Easy to say, “see you later” in Pidgin. Not so easy to do. But – who knows what the future holds.
The low has weakened, but widened. There seems to be a bit of a gap coming up weather wise. Reasonable wind for a short while, then a section of stronger stuff (25 kts) easing off (15/20 kts) as we head west. Our plans became the best laid of mice and men, you will see.
OK, decision made. We are leaving Egholo. But the memories will always stay with us.
Including watching youngsters at sunset shoot the tiny point break in their canoes. One on a home made board. Much laughter and lots of happy.
Lots of waving, and 0600hrs we are out of Egholo harbour. Already we can feel the breeze, a bit more than expected, and it’s only early.
By late morning we’re well down Blanche Channel heading S.E. along the eastern side of Rendova under heads’l and main. My first sail in a big cat – my experience has been in monohulls. And does this thing move! 60 ft of boat weighing less than my 13 tonne flybridge cat. The secret is in its construction – balsa cored kevlar. Even the lifeline stanchions are kevlar, and the sails. No wonder it performs well, with tall mast and large sail area. Headsail, drifter, two spinnakers to go with the main. The motion is SO different from a monohull.
We leave Tetepare to starboard and head for the exit past Vanganau from Blanche Channel, where we are farewelled by two Spinner dolphins, smaller than ours.
Away from land, we’re lifting to the ocean swell and the press of a breeze stronger than anticipated.
All overcast sky, squalls and storms well ahead and to port. Will they do the right thing and pass by us?
Of course not. By midday we are in storms, wind way too strong, seas rough. Brian takes the sensible decision to go back. … pics don’t do it justice!
That in itself is an experience, going about in this strength of wind. Brian, calm and purposeful, methodically turn us around, and we head back to Rendova. Easier motion, with wind three quarters astern.
We scoot along, touching 23 knots at one stage. Yes. Faster than I could push Scorpion with 2 x 315 hp diesels! 23 knots under sail. Exhilarating, if a little other-worldly. Skippering Drumbeat is more like driving Starship Enterprise. Immense bridge deck, instruments and screens everywhere. Sailing by instruments, a whole new experience. Noise is overpowering – sound of the wind, and the water slamming into the hulls.
We head back, this time along the western side of Rendova where Brian knows of an anchorage, although he’s not been into it before.
Not just an anchorage, this is a cyclone hole. Even more protected than Egholo, deep water, good holding bottom, jungle to the water, twists and turns to get in, after going around a long reef that lies right across the entrance. Raining steadily now, the calm water a blessing. No people, no canoes, we motor and anchor in 18m over sand, in behind Kenelo Point near Nusa Laeni.
I fillet a bunch of little fish from Egholo while Brian sets up the rain catching systems to replenish our tanks. This place is silent, primeval, as the vertical rain showers pattern the dark water and brooding jungle. Gives a whole new meaning to calm water. Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex or something shove through the leaves.
We go to bed wondering what tomorrow’s weather will bring.
AMAZON – John Bell Books