre and we were able to wheel our provisions, which included cases of Seybrew, to Sauterne using the Spar trolley.
We left Eden Island on a short motor sail to our first stop off Sainte Anne in the Sainte Anne Channel. Fortunately, this was our skipper’s fourth trip to the Seychelles so we certainly did not sail off blindly.
Here would be our only time where we anchored in what could be described as a crowd – about a half a dozen boats as our neighbours.
The four of us did not take long to dive into the clear warm water. While snorkelling, Speedy (our skipper), proved to be a fast swimmer when he saw a shark bigger than himself!
Dinner that night was freshly caught tuna, prepared as always by our gourmet chef Nicky who could make a banquet out of a handful of provisions. We soon realised that we were going to eat well on our adventure.
We soon got into a routine of rising at first light to see spectacular sun rises, enjoy a cup of coffee and to set off for a short sail to our next stop where we would have breakfast.
We left Sainte Anne and sailed around North Point past Baie Beau Vallon to Baie Ternay. Baie Ternay had three mooring bouys which made anchoring for the night a pleasure. It did not take us long to be back in the water snorkelling in paradise. This bay seemed to be a breeding ground for skates with clear water and colourful coral.
On the morning of the 14th we left Baie Ternay for a sail to Anse a la Mouche which is a small village in a protected bay. By this time we were beginning to run low on beer stocks and found affordable supplies at the Chinese owned R. Fock-Yune Store ( soon to be renamed!). We stocked up with fresh bread, eggs etc and cases of beer.
We had ideas of finding an open pub / restaurant but walked miles in the heat of 4 degrees south without success. This was possibly our first and only disappointment!
We left Anse a la Mouche for a short sail to Ile Therese. This small island of Ille was one of unspoilt beauty. By this time we were truly in Island Holiday Mood!
Fishing for tuna proved to be easy and the crew began to plea for white-fleshed fish. Fortunately we eventually caught something other than tuna, and, while cleaning and gutting our dinner, we found a fish within a fish!
This fish had also recently had a meal of squid which we tried to use as bait – with no success.
While swimming in what could be classed as the middle of the ocean, we had the very first Fender Bar. Two fenders were tethered to the boat along with the cool bag filled with Seybrew and an opener. Much fun, many beers and laughter was enjoyed by all.
Later on, when Graham (Speedy) and Clive were filled with beer the switch was made to 18 year old Glen Fiddich. Annie, now named MaMbeki, swam out with a bowl of snacks. The whisky did eventually taste a bit salty but the water was very clean.
On the morning of 16 December we left Ille Therese on our longest sail of the holiday to Baie Chevalier on the island of Pralin. Fishing on this leg of the trip was very good with five tuna caught and released except for one which was prepared by Nicky for another gourmet meal. Sadly for Clive, a sailfish got away – he never really recovered from the loss!
This was Nicky’s birthday and we found a guest house with bar facilities. By this time we were used to drinking little 280ml bottles of Seybrew at R22 / R24 each and were surprised to be charged over R80 per beer at the guest house. Needless to say Nicky’s birthday was celebrated with only two beers each – until we returned to the good ship Sauterne!
A recent Great White shark attack on a bather in Baie Chevalier had prompted the installation of protective net for bathers. This was reminiscent of the shark nets of the 50’s in Durban.
We left Baie Chevalier on another short hop to Curieuse, an island off Pralin. Curieuse is one of many Seychelles Marine National Parks. It was very pleasing to see that the Seychelles Government has controlled development keeping the natural unspoilt beauty. We were told that it is extremely difficult to obtain a licence to open a bar / restaurant.
We were fortunate to be able to tie up to mooring bouys in Baie Laraie. Curieuse Island had been used as a leper colony from 1829 up to as late as 1965. It now provides a sanctuary to over 300 Aldabra Giant land tortoises. Relics of a turtle enclosure, destroyed by the Tsunami in 2004, can be seen. There was once a thriving turtle industry which ended due to disease to the turtles and finally the damages caused by the Tsunami.
We left Curieuse on the morning of 18 December (Seychelles election day) heading for La Digue which has a small harbour. When we arrived, most shops in this quaint little village were closed. However we managed to stocked with fresh bread and, more importantly, with Seybrew.
At midday we left La Digue harbour and sailed to Ponte Ma Flore. After only 10 minutes of sailing another tuna was caught much to the disappointment of the crew who were hoping for a white fish.
Bicycles are available for rental at R400 per hour which is ample time to cycle around the island. The laid back island lifestyle is clearly evident in the kinds of vehicles used as busses.
We left Ponte Ma Flore and sailed between Felicite and Marianne islands to Grande Soeur. Grande Soeur and Petite Soeur are small islands within a Marine National Park. Grande Soeur is privately owned which means that prior arrangements have to be made before going ashore.
We anchored off Grande Soeur and were all at awe when snorkelling with thousands of beautifully coloured fish of all sizes and shapes. It was humbling to see how close you could get to the fish and turtles without them being scared away. Big Angel fish would swim up close providing much conversation and discussion afterwards. Fortunately GoPro’s were used to record events while snorkelling as we found it difficult to describe the amazing experience of swimming in the wild with the fish.
We were not comfortable with our anchorage at Grande Soeur with the possibility of strong winds during the night. We did what we said we were not going to be doing and that was to return to a previous anchorage. With the protection of Curieuse being so close, we returned to the mooring buoy to safely spend the night of the 19th December before returning to snorkel at Grande Soeur.
Later that day we had our first true sailing with 18 knots of wind while heading for a little channel between Pointe La Farine and Ile Ronde. This was to be our last night on Sauterne and was the first of being rocked to sleep! The little channel was a bit congested, being the place of last anchorage for most charter boats.
Having truly depleted all beer, most of the whisky and provisions, we headed for Baie Sainte Anne to return Sauterne where we were met by happy laid back islanders. Here we learnt a few things to keep in mind when visiting the Seychelles. Drugs are becoming a real problem and harsh punishments are meted out to those caught in possession.
Our next boat ride was on a high speed ferry from Baie Sainte Anne to Victoria on mainland Mahe where we found our way to the Seychelles Yacht Club for a few Seybrews and to exchange burgees.
From here we had to find our way from to Baie Beau Vallon where we had booked a holiday flat for the night. Luckily for us, while we were walking in four o’clock traffic our taxi driver spotted us. He was a godsend.
Our last night in the Seychelles was spent in a quaint little holiday flat 2 hundred metres from the beach. We took a short walk to a restaurant called The Boat House where we enjoyed a buffet feast. At 06:00 the following morning we were collected by our trusty friend the taxi driver and driven to Mahe Airport.
Needless to say, very little was said by four well-tanned people suffering badly from Island Fever returning to South Africa, but having had an experience of a lifetime!
|Would we do it again||YES!|
|What would we do differently?||Take some shade cloth – the sun at 4 degrees south is hot and strong!|
|Was the cost of R34 326 per person acceptable?||YES this was the total cost pp inclusive of all from the time we left SA to the time we returned.|