Simeulue--and what a difference a day makes

Michael Hughes and Ger White
Sun 6 Apr 2014 09:50
After checking the forecasts, we decided to make our 2 day and overnight sail to the island of Simeulue on 4 April. Whilst the forecasts were not great, there seemed to be enough sailing wind for a sailing passage
and the subsequent days looked no better. WRONG. The forecasts were quite wrong. The winds were all over the place, but always ahead of the beam. Everything from 3 to 40 knots----the latter in humungus
squalls, pouring rain, some electrical storms etc. Throughout there was the Indian Ocean swell rolling in on our starboard bow, and in the squalls the sea got up nasty! This pattern continued overnight and through
most of the 5th. We arrived off the north west tip of Simeulue about 1000 hrs on the 5th. Intended to anchor at the first decent anchorage off Pulau Lekon, but as we arrived thereabouts we  had very heavy rain obscuring visibility
and a nasty sea and wind. So we decided to press on to the next anchorage some 25 miles further, off Simeulue Cut. By the time we arrived there the rain had stopped and we finally dropped the hook around 1500 hrs. Almost all the passage was under engine—a sailing wind would spring up, but by the time the sails were set it would shortly disappear. Frustrating!!
All in all an unpleasant, wet, uncomfortable passage—the sort you cannot wait to end. But of course we’ve all been there before.
But what a difference a day makes! After we had anchored, the rain stopped, though it remained overcast and grey as we ate our delicious lamb chop dinner. But after an 11 hour sleep the 6th dawned a beautiful sunny day—our dull
anchorage was lovely—clear blue water, calm, fish around the boat—even a turtle—sandy beach, palm trees and jungle---and all to ourselves! And when we went snorkelling off the reef—not expecting much at all—we entered the
nicest coral garden since we left the Pacific islands. We were overjoyed, couldn’t believe it---so much better than Thailand—forget the Whitsundays—forget the Similans—this was full of colour, very much alive and well—plenty of fish life---and only us there to enjoy it. So we are staying put today, and will swim and snorkel again tomorrow morning early, before we leave for our next anchorage.  For a couple of days we were wondering why the hell we came to the west
coast of Sumatra. And today we found out.