Saturday, September 05, 2009

August 31, 2009 - Eden Island, Mahe, Seychelles

The USS Arleigh Burke, an aegis guided missile destroyer, dwarfs Victoria's old harbor

On Friday morning we saw Bill and Laurie off to the airport, then hauled up the anchor and motored back around to the east side of Mahe. We had a big incentive to hurry back around. Kate had offered us the use of the laundry machine in their friend's condo at Eden Island and as many of their surplus provisions as we could stow. We also took advantage of having access to a freezer to freeze down some meat for Madagascar before vacuum packing it.

While Sten hung out with Kate and Rob in the comfort of the condo, I spent a rainy, steamy afternoon reorganizing our food stores to make room for dozens of cans of tomatoes, chickpeas and baby corn, bags of organic slow cook oatmeal (impossible to find here), yogurt starter (ditto), buckets of flour and milk powder, and an extra large container of fine olive oil. After this, we're going to have to change our moto from "around the world, one cocktail at a time," to "ain't too proud to beg."

Boats need constant maintenance, or vital systems stop functioning. During the nearly three months that we spent in Chagos, lots of items were added to Sten's never ending repair list. He had the time to work on the problems there, but not necessarily the parts. During the past few months Sten's sister has provided much needed homebase support by coordinating our parts orders back home. When Bill and Laurie flew to the Seychelles to visit us, they used a quarter of their baggage allowance to bring us a suitcase full of boat bits and (of course) Hellman's mayo, maple syrup, and a number of other impossible to get items that make life on board that much easier and more enjoyable.

This weekend, with the parts in hand, Sten tucked into a number of projects. On Saturday, he reinstalled the original carburetor on our primary dinghy outboard in hopes of correcting some high rpm balkiness we have been experiencing over the past several weeks. This seemed to do the trick and in the process he found a tiny piece of paper towel clogging the high speed jet on the carb he removed. Then he installed a new (only to us as it turned out) keyboard in the laptop to replace the one that got fried by being left under an open hatch during a rainstorm a few days before we departed Chagos. On Sunday, he installed a new battery selector switch to replace the one that melted down in Chagos.

During the first month of our stay in Chagos, each time we hailed someone on our VHF radio, invariably we would be told that our radio sounded terrible. After lots of trouble shooting Sten narrowed the problem down to transmissions at high power, which led him to suspect the cable/terminations connecting the radio to the antenna. On Sunday, I ran him up the mast using the anchor windless drum as an electric winch so that he could run new coax to our VHF antenna. While at the top of the mast on Sunday, he installed a new windex to replace the one the boobies broke during our passage from Chagos. The new one has a nice pointy stick at the top to keep the birds away. He also tried to replace the LED bulbs for the tricolor and anchor light (one had burned out in Chagos) but neither of the replacement bulbs worked (Dr. LED has some 'splainin to do).

Sunday afternoon in Victoria turned out to be a terrible time to be up the mast. Every yahoo with a boat was out, running around, showing their mates how powerful their engines are. Their wakes, which rock Mata'irea's hull, are substantially amplified at the top of the mast. Poor Sten was up there doing his version of a human tetherball.

Life is expensive in the Seychelles and we're ready to push on. Even if we weren't, we need to leave before the Southeast Monsoon breaks and the pirates come back. But it will take us a few days to prepare for the passage south to Madagascar, which is likely going to be a 650 mile upwind slog unless we can find a window of lighter and more easterly winds. However, we looked at our passports on Sunday and realized that our Seychelles visas were going to expire before we would be ready to leave. So first thing Monday morning we took them down to the Immigration office to get a visa extension. By the time we get them back next Monday, we should be just about ready to hand them back in to Immigration and request outwards clearance.

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