I’ve spent nearly the last month skippering a 47-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey around the Seychelles with my friend Travis. Weirdly, it’s almost hard to write much about the Seychelles. It’s basically the paradise that you expect.
Gorgeous white sand beaches, verdant foliage, clear water, stunning sunsets and all that. But I’ll see what I can do.
I’ll start with some of the details for any sailors out there who want to experience this large slice of paradise for themselves and then get into all the fun Travis and I got into in my next post.
The Seychelles are located around 700 miles off the east coast of Africa, just below the equator in the middle the Indian Ocean. The Seven Sisters, as the main island group was once known, were discovered for the western world by Vasco de Gama in 1502 and have since gained justified renown as an idyllic island paradise.
The modern nation state of the Seychelles consists of an inner island zone centered on the large island of Mahe with three smaller, wilder island groupings located further out: the Amirantes, the Farquhar, and the Aldabra. The Amirantes are accessible with just a day’s sail from the inner islands and are connected to Mahe by daily commercial flights, while the latter two are significantly more remote and receive few visitors.
All three outer island groups experienced pirate activity in recent decades, but this has decreased in recent years as the world’s naval powers have begun to pay more attention to the waters of the western Indian Ocean. As of this writing, and according to the local word of mouth, it has been several years since pirates have attacked in any of the Seychellian islands.
The Seychelles experience two primary wind patterns, each typically blowing at a steady 10-20 knots. The main season lasts from May to October and brings winds from the Southeast. In November, the winds shift quickly, clocking around to the northwest during the course of the month bringing hotter more humid temperates. The winds between the two main seasons vary in strength and direction.
Rainy season begins in April and tends to dry out by mid- to late-May. July marks the beginning of the two month peak sailing season as the southeast winds reach a steady 20-25 knots with associated heavy showers. The Seychelles are subject to sporadic gales (reaching force 7 and 8), which most frequently occur in December and can bring powerful thunderstorms and lightning.
Unlike many other island chains in the Indian Ocean, cyclones tend not to affect the main island group, but can on occasion reach the remote southern islands groups Farquhar and Aldabra.
The local currents develop with the monsoon winds. From December to April, the current flows from the northwest at an average speed of 1.5 knots with local maximums of 4 knots developing in passages between islands. From June to September, the current pushes westward at 1.2 knots.
The Seychelles’ semi-diurnal tides are relatively mild with a range of up to 1.8 meters and typical period of 6 hours between highs and lows. Swells coming out of the Indian Ocean reach 1-2 meters under normal conditions, although they can become larger in high weather.
The Seychelles remains fairly undeveloped in many ways and this circumstance does not end at the waters edge. There are few marking buoys, even within the inner island group, and only Victoria Harbor, the primary commercial seaport, has lights to facilitate night sailing.
Hope you enjoyed that. Look for more in my next post on our travels among the amazing islands of the Seychelles’ inner island group.