Don’t Forget the Mauritius

This past week I was going through my vast horde of ship images to find some material to post on facebook, and came across an old favourite of mine that dates back to when I went to Mauritius on board the Achille Lauro at the end of 1986. I do have a blog post about that voyage at a@s, but almost none of the images associated with Mauritius are on that post. I was really more interested in the ships than the destination, and I was limited by how much film I had with me and the small fortune that it cost to process when I got home. I seem to recall that I had some sort of voucher for Kodak slide film and did not buy any more. Kodak pulled out of South Africa shortly afterwards so I was lucky to even get my slides back. The images here are mostly scanned from slides so quality can be iffy.

Getting back to the subject; we arrived in Mauritius reasonably early in the morning and I managed this image which I am quite proud of.

I had booked for a short tour that would take in the Pamplemousse Botanical Gardensa short stop at the aquarium, a local hotel and a shop that sold ship models. The coach ride was quite interesting but I was not very impressed by what I saw of Port Louis (which was almost nothing). 

Along the way we passed a cemetery, and I managed to snag a pic, little knowing that so many years down the line I would be visiting these cities of the dead regularly.

From there it was onto the aquarium and the ship models (which were way out of my bank balance) before finally hitting the beach at the local hotel for a quick coke and a paddle. I am not really a beach person, and laying around getting skin cancer is not my idea of fun. But, it was pretty and the sea was warm and the suave tourists in their tans were seemingly undisturbed by our coachload of rubberneckers. My excellent memory has just reminded me that we visited the Trou Aux Biches Hotel  but whether the images below are of it I do not recall. The images may also be back to front; I have no way to tell. 

And then we packed our goodies and headed back to the harbour and the relative coolness of our big blue ship. There is something about returning to the vessel after being on land the whole day that is very satisfying, When the QE2 was alongside they used to hang a sign above her one gangway with “Welcome Home” written on it but the Achille Lauro did not quite do it the same way. I went down to the cabin and probably changed my sweat drenched shirt and disembarked again, intent on finding a small boat to take me around the harbour. A suitable boat was found and haggled over and we set off for a quick look around. I call this image a “FBS” (Famous Bow Shot).

Unfortunately the sky was starting to cloud up and I had to curtail my look around as a result but this brings me to the ship that this post is about. 

Alongside one of the piers was a small centre island cargo ship, and she was a real classic. I managed to snag one great pic of her and it is one of my favourite ship images. The other image of her did not come out very well but I have included it here anyway. The ship is appropriately enough called Mauritius (IMO 5229833.), and she was completed in 1955  by J.L.Meyer, Papenburg  for Colonial Steamships Co. Ltd., Rogers + Co, Port Louis. She was 2.092 GRT, 2.300 dw, 1.650bhp 4SA 8Cy. Deutz engines, and could reach 11.5kn and could carry 142 passengers, and was built to operate between Ceylon, Mauritius, Madagascar and South Africa. The vented kingposts aft seem to point to her carrying livestock or possibly fresh fruit or perishables.    

She has long passed into history, and there is not a lot of information out there about her so I am hoping that one day somebody who wants to know more about her will see this image and do the “Aaah….. that’s the one” thing and help keep her memory alive. The rest of the harbour was not very interesting, lots of those long line fishing vessels that were regular callers in Durban. 

In the image above you can see the twin blue funnels of my temporary home from home sticking out. The image below is of a naval vessel although it is difficult to really make it out, the building behind it was interesting, I heard that it used to be a prison at one point but that could just be a myth. 

And then we turned around and headed back to the quayside where the Achille was taking on bunkers or water.

Then it was time for me to be back on board and I bade my skipper farewell and paid him my rupees and climbed the Achille’s gangplank and we started to make ready for departure. The two images below show the tug “Winnie” as well as a bunkering boat.

Because of a strong wind they struggled to get the Achille “off the wall” and even had the small pilot launch pushing and providing moral support. Then we were free and our bows cleared the harbour and we headed back to South Africa.  I sailed on the Achille Lauro over 30 years ago, and while she was not the greatest ship afloat, she was my first ship and she was unique; just like the MV Mauritius was unique.  I never really felt like returning to Mauritius, and much preferred Seychelles and I visited it in 1989 but that is really a different story altogether.  

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