|The Seychelles' French history began in the mid-18th century when Governor Mahe de la Bourdonnais of Mauritius commissioned Captain Lazare Picault to explore the archipelago. Impressed by the lush landscape, Picault named the largest island L'Ile d'Abondance [Isle of plenty], but of course, he took time to honour himself as well [his landing site is Baie Lazare]. In 1756, Captain Nicolas Morphey raised the French flag and the new colony was named in honour of Louis XV's Chancellor, Jean Moreau de Seychelles. By the end of the century, British ships had also begun to seek new territories in the region. Queau de Quinssy, then governor of the French colony, apparently had a keen and sly sense of humour. Whenever a British warship appeared on the horizon, rather than putting up a fight, he obligingly lowered the tri-colour flag and surrendered unconditionally, after the ship had sailed past the horizon line, the French flag went up again. The ruse succeeded more than a decade before de Quinssy was discovered. The islands became an official British Crown Colony in 1903. There are 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago. Stretching across the equator, they span more than 7000 miles of radiant Indian Ocean. Because the islands were isolated from the rest of the world for many millennia, several unique plant and animal species evolved in response to local conditions.
We moored off New Port Victoria, Mahe at about 7am. The waters in the bay were quite shallow necessitating the ship to locate about half an hours tender ride from the shore. After a short bus ride we arrived at the Marina where our sixty foot catamaran [Calypso] was moored. Our captain was a local Creole and was called Andrew. The two crew were his younger sisters. The cruise to the beach [Port Launay] took about two hours and due to a heavy swell and poor seamanship was particularly unpleasant. Two ladies became seriously ill and had to be returned from the beach to the ship by car. The beach was overcrowded, dirty and had several feral dogs begging for food. Loud reggae music drifted across the shore line for the duration of our visit. The cold barbeque was served with a liberal helping of beach sand and plastic cups had to be shared to dispense lemonade and coco cola.
The journey back to the marina was not quite as unpleasant since tide conditions had changed but there were endless periods where the tiller was left unmanned.
As a result of bad organisation and the two ladies becoming ill we arrived at the dock side an embarrassing one and half hours late and the crew on shore leave were required to give up their seats on the ships tender which was the last scheduled boat for us. An additional tender then had to be organised to collect the crew who had been stood out in the searing heat [104 degrees] for one and half hours.
The beaches in the Seychelles are justifiably rated some of the most beautiful in the world but sadly their enjoyment was compromised by the poor organisation of our excursion.