Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Out of Pohnpei, Waiting on Wind

Tropical storm / Typhoon Faxai is now well to the north of us. Finally, after about 10 days of overcast and unpredictable weather, we have really fine weather....but no wind.

We checked out of Pohnpei 2 days ago and made our way 25 miles SW to tiny Ant Atoll. This is a mostly uninhabited atoll owned by a family who life in Pohnpei. There is a $25 per boat and $10 per person permit fee to come here. They are trying to build an eco-lodge here and set this up as a nature preserve (at least the northern half of the atoll). We got our permit at the Propane Gas station in Pohnpei (also owned by the family who own Ant).

Westward II and Aurora Star have been here now for 2 weeks--Westward II, like us, have been waiting for a good weather window to head west toward Palau. Aurora Star is a young couple from Sydney, Australia on a 2-year sabbatical. They are headed for Fiji from here (somewhat into the wind). They don't want to arrive in Fiji until cyclone season is mostly over--in May. So they are in no big hurry to scurry on yet. Pohnpei is a much better place to hang out than Kiribati and Tuvalu, which are what's between here and Fiji.

We came out from Pohnpei to play with them last weekend, but went back to Pohnpei to see a few more things, do a final provisioning, and get checked out of Pohnpei. We are not leaving the country of Federated States, but you have to check in and check in and out of each State as you move through the country. From what we could tell, the only difference between a National Checkout and an International Checkout was that Immigration didn't take our yellow immigration paper. We still had to go to the Port Captain's dock, pay the $100 port fee, and check out with Port, Customs, and Immigration.

After agonizing for months, I think we're going to pass up stopping in Chuuk (aka Truk). Though we know not to rely too heavily on "cruiser grapevine" (because problems tend to get overblown), we just have heard too many alarming stories about Chuuk. It is a theft-prone and violence-prone place, with reportedly high fees for cruising yachts (the officials connive to make you do your clearance during overtime hours, is what we heard). Dave still would like to dive the wrecks at Chuuk, and we may yet fly there and spend a week diving. (Me, I've seen enough rusty old ships underwater--it can't be any better diving than Kwajalein, which was safe and nearly free).

So our current plan is to skirt around Chuuk Atoll itself, but stop along the way at some of the out-islands. Our first planned stop is at Lukunor (05-30N / 153-48E), about 250 miles downwind. Just the first stop on our 1,400 mile downwind run to Palau.

It looks like the wind will come back on Friday or Saturday, so we have a few more days to play and do maintenance.

We are hanging out at the SE end of Ant (see position below). There's a small beach on the point where we've had a couple of BBQ's. Westward II and Aurora Star went lobstering on the outer reef one night and found quite a few keepable lobster. Yesterday we loaded up on Westward II to explore the tiny island about 5 miles to the north of us (still inside the atoll). We had a nice day beachcombing, snorkeling, and fishing. It was another beautiful night last night--small new moon, starry skies, and a light breeze.

We have now gotten far enough west that we are in an area where the max tidal range is more like 3 feet than the 6 feet we found in Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. This means that we can again consider anchoring in atoll anchorage where there is little or no land.
At 03/04/2014 8:11 PM (utc) our position was 06°43.78'N 157°56.20'E

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