Routes in the Western Indian Ocean

1541 Seychelles to Mauritius 414

1542 Seychelles to Comoros 415

1543 Seychelles to East Africa 416

1544 Comoros to East Africa 416

1545 Comoros to Seychelles 417

1546 Comoros to South Africa 418

In spite of its many attractions, the western part of the South Indian Ocean is visited by few cruising boats. The two island groups, the Seychelles and the Comoros, are part of a triangular cruising route between the African mainland and these offshore islands. The area north of Madagascar is peppered with reefs and small islands, which are a diver's paradise, but used to be a navigator's nightmare until satellite navigation took most of those worries away. Nevertheless, the area should still be approached with great caution as the positions of many islands and reefs are incorrectly charted and therefore do not agree with coordinates obtained by GPS.

Weather conditions throughout the area bear a certain similarity. In the Seychelles the SE trade winds prevail from May to the middle of October, although in some years they are not established

IS40 Routes in the Western Indian Ocean

until June or even July. The SE season is the fine leather period, with steady SE winds blowing in July, August, and September. In November the changeover to the NW monsoon is marked by heavy squalls and rain. The NW monsoon is the wet season and lasts until April. During these months winds blow from the NW, W, or WSW. Cyclones are practically unknown and if they do pass through the vicinity it is usually around 200 miles to the south of Mahe.

In the Comoros, the NW monsoon commences at

A windward passage for most of the year, the timing of this route offers few alternatives, as the season when northerly winds are more frequent also coincides with the cyclone season. If the passage is made during the SE trade wind season, but outside of the blustery months of July and August, better conditions can be expected in May and early June, or in October, two periods when the winds can be more easterly.

In good light it is possible to use Cerf Passage when leaving Mahe from Port Victoria. Otherwise it is safer to use the main shipping channel. From WPIS411, at the exit of Cerf Passage, a direct course leads to Mauritius passing close to the west of Coetivy Island, which should be approached with care as it has been reported to lie some 3 miles further west than its charted position. Similar caution should be exercised when passing west of Agalega Island, which is also close to the direct the end of October or early in November and lasts until April. This is the hot and rainy season, which is characterised by irregular winds and squally weather. In the SE season winds blow more regularly, although never too strong, their strength being broken by the mass of neighbouring Madagascar. The changeover between the seasons is marked by calms, variable winds, and squally weather. Occasionally cyclones reach the Comoro Islands, the months with the highest risk being February to April.

route. To stay clear of all these dangers, on departure from WP IS411 the course should be set to pass through two intermediate waypoints, IS412 and IS413, so as to stay at least 20 miles west of Agalega and surrounding dangers. From WP IS413 the course can be altered for WP IS414 in the approaches to Port Louis, the capital and main port. The Port Authority must be contacted on VHF channel 16 to obtain permission to enter the port. Arriving yachts are normally directed to the customs dock.

Boats occasionally break this passage at the Cargados Carajos Reef, which is close enough to the direct route to warrant the detour. Such a detour is made even more tempting if strong headwinds are encountered, which is often the case. The reef belongs to Mauritius and is visited by fishing boats from that island. Cruising boats are not supposed to stop there unless sheltering from bad weather.

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