Friday, April 24, 2015


We actually arrived at the entrance to the lagoon at about midnight but only a fool would try to enter without broad daylight. So we hove to until about 0730 when we felt the sun was high enough so we could spot the coral heads. With Ruthie at the helm and me perched on the bow, I was supposed to be our 'google eyes' that would hopefully prevent us from wrecking Rutea on a coral bommie. Our anchorage was to be about three miles away and we were eager to get our hook down as it had been something of a challenging passage. I had no problem with running the engine at normal cruising RPM and we were making good time in the flat water. I suddenly saw the water starting to shallow and a split second later a bommie appeared right in our path. "RUTHIE!", I shouted, "HARD RIGHT!" Ruthie spun the wheel quickly and we were able to miss an almost certain disaster by a few feet.

We're no strangers to bommies. After much time in the South Pacific and more recently in the Maldives, I think we're pretty good at spotting them. Perhaps it was still too early in the morning to have a good view but this bommie wasn't apparent until we were almost right on top of it. We slowed the engine to a speed barely above idle and picked our way across the rest of the lagoon.

Nine other boats were anchored here already, a couple of them known to us. The choice of spots to drop the hook was terrible as the bottom is solid coral. Sure, you might be able to get the anchor to hold (but, then again, you might not) but retrieving the anchor that's well-hooked on a big piece of coral might take putting on the scuba gear, diving down to free it or just abandoning the anchor altogether.

The islands are thickly covered with palm trees and a thin strip of sand separates the water from the trees. The water does not have the visibility that we were used to in the Maldives but I have been able to see several large reef sharks from Rutea's deck, which is always a good sign.

Not only were we tired from lack of sleep for the last three days but the weather is extremely hot and humid (one of my favorite bumper stickers reads "I know Hell is hot - but is it humid?"). We took it pretty easy, only doing the chores that were absolutely necessary to get the boat out of the passage mode and into anchorage mode. Sundowners were on a nearby boat and once back on Rutea, deep sleep came easily.

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