Monday, 4 May 2015

Chagos Welcoming Committee

Coconut Crab Welcoming Committee
It's taken 18 years since we first dreamed of this place, but we finally made it. Crystal Blues arrived in Chagos on Saturday May 2nd, after a three day voyage from Gan in the Maldives.

Conditions on the trip were mostly calm - in fact they were too calm, with not enough wind to sail against the strong east setting current.

So we motored for about 200 of the 300 miles, arriving at the pass into the lagoon right on time, just before the high tide. The monsoonal change started on the last day of our passage - south easterly winds here and south westerly winds further north in the Maldives. We had planned to be here before the change, and we only just made it.

After crossing the lagoon we anchored off Ile Boddam, in around 20 meters of water. As the anchor went down we were welcomed by a curious 1.5 meter thresher shark circling the boat. Using our fenders as floats, we then buoyed the last half of the anchor chain, to keep it up off the coral bottom. As the last float went in a nice sized black tip reef shark came to visit - the shark population here is somewhat daunting !

The water is perfectly clear and there are about 10 other cruising boats here, from many different countries. The BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territories) patrol boat came to inspect our permit on arrival.

Yesterday we walked across the island to the southern shore on a track marked by fishing floats tied to trees. The original village and copra plantation are in ruins now, but the plantation coconut trees have spread like vermin and taken over the island, crowding out the native growth.

At sunset we shared cocktails on the beach with other cruisers, pondering the future of this beautiful place. The hermit crabs formed the land based reception committee, scurrying about at our feet and generally providing great entertainment. We're hoping to spend 4 weeks here, weather and provisions permitting.

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