Blue Shadow survives her first tropical storm – Mauritius December, 1975

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In December 1975, less than 6 months after her launch, Blue Shadow was plucked out of the ocean during a tropical storm and deposited on a beach nearby. Fortunately she suffered little damage.

The above image is framed and hanging at Grand Bay Yacht Club and is recorded as Cyclone Gervaise. However, this can’t be inaccurate! Gervaise struck Mauritius on February 6th 1975 and Blue Shadow was only launched 4 months later, on 25 June 1975. Cape to Rio crew member, Alain Rouillard, thinks it was a December 1975 storm and says a fellow crew member, Jean Merle, lost a boat in the same storm.

More likely this incident was her second tropical storm. Blue Shadow weathered the more devastating storm, Cyclone Gervaise, while still safely cared for in boat builder, Noel Maurel’s garden in Pereybere, a few kilometres north of her launch jetty in Grand Bay.

More about 1975 Tropical Cyclone Gervaise
The cyclone struck Mauritius on February 6, with the calm of the eye lasting for three hours. Cyclone Gervaise killed 10 people during its passage of Mauritius. Its strongest wind gusts occurred after the passage of the eye, peaking at 280 km/h (170 mph) at Mon Desert. Heavy rainfall affected the island for several days, reaching 674 mm (26.5 in) at Grosse Roche. The high winds knocked down power lines, radio transmission with Vacoas for 24 hours, and many crops. About 25% of the island’s sugar cane crop was lost. The storm damaged several houses, leaving thousands homeless. The cyclone last affected Réunion, where it produced wind gusts of 180 km/h (110 mph). Gervaise also dropped heavy rainfall on the island, reaching 548 mm (21.6 in) at Plaine des Cafres.[3] It caused substantial damage to properties, vegetation and wildlife. Moored yachts around the coast were washed hundreds of yards inland in places due to the storm surge and in the Mauritian capital Port Louis, a cargo ship of ca. 10,000 tonnes was washed up on to the quay. 34 injured, 3,706 homeless.

In 1981 she survived another tropical storm just south of Madagascar while en route from Reunion to Durban, South Africa. And in 1992 she survived a cyclone with windspeed “above instrument” (above 99 Knots!) while en route between Newport,USA and the Azores. She weathered the storm comfortably but, due to the harsh conditions, a few days later lost her wood rudder. This was replaced with a steel rudder in the Azores.

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