Christmas Island to Cocos Keeling
Unfortunately from the provisioning side of things we arrived early morning Friday, so as soon as we had sorted out the clearing in formalities we hit the town to re-supply. It was an extremely overloaded dinghy that ventured fourth from Lista Light in search of propane gas, diesel and fresh food.
We found the locals to be an extremely friendly bunch and this was demonstrated when the owner of the diesel pump lent us his truck to do ferry runs down to the dock with some jerry cans of diesel. He also very kindly allowed us to take our full gas bottle and our shopping back to the dock as well.
After the urgent chores were done everyone got a bit of time to explore the Island. Gareth and Martin were very kindly shown around the island by a local guy called Ben. Their tour did include climbing down some absolutely pristine caves, which they enjoyed so much that they encouraged Amiria, Noel and Jack to explore the next morning.
Noel did manage to drag himself away from the constant maintenance that Lista Light requires to take a dive among the Coral on a point. Amiria and Jack went with him with their snorkels, the snorkelling opportunity being to good a one to miss.
Noel did take the opportunity to chase his roots as his grandfather ran the island, and Jay was lucky enough to have spent a good part of her early years growing up here. After determining which house his family used to live in, he trekked off up the hill to photograph the old house.
We had an extremely frustrating time trying to keep the boat clean as there was always a freighter nearby loading up with phosphate, which kept up a constant shower of fine dust that coated everything above deck.
The day of departure has come upon us again and it is not without a little reluctance that we leave the friendly Christmas Island and carry on with our voyage towards Cocos Keeling. After casting off the mooring we motored out of Flying Fish Cove and came onto our course. We had stocked up with fresh vegetables before we left, but we had no fresh meat aboard so the fishing lines went out with a hopeful air. Unfortunately there were an awful lot of birds around and one managed to tangle itself in the line. We quickly dragged it aboard and untangled it, releasing it moments later none the worse for its encounter. We had almost written off the chances of a catch as the afternoon drew on, but just as we were losing the light we had a take on the rod. Noel was the first to the rod and hauled in a beautiful Dorado.
We had started the voyage off motor sailing with a single reefed mizzen and the number one jib. At first light the next day we hoisted the spinnaker in place of the big jib, and once again enjoyed the oh so hard life of downwind sailing.
As the evening drew near we brought down the spinnaker and replaced it with the mizzen and a poled out staysail. The next morning as the wind hadn't changed much we re-hoisted the spinnaker. About midday, just as we were about to serve lunch, we spotted a squall on the horizon and as the wind was increasing we prepared to drop the spinnaker. While preparing the halyard for the change we misjudged the strength of the sail and halyard went screaming out and the spinnaker was dropped in the drink. The motor was quickly cut and the spinnaker eased out of the water. Thankfully it only had a very small tear in the corner of the sail which ''Sails the Second'' got onto repairing.
After this minor mishap we flew the mizzen, the big jib and the staysail poled out the other side. It was very frustrating sailing with the wind constantly shifting and changing the sails frequently to compensate for the indecisive wind. The third day out of Christmas Island the wind picked to a usable strength and Noel made the decision to try and push to get in within our four day target. Unfortunately as the wind increased it brought the rain with it, and Noel and Amiria getting a torrential downpour all the ay through their watch. But as we were sailing at speeds of up to eight knots no one was complaining. We even hit eleven point nine knots surfing down a wave.
We were still doing six knots the next morning with just a three reefed mizzen and staysail as Cocos Keeling hoved into view.
As we motored into the atoll Jack was by the chart table keeping an eye on our progress on C-Map, Amiria was up the ratlines, and Gareth and Martin had binoculars in the bow ensuring that we got safely through the pass.
With the help of a fellow yachtie who was already in the anchorage we negotiated the bommies in a very poorly marked channel and dropped anchor. Sitting on the boat with our anchor safely in the sand we really could not fault the view which was a picturesque beach with palm trees littering the shore line.
At the first opportunity Martin, Jack and Gareth went ashore to check out the island. Discovering a shack that was covered with messages from other boats. Among the messages was a throne put together out of a tree stump and some drift wood.
We got a very nice surprise the next day when the ferry came to where we were anchored and Ben whom we had meet in Christmas Island was on board with his fiancé. As soon as we realized that it was him we popped over to say Hi. We bought him and his fiancé, Mel aboard the boat for a cup of tea, and while he was there he told us about this small pass called the rip that was on the other side of the Island. Never wanting to be seen to pass up on a good opportunity Gareth, Martin and Jack headed back to the Island to take on the rip, accompanied by Ben and Mel. The basic idea of the rip is that you start at the top of the pass, swim like crazy to keep yourself in the middle of the channel and then catch yourself on the rope at the end.
It was an extremely exhausting exercise but it was well worth the effort. After snorkelling and relaxing the rest of the day we greeted the sunset with a beautiful cocktail of rum and fresh coconut milk freshly gathered from the island.
The next day Noel took his spear gun out and speared five good parrot fish that we took ashore and cooked on a fire with bake potatoes and kumara.
We headed for Home Island the next morning in order to fill up with petrol and to order some fresh fruit for the morning as we intend to leave the next day. After we had visited the shops and had a look around Gareth, Martin and Jack headed for West Island on the ferry which was the largest and most inhabited island of the group. Once there we meet Ben and Mel again who very kindly showed us around the island in their truck.
We unfortunately ran out of time and had to say goodbye to Ben and Mel as we headed for the ferry. Tomorrow we are going head back to West Island to pick up some last minute supplies and then we intend to leave by mid morning for the Chagos Archipelago.
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