Our Commodore and Rod dressed for the
We arrived in Melbourne on Friday Evening and drove home on Saturday in weather that was much like what we left behind us in Norway.
Rod and I have enjoyed a remarkable 2 months away in far flung places... the last three weeks having been spent in the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets at this time of year but the weather is very unpredictable. We watched with envy the 12/13 Celsius days you were enjoying here as we faced maximum temps around 5 - 7, combined with strong winds and/or rain! Despite that, we saw many yachts cruising up and down the coast of Norway and were reminded of those of you braving the cold to enjoy the Ancient Mariners sails.
Yesterday afternoon I looked up from the fugg of jetlag and realised that some brave souls were sailing the winter series. Thank you to Jacqui and her team for continuing to organise races for those who are still around Paynesville.
I am now starting to catch up with all that has occurred during my absence so that I can prepare for the AGM, which is now less than two weeks away. As my term of office comes to an end I would like to once again congratulate the Committee and members of GLYC who ensure the continuing success of our club. The last season, in particular, was busy and productive and, with events currently in the pipeline for the coming season, I know that we will continue to be highly successful.
Wishing you all fair winds from aft of the beam
Updated: 4 Jul 2018 5:31pm by David Parish
|03 8626 8700|
Ben Bockman out racing the Yellow Boat
Sabre on the 1st of July
01 Sunday, 1300 hrs: Winter Series
03 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
10 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners Brain storming meeting at lunch
14 Saturday, 1400 hrs: AGM
14 Saturday, 1530 hrs: Sailing Meeting
17 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
21 Saturday, 1000 hrs: Sprint Series
24 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
31 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
05 Sunday, 1300 hrs: Winter Series
07 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
14 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
18 Saturday, 1000 hrs: Sprint Series
21 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
28 Tuesday, 1300 hrs: Ancient Mariners
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:39am by James Frecheville
Norbert in high intensity mode on Itchy
Feet in Winter Series
Friday Club Night and Winter Soup Nights
The Loft rocks on Friday nights beginning in June as members and guests warm their gullets with delicious soups and garlic bread at the rock bottom price of $5 till its all gone. Two soups will be on offer: pot luck and a vegetarian one. Reminder: Health and Safety rules require the soups to be prepared in the club's well appointed kitchen. And if you're lucky, you might be the lucky winner of the club draw.
Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club Annual General Meeting, Saturday, 14 July, 2 p.m.
Consider if you can volunteer on Committee. The club needs you.
Don't forget to nominate a proxy should you not be able to attend the AGM. Forms in the vestibule and on club website.
Sailing Meeting immediately after AGM. Saturday, 14 July, 3:30ish
Designed to brainstorm on what sailors would like to see for this coming season's sailing program.
Spring Working Bee, Saturday, 29 September
This is one of the Club's best events of the year. Though most of us work our butts off, we all seem to truly enjoy working together, getting things done, and socializing during the smoke-o. Participation also goes toward "points" to show that one is an active member in relation to boat storage priveleges. More info in future Wanderers.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:41am by Christie Arras
|0427 411 660|
2018 Winter Series Race 1 & 2
Helter Skelter looks to take the edge in
the Div 2 cluster
On the 3rd June, 12 boats headed out to Lake Victoria for the first 2 Winter Series Races. The day was cool but glorious sunshine made it very pleasant. A gentle WNW breeze of about 6 kts blew for most of the race with a much enjoyed, albeit short, puff up to 8 kts during race 2. The course was to be 2 laps round a windward mark and return through the leeward gates.
The 6 boats from Div 1 and 3 began race 1 followed by the solitary Cat in Div 4. Five boats contested Div 2. We welcomed Dave Cree on Siren to our fleet for the first time, but he found the conditions a bit too soft and retired after completing the first race. The Flying Dutchman, Prospecting Too, preferred a practice lap for the first race.
The Rainey boys on Where The Bloody Hell Where Are You knew exactly where they were and led the fleet to a convincing win. John Dingey on Helter Skelter led Div 2 and placed 2nd while Alex Stroud with his Silver Cloud crew on Juniper managed a credible 3rd after an exciting battle with Vintage Red who had Jasmine Francis at the helm for the first time. It was interesting to see Esther Francis on her Sabre finish just one place behind the rest of the family.
Race 2 saw Div 2 boats off first and several skippers were caught napping. I guess some skippers need to learn to take note of the class flags a bit more closely. We had 4 boats only this time for Div 2 with Helter Skelter beating Norbert Hrouda’s much bigger and faster Itchy Feet to the first mark. The battle between Juniper and Vintage Red continued. A poor spinnaker drop on Juniper saw Vintage Red take advantage of the situation to beat her home quite comfortably.
Once again the Rainey boys reigned supreme to take out the double. The Flying Dutchman, Prospecting Too, joined in for the 2nd race and showed that practice nearly makes perfect with a well earned 2nd place. Helter Skelter also kept her nose on the podium with a 3rd place. Nitro placed 4th twice missing third by just 31 and 29 sec respectively. So close yet so far.
I spoke with Ethan from Chill Pill after the race and asked how the battle of the Lasers went. His reply was short and to the point “Taj well and truly whipped me today!” Aaron Manuell on Waterworks made the most of his time on the water finishing 10th in both races. I guess there just wasn’t enough wind out there for the Nacra to strut her stuff. Esther found the warmth of the clubhouse calling her in early this race as the cold and lack of wind set in.
1st, Where The Bloody Hell Are You, Craig Rainey; 2nd, Helter Skelter, John Dingey; 3rd, Juniper, Alex Stroud; 4th, Nitro, Mark Jefferis; 5th, Itchy Feet, Norbert Hrouda; 6th, Weasel On Edge, Taj Duff; 7th Vintage Red, Mark Francis; 8th, Bills Boat, Esther Francis; 9th, Chill Pill, Ethan Perry; 10th, Waterworks, Aaron Manuell; 11th, Siren, D Cree
1st, Where the Bloody Hell Are You; 2nd, Helter Skelter; 3rd, Nitro; 4th, Weasel On Edge; 5th, Itchy Feet; 6th, Vintage Red; 7th, Juniper; 8th, Chill Pill; 9th, Waterworks; DNF, Bills Boat; DNS, Siren
Race 3 (1st of July)
1st, Brake Free, Tim Shepperd; 2nd, Tenth Prime; 3rd, Helter Skelter; 4th, Weasel On Edge; 5th, Juniper; 6th, Itchy Feet; 7th, Chill Pill; 8th, Yellow Boat, Ben Bockman; 9th, Waterworks;
Race 4 (1st of July)
1st, Brake Free; 2nd, Helter Skelter; 3rd, Itchy Feet; 4th, Tenth Prime; 5th, Weasel On Edge; 6th, Juniper; 7th, Yellow Boat; 8th, Chill Pill
Updated: 5 Jul 2018 5:47pm by Christie Arras
Discover Sailing and Junior Youth report
Luca, Taj and Charlie won their fleets
with near perfect scores at the mid-winter
Two boats, Tenth Prime (Charlie and Luca) and Weasel On Edge (Taj Duff) represented GLYC at the mid winter regatta at Sorrento. Both boats “smashed it” and won their fleets with near perfect scores! Brilliant effort guys. These are 3 young guys who are providing sensational role models for our young sailors. Not only did they win but they did it with terrific grace and good humour (and humility). It was reported to me that they were a great help to other sailors getting boats in and out of the water as well. Well done.
Taj and Charlie and Luca were at the Australian Sailing Awards night at Sandringham Yacht Club to pick up their kudos. Taj went home with a second in the Minnows in the Victorian Sailing Cup. Charlie and Luca took home their second place in the Sailing Cup for 29ers as well.
The announcement of the Victorian Sailing Team which is the official state sailing team included an offer to join for Taj as well as the Charlie/Luca in the 29er. Taj was able to take up the offer but Luca and Charlie had to decline as the weekly travel for weeknight training plus each Saturday in Melbourne was not feasible. With Luca's year 12 work load over the next few months it just couldn't work out. It was a great night and it was lovely to have the country kids up there.
Sunday, 1st of July saw a number of Div 3
boats out as well as Tenth Prime from Div
The Junior/Youth sailors have been out enjoying the Winter Series and Sprint racing over this winter. Last Sunday, Jasmine helmed Vintage Red for both of the day's Winter Series races and did a great job as well. Ethan is managing well with Chill Pill his Laser that is finally operational.
Updated: 5 Jul 2018 5:27pm by Christie Arras
The 2018 Australian Sailing Awards held at Sandringham YC
and what the Australian Sailing Cup is about
Charlie and Luca and Taj at the Australian
Sailing Awards night at Sandringham
Vicki Vuat got a call from Yachting Vic on Thursday morning asking if it was possible for Luca to attend to receive his award in Sandringham the next night. Luca has a student free day at school that Friday and was booked at (braces) dentist in Melbourne so I rang older son and told him we were sleeping over at his place and invited him to join us for dinner and awards at Sandringham Yacht Club, etc. Sharna brought Taj and Charlie down after school. Andrew Somerville was also there, not sure why - but there was an award for the Marlay Point Overnight Race called a Commendation for 50yrs service to sailing, accepted by a man from the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club.
There were awards for all sorts of things like the Port Phillip Women's Championship series and the VIS team members (over 18yrs) and services to sailing awards for some volunteers, Keelboat sailor of the year, instructor of the year, Sailor of the year as well as Sailor with a disability of the year.
Congratulations are in order for Mitch Bayliss for winning the Victorian Trailable Yachtsman of the year for 2017-2018!
Taj and Charlie and Luca won second in their divisions, the Minnow div for Taj and 29er for Charlie and Luca. These young men do us proud here at the GLYC.
It was nonstop and they ran through it pretty quickly.
Here's the blurb for info because these boys at least will again attend the minimum 5/7 events again this year.
Comprised of seven locally established regattas, The Victorian Sailing Cup (VSC) aims to build the fleet racing experience of Victorian youth classes.
Classes invited to earn points in this series include the international 420, 29er, 49FX (open), Open Bic, Laser Radial, International Laser 4.7, International Optimist, International Cadet, Minnow and varied Multihull classes.
The first regatta of the series is Springsail, a regional Australian Sailing event, comprising a regatta and a coaching clinic held at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Annually, this event sees world class coaches provide valuable input to those junior and youth sailors who wish to attend the coaching clinic.
The scoring system is the same inverse points for position system in each class. For example, boats arriving in first place will be awarded 20 points, second position will be awarded 19 etc. Boats arriving in 21st position or later will receive 0 points for the race.
Although there is no entry fee for the series, as just a point scoring system is used, competitors must register for each regatta on the circuit separately with points being counted from relevant regattas only.
For instance, monohulls cannot compete in the Victorian Catamaran Championships so this regatta does not count toward the series score.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:26am by Christie Arras
Ancient Mariners hot news
Be at 10 July pre-race lunch for some real discussion on Ancient Mariners format
Yes, I have returned from a disastrous trip in the dust of the outback. They say what does not kill you make you stronger, but I don't think that saying is quite correct. Anyway as from next Tuesday I will be returning to RO duties for the Ancient Mariners Winter Series and I would like to express my thanks to Alastair and Brian for holding the fort for me.
The purpose of my ramblings today is that next Tuesday (10th July) at lunch I would like to hold a discussion with our merry group of hardy sailors covering our format going forward as by now we have held enough races to know what will work and what will not. This is so we can submit our changes (if any) to Jackie for the sailors meeting to occur after the AGM.
Some items to ponder on as possible changes:
- Should we continue throughout the full year or stand down for a month or two (possibly July and/or August), just a thought so that we don't get stale;
- Is Tuesday/Thursday working or is another day more suitable;
- Should we open it up for spinnakers as it does give an opportunity to practice this mystical art while sailing in a small fleet and during the winter months in lighter airs. (Or possibly set one day a month aside, i.e. first or last day of the month could work), and if we did adopt spinnakers what additional time should be added to the starting times as compensation - 3 to 5 minutes maybe.
- Is there any other course you would like to include on the course sheet;
- Are there any changes to our Notice of Race (copy attached) you consider would improve the race format;
As you would appreciate we don't have to go to the other sailors to change our racing format for the Ancient Mariners series but it would be good to confirm with the remainder of the club what will be our racing modus operandi for the next twelve months.
Look forward to an interesting discussion and some bright ideas to debate, it may mean a long lunch but we can work around that.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:23am by Christie Arras
Western Australian Adventures by Land And Water
Little people and BIG whale shark out west
Pete and I travelled by camper-van from Perth to Exmouth for a special reunion and to fulfill one of my bucket list adventures. My son who has worked in Port Hedland for seven years and who I have not seen for five years was driving down to meet us in Exmouth with my daughter who had flown in from Melbourne. Now you might ask why Exmouth?, because... it is here on the Ningaloo reef that we can all swim with the whale sharks!! However, the day my children travelled from Port Hedland to Exmouth the WA coast had nearly 100mm of rain. They were cut off and spent the night sleeping in the car missing the pick up of 7.30am for the swim!!! It was with mixed emotions that I went out on the boat that morning without them; however, they were lucky to swim with whale sharks the following day.
We also met up with Dave and Angela Bacon, other yacht club members visiting Exmouth, and Dave shared this amazing experience too. The day started with a short dinghy ride out to our boat, a 60ft cray fishing boat. It was well set up with everything we needed: tea, coffee, snacks, lunch, cakes, stinger suits, wet suits, snorkels and flippers and an amazing crew of five. We 'practiced' inside the reef, jumping off and climbing back onto the Marlin board at the back of the boat. The water was cool and we saw a beautiful array of reef fish, some coral and a turtle. Interestingly the water outside the reef was 3-4 degrees warmer.
It was now time to leave the security of the inside of the reef and head out into the Indian Ocean. Looking back towards land we could see the backs of the swell rising up in a brilliant blaze of aqua blue and breaking onto Ningaloo reef. The swell was between 2-3 metres after the weather system that had been through, a physical test for us older adventurers.
The swim drill was...all prepared and ready to go in two groups sitting at the back of the boat. The spotter planes are flying above and once a whale shark is seen an amazingly fit young women with a huge underwater camera jumps off the Marlin board and swims towards the whale shark. She monitors the position and direction of the whale shark. We line up on the Marlin board, the motor is in neutral...1,2,3 GO!! Splash, we drop away from the boat and line up behind our guide. Amazingly I had no fear of being in the ocean.
The spotter is signalling with quick hand gestures where the whale is and we move into position. Our guide tells us to look slightly ahead into water, not down...deep breath, 'oh my goodness', there 3 metres in front of me and just under the surface is the whale shark. It is the most beautiful graceful large creature I have ever seen; it swims languidly towards me. I see a large mouth, a pattern of white spots on blue grey, a school of feeder fish under its belly. It glides past making no disturbance and then I am looking at its large streamlined tail in front of me. We are encouraged to swim at least four metres behind the tail and then swim alongside until it out paces us.
Pete and Anne on the whale shark watching
Then we swim towards the boat and approach the Marlin board in the centre and gracefully or ungracefully scramble aboard as quickly as possible. We do this drill four times over a period of two hours. I was so amazed to have a turtle swim slowly under me also; its shell a beautifully symmetrical pattern that was enhanced by the blue water and streaks of sunlight shining down into the deep ocean below.
The last 'drop'(swim) left Pete and me physically spent as the swell had increased and the distance back to the boat seemed longer. We were closer to the reef and I could feel the pull and hear the roar of the waves breaking on the reef. I was very happy to have a float from out off the back of the boat to grab and be pulled in this time. We devoured a tasty lunch; it was amazing how hungry I was. The skipper then gave us a tour outside and inside the reef where we saw more sea life: turtles, dugongs, whales, and false killer whales. It was an amazing experience.
Pete and I have spent time in Pinnacles National Parks, Jurien Bay, Port Dennison, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Carnarvon, Coral Bay, Exmouth, Port Hedland, Broome, Karijini National Park and we are heading for Shark Bay as I write this. The Western Australian coast is miles of brilliant colours, azure blue seas, orange dust, stark terrain and the bluest of skies. While inland the colours are the deepest reds and hues of pinks and mauve at sunset. Huge land masses jut sharply out of the ground. There are deep scars in the ground which reveal gorges with rivers, waterfalls, pools and unique flora. I am more convinced after all our travels that as a sailors we have a responsibility to advocate and protect our waterways and coastlines.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:16am by Christie Arras
Crew wanted for Ancient Mariners on Tuesdays
Crew wanted to sail on trailable and keel yachts Tuesdays at 1pm. If you are interested please send contact details to email@example.com or just turn up at the GLYC loft bar at 12noon.
The Ancient Mariners are the hardy bunch of sailors of GLYC that brave winter elements to enjoy the sport of sailing. We normally have 10 to 15 boats compete for the wine, and this number could be increased if we could get crews, so this article is to see if we could entice anyone to join us as we are normally short 3 to 4 crew members.
So if you have not, as yet, headed to the northern sun, and are at a loss with what to do with yourself then come sailing with a great bunch of people (well...maybe we are a bit prejudiced on this point), as we would love to see you and put a genoa sheet in your hand.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:16am by Christie Arras
Big reductions on sailing clothing gear on now
The late afternoon light falls on Chill
Pill, Ethan's Laser
The Club Rewards Program is having a clearance sale on Magic Marine items through GoodallDesigns with huge savings. The GLYC will reap 5% of the sales as well should our brass sign up for the this deal.
Looking through the catalogue and its prices, should you be in need of life vests, wet weather gear, wet suits, dry suits, harnesses...you name it, now is the time to jump on it. If anything appeals, it's first come first serve as not all sizes, etc., are in stock.
The sale runs from July 1 to October 31.
The catalogue can be reached at
Get outfitted and help out the GLYC coffers as well.
Place orders by phone: 03 5443 6910, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person: 50 Craig St, Bendigo.
Be sure to quote our club’s name when placing orders to ensure the club's benefit.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:15am by Christie Arras
Soup Nights are here
1 June through 31 August (14 nights)
The famous GLYC Soup Nights have begun! Thank you to all those lovely members who have offered to cook two delicious soups for the Friday Night Club Nights.
The Roster is below.
- 01 June......Bouvet Family
- 08 June......Nancy & Islanders
- 15 June.....Annie Delahay
- 22 June......Linda Youngs
- 29 Jun......Zoe & Youth Group
- 06 July......Rhondda Fisher
- 13 July......Ian & Christine Cooke
- 20 July......Mark & Jenny Holter
- 27 Juyl......Julie Clark
- 03 Aug......Claire & John Dingey
- 10 Aug......Denise Lamble
- 17 Aug......Wendy & Rod Gardiner
- 24 Aug......Christie Arras
- 31 Aug......David & Sue Parish
Updated: 3 Jul 2018 11:54am by Christie Arras
Winter series racing
World sailing has been asked to clarify what is serious damage as mentioned in the rules. Case 141 has been published.(1) Did the damage reduce the safety of the crew?(2) Did the damage adversely impact the boat’s sailing performance in a significant way?(3) Will the cost of repairing the damage be a significant amount relative to the market value of the boat?(4)Will the value of the boat after repairing the damage be significantly diminished?
Is there a special meaning in the racing rules of the term ‘serious’ when it is used in the phrase ‘serious damage’?
No. The term 'serious' is not defined in The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS). The Terminology section of the Introduction states that ‘other words and terms are used in the sense ordinarily understood in nautical or general use.’ As understood in general use, when ‘serious’ is used in the phrase ‘serious damage’, the term means: important because of possible danger or risk; having potentially undesired consequences; giving cause for concern; or of significant degree or amount.
This suggests that when a protest committee has concluded from the facts found that damage occurred in an incident, it must then consider whether any of the four criteria implied by the definition above apply, and if so it should conclude that the damage is ‘serious’.
Questions to consider may include:
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:29am by Christie Arras
Club Merchandise 2017 - 2018
New items have arrived!
Div 2 pack
Winter is coming! People are traveling! People are cold! Why not buy that perfect girft or perfect clothing item from GLYC?
We have all of the following for sale:
- 1. Club Burgee $25
- 2. Glass $6
- 3. Stubby Holder $10
- 4. GLYC Cap
- 5. GLYC Fleece Beanie $15
- 6. GLYC SS Polo Shirt $35
- 7. GLYC LS Polo Shirt $35
- 8. GLYC Sleeveless Vest $50
- 9. GLYC Jackets $80 (samples to view, and then order)
Any questions? Please ring Julie Clark on 0408 538 000
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:32am by Christie Arras
Celebration slide show available on GLYC computer
Presentation slide show from Celebration Night is available on the club computer.
Christie has put the extensive slide show of the 2017/2018 sailing season on the club computer in the committee room should you like to download a copy.
The file is about 1.1 GB, so be sure to make space on your USB or memory stick.
She tried to include pictures of every boat, so you might find yourself a star among shots.
Ask a committee member to give you a hand.
Updated: 3 Jun 2018 9:29pm by Christie Arras
Pics of GLYC sailing on GLYC Facebook page
Alex on Juniper heads back to the club
after the afternoon's winter racing
Newer racing photos from our sailing can be seen on the GLYC Facebook site. I believe that GLYC photos will hence forward be put on the Facebook site as Photobucket has become too cumbersome and limited.
However, there is still a link from the GLYC home page under photo albums, as well, to photobucket for the 2016/1017 sailing season. Danuta Sowa also takes great shots and can often give you a disk with the file of your boat.
Updated: 4 Jul 2018 4:58pm by Tim Shepperd
Chagos: a Taste of Paradise
Some winter reading to warm your dreams
Chagos view at anchor
Blog by Leslie and Philip Shand, son of life members Hal and Elsie Shand
Sometimes in life, you are lucky enough to have an experience that touches your soul, lifts your spirits, and leaves a lasting memory. Our 3 ½ weeks anchored off the island, Ile Yakamaka in the Salomon Atoll, of the British Indian Ocean Territory (also known as Chagos) was one of these experiences.
But first we had to get there. It was a relatively short passage of about 300 nm from Gan in the Maldives, which took just over 2 ½ days, and during which we had a bit of everything... some very nice sailing, a few squalls and rain, a period of little wind, and a fishing boat that was heading straight for us. We think they were looking for alcohol or cigarettes, and we waved them away but they kept coming until we got the phone out and started taking photos of them, which soon had them turning around. We arrived in the Chagos anchorage around midday on Wednesday 16th May, my mother’s 92nd birthday, and the day after our permit commenced.
The next morning we went for a walk on the island Ile Foquet, just next to Ile Yakamaka. It was one of the most peaceful moments I have experienced as I walked along a narrow white sandy beach, under the shade of coconut trees, with no noise except the sounds of nature: birds, wind in the trees, and the distant surf crashing on the other side of the island... in the knowledge that I was far away from “civilisation”. I know that this will sound corny but I could literally breathe in the peacefulness.
In the afternoon, I was invited to do a drift snorkel in the pass between two islands with four other women. This involved walking along the edge of the island and wading out into the pass, so we could then drift with the incoming tide, and end up back inside our atoll. The coral along the edges of the pass was fairly unremarkable, but right towards the end we were rewarded by seeing several large schools of reasonably sized fish. The current was running fairly quickly by then, so there was no stopping to idly admire the fish. Later that evening everyone in the anchorage gathered on the shore for a drink and nibbles as the sun set. Our first day had been a perfect introduction to this paradise.
Before I go too much further, some background will help in conveying the experience of being here. Chagos consists of 6 major atolls and a number of smaller islands. An atoll is basically a barrier reef where the original island has subsided underwater, leaving the reef. Sand then builds up on the reef to form a ring of low lying islands around a central lagoon. The British acquired Chagos from the French in 1814. In 1965 they signed a lease for one of the atolls, Diego Garcia, with the Americans who established a military base there, and this still operates today. At that time there was a coconut plantation on the islands in Salomon Atoll (where we were anchored), the owners of which had brought people from nearby countries to work on the plantations. In 1966, the British acquired the plantation and its land and proceeded to forcibly remove the plantation workers and their families, even though some families had lived there for several generations. They were sent to Mauritius and the Seychelles. Salomon Atoll currently has 10 islands, one of which Ile Boddam, was the site of one of the settlements. Salomon Atoll is one of two atolls in Chagos where yachts are permitted to anchor. We are not allowed to go anywhere near Diego Garcia, the site of the American base which is about 120 miles away from our anchorage. Chagos and its surrounding waters have been declared a conservation zone, and so there are a number of restrictions for yachts visiting here.
There are no settlements here, apart from the American base, no shops, no internet, no services of any kind. The scenery is just gorgeous, especially the colours of the water: pale green, emerald green, tourqoise, browns (where the reefs are), and dark blue. The islands in the Salomon atoll are all low lying, covered in coconut palms, and have small white beaches which are more exposed at low tide. There are usually white fluffy clouds in the very blue sky, and pretty sunsets. Salomon Atoll is inhabited by birds (lots), crabs (lots), fish (lots), sharks (lots), and turtles (some), and in the winter by a group of yachts which has varied from 8 to 14 while we were there.
We were there for close to 4 weeks, and loved every minute of it. The weather was very settled so we were able to make the most of the island life. We walked around a few of the atolls at low tide, walked along the beaches, explored the atolls, and snorkelled in various locations. I love walking on beaches, so many mornings saw me walking on Ile Foquet. The windward side of the islands is quite different to the leeward (that is the protected side) side which is where we are anchored. As you might expect, the windward side is a bit more wild looking, with the sandy beaches replaced by rocky outcrops and exposed reef at low tide. The surf breaks along the fringing reef. It is noisier too, with both the wind and the surf, added to the raucous cries of the many birds here, and the crackle of the millions of crabs as they run away from you and hide under the rocks.
The snorkelling was good but not outstanding. The effects of the coral bleaching events are evident here as they are in other parts of SE Asia, so there are some areas of damaged coral. However, the fish life is relatively prolific. In addition to the usual small and very colourful reef fish, we have seen lots of large fish too ??" parrot fish, grouper, and many others I don’t know the names of. Often these are in medium to large schools which is quite spectacular to see. There are lots of sting rays, and manta rays have visited the anchorage on several occasions. We have seen black tipped reef sharks, and the occasional grey nurse. There is a wrecked sailing boat lying off Ile Foquet, and we have snorkelled around that too ??" very creepy in my opinion. The reef next to it was much nicer.
With all these fish around, you would think the fishing here would be good... and you are right. Most times, Phil has caught a fish within 10 minutes of putting the line in, with the exception of a couple of frustrating days of trawling in the dinghy with no result. We have had a couple of small tuna (which are not all that great eating), some sort of trout, and a carpet cod. Fish cooked in a variety of ways is a common menu item for the pot luck lunches, dinners and sundowners here.
The fishing is also good for the birds. It is not uncommon to hear lots of loud splashing near the boat and look out to see a flock of birds in a feeding frenzy as the small fish are forced to the surface by schools of larger fish, which are having their own feeding frenzy on the small fish. The boat is usually surrounded by fish, especially at night when they are attracted to our deck light. In fact some nights it has been downright noisy with all the fish action going on underneath the boat.
We went across to Ile Boddam a couple of times in the dinghy, which takes about 20 mins or so. The first time, we went together with most of the others that were here, and shared a pot luck lunch under the trees in a small clearing (there are not many cleared areas on these islands). There is a “yacht club” ... a shack which had been constructed by yachties in the past, and then of course it accumulated all sorts of junk. The authorities were not very happy about this, and now the rules state that we are not allowed to erect any kind of construction ashore.
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:45am by Christie Arras
Cutting the cake
It was interesting to explore the ruins of the former Boddam settlement, and reflect on the lives of the plantation workers and their deportation. We found the old church, cemetery, jail, large wharehouses, railway lines, old machinery, and ruins of houses. We also saw some very (very) large coconut crabs. We came back to Boddam a couple of other times to do our washing as there is a well, and lines for hanging the washing to dry.
As soon as a group of yachties accumulate in an anchorage, particularly a remote one such as this, the socialising starts. Most boats have an “open door” policy so dropping in for a chat is always welcome. Sundowners on the beach was a regular feature in the social calendar. There was usually a bit of radio chat in the mornings as people organised their activities for the day, and then the dinghies would be zipping back and forth between the various boats. We had a very nice party on the beach to celebrate the full moon. All the boats went, and brought some food to share. It was a great success- every boat at that time was a different nationality so we had a range of food - fish cakes, rice paper rolls, savoury muffins, rice, fresh fish cooked in the coals of the fire, pasta salad, pizza, potato salad, and even a dessert of custard and stewed apples (which was very yummy). Phil made some damper dough, which we took ashore and cooked in the coals of the fire. It was a real hit, and some of the yachties even tried vegemite with it. One of the boats brought a jug of pina colada to share and Phil made us a coconut shell cup each to drink out of. Someone brought tables, someone brought a light and someone else brought some music. It was a great evening and the moon did make an appearance through the clouds.
A highlight celebration for me while in Chagos was my 60th birthday. I had a fabulous day starting with phone calls from our sons, my mother, two of my closest friends, and my brother, and lots of e-mails. Phil made me a card and gave me a box of oil paints and a blank canvass, so that will be a challenge for me to do a painting! I made a birthday cake, Annie from one of the other boats dropped in for coffee, and then later Phil and I, and three others went for a good drift snorkel through the passage between the two islands just in front of all the boats- saw lots of big fish and a couple of reef sharks. Then back to the boat to make some hummus and pita bread, have a shower etc and over to the beach for sundowners - all the other boats came (7 boats) except one that had arrived yesterday afternoon. Everyone brought some food to share, Annie had made a second cake, and Margrit and Neils sang happy birthday in Dutch. Cheri gave me a very nice necklace and bracelet that she had made from beads, and a "crown" to wear for the evening. Neils and Margrit gave me a block of chocolate (very precious cargo in these parts) in a bag tied to three balloons. As the sun went down we sat around the bonfire on the beach and chatted. It was a gorgeous calm and starry night so the dinghy ride back to the boat was lovely. I felt very lucky ??" how many people can say they sailed to a remote coral atoll for their 60th birthday? The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect is if my family and friends could have parachuted in for the day.
I don’t often mention food in my blogs but food was a definite theme here. Phil got right into collecting the fallen coconuts and making coconut milk for his cereal, desiccated coconut (for making sambal, and other things), and just coconut pieces for eating. When we were in Sri Lanka we bought a coconut grinder which worked a treat to grind the flesh out of the coconut halves. Then there was the fish: catching it, cleaning and filleting and then cooking it in various ways. We also had to monitor our remaining fresh food daily for signs of spoilage, and make sure we used it before it was too late! As time wore on, and everyone started to run out of various things, people got very inventive with creating nibbles for sundowners... my favourite was lentil balls with dipping sauce.
Amazing in the middle of nowhere the
friends one can make
We had been in Chagos for 9 days by the time the officials visited the anchorage to check in the boats that had arrived since their previous visit. They are British (we thought that the work of checking us in might have been outsourced to the Americans). Their main job is to patrol the waters of the territory looking for illegal fishing activities so they are actually wildlife officers. They are based on a ship, and spend three months at a time stationed on the ship. They go into Diego Garcia (the US base) for re-fuelling, provisioning, and to drop off and pick up crew. Diego Garcia is very much British territory. British law prevails, and there are British police, jail and court house on the island. They do however drive on the right hand side of the road. One of the boats here had made a mistake with the dates on their permit and had asked for one for June rather than May, and then didn’t check the dates on the permit when it was e-mailed to them. Unfortunately for them, it meant they were here with an invalid permit, so they were required to leave, after having been here for about a week. Fabio (the skipper) actually called the office in London in an attempt to get a reprieve but no go, so they had to be out by 9am the following morning.
While preparing for the Indian Ocean crossing, I had thought we should have some projects lined up for our 4 weeks in Chagos, as we both thought that it might get a little boring and we would want something to do. So we had lined up some boat sewing (new covers for things), dressmaking, learning Spanish (for me), polishing the stainless steel, researching our next destinations, learning to play bridge (I had downloaded some instructions from the internet), and reading (again downloaded some novels onto my ipad kindle app). Boy were we ever wrong about how much spare time we would have. We did get the boat sewing done (new covers for instrument panel and BBQ), started on the stainless polishing, and researched tourist destinations in Madagascar. The remaining projects are still on our list. In our defence though, we did spend a couple of days stitching up some more tears in the mainsail, and doing a few other boat maintenance jobs. Phil also spent a bit of time helping a couple of boats with their HF radio problems.
All too soon though, we were down to our last couple of days. On our second last night, a Canadian couple with a large catamaran hosted a pot luck dinner on their boat, so on that day there was a lot of fishing going on and of course fish featured heavily on the menu again. It was a fun night though with almost all the boats in the anchorage attending... about 28 people (yes, it’s a big boat). The weather had been a bit ordinary (windy) over the previous few days, but early the day before we were going to leave, the wind dropped back to a more comfortable strength and the last day was another perfect day in paradise. We had our friends from Anthem over for breakfast and spent a lively couple of hours discussing all sorts of things. Then we completed our last few preparatory tasks, went for a last walk around Ile Foquet in the late afternoon, and had dinner under the stars in the cockpit.
Shared by Bill Shand
Updated: 6 Jul 2018 8:48am by Christie Arras
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