West of Darwin - Day 14 - Cocos Keeling 12 05.530S 096 52.802E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 19 Sep 2013 13:47
Arrived at the anchorage in the lagoon in front of Direction Island, Cocos Keeling, at midday, having slowed down a bit to ensure we didn't arrive at low water. The passage into the lagoon is quite shallow in places and goes over coral patches. It's quite disconcerting as the water is so clear it's difficult to believe it's possible to safely sail over the coral. The noon-to-noon run was again 148 miles and it was another night of squalls. Not so bad this time as they didn't contain much rain, being mostly stronger, shifting winds which meant it was not possible to sail a straight course. However, it steadied after dawn, and despite a rolly sea, we had a good run in. It was good to see land again after 14 days! And this looks perfect - an atoll, with lots of coconut palms along the sandy shores of the Islands with a lagoon of beautifully clear turquoise water - picture-book stuff. We haven't been ashore yet as we have to clear in with the local police and that's not going to be possible until tomorrow. Then we'll see if it's as good as it looks. Something else that was rather disconcerting was the presence of 5 black-tip reef sharks around the boat soon after the anchor was dropped. Hope we haven't replaced crocodiles with sharks! Hope we'll find out more tomorrow. It wasn't all plain sailing today as when anchoring, the windlass packed up and the anchor had to be dropped by disconnecting the clutch and using gravity. We did get the windlass going again, but it looks like we might have a significant problem. This is not the place to resolve it, so as long as we can get the anchor up it will have to wait for our next stop. And to show that picture-book places aren't always perfect, it's been raining cats and dogs for the last 5 hours with squall after squall coming through. Glad we got in when we did - it would not be pleasant out at sea in this.
The passage took just over 14 days to cover 2,033 miles. During that time we only used the engine for 11.5 hours. 
The clocks go back another half an hour here as the time at Cocos Keeling is GMT+6.5. There is no habitation on Direction Island and so there's no Internet access here. There are 2 small settlements on the atoll - one on West Island about 41/2 miles away and another on Home Island, 2 miles or so away. We believe we will get Internet access on West Island, but might not go there for several days as there are things to do on the boat after such a long passage. However, before we start that, we're looking forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep!!