Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 4 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America (stop at Ailuk atoll)

June 30, 2014 @ 1:30pm or (UTC June 30 @ 0130)

Day 4 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Erikub atoll beach combing and Japanese fishing float, Bigen Island Ailuk atoll

Anchor position: 10 24.94N 169 57.63E

95nm day/248nm total

Wind 12 ESE
Max wind speed 25+ knots in squalls
Cloudy, with rain and squalls
Air Temp 86F

Seas: Calm with 1m ground swell
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday we had a great beach combing session walking around Jeldoni island at Erikub atoll and I finally managed to find an old Japanese glass fishing float. Whew, I can finally check that off my list after years of searching. After our walk we enjoyed some truly spectacular snorkeling in coral gardens on the lagoon side of Jeldoni island. The anchorage is tough, but in settled conditions it's well worth the visit. We ranked our snorkeling session in the top five ever. Lots of big fish, sharks, incredible coral gardens and tons of gorgeous clams some twice as big as a rugby ball. After a shower and lunch we headed across the lagoon on what we thought might be a slow 36 hour sail to Bikar. Shortly after sailing out of the west pass on Erikub we hoisted a double reefed main and small jib and enjoyed some brisk sailing between frequent squalls. Our sail plan was perfect for strong blasts of the squalls and soon we could see we'd be arriving too soon to Bikar. We'd planned on 5.5 knots with little wind and were now averaging 7-8 knots. The logical choice was to make a day stop at Ailuk, do some more beach combing and then make an easy overnight the remaining 120 miles to Bikar.

We're treating tidal height and direction as critical for a safe passage into the super technical entrance of Bikar atoll. We want half tide and rising and for the next few days that brackets our arrival time to 2-4pm with high tide around 5:30pm. After we clear the pass we need to navigate another 4 miles across the lagoon and there looks to be lots of hazards, so good light will be required to dodge the coral heads.

That's it for now.

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