Nor Any Night Hereafter

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 29 Jan 2014 09:45
Position: 27 23.59 N 128 39.54 E
Alongside Wadamari Ko
Wind: East sou'east F3 gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell: East 1 meter
Weather: cloudy, mild
Day's run: 30 nm

We had plenty of wind overnight to allow us to easily cover the remaining ten miles to Chabana. In fact we stood well past it, out in open water upwind of it, and then hoved to to await the dawn. As daylight approached I reset the jib, eased sheets and we skirted along the fringing reef until we were at the entrance to Chabana Ko. On the chartlet contained in the “S-Guide” there is a wharf area marked with a swinging basin that is clearly intended for a ferry which must serve the island, and what looks like a small boat harbour behind it. I remember looking at this chartlet in Isamu's office wondering whether there actually was a boat harbour in the port, as it looked awfully small. I expressed my concern to Isamu but he assured me that many boats visit Chabana, so I had let Chabana stand on Sylph's itinerary.
As I made the approach this morning however, with another close scrutiny of the chartlet my concerns resurfaced. At the entrance to the harbour, which is a large concavity in the island's surrounding reef, I handed sail and started the motor. First I motored past the main wharves. They were clearly not intended for small boats and would have been treacherous to Sylph. There was no where to anchor so I decided to gingerly try the “boat harbour” which lay behind the main wharves. The soundings on the chart were broken, indicating that the survey was incomplete in this area. I motored at dead slow, one eye over the side and ahead, and the other on the depth sounder, at one point putting the engine into reverse as the soundings suddenly shoaled from ten meters to three. There were a couple of people fishing from the main wharf and as no one at this stage was gesticulating wildly, as is often the case when one is about to do something particularly stupid, I continued on. A pole sticking out of the water close to the rock walls which I took to be the boat harbour entrance gave the impression of a beacon. Slowly, slowly . . . . crunch, stop. Ouch! Engine in reverse, more revs, and we slid off the rock we had just discovered and back into deeper water. OK, I thought, that confirms it, there is not boat harbour here, at least not for the likes of Sylph, we are out of here. We retraced out track, motored out of the harbour proper, reset sail, and stood on for the next port on our permit, Wadamari Ko, on the island of O-Yama.
It wasn't far away, only twenty odd miles, so with the easterly breeze and an ebbing tide we were there before three. As we sailed up the coast of O-Yama I could see through my binoculars that its key raison d'etre must be that of a market garden, for the land all along the coast looked was marked out into even rectangles raggedly covered in a grey-cream shade cloth.
The chartlet in my guide this time inspired more confidence with what was clearly a proper channel leading to a boat harbour. A couple of symbols indicated an approximate depth of three meters. We had a meter and half of flooding tide so we should have plenty of water. My only concern was the fact that the harbour's entrance faced towards the east, the direction in which the sea and swell were coming from. I thought that there was a chance that the entrance to the boat harbour might have a break across it. On our arrival this proved not to be the case, though a smooth sinusoidal wave did wend its way along the channel leading to the boat harbour, but soon dissipated, expending itself along the channel's far wall. We slowly motored in through the narrow channel and into a still, flat boat harbour. I was pleased to see plenty of wharf space though it was not clear where it might be legal for me to tie up. I did a lap around the harbour while sorting lines and fenders and picked a spot in the far corner, figuring it was pretty much out of the way and least likely to inconvenience anyone. Since tying up we have attracted no attention, nor anyone's ire, so here we stay for the time being.
Once Sylph was secure I then had a good wash and packed a bag with Sylph's documents with the intention of finding the nearest police station, announcing our arrival so as to make sure that officialdom had been duly served. However, as I was walking down the dock, a sleek car passed me by going in the general direction of Sylph. I watched them closely and sure enough, after driving around for a bit, they pulled up next to her. I walked back to the boat and it turned out that one of them was the local police. I showed him my permit and after a rather meaningless conversation in which I think we established that I would be staying in Wadamari for four days, we parted ways.
I have since been ashore, bought some fresh food and wine for dinner, and pretty much ascertained that there is very little here of any interest. Tomorrow I will do a bit of boat maintenance and then go for a bit more of a hike to either confirm or disprove my initial impression. Another thing I must do is to repair the Japanese courtesy flag, for the wind has blown the red sun clean out of it leaving a white field with a big round hole in the middle. But now dinner is devoured, the wine half downed, and the dishes can wait till morning.
All is well.