CHRISTMAS ISLAND / KIRITIMATI TO PENRHYN

I awoke early this morning, it was too quiet.  On deck all was peaceful, the anchor cable was lying soundlessly in the water.  After days of wind this was a pleasant surprise.  I was now too awake to go back to sleep and it was too early to wake Jessica.

For the next hour I pottered about, putting in some waypoints to the GPS, reading some old news clippings and getting the ships papers’ ready for clearing out from Kiritimati.  Then I made toast and marmalade for breakfast and woke Jessica – who couldn’t complain too much about the time as she was presented with breakfast.

After breakfast we launched the pig and headed into London to clear out with customs and immigration.  This was an easy and pleasant affair and cost us AU$20.  With clearance in hand we set off to do some final provisioning.  We discovered poor quality oranges cost $3.5 each and water was $3 a bottle.  Other items were similarly expensive and we ended up getting not much at all.  I will need to start fishing again.

I found that there are chickens on Christmas Island, I saw a whole bunch running around a yard.  No doubt some enterprising local doesn’t like paying $1.50 for each egg.

When we returned to Truce the wind and sea had picked up again and we had a wet ride.  Once back on board we made ready for sea, lashing and stowing everything in its place.  At eleven o’clock I started the engine and began hauling up the anchor.  By midday we had cleared Cooks Passage and started out voyage south to Penrhyn.

The first hour we sped south on a beam reach at over seven knots.  However, as soon as we cleared the Island the wind went around to the south east and we are back with the wind on the port bow.  Beating into the wind, crashing and banging, salt spray everywhere (thank goodness for the hard dodger) and a strong feeling of Déjà vu.  At the moment we can’t lay the course south and are getting pushed to the west.

Predict Wind weather routing has the wind coming from the east and further down the track from north of east.  That will be perfect.  I hope the wind comes around in the next few hours because I don’t fancy five more days going to windward.  We both had enough of that coming from Honolulu to Kiritimati.  Sailing should be fun, a little bit of going to windward occasionally is OK, but not for days on end.  In the back of my mind I have the option of missing Penrhyn and going direct to Suwarrow if the wind stays south of east.

Apart from my moaning about the wind everything is fine, clear skies with fluffy clouds, fifteen knots of wind and we are making reasonable speed in the general direction of south.  The biggest problems we have now is deciding what to eat for dinner.

ARRIVED CHRISTMAS ISLAND

This morning I saw the loom of Christmas Island in the distance, off the port bow before sunrise.  I was a bit surprised, I didn’t think the place was big enough to light up the horizon.  It always feels good to make landfall as expected – even in the GPS age when the average muppet can navigate like a pro.  I think this is a symptom of my earlier life before GPS when making landfall was satisfying and sometimes a relief.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND. PHOTO Christmas Island Tourism AssociationCHRISTMAS ISLAND. PHOTO Christmas Island Tourism Association
CHRISTMAS ISLAND. PHOTO Christmas Island Tourism Association

It took a few more hours for us to work our way into Cook Passage against a stiff head on trade wind.  I aborted our first attempt to get into the Cook Passage and past the first set of reefs – we headed out on the track we had come in on to revaluate.  Something was not right – the breaking water on the reefs did not seem to correspond with the charted reefs.  I have a BA paper chart and two electronic charts – a comparison between the three gave a bit more confidence, the reef is not marked on any charts but the paper chart shows thirty decimetres water depth, hence the breaking water.  Once that was sorted out and the situation reassessed I made another go and found my way into a position just off London town in shallow water.

The radio operator on Christmas Island radio advised me to anchor anywhere I felt comfortable.  Basically, that was nowhere.  There is a beautiful protected deep lagoon just off the town which I wanted to enter.  Unfortunately, the lagoon entrance is shallow and only available to shallow draft vessels, larger boats must anchor outside.  The anchorage area is exposed to the trade winds and on a lee shore – we won’t be venturing too far from the boat on our trips ashore.

The immigration, customs, police and associated people wanted to come out to Truce to clear us in.  When they saw the small size of our dinghy and the choppy sea they asked me to bring the ships papers ashore.  A much better arrangement.  Clearing in was done on a bench in a boatyard and was a happy affair.  I must go to their office on Tuesday to clear out – when no doubt they will hit me with a fee.

I discovered that Monday is a public holiday here – national youth day I think.  Saturday most things are shut, but cold beer and a store or two should be available.  Sunday everything is shut, apart from Church.  Looks like a quiet time will be had here – but you never know.

By the time we had cleared in both Jessica and I were not inclined to go ashore.  It had been a long day.  The plan is to relax on board tonight, have sundowners, a good meal and maybe watch a movie before a good night’s sleep.  Total voyage distance 1,198 miles