Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 20, 2013

In Chagos archipelago

2.5.13 – Thursday – Early to rise, I was out in the cockpit at six o’clock and what better time could I find to check the reported excellent fishing in Chagos?

The first fish, a 4 pound snapper, landed not more than three minutes after I put the bait in the water and the racket it made on the cockpit floor brought Ishay out; he wanted to try his hand too. His line tightened immediately but the fish took the line, hook and sinker. Now it was my turn; two minutes for number two, a 3.5 pound red snapper. Ishay tries again and his line breaks once more, something to do with technique, I suppose… Me again – two minutes for number three, another snapper of 2.5 pounds. We now had enough food for a while, so no more fishing!

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Chagos is also known for the prevalence of sharks; cleaning the fish brought them close to us, reminding me of Suvarov atoll in Cook islands, where they were considered to be dangerous.

I was cleaning the aft platform from  fish scales and the like when the broom slipped and fell in the water. Diving after it, my peripheral vision acquired a target or perhaps I was the target of the 1.2 meter black tip shark. I elected, admittedly with some haste, to go back to the safety of the boat.

After breakfast a few maintenance issues were dealt with; we checked the port engine raw water filter and gave it the same treatment the starboard one received. I also deactivated the port alternator, fearing damage to it and its belts; we’ll use the starboard one for battery charging.

A little before noon we took the dinghy ashore and walked around. The charm of the place started growing on us. We met the islands inhabitants: crabs of all sorts, especially hermit crabs and also some coconut crabs.

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As we penetrated inland, the remains of human habitation on the island were very much visible, mostly run over by the jungle. A structure which seemed to be a church had a stone with the year 1935 engraved on it.

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Some of the deserted buildings were turned into a sort of "yacht club" with a grill, a table and some chairs, a volley-ball court and a large hammock.

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As tropical islands go – this one gets 9 out of ten!

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Back on the boat, I was eager to retrieve my lost broom. I put on a weight belt, entered the water looking for it and found it directly below the starboard transom at 8.5  meters; this was an easy dive and I held it going up to see one of the black-tips coming to take a look-see. Aiming my broom handle weapon at him, I ascended and boarded the boat.

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Evening brought strong wind, up to 27 knots, and rain. Ishay made his version of "Khreime" a Moroccan fish dish; after dinner we started watching a movie. Muki retired first, Ishay’s head dropped repeatedly so it was an early night for all.

3.5.13 – Friday – The first half of the day was dedicated to maintenance. "Two Oceans" has automatic shower discharge; the port one is working sporadically and the starboard one stopped altogether, requiring pushing a button to operate the pump. Ishay, who is number one electrician on board, with me assisting, spent a lot of time checking all the contacts arriving at the conclusion that the float activating the pump is faulty. I’ll need to buy one in Mauritius.

While we were there we checked the bilge pump which is situated in the same compartment  and found it to be inoperative; that’s not so good! We wanted to have at least one automatic pump down there and the way to do it was to cannibalize, take the float from the port shower and install it in the starboard one. The port bilge pump works fine.

All that took until lunch time after which we had some rest intending to go ashore at 1600. Alas, when the time came, rain clouds threatened and the beach tour was postponed for the next day. Ishay and I took the dinghy to a reef nearby and snorkeled a bit, meeting the inevitable shark, which passed by with two remora fish stuck to his belly. As night fell we noticed the lights of a ship entering the atoll anchoring near Ile De Pass. A fishing ship? the Royal Navy?Strange!

4.5.13 – Saturday – All night it rained mightily. At half past six I went out on deck and had a rain shower, learning later that Ishay had the very same idea at 0600.

The rain continued up to midday. We saw a large inflatable leave the ship and turn towards the Boddam anchorage. It turned out to be the representative of BIOT, coming to check on the yachts.

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When our turn came it was just an exchange of pleasantries and they were on their way within minutes, no paper inspection or anything of the kind.

After our Pizza dinner we went ashore; it seemed that all of the yachties had the same idea after being cooped up in the yachts by the rain. Quite a few children played on the beach with the available toys they found.

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We walked along the beach to the southern tip of the island, which was a good stretching of the limbs plus enjoying the view; again, we saw many of those coconut crabs. Look but don ‘t touch. A pity, I’m told they are very tasty.

5.5.13 – Sunday – I started the morning with a bit of fishing. One small snapper slipped out of my hand as I was cleaning it and was lost to the sharks; another try brought his big brother. Fishing here is incredible, it takes two to three minutes from casting to a strike.

Later a bit of boat work – we checked the forward crash compartments for bilge water and pumped them clean.

Next, a visit to the northern part of the island but not before putting our garbage in the bins provided by BIOT and burning the combustibles. Walking in the jungle we reached what looked like a big storage building with rails leading into it from the dock. Next we found the cemetery; one stone gave 1952 as the burial year; people still lived on the island at that time.

A few boats were leaving the anchorage, going to whatever destinations they had. This produced an atmosphere of "On The Move" which influenced us too. We planned to go to Takamaka the next day, so why not today? We motored over slowly, looking out for shoals and reefs. The Takamaka anchorage lies between that island and Ile Fouquet and is an area of sand 3 meters deep. There are warnings about sudden northwesterly squalls so we anchored at the northern edge of the area, where the swell was light and we were far from any reef.

On shore in Ile Fouquet we saw a wrecked yacht, half buried in sand. Ishay and I took the dinghy to investigate.  It was a catamaran of about 70 feet, "Black Rose" of Port Vila, Vanuatu, probably once the life dream of somebody who put his soul and money into it, now lying broken, felled coconut palms over it; A sad sight! How did it end up on the beach? Does any of my readers know? If you do, drop a line!

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In the evening some black clouds drifted in our direction. Wishing for a relaxed night I put another anchor in tandem and slept real well.

6.5.13 – Monday – The morning started with a Nature Live Show: first a bird on the aft stairs, then a procession of a few sharks and a very big barracuda glided by.

At 0830 we motored out of the Salomon atoll on a  leg to Peros Banhos, which is a huge atoll 30 miles to the west south west. With wind of no more than 6 knots we didn’t even raise the mainsail; so frustrating!

Nearing the circumference of the atoll, where the water became shallower, I said I wanted to take out the trolling lure, fearing a shark will take it. I just finished the sentence and the reel gave out that special sound signifying a catch. It WAS a shark that I didn’t want to deal with but also abhorred the idea of losing the lure to it. Ishay pulled it onto the aft stairs and I extracted the hook from the toothy jaws.

Our intended anchorage was near Ile Du Coin, where we saw two yachts; one was just leaving, vacating the best spot which we were happy to take.

More fishing in the evening, trying to accumulate enough protein for our trip to Rodrigues. The sharks pestered us again but finally I took out a 3.5 kg snapper. Most of the weight was concentrated in the beast’s head, which was huge.

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7.5.13 – Tuesday – We went snorkeling on the reef near our anchorage; nice reef and nice couple of sharks who kept us company. It’s not easy convincing yourself that they are not dangerous. When the tide was up a bit we went ashore to a point near a broken dock, assuming there was a deserted village in that area. There were a few buildings strangled by the jungle. One was especially interesting, it was large, two stories high and had a big staircase on the outside, leading to the second floor. In the past it was connected with a sort of bridge that had crumbled and disappeared.

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On the inside we found the following writing on a wall.

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"HIDINI, PIERRE PROSPER 33 YEARS OLD, TODAY 25/8/05 FIRST TIME SINCE 27/5/73 WHEN I LEFT THIS HOUSE AS A BABY". Emotional message from a displaced child – man.

A steel structure near the house arose our curiosity, can’t think what purpose it served.

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Back at the boat it turned out that all of us were ready to leave Chagos the next day, so I contacted my friend Itzik, who sometimes act as my weather consultant and asked him to mail a long range, seven days, forecast. It turned out to be good to go so tomorrow we will leave for Rodrigues, almost 1000 miles away.

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Responses

  1. So Exciting! I love to fish…! I have never got so big fish! Good Luck with everything in the future.
    Elsie

  2. Following text is from the single blog I could find which mentioned the cat:
    “Reef Watching.
    There is a lot of coral in these waters. So much so that almost anywhere we put the anchor, we can hear it and the chain grinding on the coral. It makes a disagreeable grating sound not unlike fingernails on a chalkboard. This is never a happy sound for a boater because it usually means the holding isn’t great, and that the chain will inevitably get wound around coral, making it difficult to retrieve the anchor. This only tends to happen when trying to pick up the anchor in a hurry. Like when a squall blows through with enough wind to cause the anchor to drag, and you have about two minutes to do something before your boat bashes into one of the many coral heads lurking directly behind it. This hasn’t happened to us, but the huge catamaran sitting up on the beach in pieces is a nasty reminder that such things can happen here. We wondered why the Brits who administer this territory were so adamant that we have insurance coverage for wreck removal (which we do). Now we know. Apparently the French pop star, who owns the big catamaran that’s been splattered all over the beach since last December, doesn’t.”
    From: http://blog.mailasail.com/svharmonie/613
    Blog from SV Harmonie

    Have a great trip to Rodrigues!

  3. There is a Facebook page called Black Rose yachting which appears to be the same yacht you found on the beach. The last post they did was 19 February 2010. Even though the home port is Port Vila, the boat appears to have been based in Mauritius.

    In May last year another yachtie posted http://annoeyk.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/chagos-gorgeous-deserted-atoll-dinghy.html. It appears to be mostly clear of sand then.

  4. According to the Captain of S.V. Delos in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q6jFb7f4Ao

    The “Black Rose” 60+ foot cat, was owned by a French pop-star. It drug anchor during a squall, and was driven ashore by a northerly wind that came through the entrance pass, and wrecked.


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