The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 30 Apr 2017 03:03



05:11S  072:13E


So far we've done 290 miles with 5 miles to go. We did 77 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have blues skies, 10% cloud cover and 6 knot south-east winds.  We’re slowly approaching the entrance channel to the Salomon Islands.   Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


29 April 2017   Gan to Chagos (Day 3)

As the sun came up, Glenys was faced with a dark wall of cloud ahead of us.  Alarmed, she switched on the radar, which revealed a massive squall system 12 miles wide and 3 miles deep.  We were heading for the middle of it, so she turned 90 degrees to starboard; headed west and at 06:30 dragged me out of bed for moral support.


We kept an eye on the radar and it took us an hour to skirt around the huge system, keeping it two miles from our port side.  The wind never rose above 18 knots, but we could see bolts of lightning in the squall, so we were very glad that we’d managed to keep our distance.  It was interesting to watch the squall system on the radar – it dissipated rather than moved away.


By 08:00, we were out of danger and heading south towards Chagos again.  The weather remained overcast with grim looking clouds dotted about, but there wasn’t any rain and the wind gradually settled down to south-east at 8 knots – by 10:00 we were actually sailing, albeit at only 3 knots.  By this time, we only had 50 miles to go, so there wasn’t any hurry.


The sun came out at noon and the rest of the day was very pleasant with 6-12 knot south-east winds - it was nice to be sailing again. We hooked a fish in the afternoon, but the fishing line snapped and the fish took the lure before I could get to the rod.  I didn’t have the reel clutch very tight, so I don’t know what happened – I’m worried that the no-brand 50lb line that I bought in Male is no good.


The Chagos Archipelago is part of the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT), who only allow cruising boats to anchor in two atolls – Peros Banhos and the Salomon Islands.  The anchorages permitted in Peros Banhos are on the west and south sides of the atoll and don’t look particularly protected from the prevailing south east winds, whereas the Salomon Islands atoll offers protection from all directions.


We were hoping to visit both atolls, but we’ve decided to head directly to the Salomon Islands because we have south-east winds & swell and the weather is unsettled with strong squalls.  At sunset, we were only 30 miles from the entrance into the Salomon Island atoll, so we reefed the sails and bumbled along at 3 knots.

The wind dropped at 20:30, so I turned on the engine and we motored slowly until 01:00, when we hove-to about 5 miles from the Salomon Islands atoll.