National Geographic : 1968 Oct
A French atmosphere persists in sugar-rich Mauritius, from its 95 years under France be fore it was occupied in 1810 by Great Britain.* While I was there, the island was preparing for independence, which was formally pro claimed last March 12. I didn't need French to learn that to build a new mast in Mauritius would trap me there for months. Special wood from Africa was needed, and by then the hurricane season would be upon me again. Here the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC came to my rescue by having a new, heavier aluminum mast built. Specially fabricated in two parts, it was air-freighted from California by Qantas Airways-all with in two weeks. Fifteen friends accepted my invitation to a mast-stepping party on Dove. Crewmen from the lying-over yachts helped me rig it. You can bet this time I remembered to place a coin -a Mauritius 50-cent piece-under the mast. So many guests clambered aboard Dove that she looked water-logged. In fact, water 488 flooded up into my self-bailing cockpit. I shoved everybody ashore while I plugged the scuppers! This minor inconvenience failed to dampen the party, and a local cook served us delicious fried rice and chicken. A friend bor rowed my guitar, and we all sang folk songs. It is only a 130-mile run to La Reunion, an overseas department of France. Prices on the island are so high that most yachtsmen can't afford to stay there very long. Reunion is so very beautiful. Its volcanic mountains rise almost two miles high. Steep valleys, sharply winding alpine roads, and smallfarms dotted with sheep cover the island. But the crops on Reunion that really put noses in the air are flowers and roots-gerani ums, ylang-ylang, and vetiver-which furnish essential oils for making perfume. I took leave of Reunion on October 4th in company, briefly, with Bona Dea and Ohra. For three days the decks stayed bone dry. But *See "Mauritius, Island of the Dodo," by Quentin Keynes, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January, 1956.