Qamea Island - 16 44.724S 179 46.395W

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 19 Jun 2012 08:43
We stayed at Matagi (pronounced Matangi) island for 3 nights and were mighty glad for the decision to put out the stern anchor on the first night. The forecast was for moderate to fresh winds from the south east and that's where it came from, but not in the bay at Matagi. To our surprise we woke to find winds from the west and they stayed in the west throughout our stay there. Had we not had that stern anchor out on the first night we would have swung pretty close to the fringing coral reef, if not hit it. The stern anchor rope was bar tight and kept the stern pointing out towards the middle of the bay. The high terrain of the small horseshoe shaped bay was causing the stronger winds to totally reverse in direction. While the stern anchor was holding the boat in position, the strain on the rope was so great that re-anchoring in the middle of the bay seemed like a good idea. However, it was still overcast with drizzle at times and still not easy to see what was under the water. So it was an hour's snorkel to check out the bottom and find a better spot in the middle with a lot more swinging room. Lifting the main anchor wasn't that difficult for a change, but so much strain had been put on the stern anchor that it would not budge. The anchor rope had to be fed to one of our big genoa winches and with the boat directly above it and lots of force, the anchor finally gave way and came to the surface. We were expecting it to be buckled or at least a little bit bent, but it was fine. (It's a Fortress anchor - very light and clearly very strong.)
On the second night a New Zealand yacht joined us, but left the next day. So we had the bay to ourselves again. but not for long as a British yacht arrived. They sailed from Hayling Island in 2009, so just down the road from us (considering the distances involved to get here). They had also caught a big tuna on passage to Matagi, and gave us enough for 7 meals. We don't fish for several reasons, but after eating the freshly caught tuna we're reconsidering!  Matagi was a lovely spot, with good reefs to snorkel on, but it needed good weather which we're not getting and with the swirling winds in the small bay, it was an easy decision to leave on the first good passage day (good light to see the reefs). So it was on to the island of Qamea (pronounced Gamea) today. It was only 8 miles away, but with reefs and a pass to negotiate it was a slow trip and took most of the morning. Moderate to fresh south east winds are forecast again so we chose a bay on the north west corner. It's a lovely sweeping bay with lots of protection, but much bigger and more open than Matagi. So we hope we won't get backwinded here, but we'll put the stern anchor out again, just in case! According to folk we met in Viani Bay, this area of Qamea is supposed to have excellent coral reefs to explore. We hope so. 
No pictures again as like Matagi, the Vodafone coverage is not good here and so there's no Internet.We have to resort to sending small emails via the sat phone.