We arrived on Praslin Island after a speedy inter island ferry trip from Victoria. The crossing was smooth and offered beautiful views of the smaller islands surrounding Mahe.
Dream Yacht Charters is conveniently located at the base of the pier our ferry docked in Baie St. Anne. Since we were in the midst of a Seychelles winter, the islands were relatively quiet and our boat ‘Fronsac’ was ready nice and early. Fronsac was a well maintained Jennaeu 42 so the three of us had plenty of room to move around. After three separate briefings (technical, safety, float plan) we were ready to head out. We had been warned that Saturday night the jetty was the place to party for all the young folk on the island, and we felt we’d get a better sleep if we headed out of the harbour and anchored near La Passe on the Island of La Digue. Unfortunately, Saturday night was also the night for the disco club on La Digue and we had a fitful slumber between the bouts of pumping base and the swells of the oceans. Let’s just say the boat was a rocking, but for none of the enjoyable reasons.
Cruising in the Seychelles was a delight. For the past year and a half I’ve listened to Marv and Kim talk about their warm and windy tour, so I was keen to partake in the cruising experience. It turned out the Seychelles offered the penultimate warm and windy cruising. We were surrounded by breathtaking beaches, clear turquoise waters, strong winds, and warm weather…for the first half of the charter.
What I most enjoyed were the strong and consistent trade winds as they made for good sailing and we could reach our destinations with relative ease. However, those strong winds also limited the anchorages we could use, which meant we doubled up on a couple of the moorings.
Taking advantage of the southeasterlies, we headed back towards Praslin. As we approached, Kim was on the lookout for the best beach. When she asked Marv to detour into a shallow bay called Anse Volbert that had a stunning 2km white sand beach, we knew she had chosen well. Once our anchor was firmly ensconced in the sand, we headed out in the dinghy in search of diversion and wifi. We spent the afternoon lounging on the boat, walking the beach, frolicking around the natural rock formations, snorkelling, and enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Having given up on restaurants, we made an epic roast chicken dinner and watched another beautiful sunset.
The Seychelles recognize that eco-tourism is a big draw for foreigners and as such, they have roughly 40% of the land under protection. After a filling breakfast of bacon with a side of bacon (thanks chef Marv!), we cruised over to Iles Curieuse to see the Giant Tortoises. Fortunately there were moorings available at Baie Jose so we had peace of mind as we headed into the dense bush in search of tortoises. Unfortunately Dad blew out a flip flop at kilometre 1 and had to turn back for the boat, but Kim and I carried on. I had a mild panic attack when I went to step on a boulder and it moved! I hadn’t been expecting the tortoises higher on the trail and shrieked like a banshee. They have about 100 tortoises on the island. We saw the baby enclosure, along with some juveniles (1-2 years old), and the grounds were filled with adults of varying ages. On average they live to be about 100 and weigh 100-200 kilos. I think of them as gentle giants. The ones on Iles Curieuse are accustomed to tourists and human interaction so they have no qualms about you touching them. Some even love having their necks scratched! A few thought I have treats for them because I was carrying around a ziplock bag (for our cell phones) so I had quite a following at one point.
That evening we anchored in a beautiful sand bay called Petit Cour. There was exceptional snorkeling right off the boat and the natural beauty of the Seychelles below water was just as picturesque as above.
A restored colonial resort called La Reserve was in the same bay as us and it was supposed to have an excellent restaurant. Fancy dress was required so we donned our less smelly best! Unfortunately the excellent restaurant turned out to be a buffet that didn’t start until 8pm. We wanted to be back on the boat by that time so instead we opted for their happy hour special in the bar by the swimming pool. Unfortunately the food situation on the islands continued to be underwhelming. Fortunately, the stellar sunset that evening made us forget about our frozen pizza meal.
Half way through the week our potable water reserves began to run low, so we sailed back over to La Digue to stock up. As we sailed, we saw dolphins and sea turtles along the way. For lunch we headed into La Passe to check out Fish Trap, a recent addition to the culinary scene on the island. Fortunately, it turned out to be a beautiful restaurant right on the beach. It was hands down the BEST meal we had in the Seychelles. I indulged in the Creole seafood curry with local spices. Oh My Goodness. Heaven. The restaurant even offered free wifi (I guess that comes with finer dining 🙂
After lunch we wandered the largely pedestrian town, picked up a few more groceries, and headed back to the boat.
On our afternoon sail we sailed by Iles St Pierre and I tried to snap a photo, but the beautiful granite rock features were not done justice on my camera. Eventually we reached our destination after a two hour sail and found a comfortable anchorage in Baie Lazio. It turned out to be a popular spot as 9 other boats anchored near us. It promised to be a clear night, and with the light breeze I opted to sleep above deck. I dragged my mattress up onto the deck and made a berth of my own. It was marvelous.
I spent the next few days continuing my exploration of the plethora of flora and fauna on these islands. Marv and Kim graciously took me over to Cousin Island, so I could visit the bird sanctuary. The crossing was pretty rough due to the giant swells and steady breeze. The guides picked me up from our boat and the dinghy ride onto the beach was like a mini roller coaster as the boat scooted up on shore.
I held a giant millipede, watched as a few male lesser noddies tried to woo females by bringing them the perfect leaf to add to their nest, and enjoyed keeping my eyes peeled for the ground nesting white tailed tropical bird. They lay their eggs on the ground because their legs are positioned so far to the rear of the bird it cannot balance itself on a branch. I was particularly excited to see blue or red footed boobies, but it is the wrong season for their migration. I also had a chance to get in some SCUBA diving. Imagine my delight when I saw reef sharks, sea anemone and clown fish, cuttlefish, eel, rays, an octopus, sea turtles, and a whole host of other marine life.
Mixed in with my explorations was more sailing with Marv and Kim. As the weather cooled a bit during the second half of our charter, the wind picked up. We sailed back over towards La Digue and cruised around Petit Soeur and Grand Soeur Islands. We had hoped to be able to go ashore, but the waves and winds were too much for a dinghy to handle and there was no protected place to anchor the boat. Many of the islands near Mahe are privately owned, which further reduced the number of destinations we could sail to and go ashore. This was our second last day on Fronsac and unfortunately we ended up with a rip in our mainsail. We sailed back to Praslin Island under the power of only a jib and still reached a boat speed of 7 knots.
The Seychelles were an undeniable treat to visit, and I’m thankful Marv and Kim let me crash their party. Exploring these islands from both land and sea provided a more in depth experience than I would ever have had on my own. I’d like to toast the couple for hosting me 😀