Day 158, Year 5: End of the Snail Trail
Date: Friday, April 2, 2010
Latitude: 05 degrees 15.282 minutes S
Longitude: 071 degrees 46.290 minutes E

Passage Statistics:
306.65 miles in 97 hours, 15 minutes
50 hours 45 minutes Sailing
46 hours 30 minutes Motor Sailing
Fuel Usage~23 US gallons or about 45 liters

Little miracles do happen and the snails have arrived in Chagos. The wind changed during the evening and night allowing us to make it here today and it feels really good to be here. I’m sitting in the cockpit listening to the gentle surf as it heads to shore. Otherwise, it is incredibly quiet. All I can see is sky and sea and the little green islets in the large Peros Banhos Atoll. Windbird is gently rocking, the sun is setting, the horizon all around us is painted in shades of pink and lavender, and we just had freshly caught Jobfish sashimi as an appetizer. We are told by those who have been here before us that Chagos is paradise. Want to come here? Sorry, you can only get here by sailing more than half way around the world or joining the military and getting stationed in Diego Garcia, another of the Chagos atolls. This is one of those perks you get for being crazy enough to sail around the world and I think I’m going to like it here. The water is incredibly clear, the waters are teeming with fish, the air is filled with birds, and there’s nobody here but us chickens. Actually there are twenty-three boats that applied for Chagos permits this year, so there are a few ‘chickens’ spread between the two atolls we are allowed to visit. But that’s a manageable number when you divide them between the different anchorages. Right now, only Constance and Windbird are anchored off Ile Diamont. We can see one other boat anchored a little further south. We know there are about nine boats in the Ile du Coin anchorage about thirteen miles south of here and maybe another couple in another anchorage close to Ile du Coin. The other atoll, Salomon, is about fifteen miles from here and the remainder of the twenty-three boats must be there.

Have you ever wondered where the term ‘booby prize’ originated? Well, the term was actually coined by a sailor entering the pass into Peros Banhos. He was trolling a fishing line hoping to catch one of those delicious Jobfish. There were dozens of brown boobies flying behind his boat just waiting for him to catch a fish, but instead of a fish, he snared a brown booby that flew under the line and caught her wings. Luckily, he was able to reel in the bird, retrieve his lure, and cut the fishing line to let the bird go free. It took a lot of squawking and a couple of minutes to realize she was okay and then off she flew. So instead of a Jobfish, he caught the ‘booby prize.” Okay, this is not really where the term originated, but it did happen to us today and we like the story. Constance caught the Jobfish, but a shark bit off the hole back half leaving only the head and a couple of hefty filets, and we caught the “bobby prize.” We successfully let our booby prize go and Constance graciously gave us half of the half of the fish they caught.

The other prize we received was ending a passage with a salt-free, clean boat. We had enough rain this morning to give everything, including the canvas dodger and bimini covering the cockpit a good wash down. We received an email from our daughter Heather this morning and she explained that she has also been experiencing some rainy weather. Heather, Jed, Sam, and Jonah were returning to New England from Washington, DC by train. It had rained so much that Jed called Amtrak to make sure the things were “still on track” (Heather’s bad train pun). Amtrak assured them everything was a go, but when they arrived in New York City there was an announcement that the train would be going no further and they were told to go to Customer Service for more information. As it turns out, large chunks of I95 were underwater and the train tracks were six inches or more underwater. The only option was for them to take a bus to the train station in Providence, Rhode Island where they had left their car. It was mid-night before they got home with two very fussy little boys. It was a very long “passage” for them and in comparison, Heather’s story made us feel realize that our passage had really not been so bad after all.

100402 Day 158 Passage from Maldives to Chagos