Bordering the Tropic of Capricorn at Latitude 20˚30’ South and Longitude 57˚30’ East, Mauritius sits as a jewel in the Indian Ocean. Along with sister islands Saint Brandon, Reunion, and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene island group. Mauritius has a large population of over 1.2 million inhabitants of mostly Hindu, Christian, and Muslim descent. Noonish prayer call summons those of the Islamic faith to prostrate themselves in the direction of Mecca. Homes are made of brick and motar to withstand local hurricanes, something that threatens all tropical islands.
Our crew is housed at the beautiful Outrigger Mauritius; a white sand beach fronts the hotel, and the surf crashes along the exterior reef a hundred yards offshore. 1.5 hours away by car, Hōkūleʻa and Gershon are moored. We are finished with our food packing, and are transporting both the food boxes as well as our personal gear to the canoe. The time until we leave will be spent preparing our personal compartments on the canoe, and double- and triple-checking our supplies.
As every crew for every leg of this voyage, we begin with a daily breakfast meeting to lay out the days plans, and wrap with a daily evening meeting assessing the work accomplished during the day.
Another part of our daily routine is the unwind time, the time on land between canoe work and dinner. Here, on land in Mauritius, we gather on the beach fronting the Outrigger, unwinding before heading to the buffet dinner at the hotel.
As I sit here on this beach, my gaze is focused on the southwestern horizon. The Southern Cross is dipping into the southern horizon and I can identify the south celestial pole. I imagine the distant South African coastline some 1,250 nautical miles away. Navigation will not be a problem on this leg as the South African target looms large, but negotiating weather and the southward flowing Agullahas current in the Mozambique Channel will pose a formidable challenge.
My home in Kona seems very distant. Soon we will be crossing a line that is a 180˚ opposite from the longitude of Hawai’i, marking our halfway point in this epic and impossible journey. But it is not just the distance – it is also the time. It is not quite October, and the crew will not be returning to Hawai’i until the end of November… two full months away from familiar lands and faces.
To be a good sailor one needs patience and endurance, something I, and many of my fellow crewmembers, have developed over time. Nonetheless, I look forward with anticipation to my return home, reuniting with my wife, mother, children, and grand children.
But first – eyes towards Cape Town.