Monday, June 10, 2019

The Last Bag of Lays Potato Chips

I know I am way behind in recounting all of our many adventures... Sorry, we've just been having so many adventures that it's hard to keep up.

But.. this is a momentous (and sad) occasion.

We have just breeched our very last bag of Lays Potato Chips. It's a silly thing, but... for those of us out here in the wild... it is difficult sourcing all those things that make us feel at home. Triscuits (my most favorite cracker in the world) ... Cheerios (Dave's most favorite cereal in the world)... Oreos... the special only in America sweetest choclatiest cookies. Cheddar cheese... etc etc.

In Davao, Philippines, there are enough "foreigner" stores that sourcing the kinds of foods that Americans are looking for, is pretty easy. We stocked up "to the max" in December (very thankful for the fantastic shuttle provided by Holiday Oceanview Marina that made it so easy to stock up).

But it is June now, 6 months later, and all our "stocks" are dwindling. I've just opened our last bag of Lays Potato Chips. I am nearly down to my last bottle of ($4US) dark rum. (I priced a bottle of the cheapest rum available here and it was $35 USD).

We stopped in a store today in the Russell Island of the Solomons. They had about 10 cans of Solomon Islands tuna, a few bags of rice, a few cigarettes (what our boat driver was interested in). Wah, I miss the excesses of the First World. Or even the non-excesses of the third world capital city of the Solomons, Honiara.

Fortunately, we have a HUGE freezer, and it is well stocked. Plus my pantry is pretty large and we won't go hungry soon. And I've just convinced my daughter, who's flying in in mid-July, to bring an extra suitcase. We've already got an order into Amazon Pantry for a few food items we can't get anywhere here. (Cheerios, Triscuits, Italian Dressing Mix).

Here, Australian versions of potato chips are available, in some places. But, I'm tellin' ya, there's absolutely nothing like Lays.
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At 6/9/2019 6:15 AM (utc) our position was 09°02.55'S 159°05.15'E
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm

Friday, April 19, 2019

Rendova and PT109 Base

April 17-18, 2019

After saying goodbye to Ocelot, who are headed back north a little ways to store their boat in Liapari for a couple of months, and Berzerker, who are hanging out in Munda waiting for brother Scott to fly in, Indigo and Soggy Paws headed out of Munda for the next island south, Rendova.

The North End of Rendova

It's only 5 miles as the crow flies from where we were anchored in Munda to where we anchored in Rendova, but it's 15 miles by boat, because there's a large reef system protecting Munda that has to be navigated around. It was an easy trip in flat calm windless conditions.

We had reports from cruisers around 2010-2011 about some armed boardings in the middle of the night, in Rendova Harbor. But inquiring with Dive Munda, before we left Munda, they didn’t know of any problems in recent years. So we anchored right in the harbor, next to the village. The only problem we had while there was too many friendly kids!

We dinghied ashore and met Daniel, who is the (expired) chief's son, and also the head man in the Catholic church. He was very friendly and spoke good English. The chief had recently died, and the village had not yet decided on a new chief.
(Apparently being chief in the Solomons is not hereditary).

The Church

Daniel and his Youngest Son

Daniel gave us a tour of his small village, and also took us to a man who had some World War II "relics". The American forces took Rendova in the fall of 1943.

World War II Stuff

Old Coke Bottles!

Old Coins!

Everywhere we went in the village, we were followed by a gaggle of kids.

Liz from Indigo, and our Gaggle

Our Gaggle, Assembled (mostly)

The next morning, we went in our dinghies to the World War II PT Boat Base on Lumbaria Island, where John F Kennedy was based on PT109 for a few months. The family that owns the island are trying to establish a museum and guesthouse there.

The Former PT Boat Base



A Memorial to JFK

Right now the museum is housed in an open building. The display items are meager because during "The Troubles" (in 1999-2003), the museum was destroyed and all the items stolen. So now they are trying to rebuild the museum. The owner, Mr Nicely Zongahiti, is now building a concrete block building that can be properly secured.

GI Helmets

Guns and Cartriges

Canteens

Coke Bottles

For someone who wants to visit the museum that doesn't have their own boat, the best way is to go to the Agnes Hotel or Dive Munda, in Munda, and take a trip over with them.

The Grounds of the Island-Lovely Orchids

As we got ready to pull anchor to move to another anchorage, the kids came back! Liz generously handed out cookies in exchange for photos of the kids in their canoes.

The Kids and Their Canoes Getting Cookies from Indigo

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Few Days in Munda

We enjoyed our stay in Munda, Western Province, Solomon Islands. Munda is a small town--about 3 blocks wide and 3 deep, plus an airport. It's primary claim to fame is the airport, plus a road and water link to Noro. A couple of weeks ago they initiated the first direct flight from Brisbane, Australia to Munda, to try to encourage tourism in the Western Province.

Some of the Curious Kids at the Wharf in Munda

In Munda, the cruiser hangout is Agnes Lodge, a very cruiser-friendly/tolerant place. Steps out Agnes Lodge's front door is the local market, and up the main street are a number of small stores, where we were able to buy supplies, fresh bread, and top up our cell phones. We had a couple of happy hour evenings on the deck at Agnes Lodge, and dinner a couple of times too.

There is some diving in the lagoon (WW2 airplanes), but Dave has been fighting a suppurating tropical infection on his leg, and staying out of the water. So we skipped the diving for now.

We did fit in a fun half-day trip with Dive Munda to hike up to a waterfall.

Our Group Crossing the River

Like similar trips we have done recently, we expected a two hour easy hike and it turned out for us as a four hour difficult hike. We marveled at the young apprentice guides who came with us, skipping across the top of the rocks in the river in their flip-flops. Meanwhile, us old folks stumbled and slipped along in our $100 hiking shoes, unbalanced and fearful of breaking a leg 1000 miles from anywhere. We understand why these 2 hour hikes turn into 4 hour hikes. (They can't believe we are so slow, especially when the bird-watchers pull out their binoculars!).

We crossed this river 9 times going up and 9 times going down

Dave Enjoying the Fall
(Note stylish "Thailand Pants" to thwart mosquitos)

Dave Behind the Fall

A Massive Tree Next to the Swimming Hole


It was a fun hike, and it signaled the end of our 4 boat group that has been traveling together since January...

Berserker, Indigo II, Ocelot, & Soggy Paws Crews, looking at rusty bits in the jungle (again!)

The next day Ocelot headed north to park their boat in Liapari for a couple of months, for a trip back to the USA. Soggy Paws and Indigo headed south towards the Marovo Lagoon, and Berzerker stayed behind for a week to wait for Craig's brother to fly in.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

More Missing Updates!

Sad face. I have gotten really lame at doing regular blog updates. It's just so much easier to blast a few words and a picture on Facebook (and friend Pam Wilson has been Facebooking lots of our activities before I even get to them). Plus, I am spending a lot of time editing cruising details into my PNG Compendium and Solomons Compendium (cruising guide supplements for cruisers following in our wake).

So again, in an attempt to get going again, I'm going to list what we've been doing without a lot of explanation, and then try to do a post on what we have been up to in the last week.

My position reports via Winlink are now pretty much up to date, so you can see where we've been and where we are now.

Our Position Reports for the last few months


Follow our position reports in the future on this link:
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm

Here are all my missing posts in the last month:

Mar 16-17 PNG, English Cove to Buka
Mar 18-19 PNG, Buka to Shortland Islands, Solomons
Mar 20 Solomons, Checking in to the Shortlands
Mar 20-25 Solomons, Fun in the Shortland Islands
Mar 26-27 Solomons, Sterling Island
Mar 28-30 Solomons, Sterling Island to Liapari
Mar 31-Apr 1 Solomons, Arrival in Gizo
Apr 2-13 Solomons, Exploring Vonavona Lagoon
Solomons, A Few Days in Noro

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Rabaul to English Cove

Mar 14-15

We checked out of PNG with the Rabaul Customs officer with next port listed as Gizo, Solomons. While in town, we all hit the stores and the market for one more round of provisioning. We bought some very expensive marine 2-part epoxy in one hardware store that had some marine supplies--so we could pay back the epoxy we had borrowed to make our rudder repairs (done in Kavieng), and have a small supply on hand in case we need it again.

We left Rabaul in the early morning, headed SSE to a pair of coves on the SW end of New Ireland, named Irish Cove and English Cove. As we motored out in the glassy conditions, we motored right past the smoking volcano that we had hiked a couple of days before.

Once the wind came up, we were able to sail most of the way with the NW wind mostly behind us. However, as we approached the coast of New Ireland at Lamassa Island, the wind switched 180 degrees and came strong on our nose (some weird land breeze).

Dave wanted to see a cove that Rod Pearce (famed WWII airplane hunter in PNG) had said we could anchor, and from which we could scramble up on a ridge and find a downed Japanese plane. So we let the other boats go on to the anchorage in Irish/English Cove and we explored around a bit. We found that there was indeed an anchorage where Rod had pointed out, at approx 04 43.56 S / 152 48.08 E, in about 20-30 feet of sand/mud. This is probably only a one-boat anchorage.

There was a big thunderstorm building offshore and we still had at least an hour to go to get to the anchorage, so we didn't explore too much, but maybe we'll get a chance to go back on our way back north.

Being last in a 4 boat fleet into a tiny anchorage meant we got the outside spot. But fortunately our buddy boats had left enough room for us. We were wedged into tiny English Cove two-by-two, with Ocelot behind us hanging in 12 ft and we had to drop in about 40 ft.

It seemed like the cove was exposed to the prevailing westerly winds, but the outside reefs blocked the swell and we were fine in there. We had checked out Irish Cove and found it much deeper--we probably could not have fit all 4 boats in Irish Cove.

By the time we came in and anchored, our friends were surrounded by canoes. These were friendly curious people and it turned out that most of them were from Lambom Island nearby, where we could see a fairly large village on the satellite charts. Lambom does not have a water supply, so the villagers come daily to Irish Cove in their canoes to get water from the fresh water river that empties into the bay.

Only a few families actually live in this bay. Eventually the Lambom canoes departed as the sun started to set, and we met Passie (pronounced Posse, like the American west group that forms to hunt down the bad guys) and Joel, two of the men who live in English Cove. Both spoke really good Englsih, and neither chewed bettlenut (a mild drug from a local plant that leaves the chewers with red stained and broken teeth). So we had a nice chat with them. Passie told us we could come in to the river to get water or take a swim in their swimming hole. He also told us there was a waterfall a little ways upriver that he could guide us to if we wanted.

We had planned to depart for Buka the next morning, but we had a little happy hour conference and decided we'd stay for the day.

Passie guided us up the river to the small waterfall. It was more like a small rapids than an actual waterfall, but it was nice to get out and walk some (though a little of it was walking up the rocky river bank, and those with flip-flops struggled a bit). On the way back, we took a shortcut through some of the village's gardens. The birders in our group were happily spotting birds, too.

Back at the swimming hole, we had a nice time splashing around in the surprisingly cold clear water. Liz from Indigo brought her laundry in--the laundry she'd sent out in Rabaul came back no cleaner than when it left, and a little smelly because it never got properly dried.

The next morning we did an exhaustive look at the weather. The weather didn't look great for a long passage to Buka, but it didn't look great the next day either. So we collectively decided to go ahead and go, knowing that the forecast showed either light wind directly behind us, or light wind on the nose... we would be motoring most of the passage.

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At 3/14/2019 10:31 PM (utc) our position was 04°46.28'S 152°51.42'E
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Missing Updates

I hope to back-fill these one day, but for now I've got to note that I've no time to fill them in and I'm going to get "terminally behind" if I keep waiting to do it.

Feb 16-17 Three Island Harbor, Clem's Place, and the River Trip
and diving on the Submarine
Feb 18 Three Island Harbor to East New Hanover
and diving on the airplane
Feb 19-Mar 4 Kavieng, Rudder Repairs, and Road Trip
Mar 5-6 Kavieng to the Duke of York Islands
Mar 7 Duke of York Islands to Rabaul
Mar 7-13 Rabaul, Smoking Volcanos, and Lots of History

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At 3/20/2019 10:31 PM (utc) our position was 07°04.58'S 155°51.40'E

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rudder Repair in Kavieng, PNG

Feb 19-Mar 4 Kavieng, Papua New Guinea

One of the most urgent things we needed to do once we reached Kavieng, PNG on Feb 19, was figure out how to repair our port rudder, which had a soft-ball sized dent mashed into the leading edge by a log.

The Log We Hit Enroute to the Ninigos in January

Dave is great with mechanical things, but considers himself a little weak when it comes to fiberglassing. So we enlisted Jon Hacking from our buddy boat Ocelot to help him do the repairs. Fortunately, between the 4 boats, we managed to scrounge up the necessary repair materials.

The first step was to get the rudder out of the water. This we opted to do by dropping the rudder (carefully) while in the water. We consulted with the St. Francis Owners Group for advice. One person said the rudder would float, another said it would sink. So we got Soggy Paws into as shallow a water as we could manage (not very shallow where we were anchored). We also tied a line around the rudder, so someone on board could hold onto it. Then I got in the water, Dave loosened the bolts, and down she came.

Disconnecting the Rudder Arm Prior to Dropping the Rudder

Loosening the Bolts Holding the Rudder

Fortunately the shaft wasn't bent (which would have jammed the rudder stock from coming down the tube). A little wiggling back and forth on my part, and the rudder dropped a couple of inches. I took another breath, pulled harder, and the rudder came right out.
Sherry Pulling Rudder

Rudder is Out!

The rudder didn't float, but it wasn't too heavy for me to hold up in the water, and we had the security line on it.

Our Ding from a Big Log



The ding looked pretty bad. Dave and Jon took the rudder ashore to a small covered shed that Nusa Island Resort kindly let us use. The first step was to grind out the ding, rinse it well in fresh water, and let it dry for a few days.

Once it was dry, Jon and Dave started building the ding back up--first with some foam, then with putty and fiberglass/epoxy. We had a little bit of old bottom paint to finish it up. The repair was kind of crude, but it fixed the hole, and we're back in business.

Dave and Jon Working on the Rudder


I was worried about getting the rudder stock up into the tube, but it was no big deal. We had everyone from our little flotilla helping out in one way or another.

Putting the Rudder Back In



(follow up note: When we hauled out in July 2019 to do some other bottom repairs, the rudder looked fine, though the old bottom paint wasn't doing much, so we repainted the rudder)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Passage from the Hermit Islands to New Hanover

Feb 13-15, 2019

The next islands to the east of the Hermit Group is Manus Island and surrounding islands, a short overnight away (approx 92 miles). Another boat had anchored in a couple of spots along the north coast of Manus in 2017 and agin in 2018, but the people of Longan in the Ninigos told us to avoid it. Apparently a boat of theirs had gone missing on the trip back from Manus and they felt it was due to piracy, not weather. In PNG, the "pirates" are called "rascals". Typically they are not pirates, but young drunk men looking for easy money or free beer. But in a few places there have been reports of armed gangs pillaging small towns. With a very ineffective and fairly poor and corrupt central government, not much is done when there is a report of such activity out in the outer islands of PNG. So cruisers are well advised to keep asking the question as they move through the islands "Where is it safe for us to stop?" We had decided to give Manus a pass, and go straight to New Hanover, about 300 miles to the ESE.

On our CSY, we'd normally figure 120-130 miles per 24 hour day on passage. I think our record was around 145 miles, as we tended to reef early and jog along comfortably rather than pound along will full sails up. On the catamaran, with a favorable wind, we can easily do 7 knots, making 170 nm per day if the wind stays steady.

The goal is to arrive in daylight. It's tricky, when you have unpredictable weather, and it's more difficult to guess arrival time, the longer the passage is. You have to do the math "If we make 5 knots, we'd arrive at X time, and if we make 7 knots, we'd arrive at X time." As we found on approaching the Ninigos, it's not easy to slow a catamaran down with the wind and current behind you.

Looking at the weather, which forecast 15-20 knots behind us, Indigo, who has a full complement of sails and tends to actually use them, thought they could make the 300 nm in 2 long days and one overnight, averaging around 8.5 knots. So their plan was to leave at "sparrow fart" (aka Oh-Dark-30) and press on as fast as possible. We reluctantly agreed to try, knowing that if we couldn't keep that speed up, we'd have to arrive in the dark. But we had good satellite pictures for the arrival harbor, and it looked pretty wide open to come in. And Indigo would presumably be there to help guide us in to a safe spot to anchor in the dark.

But at departure time the next morning, we had heavy rain, 100% overcast and squally weather. With the adage "You can't pick your weather on passage, but you CAN pick the weather you leave in," Soggy Paws and Ocelot decided to stay put for a day. Indigo chose to leave, as the wind was forecast to lighten up the next day. Berzerker, our token monohull, who has a slower top speed, decided to leave mid-day, after the worst of the rain cleared out, knowing that it would take them at least 2 nights, maybe 3, to make the 300 mile passage.

So Ocelot and Soggy Paws departed Alacrity Harbor together at 0630 am. We managed to get ourselves out of the 6ft deep anchorage and into deeper water with no problems. But somehow... as we were navigating around to an open space where we could put the sail up, a coral head jumped off the bottom and bumped us. It was one that didn't show up in our satellite imagery (or at least one I hadn't noticed). We would have seen it in daylight, but being dawn, we didn't see it. Fortunately, it was just a momentary bump on the keel, and no damage to the rudder or saildrive. Whew!

With the lighter winds, we averaged about 6 knots. We had to reef in a little bit to keep from running away from Ocelot, who is quite a bit heavier than we are.

Besides a few squalls, the biggest challenge--as usual--were lights in the night. On an open sea, in the dark, a small light could be a small light in a fishing boat 1/2 mile away, or a big light on a tanker 10 miles away. It's hard to tell. AIS helps a lot, but not every boat has AIS. Radar can help too, but mainly with the bigger ships, and those usually have AIS. On my watch, I could see a glow on the horizon, no AIS, and no radar signal. Hmmm, what the heck was that? It turned out to be a stationary (fishing?) platform beyond my radar horizon. It took several hours to pass, and I worried about the possibility of smaller boats out with nets. But never saw another light.

Sometime during the 2nd day, we saw a signal on the AIS about 6 miles in front of us, going very slowly across our path. Hmmm, not a factor. But wait, he turned around, and now he's going the other way at 8 knots. Then he stopped almost right in our path. As we got closer, we could see he was a fishing boat. To make sure we stayed out of his way, we called him on VHF and asked him what his intentions were.

"I am chasing the fish," he said.

"Are you going to continue on your current course?"

"I am chasing the tuna. Where the tuna goes, I go."

He never would say that he was continuing on his current course, or what he was doing, except chasing a large school of tuna. He told us to maintain our course and we would be OK. Thankfully, the tuna must have headed NW away from us, because he soon ran off at 8 knots. So we avoided any close encounters with a tuna boat.

After a gentle second night, mostly going wing on wing, we arrived at Three Island Harbor, New Hanover, and anchored around 8:30am. This spot is also known as "Clem's Place" after the name of the most prominent person on the island. Clem and his wife run a backpacker surf resort on the island.
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At 2/15/2019 2:00 PM (utc) our position was 02°22.21'S 150°07.27'E

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Hermit Islands of PNG

Feb 5 - 13

After hanging out at Longan in the Ninigos for 8 days with crappy weather and poor protection from the wind and waves, it was really nice to be in a calm, protected place (Manta Harbor), and we had sunshine!

On the first morning we were there, a couple of our group dinghied across to Bob's place to see the Manta Rays. They said it was a great experience, with Bob actually in the water with them, guiding them to the cleaning station. Definitely worth a small fee to Bob to see the Mantas. Unfortunately, I was among the "walking wounded"--my small scratch from a branch, and a minor nip from a dog who's tail I stepped on, had turned into a raging tropical infection. I was on antibiotics and definitely staying out of the water. Craig on Berzerker was in the same state, and Chris on Indigo had a cold. We were all just happy to spend a couple of days resting up.

The next day, a few of the healthier crew walked to the new high school that had just been built. In Longan they had told us it was not opening until April, but there were already teachers and kids attending the school. Rumor has it that eventually they will have cell service.

We were really interested in going up and checking out Alacrity Harbor, a shallow sand area in the NE corner of the atoll. Bob offered to come on board and guide us up there, but then what would we do with Bob? Bob insisted that the route to Alacrity was to go outside the eastern channel, and up the east side of the atoll, and into Alacrity Harbor from the channel there. But Jon on Ocelot and I both had very good satellite imagery and we determined that there was a fair chance we could go up on the inside.

So we did... The entire way was scattered with shallow reefs, but on a sunny day, with the satellite images to assist, it was not difficult to pick our way up there. The small passage on the south side of Alacrity, inside the reef, was the point that we were not sure we could get though. One catamaran that had done a lot of diving around the Hermits, had stopped short and anchored south of that passage. But with good light, we passed right through with 18 ft minimum depth. Easy peasy.

The next question was, could we find shallow enough anchoring in this basin, for 4 boats. It was hard to tell from the satellite imagery. We did! Indigo, who arrived first, tossed their anchor on a sandy ridge that was about 30 ft deep, with plenty of room on either side of them. But Dave was keen to explore the really shallow areas on the edge of the reef. We checked out two spots, one with a 6ft depth and one with an 8ft depth. The 8ft depth one probably had enough room for 2 boats. And, unlike Indonesia and the Philippines, the tidal range in the Ninigos and Hermits was only about 12". So the reef provides good protection even at high tide.

We spent one night anchored next to Indigo and Ocelot, and then moved up to the shallow 6' reef anchorage for a couple of nights. With the wind blowing NW-N at 15-20, there was some chop but no waves. Dave scrubbed the bottom of the boat in the shallow clear sand. Again, I was boat-bound due to my infected leg. (By now, I was on heavy antibiotics, and it was starting to look better, but I needed to stay out of the water).

There is a little island on the west side of Alacrity with a nice beach. It looked like an ideal beach BBQ spot, but those that went ashore said it was buggy. I never got to step foot ashore.

Dave and Sue and Jon from Ocelot went for a snorkel out in the pass. Dave said it was mediocre.

We stayed a few days at Alacrity Harbor, doing chores and planning the next hop. Jon on Ocelot wanted to wait a few more days to get more moon for the 3 day passage, but we looked at the weather and decided it was time to go. With the wind that was forecast, Indigo even thought they could make it to Three Island Harbor, New Hanover, in 2 days. Ha!

Hermit Islands waypoints:

West Pass, large opening: 01-30.53 S / 144-57.44 E
Our anchorage, Mantas: 01-32.51 S / 145-01.99 E Shallow!
Alacrity 18' Pass (inside): 01-29.76 S / 145-08.15 E
Alacrity 23' Anchorage: 01-28.72 S / 145-08.04 E
Alacrity 6' Anchorage: 01-28.55 S / 145-07.81 E Shallow!
Alacrity 8' Anchorage: 01-28.46 S / 145-07.99 E Shallow!
Alacrity 25' Pass (outside): 01-29.02 S / 145-08.29 E

-----
Sherry & Dave

Cruising SE to PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu
At 2/12/2019 7:00 AM (utc) our position was 01°28.55'S 145°07.81'E
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Ninigo Islands to Hermit Islands

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The sun finally came out and the squally weather went away, as the tropical trough moved off to the west. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay and play at the Ninigos forever--we needed to be moving on, as we have many miles to go before we reach Vanuatu in mid-May.

We discussed among our buddy boats, whether to move down to the SE pass (we were 9 miles away in the NW part of the atoll), for an early morning start. The distance, anchor to anchor, from Longan, was nearly 60 miles. Figuring 5 knots sailing speed for light wind down wind sailing conditions, and with our 12 hour tropical daylight, that we'd be cutting it close for sunset on the other end. However, there were no good anchorages protected from NW down near the SE pass. And, the Longaners were putting on a last dinner for us. So we stayed put and planned a "sparrow fart" departure from Longan. We did have tracks for the first couple of miles, and good Google Earth to take us all the way out the SE Pass.

Indigo Sailing inside Ninigo Atoll at Dawn

Berzerker, our token monohull, knowing that their boat speed is slower than the cataramans, had left at 3am. The rest of us pulled anchor in unison at 0615 am, at the crack of daylight (sunrise is around 0630).

And Ocelot Following Right Behind

We all made it out of the atoll and the pass without any problems. As we went out the pass, the wind was SW, not the NW we expected. Well, "sail what ya got." And we did. But it died and we had to turn the engine back on. Eventually, however, the wind filled in from the NW as forecast and we ended up with a rousing beam reach, in fairly flat seas. For awhile we were making 7 knots, but the wind died and went more behind us, and we ended up turning on one engine to keep our speed up. Fortunately, the wind came back enough to turn off the engine again, and we were able to sail all the way into the West pass at the Hermits atoll.

Though I had plotted a route around the south side of the first island, the lead boat had gone north. Apparently they had discussed the chart with Stanley at Longan and he assured them that "Manta Pass" was deep enough to go through. So we followed them north of the westernmost interior island, and down through Manta Pass, to anchor on the west side of Manta Pass.

Berzerker and Indigo settled for anchorages in 45-50 feet of water, but Dave wanted something shallower. So we nosed up into the shockingly shallow sand area, and found it was 6 feet deep. There were some scattered coral heads ("bommies" as they are known out here), but we were able to work our way into a clear sand area with plenty of depth for our 3' catamaran. We anchored at 01-32.51 S / 145-01.996 E. Eventually Ocelot came in and anchored in the shallow sand area just west of us.

This turned out to be a great spot, fully protected from the wind and seas, no matter how far west the wind went. With minutes of dropping anchor, "Bob", the guy we'd heard about who knew where the Mantas were, came out to say hello.
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At 2/4/2019 12:57 AM (utc) our position was 01°32.51'S 145°02.00'E