15 Apr - 07 Jun 2008 Chagos

Indian Ocean
Chagos Archipelago
Salomon Islands
Ile Boddam
SY "Kamu II" at anchor, E of Ile Boddam, at 8 – 15 m depth, on coral.

Click for satellite views of our anchorages: 

Anchoring amongst 20 plus international sailing yachts in-between the bommies off Ile Boddam and enjoying a stunning 360-degree view over the spectacular Salomon Atoll with the palm-tree packed beaches of its circle of low-lying paradisiacal tropical islands aka cays, clockwise from Ile Anglaise via Ile de la Passe (“the anchorage of the French”), Ile Mapou, Ile Takamaka (“the anchorage of the people”), Ile Fouquet, Ile Sepulture, Ile Jacobin, Ile du Sel, Ile Poule, Ile Boddam (“the anchorage of the Americans”) all the way to Ile Diable.

Exploring the overgrown ruins of the abandoned settlement on Ile Boddam with (i) the old leper hospital, (ii) the catholic church and (iii) the island cemetery and commemorating the natives of the Salomon Islands who were forced to leave their homes and were expelled to Mauritius when nearby Diego Garcia (leased to the United States by the United Kingdom until 2036 CE, unless renewed) was turned into a cold-war air base for strategic bombers with nuclear weapons on board in the 1960s.

Feasting and surviving on “island fare”: (i) drinking untreated water from an old village well, fresh juice from green coconuts and home-brewed wine from rice with coconuts; (ii) boiling, frying, barbecuing, stewing, marinating, pickling, drying, smoking and making sushi/sashimi from all kind of fish from inside and outside the reefs (e.g. chub, tuna, squirrel fish, grouper, red snapper, rainbow runner, white trevally, wahoo, parrotfish), pigging into grated and whole coconuts in all stages of ripeness, enriching our curries with self-pressed coconut milk, mixing grated coconut into muesli, porridge and bread, turning heart-of-palms (“millionaire’s cabbage”) into fresh salads and boiled vegetables and enjoying coconut sprout (an edible fluff of marshmallow-like consistency) for dessert, and (iii) denying the totally unsubstantiated accusations from some self-righteous cruising nerds that we had lassoed (with a crab sling), boiled (right on the beach, in sea water, for c. 20 minutes), and savoured 20 plus big coconut crabs (with mayonnaise) as being farfetched and idle rumour.

Walking and wading at low tide over the barrier reef between Ile Poule and Ile Boddam and discovering a blackspotted puffer aka blaasop (Arothron nigropunctatus) whose viscera are lethally poisonous and whose flesh is highly valued in Japan, where it is known as fugu and where trained cooks expertly remove the harmful parts before serving this delicacy to discerning gourmets - yummy, yummy.

Keeping permanently a sharp lookout for the unannounced, regular control visits of the bright red Fisheries Patrol Vessel MV “Pacific Marlin” (6th of May 2008, 23rd of May 2008, 4th of June 2008) when the BIOT government agents (a cute HM Revenue/Customs officer, an obese Constable of the British Police, a macho Royal Marines sergeant and a fisheries environmentalist from another planet) would check our passports and permits (in full uniform in the morning) and would entertain us (in mufti in the afternoon) with a great beach BBQ and an unlimited supply of ice-cold (i) Newcastle Brown Ale (“The One and Only”), (ii) Chang Beer (“The Best Selling Thai Beer”), (iii) Miller Lite - All Natural Pilsner (“Best American-Style Light Lager in 2006”), (iv) the always reliable Heineken Lager Beer (“The Original Quality“) and (v) the exotic Corona Extra (“Life has its twist of meaningful moments”) - all on the house, by courtesy of yottie-friendly Captain Bob from New Zealand.

Noticing how after the arrival of a whole flotilla of sailing boats with a new generation of fancy-pants circumnavigators the social life in this priorly anarcho-cruiser's paradise degraded into a boring upper middle-class country club (with a monthly membership fee of GBP 100.-, payable to the BIOT government in London), (i) where the healthy smoking of grass was replaced by unhealthy early morning yoga classes and gymnastics, (ii) where hands-on camaraderie and six-pack driven common sense were replaced by glitterati platitudes and by holier-than-thou eco-political correctness (“Thou shalt not eat coconut crabs!”) and (iii) where the VHF traffic was heavily polluted by trivialities, banalities and hollow compliments.

Listening to the music of the German rock band Rammstein (e.g. "America is wunderbar...") and trying to understand why our fellow yotties from the far side always had to talk to each other (over the radio and face to face) in an unnaturally loud and high-pitched way as if they always had to perform in a soap on cable TV: “Oh-my-God … that-is-sooo-cooool, honey.”

Meeting funny characters amongst the cruisers who were anchoring off Ile Boddam, such as (i) a guy who as a doctor gave regularly medical advise on VHF (without being asked for) and was barely understandable because of his ongoing nervous coughing tic, (ii) a guy who claimed to be a weather guru and communications expert and who delivered on the radio the weather forecast for far-away areas of the Indian Ocean and lost control of his own crew until she deserted him later in East Africa, and (iii) a guy who arrived with an all-female crew of half a dozen young lady-twens on his super yacht and still only had 24 hours to play Robinson with them in paradise before his itinerary forced him to leave (maybe he did not have a permit for any of this).

Moving our ship from Ile Boddam ("the anchorage of the Americans") to Ile Fouqet/Takamaka ("the anchorage of the people”) when the increasing strength of the southeast trade winds made the anchorage off Ile Boddam more and more untenable.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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