We spent our first few days in Rodrigues completing our clearance, getting a few boat projects done and exploring the area around Port Mathurin. We also picked up a SIM card for cellular data–it’s great to have always-on connectivity again after running for so many days on BGAN.
Trip highlights from September 12th through 16th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
A first view to the town of Port Mathurin along Rue Wolphart Hamenssen. Rodrigues was a French colony from 1735 until 1809 when Britain took control. Mauritius gained independence from Britan over 150 years later in 1967, but the original French influence still seems stronger than that of the British. Creole is the native language, but a large percentage of the population can English as well. One notable British influence is that Mauritians drives on the left side of the road. Scooters and motorcycles are the most common form of transport through the narrow streets. Small cars and trucks also were popular, but we saw suprisingly few bicycles.
Looking south along Rue Pere Gandy. We’d arrived shortly before noon on a Saturday and most of the businesses that were open had shut down by 2pm. As we walked around, the streets got less and less busy.
Signs for the local cellular company Orange were everywhere and we were hoping to get setup with cellular data today. We could purcahse a SIM card, but couldn’t enable it until Monday when the local Orange office opens for business.
Changing the main engine oil after the 461-hour Indian Ocean crossing. This is the first time we’ve exceeded the oil change interval of 250-375 hours (depending on oil used), but shutting the main engine down to change the oil in the middle of the crossing did not seem worth the risk. We’ve heard too many stories of people not being able to restart the engine in those situations. We have been changing the oil on the longer 375-hour interval, but even still this is our fifth oil change this calendar year—we have been covering a lot of ground recently. On the right of the photo is our oil storage system. We stack pails two-high and secure them with a fitted marine board base and cover, all held in place with a ratchet strap. When designing the boat, we were initially planning to have an oil storage area built-in along with one for gasoline. We’re really glad we couldn’t find a solution to locating those, as having portable containers is much more convenient. Being able to get oil, gasoline and diesel all in the same place has been rare on this trip and we’re often having to transport oil and gas a fair distance from where the boat is moored.
We switched fuel filters during the crossing and replaced the old one today. You can see the old filter has a lot of black residue on the folds after 700 hours. This is either asphaltenes settling out, or evidence of some algae growth.
The service period for the hydraulic actuator (the cylindrical hydraulic ram at the left of the photo) is 2,000 hours or 6 years. Because this part typically gives considerable warning prior to failure, we usually don’t replace it until it starts showing signs of wear. This unit continues to run fine at 2,865 hours, but is leaking a bit of oil so it’s time for a change. These units can be changed underway by just disabling the stabilizer that’s being serviced, but we typically service them at anchorage.
We had an obstruction in the outlet of the gray water system in Darwin, which we addressed, but the pump output has been poor since then. So we took it apart today and found out why. The inlet valve had been ripped and inverted, likely by overpressure from the obstruction.
Whenever we open up a storage area, Spitfire has to investigate. Here he is leaping out of what Jennifer calls “the most awful place” to get spares out of. We’d had it open to retrieve the gray water pump parts.
We noticed black, oily “dust” sprayed around near the steering in the lazarette. Upon closer inspection, we found the source was microscopic bits of oil leaking past a rear thruster o-ring, carrying with it o-ring residue. A 10-cent o-ring and a 10-minute cleanup and it’s back to 100% operational. We’re glad to have found that one before it was a real leak.
Dinner with other cruisers at the Blue Marlin in Anse aux Anglaise. Seated on James’ left in a lime-colored jacket is Mareike Guhr, skipper of La Medianoche who we’d met and last seen at Lizard Island. It was great to see Mareike again.
The regular supply ship is arriving this morning, so all boats must clear the jetty and the inner harbour to allow room for the ship to maneuver onto the jetty. We’re all going to anchor in the outer harbour for a couple of hours while it arrives and docks.
Customs and immigration don’t charge a fee for clearance during regular business hours of Monday through Friday and Saturday until noon. But we’d arrived shortly before noon on Saturday and our clearance extended into their overtime period and incurred a $1000 Rupee overtime fee (about $28 USD). The officials don’t handle payments, so we had to go to Mauritian Revenue Authority (MRA) office on Monday to pay.
The supply ship Mauritius Trochetia on the jetty with Dirona visible at anchor to the left. The anchorage is quite small and crowded, with a fairly strong river current where we are. We held well, but barely had room for 3:1 scope (ratio of anchor chain to depth), while we prefer at least 5:1.
We’d noticed some brown-colored saltwater along the lazarette floor by the engine room door and traced it back to the fuel cooler we’d installed at the Gold Coast. The stainless 90-degree L-fittings at the bottom of the photo appeared to have a manufacturing problem where the stainless steel was porous and the fittings leaked out of multiple holes after only six months. James removed the fittings and was able to reroute the hoses to re-install the cooler without the failed fittings.
The supply ship seemed to have an enormous hold–we watched container after container come out yesterday. Today they filled the ship in preparation for tomorrow’s departure. The last containers to go on contained cattle in specially-designed containers.
From the harbour we could see a cross atop a hill that looked to be an excellent viewpoint. So we followed a paved road up behind the sports field and dirt road to the top. This is the view, with Port Mathurin slightly right of center and Pointe La Gueule to the southwest on the left.
We followed the road to reach the viewpoint, but once there found a more direct route back down marked with red paint. The shortcut came out on a set of stone steps into a small lane off the main road, where it makes a hairpin turn just beyond the entry to the sports field.
We have two house freshwater pumps installed. If one fails, we can just switch over to the other. And we carry a third as a spare. The main pump failed today, so we replaced it with spare and are back to two operational pumps.
All boats need to be out of the harbour when the supply ship comes and goes. So we left the anchorage this morning and later returned to the jetty in preparation for tomorrow’s fueling. Processing the containers takes several days after the supply ship is gone. Here workers are manually unloading containers of heavy yellow bags onto an adjacent pallet. A forklift carries the pallets up to the second floor of the port building where another set of workers manually unloads the pallets into the building.
We had a delicious seafood meal at Tirozo just up the road from the port.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.