28th March, Victoria, Seychelles
We had perfect weather across the Indian Ocean and although we arrived off Victoria on time, we had to wait 45 minutes, our berth was occupied by a Danish frigate, one of the naval contingent that patrol the Somali pirate waters in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Who am I to concern myself with this delay, just having these ships in the area gladdens the heart. She leaves and we enter, and a rainbow greets us as we do so.
The berth is a short one, a large, Spanish tuna fishing boat takes part of the space and our bow overhangs the end of the quay, our forward lines made fast to a mooring buoy. In fact, there are a few of these tuna-boats, the main income of the islands is tourism, however tuna-fishing comes a close second.
It is warm and humid, occasional rain showers throughout the day. Victoria lies on the east side of Mahe and we cross the island, over a 1,200 metre peak, to the west coast, on which lie the main hotels and beaches. The waters are a turquoise blue, crystal clear and, (as I later discovered, warm, 88F). The views across the island are stunning.
We stop at various points before reaching the first of the beaches.
Then south, down the coast road…
…passing Sheik’s palaces (Abu Dhabi), which consists of the main house and several more, nestling on the hillside. Anchored in the bay is a large landing craft, a helicopter landing-pad dominating the hull while underneath, his ‘toys’ for recreation, it’s another world.
We visit Les Jardins du Roi, a tropical paradise with indigenous spices from around the island and a restaurant, the view from the open patio is spectacular. Then for a swim to cool off before heading back to the Amsterdam, a shower and preparation for our next voyage, Victoria to Madagascar, Hell Ville to be precise.
Mahe island itself is surrounded by coral reefs and shallows and so it is with concentration that we wind our way back to the open sea and set south-westerly courses for a waypoint off the northern end of Madagascar.
Jonathan Mercer is Amsterdam’s captain.