Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weather or Not: It Is Time To Go West

This is how it looks during the annual migration of Red
Crabs on Christmas Island. Unfortunately, we were not
there at the time of the mass migration.
Our experience on Christmas Island was warm and friendly as far as the people go, but the rain was non-stop for days. Unfortunately, we discovered that an overly enthusiastic crew member must have cleaned the canvas of the enclosure with soap and a brush as it is now leaking like a sieve! So much for staying dry inside the enclosure as the water drips like we are in a cavern. It reminds me of some of the caves we have visited on this journey.

The pier was a huge multi-level structure, but provided shelter
from the rain while waiting for a dinghy ride to the boat.
The local authority told us that we have had over 50 mm of rain during our stay on Christmas Island and it is still raining. While the weather forecast doesn’t look good, it is time to weigh anchor and head out to Cocos Keeling some 525 nm to the southwest. Some of the boats in our little group are staying a few more days to wait for the wind and sea to settle down. If we wait that long, there will not be any wind!

The "Daily Drizzle" as seen from the only pub in town.
With no fueling at Cocos Keeling, we have decided to bear the strong winds and set sail. Having motored 630 nm from Lombok to Christmas Island, we do not want to do it again. Besides, we need fuel to charge the batteries since the generator is defunct. We have had no luck securing the parts we need so I doubt they will be there for us until Mauritius or even South Africa. That is a long way to go without a generator and water maker.

Don spent a lot of time bailing out the dinghy during
our week at Christmas Island. Sooo much rain!
Once we left Christmas Island and crossed the Re-Start Line, we never motored! Hooray! We sailed all of the way to Cocos Keeling. The first day was pretty wild with winds in the 30’s and 6-7 meter seas. S/V Trillium is happy in weather like that and sailed along at 8-10 knots for days.

I did meet my mal de mare nightmare the first night, but kept it under control the rest of the way. It was nice to be sailing and not listening to the motor. The Watt & Sea water generator did all the work of keeping the batteries topped up. This is how sailing should be!

Dennis and Don made many trips down this dock to refuel.
The ramps down to water level don't show on the left, but
they are two level plus a few steps at the bottom.
Arriving in Cocos Keeling made for interesting navigation into the anchorage through the reefs. Unfortunately, I could not take photos on the way in as it was challenging enough just to work my way through the shall spots.
Cocos Keeling is a beautiful little paradise in the Southern Indian Ocean, but there is little to do there so "relax"is the key word. Since they don’t have many visitors here other than yachts, the local authorities and park rangers have been the most pleasant of any we have met so far. We were allowed to get off the boat before clearing in through Customs and Immigration.

Cocos Keeling is beautiful with its white sand beaches
and turquoise waters - except for the sharks!
Half of the WARC fleet had been there for several days and had done the island tour. Unfortunately for us, we arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Everything was closed on Sunday and on Monday as it was an Islamic holiday. Since we could not do the tour, we stayed at Direction Island the whole time.

Cocos Keeling Island consists of two atolls: North Cocos Keeling and South Cocos Keeling. Together they comprise about 27 low coral islands with the majority of them located around the South Cocos Keeling lagoon. The only place yachts can safely anchor is on the northeast side of the lagoon at Direction Island. The authorities have established a special spot on land here for yachties, complete with restrooms, non-drinkable water, fire pit and barbeque and an open-sided hut with tables and benches. 

Another paradise in the world, but New Caledonia's
Loyalty Islands are still my favorite place for beaches.
Most of the facilities on Cocos Keeling are located on Home Island or on West Island. There is a ferry to West Island as it is well across the lagoon. Since we were concerned about using too much water and fuel here, we decided not to stay until Tuesday to check out the other islands. The WARC rescheduled the rally start for 1000 on Tuesday, but several of us wanted to leave sooner so we were allowed to start at 1000 on Monday. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the authorities to clear us in and out so we crossed the Start Line at 1136, but at least we were on our way!

My "office" under the shelter while trying to get the latest
weather information and check emails.
This is the second longest leg in the whole Rally with the first being Galapagos to Marquesas. It will take 16-19 days depending on the winds, which are supposed to die down a couple of days out. That will mean early motoring, which is not something we were hoping to happen. The goal is to conserve fuel in case we need it later in the passage and to have it available to charge the bank of batteries that keep everything else functioning. And, of course, we are managing our limited supply of water. This passage will be a lesson in resource management!

Oh well, we will deal with whatever Mother Nature hands us!

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