The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 1 May 2017 02:20



05:20S 072:16E


We’re in Chagos.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


30 April 2017   Gan to Chagos (Day 4)

Dawn was lovely, with blues skies, fluffy white clouds and 8 knots of wind from the south-east.   At 07:00, we started to sail slowly towards the entrance into the Salomon Islands Atoll, intending to enter around 10:00 when the sun would be high in the sky, giving us good visibility of the many coral reefs in the atoll.


Unfortunately, by 08:00, a huge black line of clouds approached us from the north-west.   Looking on the radar, we could see that the squall system stretched ten miles either side of us, so there was no escaping it.  An hour later, when the front was a couple of miles away, we turned north-west, motoring away from Chagos and headed directly into the storm.


It wasn’t too bad, we rolled away all of the sails and motored into the wind, which didn’t get much above 25 knots.  Using the radar, we were able to steer a course between the heaviest rain patches and we only experienced light rain. At 0930, we turned around and approached the pass into the atoll, but the skies were still overcast, so we hung about outside for a further 30 minutes.


By 11:00, it had brightened up  little, so we finally crossed the bar at 05°18.490S 072°14.510E, which was easy even in the poor light that we had - the minimum depth was 6 metres at low tide.  As we motored across the atoll, it was difficult to see the shallow reefs in the flat light, but the Navionics charts are pretty accurate.  “Luna Bu”, “Hokulea” and “Ngalawa” were already anchored off Ile Fouquet, so we headed over there.


We looked at an anchorage on a sandy patch at 05°20.66S 072°15.43E, but the depth dropped below 3 metres very quickly and we felt that there wasn’t enough swinging room for our 2 metre draft.  The other boats were anchored in 20 metres a long way offshore and we like to be anchored in shallower water, so after carefully checking the depths, we finally anchored on a sand bar next to  Ile Fouquet at 05°19.97S 072°15.86E in 5 metres depth.  It’s a pretty spot and our anchor slammed into the soft white sand.


Glenys rustled up Bacon & Grilled Tomatoes butties for lunch and then we both had a nap to catch up on some sleep.  We had an early night, looking forward to exploring the Chagos islands and reefs over the next four weeks.