Cocos is gorgeous. It is yet another place where we would quite happily spend a few weeks, but we just gotta go. The two boats that were here when we arrived set sail for Mauritius yesterday, and we know of only two other boats that are behind us, so we are definitely bringing up the rear as they say.

pura vida The best looking anchorage we’ve seen in quite a while

This morning Dallas jumped on the radio and talked to Bob from S/V Boomerang who is approaching Madagascar. He said that he had variable winds throughout his ocean crossing but nothing too severe. Knowing that he had spent time in Houston, Dallas asked Bob if he used to be a patron at the Lakeview Yacht Club where Dallas was the bar manager 15 years ago. It turns out that Bob was a semi-regular customer there, and they have a few mutual acquaintances, so Dallas is now especially eager to chat with the Vietnam vet during our passage. You never know who you might meet halfway around the world.

Speaking of which, S/V Drumbeat, the superyacht that we first met up with in Panama in May of 2009, just arrived here yesterday. They don’t get many superyachts here (and Drumbeat is a beauty), so it is a pretty big deal for the islanders who have been buzzing by to take pictures. This is the 5th port of call at which our paths have crossed with Drumbeat, and it’s always fun to see their 175′ dark, shiny hull with its two gi-normous masts lit up like Christmas trees pull into the anchorage. We were hoping to spend some time catching up with members of the crew, but they must be entertaining the owner and his guests as they are not answering the radio.

drumbeatS/V Drumbeat attracts attention wherever she goes

After a long break from boat maintenance, Dallas was anxious to check things off the repair list yesterday, and that he did. He repaired the motor on the port forward bilge pump, built and installed DC block for the radio so that it is better grounded when using it at high frequencies, sewed up a tear in the mainsail cover, adjusted the SSB antenna so that it didn’t rub against the rigging, and checked out both engines in preparation for the passage. He says we are good to go.

There wasn’t much for me to do on board, so after gluing together a broken light fixture and fixing some lunch, I had the afternoon off. I went ashore and watched with a bit of envy as a couple of kite-boarders tried to catch some wind. I then met an Aussie family of four who lives on West Island but camps out on Direction Island when the weather is nice, which is a lot. They were really cool, and the mother offered to take me to “the rip” for a snorkel. When we arrived at the end of Direction Island, she instructed me to swim rapidly across the pass between islands to snorkel the reef on the other side. She told me that I would eventually get pushed by the current out past the pass where there was a rope to grab to keep from drifting out into the lagoon. This was more excitement than I anticipated, and I was pretty stoked. One of my favorite scuba dives of all time was a drift dive in the pass of the lagoon in Fakarava, and this was similar in that I enjoyed the weightless feeling of getting swept along with the current. There were several large fish in the pass, including a school of hammerhead parrotfish, some really big groupers with variously colored spots, and a juvenile black-tipped reef shark. It was especially fun to see big fish drifting along sideways or swimming in place into the current.

After snorkeling, I finished drilling our boat name into a piece of wood to add to the collection of signs nailed to the palm trees on the island. (We didn’t have a chisel, so I cheated and used a drill with a dremel bit on the end.) Then I picked up Dallas and returned ashore for a barbie with the Aussie family. Once again, the wahoo tasted great — the best of the fish we’ve caught so far. We spent several hours yarning away with the Bush family, who are about our age and have two adorable daughters, aged two and four. The father has a permanent position as a teacher on the island, teaching science for all students from elementary on up. It sounds like there is a small but vibrant community of Aussies here in Cocos in addition to the larger settlement of Cocos Malays. The Bush family are living large here in paradise, and talking with them was just what we needed before heading out to sea with no opportunity to socialize (except on the radio) for quite a while.


Everyone wants to leave their mark

I’m psyched up for the passage to AFRICA and ready to see the miles start ticking off, even if it’s ever so s-l-o-w-l-y. We set sail this afternoon!