Camomile arrived safely at Chagos
After a fairly slow passage Camomile has arrived at the island of Boddam in the clear blue lagoon of Salomon atoll in the Chagos archipelago.
We had a difficult start on 5th May. We awoke to strong winds of 25 to 27 kts and Camomile was being blown around in the small space in the lagoon we were anchored in. We had to move at 6.30 because we were being pushed towards the wall and Bill was worried if the anchor let go we would crash into the boats tied to the wall behind us. It was tempting just to go straight out to sea but Camomile wasn’t ready, the sun canopy was still up (we can’t sail with it like that), the outboard was still on the dinghy and the Hydrovane wasn’t ready. Once outside the lagoon we couldn’t put an anchor down because the depth was 25 to 30 metres, that’s why we hadn’t anchored out there in the first place. The two boats that were anchored there were starting to drag so instead we just motored slowly up into the wind for about an hour then turned the engine off and slowly drifted back. By 9.00 the wind was dropping and we had managed to get the canopy away and the dinghy down. The outboard was taken off, the dinghy lifted and extra lines put on for the journey and, after tidying up down below, we were ready to go. Norsa and Solstice were ready to leave from the lagoon too and the three boats motored towards the pass to leave Addu Atoll and the Maldives.
Once outside the first thing we noticed was the strong east going current and our course was south west. Any one making this passage should try and get some westing in as early as possible. We raised the sails straight away and sailed for the morning but with the strong current and the southerly winds we were being pushed to far east. There was quite a swell running after the overnight squalls and the seas were 1 to 2 metres high. By 22.00 that evening the wind died and the engine was back on. While motoring we used the opportunity to motor more south west to try to regain the ground lost but the current was now 2kts against us and the best speed we could make was 3.5 to 4 kts. The engine stayed on all night. 6th May
The next morning our 24 hour distance was a disappointing 106 miles. The wind came back and the engine was off for the morning but during the afternoon it was on and off several times trying to make the best course we could. Overnight a fishing boat crossed our path but that was the only traffic we saw for the whole trip. 7th May
On the third morning I saw a pod of bottle nose dolphins, they were much bigger than the dolphins we normally see, they only played around the boat for about 10 minutes then they were gone. Our 24 hour run was now down to 94 miles, normally we expect to do 120 to 150 but this was going to be a slow passage. The wind had dropped to 5 to 7kts on the nose and we couldn’t do anything with it. We tried tacking to the west and almost went backwards, tacking to the east which just took us more off course and towards the shallow speakers bank, and so resigned ourselves to just motoring forward into the wind with the current against us. We were making 2.5 to 3.5kts over the ground at best, our actual boat speed was 2kts above that. We took the sails down overnight because the main was just flapping and damaging itself. 8th May
At 4am the wind changed direction and the grip of the current released us slightly. Bill put the sails back up and the engine was turned off at 4.30am after having been on for 37 hours. The last 6 hours of the journey were quite pleasant as the wind moved round to the south west and our course was now more southerly having passed speakers bank and heading for the entrance to Salomon atoll. Our 24 hour run had slightly improved at 97 miles. We entered the pass at
05 18.355S 072 14.407E
and headed for a waypoint at
05 18.952S 072 14.964E
Once we reached it we turned 90 degrees towards a waypoint at 05 20.523S 072 13.509E
along that track there are several marked coral heads but none of them had less than 7 metres of water over them. Once you get to the waypoint then it’s up to you to pick your way among the bommies, there are quite a few and some only a metre or two below the surface. GOOD LIGHT IS ESSENTIAL. We are attached to a buoy at
05 21.326S 072 12.627E
Bill spent most of the first day free diving on the buoy to see what it consists of. There is a piece of chain going round the bommie with several lengths of thick rope attached to it. Each piece of rope has a buoy and Bill had 2 pieces of rope tied to each of them. Our anchor is 10mm chain but Bill kept the old 8mm chain and that was loaded into the dinghy. With me in the dinghy and Bill snorkeling and watching the chain (the water is as clear as a bell)he gently laid a length of chain around the bommie. Norman had his dive kit on securing his own mooring but came over to conecct the end of the chain to a shackle and tighten it up. The chain leads right up to the deck so we are being held with chain attached to a massive coral head. I don’t think we will be going any where. The whole point of coming to Chagos is to get away from the northern storms and wait for the south east trade winds to start before we can head west. It’s going to be tough stuck here!
This place is amazing, a true paradise island, uninhabited for at least 40 years. There are lots of ruins here but very little remains of the past inhabitants. There’s a ‘yacht club’ on the beach which we all head for about 4pm for sundowners before it gets dark. After dark when a torch is shone across the ground the most enormous coconut crabs come out. They are about half a metre claw to claw. I wish I could post some photos but you’ll have to wait until we get to Seychelles. So here we are, stuck, with Norsa, Antares II, Solstice, and WOW.
This blog should come through onto facebook but remember I can’t see facebook or any of your questions or comments. Please email mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)if you want to contact us.