2023 Dock Rules

POYC Dock Protocols

A dry erase board, markers and eraser has been placed in the pavilion for the use of documenting the date a Club Member places his/her boat on POYC Docks. This will include member’s Last name, boat name or registration number, date boat was put on dock and slip number. Dock stays are limited to THREE WEEKS on the dock, then off for no less than 7 days, unless dock usage is under 86% (two open slips). When dock usage exceeds 86%, first on first off rule is in effect till dock usage is under 86%. Also, if you are not planning on using your boat for a couple weeks, just haul it out. Be considerate of our limited dock space.

In addition, Dock Master will be documenting docked boats’ status using Dock Sign Board and photos on POYC Facebook Group. These photos will be taken no less than one week and no more than two weeks in frequency. Photos will show the boat registration number and current Dock Sign Board. 

Moreover, first on first off is just what it sounds like. The Dock Master will use the Sign Board to determine first on first off. The oldest dates on Dock Sign Board will be the first ones asked to remove their boat from dock, until 86% usage is achieved. If all boats at dock have less than three weeks on the dock, the dock will remain full until someone has been docked for three weeks. If two or more boats have the same sign in date, all those boats will be asked to haul out at the same time to maintain fairness.

We had a great sailing season last year with no significant problems with dockage. So, please fill out the Dock Sign Board and get your boat off the dock in the allotted three weeks or the floggings will commence.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Dock Master  Greg Glass

From Greg O’ Brien – Some Club History and a tip of the hat to Lee Huddleston

Hi Gary,

Thank you for your prompt response.  The race invite is attached, along with a letter about some road work.  My dad Les O’Brien and my family liked a musical called “The Fantasticks”.  In it there’s a teenager who says “I’m 16, and every day something happens to me.”  My dad said that POYC was like that at the time, quickly growing and changing.  The club had a good time, at POYC and away from it.  Dracula served Bloody Marys at a club Halloween party, a burning boat was set adrift in a Viking ceremony when the new commodore was elected, with the former commodore aboard (or what looked like him, wrapped in a cloth), and Lee Huddleston received fishing waders as a gag gift because his bottom so often got wet sailing his Y Flyer.  Bill Davis oversaw the Viking ceremony, his son played French horn from the dark woods when he called to Odin, and Jim Phillips was the outgoing commodore.

Best wishes to you and the club for a happy New Year!  Please give my regards to Lee Huddleston.

Kind regards,


Travelogue #8, Dec 10-19 “Into Africa” by Larry Caillouett

Saturday, Dec 10

With a tip of my cap to Willie Nelson’s signature “On the Road Again.”

🎵 On the sea again – 

Just can’t wait to get on the sea again. 

The life I love is sailing oceans with my friends 

And I can’t wait to get back out at sea again.

On the sea again 

Goin’ places that I’ve never been

Seein’ things that I may never see again 

And I can’t wait to get out on the sea again. 🎵

Today was the Big Day. We finally set sail for Africa. Well, Mauritius and La Reunion are counted as African countries in terms of proximity and tectonic plates, but people who speak French and drive Peugeots and bring fresh baguettes home every day—that’s not what usually comes to mind when you say “going to Africa.” We are finally on our way to continental Africa.

La Reunion is so tall that it casts a long wind shadow. “Setting rpm” is a more accurate description than setting sail, but I’ll take it. Either way. When we finally escaped Reunion’s last efforts to hold us longer, we got back to what ocean sailing should be—boat heeled to leeward 10-15 degrees, sails filled out in graceful curves, bow slicing through waves like a hot knife through butter, sounds of water lapping at the hull, and the rhythmic gentle gallup of the boat toward the horizon.

On my 9 pm watch the moon came up big and round and orange straight behind the boat, its gleam across the water like a tail on a kite. Clouds soon choked it, but the tenacious moon fought back and broke through again and again. This was no quitter moon. Eventually it conquered the clouds and became a bright beacon in the sky casting shadows over the boat.

A seabird made several attempts to hitch a ride at the stern of the boat. I thought it had given up until I caught a glimpse of him perched on a midships stanchion. This is not where birds usually try to land because there isn’t much to hold onto. This bird may be familiar with the Allies’ D-day strategy of landing where the Germans knew was a terribly difficult and therefore unlikely beachhead. I admired his grit and decided to let him ride. If he had to spend the night perched on an ocean wave, he could have become a shark appetizer.

Sunday, Dec 11

What a busy morning! I came on watch at 6 am. Alex had examined the forestay and found that it was too loose. It had a bit of sag in it despite the mast showing some rake. So Alex and Joe went to the bow to tighten the forestay while I stayed at the helm. We secured both spinnaker halyards to a shackle on the anchor roller and released pressure on the hydraulic backstay. Joe tightened the adjustment at the furler motor with an oil filter wrench, not the correct tool for this job but it worked pretty well. We returned the spinnaker halyards to their usual place and retensioned the backstay.

While we were all up and the wind was light, it was a good time to set the spinnaker pole to windward so we could pole out the genoa for downwind sailing. We can do this now that our spinnaker pole fitting was repaired in Mauritius and our genoa foil was repaired in La Reunion. Alex and Joe adjusted the pole height while I controlled the foreguy and afterguy. All these lines get complex so we had to reroute them several times to get them right. We opened the genoa to port, prevented the main far forward to starboard, and set the staysail between them. All of this was before 8:30.

By noon the wind had become so feeble that it didn’t matter how we set our sails. Reluctantly we started the engine and began motor sailing across a relatively flat sea.

Monday, Dec 12

My day started early on the midnight to 3 am watch. We were sailing again without the engine and making 7 to 8 knots. We had been watching a cargo ship named Lucy Ocean getting closer and closer to us. It crossed ahead of us about 2 miles away and then we were alone on the ocean again. Three more cargo ships passed close by later in the day so we must be in the shipping lane.

This is trade winds sailing. The boat is balanced and sailing downwind with little heeling. We glance over at the chart plotter now and then to make sure no freighter will be bearing down on us. It’s Culhane time on Liberty.

On my night watch I went to the aft deck to look up at the black night sky. The stars were spectacular! I think the Greeks were on the wacky weed when they imagined elaborate constellations in the stars, but it’s easy to see why the stars held such fascination for them.

Tuesday, Dec 13

After a small rainstorm passed through, the wind moved forward on port beam. Our sails were set completely wrong for that, so I furled the genoa and opened it on starboard for a broad reach and moved the boom aft. With wind in the low 20’s the boat hit its stride around 8 knots.

Alex had set a waypoint at about 100 miles off the tip of Madagascar. We decided to cut the corner and save some mileage. This might bring us into stronger winds also. It definitely brought us into the shipping lanes. At one time we could see four 1000-foot freighters or tankers heading northeast toward us while we were sailing southwest. It felt like being on a one way street going the wrong way.

Wednesday, Dec 14

The wind moved aft so we went back to sailing wing-and-wing. Waves and swells were 3-9 feet and were hitting the boat on its port quarter, so when a wave hit the boat it would roll to starboard and then yaw back to port. Winds were in the mid to upper 20’s so we were making good speed around 8 knots, but the rolling made tasks difficult. Nothing would stay where we put it, so hold on to your plate if you don’t want to eat off the floor. Anywhere else but here my walking motion would be a sure sign of intoxication.

We passed the tip of Madagascar at Cape St. Marie as I came on my afternoon watch. We were sailing our deepest angles of 170-180 degrees and making 8-9 knots on 20-25 knots of wind assisted by 2 knots of current partially aligned with our course. Seas had flattened somewhat so this was textbook ocean sailing. At dinner time we reached the halfway point between La Reunion and Durban.

Thursday, Dec 15

The Southern Cross greeted me when I came up for my midnight watch and the moon peeked out from a cloud to say hello. It’s good to have friends in high places.

During my watch the wind backed 10 degrees making it impossible to maintain our course to Durban without jibing, something we aren’t going to attempt at night. That would require one or two crew on deck to remove the port running backstay, remove the starboard preventer on the boom, center the traveler, change course to move the boom over to port side, set a port preventer, set the starboard running backstay, and lower the traveler. Not on a bouncing sea at night.

And that doesn’t even include taking the spinnaker pole down, resetting it to the other side, and rerunning all the lines. That’s an ordeal of its own. So now the course that the wind set for us is toward Port Elizabeth. I would rather go there than Durban anyway, but weather considerations in the next 24-36 hours will make that determination.

We have a following sea. When a big swell or wave comes up behind us, it lifts Liberty’s stern and shoves us forward. We gain one to one and a half knots with the push, and when the wave passes under us our speed falls back.

Friday, Dec 16

The weather changed our plans. It is forecast that a storm coming up the coast of South Africa will cause the seas offshore from Durban to be very rough when we were to arrive there. We would have to either slow down or heave to in order to allow the storm to pass. We decided to change our course to East London 250 miles down the coast from Durban. We will use our time to make progress instead of stalling to get into Durban. If the weather is good when we approach East London, we will sail past it to Port Elizabeth, 150 miles further south. Sailing in cantankerous weather requires juggling multiple options.

Speaking of cantankerous, that’s our wind. It has backed so far behind us that we are sometimes sailing by the lee with the wind coming slightly from our starboard side while our sails are set for port winds. We have a strong preventer on the boom so we are not worried about an accidental gybe, but we don’t want to sail very deep by the lee. So our course is farther south than we would like, but we have no choice until we can do a controlled jibe in daylight.

Well, it didn’t take long for the wind to force our hand. Around 7:30 am a huge wind shift had us scrambling to jibe the boom and spinnaker pole. We are still sailing almost dead downwind, but on starboard now instead of our usual port tack. This is forcing us up above the East London rhumb line. Our course may change several more times before we make landfall somewhere on the coast of South Africa.

Saturday, Dec 17

Another pretty day in the Indian Ocean with blue skies and white clouds. The wind is telling us to go to Port Elizabeth by backing around from the east to the north. If we maintain a constant wind angle, this guides the boat farther to the south. But the low pressure front heading toward us will have the last word on that.

If you can’t think of any reason to go to sea in a small boat, let me offer you one: the sparkles of the night. Far from the light pollution of civilization you can see God’s handiwork in all its glory in the sky. The brighter stars demand your attention. The dimmer ones draw you into their depth. And when you finish marveling at the sparkles above you, look down to the wake churning off the boat and see the fire sparks of bioluminescence in the ocean as the phytoplanktons complain about being disturbed.

Sunday, Dec 18

The night was very dark with winds in the mid 20’s, seas building, but no rain. We generally had two crew up at all times. About an hour before my 9am watch I became aware of the boat pounding into the waves. Sometimes it sounded like the boat was landing on rocks. Joe and Alex were driving the boat hard.

My cabin is in the bow so it has more motion than the rest of the boat. Some people say that they can’t sleep with all that movement, but it’s rock-a-bye-baby to me. When the bow is climbing a wave, I can feel a gentle pressure sinking me into the foam mattress under me. When the wave is crested and the bow loses its support, I experience semi-weightlessness until I press into my mattress again and get ready for the next surge upward. I think a bird in a nest on a limber tree branch may enjoy the same ride. But without the landing on rocks.

We had marked two rhumb lines on the chart plotter, one to East London and one to Port Elizabeth, 140 miles farther south. We had hoped that the wind would let us go to Port Elizabeth but yesterday morning it pushed us toward the East London course. As I came on watch this morning it drove us over the East London rhumb line and the most southerly course we could sail was due west. We are expecting the wind to shift to the east and let us turn south. If not, when we reach the Agulhas current, it will take us south unless a northerly wind like the present one makes that passage untenable. As with many things in life, timing is critical.

Monday, Dec 19

It was a golden daybreak. The sky was softly colored with gold and the myriad facets of the sea surface reflected the gold back to the sky. This was a full half hour before the sun made its official entrance into the day. By that time the sky’s gold had faded into a soft blue, a sensible color that announced that the day was open for business.

This was the day I had booked my flight home from Cape Town. I cancelled it before leaving Reunion when I saw there was no chance of reaching Cape Town in time for my flight. I’ll have to find another flight when I get there.

🎵All I want for Christmas is

To be at home

To be at home

To be at home

All I want for Christmas is

To be at home

So I can wish you Merry Christmas!🎵

On my morning watch I finessed the light wind with small changes in heading until the wind was too light to finesse and too light to matter. We started the engine and set a course for Mbashe Point, 70 miles north of East London to take advantage of the strong Agulhas Current which is approximately 60 miles wide and runs south at about 4 knots.

Land ho! The light of the towns on the east coast of South Africa became visible at about 25 miles from the coast and became brighter and fuller as we continued toward Mbashe Point. When we were about 7 miles from the shore we turned south to follow the coastline to East London. Depending on the weather we may sail on past East London to Port Elizabeth.

Travelogue #7, Nov 24- December 3rd – Desperate for Durbin by Larry Caillouet

Thursday, Nov 24
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, but just another workday in La Reunion. Diana is in Indianapolis getting ready to enjoy her sister Donna’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner extravaganza. I would be happy to feast on the turkey and ham and delicious casseroles and home made breads, but what I could really use is a big slug of pie. Any pie that Donna makes. I don’t know how the French people on this island can know so much about bread and little fru-fru pastries, and know so little about pie. Why don’t they send someone to 2047 N. Bosart Avenue and learn how to make pies?

Carmel prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for us on the boat. I am thankful for a good boat-cooked meal.

Friday, Nov 25
Carmel and Joe repaired the tear in the Genoa and we did a few small jobs on the boat. Alex and I went to the Peugeot dealer and rented a car again. We will need it to pick up the furler repair guy from Mauritius at the airport on Monday, and it will be nice to be unbound from the boat and marina. Our first excursion was to go out for dinner. Still no pie on the menu so we went to the grocery store and I found slices of flan in the bakery section. Flan is not exactly pie but it was cut in pie shapes, so I took a chance and bought a slice for each of us. It was good, but I’m still on the lookout for pie.

Saturday, Nov 26
Today was a big day. First it was Liberty laundry day. We didn’t have enough tokens for the dryer at the marina’s laundry so we turned the boat into a big floating backyard clothes line. Sheets, shirts, socks, and skivvies were hung on every line on the boat. This is part of the glamor of sailing around the world.

Today was France vs Denmark in the World Cup. Not too big a deal in the USA but here in France the street was closed in front of Le Boucanier restaurant where we went for supper and a giant screen was set up to televise the game. Tables were set up in the street and by the time the game started the tables were full. The crowd roared every time France threatened to score because actual scoring doesn’t happen much in soccer, or “football” as they call it here. France won 2 to 1, and the crowd was happy.

Most important, today was the 51st wedding anniversary for Diana and me. I wrote a song for the occasion. Get the tune of Glen Campbell’s song, “By the time I get to Phoenix” in your mind https://youtu.be/mUg5p3BncuQ , hum it a time or two, then set these words to the same tune:

By the time I get to Durban
It’ll be December
The Oyster fleet won’t be there anymore
They’ll be sailing down the coast
To get to Cape Town
A dream I’ve had so many times before

By the time I get to Cape Town
They’ll be flying
Home to be with fam’lies they adore
I’ll miss my flight and I’ll be stuck in Cape Town
Regretting wasted days
That went before

By the time I make Kentucky
She’ll be waiting
She’ll run quickly and meet me at the door
She’ll smile just to know I’m really with her
And not just a promise on the phone
She just had to know
That I love her so 💕

Sunday, Nov 27
More bad news: We received a message assuring us that The Part that DHL promised would arrive last Tuesday, then promised for Thursday, then promised for Saturday, will arrive next Tuesday. Yeah, sure. Because they promised. We have drilled this well so deep waiting for this part that we don’t have much choice but to drill a little deeper.

Monday, Nov 28
If I could add a soundtrack to this travelogue, you would be hearing the swamp pop melody of Freddy Fender’s 1975 hit “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” playing softly in the background. I’ve read every news item the internet has. Ask me anything—go on, really, anything. I’ve done my Cyber Monday shopping. I found some good deals. I’m so bored that I polished the rust off the stainless steel on the boat. I even used a stiff toothbrush to get the hard-to-reach parts. The boat is gleaming— all dressed up and nowhere to go. Freddie, your music is immortal.

Tuesday, Nov 29
Another day and a new sound track—Dionne Warwick’s hit “Promises, Promises” is the tune of the day. https://youtu.be/DpKAnp5Klzw Jerome, the ace rigger, flew here from Mauritius to install The Part. DHL, the worldwide delivery company that promised1, promised2, promised3, promised4 delivery today, now says that they don’t know where The Part is. I don’t think they knew where it was when they promised us before, and now they admit their incompetence.

Still, there was work to do to be ready to install The Part when it finally comes. Jerome took the lead on the project to remove the broken foil, which was a complex operation. First we shackled both spinnaker halyards to the foredeck to stabilize the mast. Then we eased the tension on the forestay by detensioning the hydraulic backstay. The foil was fitted around the forestay and the forestay was anchored inside the Reckman furler which was bolted to the deck and hull, so to remove the broken section of the foil we had to disassemble the furling mechanism and free the bottom end of the forestay. Once that was achieved, Jerome used Alex’s angle grinder to carefully cut away the mangled edges of the foil that was still gripping the forestay. He was extra careful to not knick the forestay itself because any weakening of the forestay would compromise the integrity of the rig. We unbolted this section of foil from the section above it and finally we could slide this broken section of the foil off the forestay.

Another 2-3 hours would have seen the new foil installed, the Genoa re-installed, and Liberty liberated from its dock lines. But with the foil in the Twilight Zone we had done all we could, so Alex drove Jerome back to the airport.

Wednesday, Nov 30
Today was a snoozer of a day. Read some, dozed some. We did manage to re-assemble the forestay. By this we proved to ourselves that we know how to do it and have the parts and tools we need—except for The Part.

Thursday, Dec 1
New sound track: Merle Haggard’s 1973 country hit “If We Make It Through December.” https://youtu.be/dFDa5IGTQAo We still have no information about The Part. We have brainstormed several options, all of which have serious deficiencies or drawbacks. With each passing wasted day our Christmas deadline looms larger before us.

If I make it through December,
Everything’s gonna be all right I know.
I’ve got 20 days to Cape Town
And 2250 miles to go.
If I make it through December,
Got plans to be with family at Christmas time
And then home back in Kentucky
If I make it through December, I’ll be fine.

Boat broke down again while sailing
And parts are hard to get so far from home.
DHL says they have sent it,
But they don’t know their a**hole from a bone
I don’t mean to hate December
It’s meant to be a happy time of year.
But my family won’t understand
Why it’s Christmas time and I can’t be with them.

If I make it home by Christmas,
Everything’s gonna be all right, I know
It’s cold now in Kentucky
But I don’t care if it’s covered up with snow.
If I make it home by Christmas
That’s all that’s on my mind
To be with my friends and fam’ly
If I make it home by Christmas, I’ll be fine

Friday, Dec 2
After a minor job of cleaning small mussels and barnacles out of a refrigeration drain line, we drove down the west coast to St. Pierre. There we turned onto the crooked highway that crosses the middle of the island between the three dormant volcano cirques to the north and the active volcano to the south. Near the middle of the island at about one mile altitude we stopped at the City of Volcanology Museum. This is a high quality museum dedicated to volcanic activity in general but specifically to the volcanic history of La Reunion. It included a 4D movie about volcanoes in which our seats shook, we felt hot air on our face, and we even got a small spray of water in our face.

Saturday, Dec 3
Alex received a message that the airline had escalated this problem to upper management. The Part had been placed on a numbered pallet and was scheduled to be put on the plane in Paris for the Friday night flight to La Reunion. It should arrive here sometime on Saturday. We will get it sometime Monday. We will install it Monday/Tuesday and test it. We will clear out with Customs and Immigration on Tuesday, turn in the rental car, and set sail for Durban.

Sent from my iPhone

Travelogue #6, Nov 14-23 by Larry Caillouet

“Cruising: the sport and lifestyle of repairing your boat in exotic locations”

Monday, Nov 14

“De part, Boss, de part!” For anyone who wasn’t watching television in the 80’s, this is a reference to Tattoo announcing to Mr. Roark that the plane was arriving (“De plane, Bioss”) bringing new guests to Fantasy Island. De part for the spinnaker pole fitting had arrived at the boat so we quickly slipped our lines and departed from the Caudon Marina.

Sailing down the west side of Mauritius gave us our last view of its volcanic ridges and peaks. Its lights and lume were the only light in the dark sky.

I came on watch at 6 pm. The wind was in the low 20’s and we were making good time in spite of the rolly sea. At this rate we should be in La Reunion no later than noon. But the wind became a prankster. It oscillated left and right and made it hard to steer a steady course. Then it began dropping, so I let out more sail. It dropped some more and I unfurled all the sail. Even with all the sail out our speed fell below 5 knots. Our rule of thumb is to motorsail to keep our speed above 5 knots. Our other rule of thumb is to wait 5 minutes before making a change. The 5 minutes had expired and I was reluctantly getting ready to start the engine when the wind suddenly picked up again. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The prankster wind continued to increase and the sea was rough so the sailing became rather uncomfortable. I put a reef in the sails. The wind increased some more and I put a second reef in the sails. The wind topped 30 knots and I put a third reef in the sails. Suddenly the Genoa gave a loud bang, not the typical sound of a Genoa slatting but something louder and different than I had never heard before. This brought Alex and Joe up to the cockpit. We turned on the deck lights and saw the Genoa fully open—the headstay foil had split and we lost the ability to furl the Genoa. All hands on deck! I fell off 40 or 50 degrees and we opened the staysail to steady the boat, block some wind off the Genoa, and keep forward motion. Carmel came up to handle the Genoa sheet while the other three of us clipped in and went out on the foredeck to wrestle the Genoa down. When we got it down, we lashed it to the lifelines and retreated to the cockpit. This was a terrible beginning to what we expect will be the most difficult part of our voyage.

I went below to try to get some sleep but that didn’t work very well with the boat thrashing about. I tried several awkward positions until I found one that worked.

Tuesday, Nov 15

My next watch was at 0300. Wind and sea conditions hadn’t changed much but the moon and stars were out. I liked being tossed around with light a lot better than being tossed around in the dark. The Southern Cross was looking down from its familiar position and even though I knew it was just stars, it seemed like company for a lonely watch. I could see elephants marching across the horizon so even though I was in the cockpit I clipped my tether onto a strong point nearby.

When I came back on watch at noon we were in sight of La Reunion. It was easy to see that this was a much taller, more mountainous, and greener island than Mauritius. The mountain side was spotted with patches of towns and other developments. A raised highway had been built over the water at obviously great expense to carry traffic around the steep sea coast. We were in the lee of the island as far as waves were concerned, so the sea was smooth and the wind was still 20 knots behind us. With only the staysail and mainsail we were doing 8 1/2 to 9 knots, which is close to the highest hull speed for the boat. We went from the ridiculous to the sublime in just a few hours. And to add icing to this odd cake, a pod of a dozen or more black dolphins came out to frolic around the boat as we neared the harbor.

We docked with the other Oysters against a long concrete wall in the commercial part of the marina. We have shore power and water so it is comfortable here but not pretty and not convenient. It is a working boatyard so the sounds of drills, hammers, and grinders fill the daytime air around us. We watch working boats come and go on the water side of us and work trucks on the dock side of us. The marina

is on the outskirts of town so there are no restaurants or shops or public transportation nearby. We are not in paradise, but we can see it from here.

We now have about one month to reach Cape Town and the first week or more of that month will be spent here in La Reunion waiting for the part to repair the Genoa furler. We will need about 8-9 days to sail 1400 miles to Durban and 5 or 6 more to sail 850 miles to Cape Town. That leaves only a few days to spend waiting for a weather window, and these two legs will be the toughest of our entire passage. We don’t have a lot of margin, but there is nothing we can do to force the schedule. There is a sailor’s proverb that says the most dangerous thing to have on a boat is a schedule. We all know that, and we aren’t going to tempt fate.

Wednesday, Nov 16

We wrestled the genoa into its sail bag so the deck would be clear for the furler repair. That was our accomplishment for the day.

Thursday, Nov 17

Wheels! I rented a car today so we can travel around the island and see some sights and not be dependent on taxis. That’s what I call real “Liberty.”   An owner from another boat took me to the Peugeot dealer to rent a car there. Most of the rental places are on the other side of the island at the airport but this one was close. This little 4-door hatchback had a stick shift but I had no trouble with it. We were free now to move about the island!

For our first excursion we decided to drive down the coastal highway on the west side of La Reunion. We were all very impressed at what a wonderful expressway this small island had. We drove past St. Paul and St. Leu until we reached St. Louis where we turned onto a secondary road that led inland to Cirque De Cilaos, one of three calderas of long dormant volcanos on La Reunion. All three have towns and villages in them now, Cilaos being the main town in this one.

Cilaos was a cute touristy town, a cross between Gatlinburg and a Swiss Alpine town. And this is an Indian Ocean island off the coast of Africa!  But the real thrill was driving the twisting, turning mountain road. It was quite a feat of engineering to build a road that clung to the face of sheer cliffs and crossed incredibly deep ravines and sometimes drilled a tunnel through the mountain when there was no other way around it. (A big pink tour bus got stuck in one tunnel while we were in it. We turned off the engine and waited in the narrow rock tunnel until the bus was somehow freed.)  Someone estimated 250 turns including steep and tight switchbacks where you would meet yourself coming around them. Perhaps this is the origin of the name “Reunion”. ?

I can truly say that I have never seen ravines and valleys so deep and mountainsides so sheer and daunting.

Friday, Nov 18

Lario Andretti was back at the wheel for another mountain excursion. This time we drove east to the Cirque du Mafate. The drive to the base of the mountain was shorter, but the mountain road was just about as twisty as yesterday’s. I had gotten much better at downshifting going into hairpin switchbacks and then selecting the best gear for the speed we could manage on the short straightaways.

When we reached the end of the road ,we squeezed into a parking place and began the hike to the Cap Noir observation point. It was only a 10-15 minute hike but the ground was uneven and bordered by a sharp drop off on one side. We didn’t want to go sliding down the mountain a la Romancing the Stone. At the end of the trail was the lookout where hikers were taking photos of the chasm below us and the majestic mountain peaks beyond it.

In the far distance we could see a couple of small villages and a few isolated houses. “Isolated” describes the entire scene. There are no roads in or out of this caldera. We could see a footpath etched into the sheer mountainside across from us. We had been told that these villagers could go to town only by foot or helicopter. Why would anyone choose to live in such a remote and difficult location? With a little research we discovered that the original settlers were runaway slaves. Now it made sense.

Saturday, Nov 19

Joe and Larry’s Excellent Adventure began with a series of phone calls to the parapente companies in St. Leu. Parapente is what is called paragliding in the US.  We had seen these bright colored kites flying overhead when we drove through St. Leu on our way to the Cirque du Cilaos.  At the right time of day they fill the sky like dozens of giant broad-winged birds. The first five companies I called were already booked for the day, but I struck paydirt with Emanuelle at Amazone Parapente—she could take both of us at 12:15.  

Emmanuelle told us to be there by 12. We were there by 11 to make sure we were in the right place and to check out the activities. From the landing spot near the beach we watched the parapentes gliding in and landing softly among the other gliders already on the beach.  The smell of barbecue from the snack bar and the sounds of chatter and laughter from its patrons embellished the excitement of the day.

The Amazone van took us up the mountain to the launching spot 800 meters above the sea coast.  The pilots buckled us into our harnesses about 6 different ways, so it was certain that we wouldn’t be falling out. Bicycle style helmets were adjusted and strapped around our chins. Joe took off first with a bright yellow and red kite. I followed with an all black kite—the Black Swan I named it.  We each ran a few steps as the kites filled and immediately we were floating effortlessly above the scene below. Houses, roads, ravines, trees, seacoast, and ocean formed the stage for our ballet in the sky. We circled in giant pirouettes gaining altitude on the thermal updrafts while being very careful to watch the other dancers in the sky. There was plenty of room for all of us and we kept our respectful distance.

Toward the end of my hour in the air Emmanuelle asked if I was feeling good and would like to do something more exciting. “Sure!” I said and we zoomed into a giant corkscrew toward the beach. I couldn’t measure the g-force, but I could feel it.  We finished by circling just above the tree tops and landing softly on the beach.  An excellent adventure!

Sunday, Nov 20

The capitol of La Reunion is St. Denis (pronounced San Denni’) on the north shore of the island. We had explored much of the south, center, and west of La Reunion, so it was time to see the north. Going to St. Denis also gave us an excuse to drive over the amazing highway built over the water that we had seen as we arrived.

I was surprised at what we found in St. Denis. Rather than the mix of gleaming bank buildings and run-down shops and crowded urban living that we found in the capitol of Mauritius, St. Denis gave an impression of old money and rich history. We saw houses and government buildings from the 1800’s that had been well maintained or restored to their former glory. Landscaping used tropical plants like royal palms and bamboo, but the designs were formal like you would see at the fine homes and estates of Paris.

When Carmel suggested McDonald’s for lunch, I squawked “McDonald’s! You don’t sail thousands of miles to France and eat at McDonald’s!” Then they reminded me that McDonald’s has milk shakes. Case closed.

Monday, Nov 21

Akoya, the last remaining Oyster other than Liberty, departed for Durban today. We made some invisible progress on our Genoa foil repair when Felipe, the boat repair expert from Mauritius, arrived on a Leopard 53 power cat and docked in front of us. He examined the damaged foil and made arrangements to return on Thursday when we think we will have the new foil section. Keep your fingers crossed for a Friday departure. Besides the small flurry of activity with Akoya’s departure and Felipe’s arrival, it looked like a marina version of the Culhanes on the boat today. We just needed a harmonica and a hound dog.

Tuesday, Nov 22

Dodo Palme is the dive shop in this marina. (Apparently dodos lived on La Reunion as well as on Mauritius.) Joe and I walked down the dock to the shop to see about diving while we are waiting for The Part. “Oui,” they said but they don’t take credit cards or foreign currency, only Euros. No problem , we thought, we will go to an ATM machine. “Where is the nearest ATM?” we asked. They gave us the address of a “close” one—in town. Well, close is a relative term. We walked 3 1/2 miles round trip and now we have Euros.

Wednesday, Nov 23

Work in the morning, play in the afternoon. We motored out to sea to dump our holding tanks and came back to the fuel dock to fill up before The Part arrives. With the other 18 Oysters gone the dock was mostly empty, so we moved down closer to the marina office. The primary benefit of the move was greater proximity to the wifi router at the marina office. Wifi should be much more reliable now.

Play time consisted of scuba diving. We suited up with long wet suits, BCD vests, tanks, etc. and took our places on the dive boat. Joe and I and a French guy who was born in Sacramento formed a team of dive buddies with Lauren, one of the dive masters who spoke English fairly well. We saw two big sea turtles and lots of pretty fish. The dive was gentle, not very deep, and peaceful.

When we got back to the boat, I detected a somewhat somber mood. Alex dropped the bad news on us: The shipment of The Part was bungled by Oyster. It will not arrive in La Reunion yesterday as we were first told, or tomorrow as we were told later, but on Saturday, 3 days from now. When will we get it in our hands? Maybe Monday. When will we finally leave for Durban? Maybe next Tuesday. We could have sailed halfway to Durban by now using the staysail, main and spinnaker. But we were told to expect The Part last Tuesday.