Moyenne is one of a group of little islands near Mahé, just 5 or 6 km from Victoria. It's a roundish island about 300 to 500 metres across, owned by a lone Yorkshireman called Brendan Grimshaw. I was told that he bought it for £10,000 in about 1963, and has lived there ever since. Like the other islands, it rises to a central peak and is covered in the usual forest.
We took a boat out to the island. I discovered that, by some odd coincidence, almost all the other tourists in the group were French, though there was one young English couple on honeymoon.
On the way, we spent a while observing the coral from a glass-bottomed boat, and I took my only underwater photos of the holiday (my camera is not waterproof). I didn't take many; I already knew from my experience in Israel that they would come out poorly.
There's no jetty at the island, so we had to jump out into the sea and wade ashore.
We could choose to spend the rest of the morning snorkelling, or exploring the island. I and some of the younger French tourists chose to go snorkelling. At lunchtime, we had a good and ample buffet lunch at a little outdoor restaurant on the island (called the Jolly Roger). The boat captain, an unusually dark-skinned and unusually cheerful Seychellois, played the accordion while we ate: jaunty old tunes including “Daisy, Daisy”, “Che sera, sera”, and “Never on a Sunday” (and not forgetting the obligatory “Island in the sun”).
After lunch, determined to miss nothing, I staggered off to circumnavigate the island, while the others lay on the beach. Grimshaw has marked a path around the island; it's rocky and uneven, but slightly easier than marching through virgin forest. On the way, I encountered his museum (a small wooden building with shells and dead coral on tables, and old newspaper cuttings about himself on the walls), the grave of his father and two graves of people unknown, a neat little chapel (!), the ruins of a house used by a previous owner (a hundred years ago), a couple of small beaches, and a few giant tortoises.
There are rumours of pirate treasure on the island (as there are rumours of pirate treasure on Mahé), but none has been found, and he doesn't seem to have looked very hard.
At the end of my tour, I passed his own house (near the Jolly Roger restaurant), and then came across the man himself, in the act of joyfully greeting and embracing a brown boy. After parting from the boy, he explained with slight British embarrassment that that was his godson.
Brendan Grimshaw was 68 at the time. A smallish, slim man, evenly tanned, he was wearing only a pair of swimming trunks, and looked extremely fit. He evidently likes having visitors (even tourists), and came down to the beach to talk to them, although his French seemed not much better than mine.
As our boat took us back to Victoria, he stood alone on his own tropical beach, waving and capering, a tiny figure between the sky and the sea.
The boat took us to a place near Moyenne Island where the coral came near the surface (even occasionally above the surface). The young brown lady from Mason's Travel told us cheerfully that there are some sharks and barracuda in the sea around the Seychelles, but they eat only white people. “We eat them,” she explained. “They're frightened of us.” Thus encouraged, we donned masks, snorkels, and flippers; we entered the water and went to look at the fish.
It's possible that I may have used a snorkel briefly as a child; I don't remember. I expected to have some difficulty in learning how to use it properly, but in fact there was no difficulty at all. I put the mouthpiece in my mouth and my face in the water, and I could breathe. Simple as that. I had a bit more trouble with the flippers, which require leg movements that I'm not used to; but there was no major problem.
Floating over the coral was very pleasant; the fish seemed unafraid, and some of them came almost close enough to touch. A few of the tourists managed to cut themselves (not seriously) on the coral, but I kept well clear; it didn't seem necessary to go very close. The water wasn't perfectly transparent, but it was clear enough.
I stayed out for about fifteen or twenty minutes, then cautiously put my shirt on before going back in the water again. I got a pink back, but wasn't seriously burned.