Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sailing up the island chain

The night before we were planning to leave Nissan Atoll another yacht arrived! Imagine our own, but also the locals' surprise. That will only be the 5th yacht visiting this year. Even better was that it was another young couple! Cruisers our age are a bit of a minority and have only briefly met one or two young people yachts since Tonga (we miss Sala!), so this was great. Shawn and Holly on Oh la la are from Moloulabar and only left Cains a few weeks ago but the even better thing is they are heading the same way as us, although we might not see them before again before Palau! We ended up staying another day, mainly so we could catch up with them.

We also finally went for a snorkel in the entrance to the atoll. The entrance itself wasn't very interesting, but right outside on the very edge, the reef drops from maybe 7 meters to really deep (deeper than our dept sounder) and on that edge we saw several sharks, some of fairly decent size and they were pretty curious. At this point we were back in the dinghy, because the out-going tide kept sweeping us out to sea, so we were doing the head-snorkeling thing from the dinghy. Suddenly we also realised we were surrounded by a big pod of dolphins. It was hard to pick whether look over the water and see them do full body jumps/spins out of the water, or look underwater where we could also spot them swim underneath the dinghy. Pretty amazing.

After a final goodbye visit to the village we left at dawn the next morning. We had hoped to only do a day sail to the next island in the row, Feni Island, but unfortunately the wind picked up and we had 25 knots SW, which meant big swells wrapping right around the island and it was also overcast so we couldn't see the reef and on approach it suddenly went from 30-40 knots to 12 and without any change in water colour, furthermore the chart was without any detail, so we bailed out and left the island and a good night's sleep. It was a real shame, as it looks like a really pretty spot, several beaches and a tall jungle covered island.

That meant the next island group, Tanga Islands, was also out of the questions. We have now sailed 27 hours since Nissan Atoll and we're almost by Lihir Island, where there's a gold mine and therefore more resources and people, so should be an interesting visit. Our weather seem to be affected by a typhoon forming up in Micronesia. On our grib file it looks like the winds is kind of being sucked towards it, but in real life we seem to have changing wind directions and wind speeds and a fair bit of swell.

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