Snug in the inner lagoon, Cocos Keeling

Date: Aug. 17, 2016, 4 a.m. Position: 12 6.67 S, 97 8.33 E

Our good winds continued, and with it our speed, and we knocked out 165 miles in 24 hours on a 20-knot beam reach, reefed sails. In the early afternoon she got pretty boisterous, with a swell filling in from the South and wind waves building a foamy sea. Privateer rocketed through the swells. In the late morning, the white superstructure of a freighter loomed up from behind the swell, ironically approaching on a dead collision course. We radioed the freighter and they altered course 10 degrees to pass astern of us. It’s quite striking to go days without seeing anything, and suddenly there’s this huge ship right next to you! We were sailing along on our beam reach, keeping right on our rhumb line, to insure we didn’t get blown north of Cocos Keeling, fast approaching.

Our approach to Cocos Keeling atoll was a rough and windy one–the seas were dancing as the palm trees popped up on the horizon. It was all a bit surreal. I am extremely thankful for the daylight entrance. We got there at 1430 hrs! Plenty of daylight to see the many, many hazards. We were throttled by the wind as we dropped our sails and motored straight into the the entrance. Kelsey wrestled the staysail down on the foredeck, and got a complete and thorough soaking. Taz wailed from his perch below, while I was at the helm shouting commands above the winds. Our little hand-held radios we normally use to communicate from bow to helm weren’t sufficient against the shriek of the wind. Every landfall is a bit different, but each one always requires quite a bit of work to go from open-ocean sailing one mile, to motoring into the anchorage the next mile. It’s a quick change of scene.

The water here is clear as crystal, and when the boat passes over a coral patch, it looks like you’re sailing over the rocks–very unnerving. It was all very short-lived, however, and we are now anchored safely in 13 feet of water in the inner lagoon at Direction Island, white sand bottom. I dove down to the bottom and kissed the anchor, buried in the sand. The anchor was holding fast–how cool is that to be able to dive down and touch the anchor? A visual check like that ensures a very good sleep. I also dove down and stood on the snow-white lagoon bottom with my hands pushing up on the bottom of the keel. It’s like swimming around in a giant aquarium!

We have the whole anchorage to ourselves, except for one other single-hander from Canada on a Westsail 32. This place is what we call the “Screen-saver” anchorage–glowing turquiose waters, thick strings of coconut palms growing along the perfect sandy beach. We are very grateful to be safe in harbor, making it in just before things got wild on the ocean! I enjoyed watching the swells smash up and vaporize into the air from the protection behind the reef, snug in the inner lagoon. It was a really great 3.5 day sail from Christmas Island. Solid beam reaches, and our southern dogleg strategy worked out perfectly for the wind shift we experienced on the final 24 hours of the passage.

And now–time to rest and pause, think about how far we’ve come, and to put our minds to readying the boat for the next major leg of the voyage across the Indian Ocean. (And snorkel and swim and drink coconuts!)

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