Thursday, 24 November 2016

Alone at Anchor


I have yet another "maintenance in exotic locations" story for you today. We left the town anchorage yesterday mid-morning to transit across the lagoon to an uninhabited motu (small island). As I mentioned last time, when we did our nav planning, we marked Exodus' waypoint on the chart, and then hung back our usual distance to mark ours. I found it surreal to see both little symbols on the chart: if we could have wrinkled time, we would have been here together with plenty of room for both boats. Oh well. The next best thing is to have it entirely to ourselves :)

As we set out out, we found it strange that the wind instruments were showing the wind on the nose while the flag and the mechanical Windex were both showing it from behind. We couldn't stop to worry about it then, as we had more important tasks at hand, such as keeping Fluenta well clear of the bommies and mini reefs that dotted the entrance to the anchorage. We sailed the first several miles across the lagoon, following our track from last week's arrival, then we donned our headsets (have I mentioned how much we love them lately??) and took our places on the bow (me) and at the helm (Max).

This last leg of the trip was a good reminder that no matter how much technology we have available to us, it is still necessary to keep a good and vigilant lookout. I found a significant bommie (ie too shallow for us to have driven over safely) right on our path. Because I had spotted it, we could deke around it. When we inspected the satellite imagery later, even knowing where the reef was, it was nearly impossible to see it on the photo. (If I used my imagination, I could convince myself that I saw a smudge on one of the images. There was nothing but sea-scape noise on the other.) It's not as though the area wasn't covered, either - there were other reefs very close by that were perfectly clear. It was also a reminder of the importance of crossing in good light. If we had been any later leaving, the sun would have been more in my eyes, and it would have been harder to see. (Reiteration for our Moms and others who worry - we were not in danger; I saw the reef in plenty of time and was able to direct Max to maneuver around it; this is why we have one of us on the bow and the other at the helm when we are crossing lagoons and time our crossings carefully to ensure good sunlight; this is also why we are grateful for our headsets, because they let us chat normally throughout the transit without having to rely only on hand signals.) Anyway, most of the bommies were indicated on the satellite imagery, and we proceeded to the anchorage without further excitement.

We anchored pretty much exactly where we had chosen ahead of time, and had a quick lunch of cold food (No one wants a hot lunch in this heat!) In the afternoon we set up the spinnaker pole for the kids to jump from (and Dad, and even Mom!). This is the first place ever where the water temperature is warm enough for me to find it comfortable. We did an informal check today, and found that it was over 30 deg C! [Not too surprising considering that even in the middle of the night the air temp is around 30]

Rather than sundowners in the cockpit, at the end of the afternoon, Johnathan and I winched Max up the mast so he could check the wind indicator. We use our big electric winch and the main halyard, but we never use the self-tailer when we are hoisting someone up. This way, if the motor went out of control, we could still keep control of the line. I controlled the button and Johnathan 'tailed' the line for me. When Max got to the steps at the top, we secured the line in the self tailer and tied some half hitches around it as well. This seems to be a funny anchorage for boat motion - we had quite a pitching and rolling movement that was really pronounced 65 feet in the air, even though the sea looked quite calm from the cockpit.

Just in time for sunset, Max completed not only one but two trips up and down the mast. On the first, he removed the wind indicator, and carried it down, gingerly holding it in one hand while he used the other for balance, and on the second he used electrical tape to close off the wiring in case we got one of the numerous squalls before it was replaced. Thankfully, disassembly and a night soaking in Marine 66 seems to have freed up the mechanism enough that it is now turning again.

Victoria made bread dough at the end of the afternoon, and I took ground beef out of the freezer for dinner. The obvious thing to do (in her eyes, at least) was to combine them and make pizza, so after a little bit of persuasion, I agreed. Victoria made Enchilada Sauce, so we christened it "Enchilada Pizza" and I have to admit that it was very good :)

Every so often, we need to apply waterproofing to our fabric bimini. This has been on Max's list ever since we arrived in Tuvalu, but the solution needs strong sunshine, light (no) wind, and several hours without rain in order to cure. We finally got our dry/calm/not squally day today, so that is one more job "checked off the list".

After chores and schoolwork were completed, we snorkeled on some of the nearby reefs. We found the coral to be similar to what we had seen elsewhere (lots of branching, pointy, narrow bits (they looked to me like snaking tree branches), with a few fans and a few flat varieties (platters?)), with the addition of a few new types that we haven't seen before (light blue and mustard yellow varieties). The water inside the lagoon was actually quite 'hazy', but when we moved and snorkelled on the inner side of the outer reef, it was much more clear. There were quite a lot of tiny fish, but not very many big ones (which is not too surprising for the inside of a populated lagoon).

We passed a quiet afternoon on board, and then as the sun was heading for the horizon, it was Victoria's turn to tail, and Johnathan's to mind Benjamin, in order for Max to return our newly functioning (or at least no longer stuck) wind indicator to the top of the mast. What a relief to turn on the network, and with only two kts of wind see the directions reflected accurately! We also found that we had to do a "remote Google search" when he came down (Thanks, Ian!) as our Lunasea Tri-Colour/Anchor/Strobe light (less than five years old) seems to be malfunctioning and we will need to contact the company.

We finished off a lovely day with a reading from the "In the Beginning" story in my Quantum Theology book (Big Bang through to the evolution of humans in two pages) followed by a family viewing of the first episode of "Canada: A People's History" (15,000 BC to 1800). We traced the history of Canada through the migrations of the First Nations through to the early 1800s. The series took two years to broadcast on television at home, and we will be watching them and discussing them through this season as a kind of social studies immersion. It is interesting to be learning about aboriginal people in Canada while we are visiting traditional villages in the South Pacific. Lots of interesting dinnertime conversations ahead, I think!

We will stay in this anchorage for a few more days. Winds next week are looking very light, so we will continue to wait for weather to begin our passage to Kiribati.

Love to all,
At 2016-11-17 1:14 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°36.21'S 179°05.87'E
At 2016-11-17 9:02 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.51'S 179°11.35'E

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments ? (Note all comments are moderated)