Sunday, June 13, 2010

Leaving the Louisiade Archipeligo

June 13, 2020-On June 9 we left Kimuta Island in less than ideal conditions. The wind was blowing nicely, and it was overcast, which made it difficult to see the reefs. Luckily, we had our GPS track in so we just stayed as close to that track as possible on our way back out. We were able to sail with 15 knots of wind just forward of the beam and were making good time until we had to make a course change and then the wind was on the nose once again.

We turned on the engine and motored toward No Name Passage just east of Wuri Wrui Passage in order to enter the fringing reef for a different set of islands. It rained off and on, and the winds picked up to over 20 knots. We had some difficulty seeing the pass as we approached but were finally able to see the entrance. I went up on deck to a watch and was amazed and the wind gusts and opposing waves while we were right in the middle of the pass. I didn't think that we were moving at all, but we made it through and finished the last 10 miles to Bobo Eina Island where we anchored in 30 feet of water. About 30 minutes after we arrived, it began to rain heavily and continued for the rest of the evening. At least the boat got a nice bath.

The next day the locals began to arrive at our boat. Tem and his wife Victoria were the first. They were very friendly and just wanted to welcome us. Several more came by offering fruit and vegetables for trade. It was another busy day. The next day we went ashore to walk on the beach. We also went over to Tem 's place to visit. We then returned to the boat so that Steve could relax. He pulled his back somehow and is having trouble moving around.

We stayed at Bobo Eina for one more day and spent the day with more of the locals. We picked up a nicely carved mask and a basket, and we gave out clothes, epoxy, pliers, fish hooks, sugar, flour, laundry soap, and even Ibuprophen. The people here are warm and friendly but are in such need. Right now there are just three cruising boats here, and we talked to the other two on the radio once but have not seen them.

We left in the morning on June 12. The weather was beautiful, but we had very little wind so we motored. We went about 22 miles west to the island of Panasia. Now we have a cruising guide with a drawn picture of the island and surrounding reefs; however, as we approached, we could not locate the pass through the reef. Luckily, we had very calm conditions, so I climbed up on top of the boom where I could see better and finally located the pass. I was calling down directions to Steve (we had given up on the chart plotter at this point), and he steered the boat accordingly to get us through the pass. The sun was out and slightly behind us and that made it possible for me to spot the coral heads inside the lagoon, and we picked our way through until we arrived at a good spot to drop the anchor in 30 feet of water. There were a few locals here fishing, but they left at sun down to sail back to their islands.

The island was once a volcano so you have the south side, which has high, steep, sheer walls, and then on the other three sides you have a fringing reef. The scenery is spectacular, and the water was wonderful to swim in. An old cruising guide indicated that there were crocs here, but we have not seen any. Never-the-less, my swim was a quick one with Steve joking the whole time he was standing watch for me.

We have done little sailing in this area and have had to motor most of the time. The lack of wind along with the squally weather has made it difficult to see all that we wanted to during our time here and that has been frustrating. This afternoon we will leave Panasia and sail, or more likely motor, overnight to Samurai Island, where we can get some provisions and more diesel, and wait for a good weather window to cross to the Raines entrance through the Great Barrier Reef. The forecast for the next few days has high wind and seas, so we prefer to wait it out.

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