South to Chagos

24 April 2017   Boduhuttaa to Gan, Addoo Atoll
The alarm went off at 05:00 and we pulled up the anchor before the sun came over the horizon.  We motored out of the south pass and into a long, smooth swell coming from the south-east, which was causing impressive waves to break on the reef either side of the pass.  The wind was from the south -west, so it was 20-30 degrees off our starboard bow and meant that we had to motor-sail, but it was a light 5-8 knot wind with no big waves to stop us.

Around 08:00, we crossed the Equator for the third time on our circumnavigation. There are longstanding traditions and ceremonies to thank the god Poseidon and to wish for luck. In the past we’ve shared a tot of alcohol with Poseidon, but being so early in the morning, we had simple ceremony involving a glass of orange juice and a biscuit.  We’re now in the southern hemisphere again.

Glenys greets some Dolphins

We had a very uneventful ten hour trip, and arrived at Gan at four o’clock.  Most of the other rally boats are already here, so there was no room in the small, shallow harbour next to the causeway.  We spent 15 minutes, looking for some where to anchor, but it’s all incredibly deep.  Eric on “Hokulea” suggested that we anchor next to them on a sandy spit at the entrance to the small harbour.  We had two attempts at anchoring in 17 metres, but dragged both times.

Finally, we anchored at 00°41.06S 073°08.77E in 10 metres depth and the anchor bit well.  We’re not in an ideal position, being very close to “Hokulea” and in the entrance channel to the small harbour, but there’s not much else we can do other than anchoring in 30 metres, which is a serious challenge because we only have 60 metres of chain.

In the evening, we went to the Equator Resort, which serves cold beer at $4US for a large can - luxury!  We tied our dinghy up to the iron ladders next to the Coast Guard dock in the small boat harbour and then walked a few hundred metres to the resort entrance.  We had to sign in as guests at the gate, but everyone was very friendly.

Most of the other cruisers were at the bar, so it was good to catch-up with everyone.  Three of the boats are trying to get outward clearance and sail to Chagos, but there have been some problems and, after waiting for 5 days, they still haven’t been cleared out.     

Many people have paid money to the rally for their clearance, but the rally organisers haven't paid the relevant government fees, so people have been waiting a long time to leave.  There's now a worry that the rally organisers have spent all the money on something else and can't afford to pay the fees.  I’ve been dealing directly with the agents and haven't paid anything to the rally, so I'm hoping that we'll get away quickly.

25 April 2017   Gan, Addoo Atoll
I checked the weather forecast and found that the two models (GFS and ECMWF) still don’t agree, but the GFS Model shows 10 knot west winds on the 27th and the ECMWF shows light, variable winds, so we’ve decided to clear out and leave on the 27th.  At worst, we’ll have to motor the 280 miles to Chagos.

Small Harbour at Gan

After breakfast, we tied the dinghy up to the Coast Guard dock and walked a kilometre into town.  Gan is a small town, but there are several small supermarkets and vegetable shops, so Glenys was able to buy most of the provisions on her list.  The biggest supermarket is called S3 Mart and is located on the sea front opposite the petrol station in the town’s main harbour.

While Glenys was in the supermarket, I walked down the road to the office of Masood, our local agent in Gan.  I handed over our documents including passports and paid the balance of our clearance fees. In total, we’ve paid $1,067US for our 38 day stay – at 38US per day, it’s one of the most expensive places that we’ve visited (I think that only the Galapagos was more expensive).

Masood told me that he would have the clearance completed by tomorrow afternoon, which was good news.  He was a bit cagey about the exact reasons for the delays with the rally clearances, but told me that they (Real Sea Hawks) were trying to help the cruisers, but they couldn’t do anything until the rally did their side of the administration.

We left four big bags of shopping at the S3 supermart and walked back to the dinghy, stopping at a few small supermarkets and greengrocers to add to the provisions.  Back at the dinghy, we zipped into the town harbour and picked up the groceries from the 3S supermart.  In retrospect, it’s a lot easier to tie the dinghy in the town harbour rather than walking from the Coast Guard dock.

After lunch back on the boat, we pottered about – Glenys stowed her provisions and I ran the water- maker.  Glenys defrosted her fridge because the freezer compartment was heavily blocked up with ice.  It takes ages to melt the ice and we resorted to using a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Diesel bowser arrives

In the evening, we were all at the Equator Resort.  “Luna Blue” left this morning in a huff, without any clearance papers, but “Hokulea” and “Ngalawa” received their documents today, so they leave in the morning.  Most people stayed for dinner – chicken curry and cold beer – bring it on...

26 April 2017   Gan, Addoo Atoll
Our mission today was to get our clearance documentation and refuel at the petrol station in the town harbour.  On our AIS, we could see that “Jackster” and “Relax” would be arriving in the anchorage at about 10:00, so we waited until they were anchored, so that we didn’t lose our lovely shallow anchorage spot – very sneaky...

As we entered the town harbour, a local tourist boat followed us in; roared past us; turned about 2 metres in front of our bow and went onto the fuel dock.  We had to wait for ten minutes while they refuelled - obviously the “quick and the dead” applies here.  It took great restraint not to give him “the finger”...

Once we were on the fuel dock, we then had to wait for 30 minutes while they refuelled two large coaches.  We were then given the diesel hose, but nothing came out – they’d run out of diesel!  It took 1½ hours for the fuel bowser to arrive and to transfer the fuel to the station’s tanks, then another 15 minutes to fill our tanks.  We didn’t get back to the anchorage until 13:00.

While we were on the fuel dock, Masood had brought over our clearance documentation, so we spent the afternoon, tidying up and getting ready for sea.  We’ll won’t be able to access the internet for 6 weeks, so we finished off a few admin chores.

In the evening, we all went to the Equator Resort.....