Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 5 update #2 Bikar atoll

July 1 2014 1:35PM local (July 1, 2014 0135UTC)

Bikar Atoll, Marshall Islands

Anchorage position: 12 14.70N 170 07.94E (Jabwelo Island)

We arrived at the Bikar pass at low water and I took the dinghy through to check depths and access currents. The initial straight portion of the channel boils with alternating currents of 3-4 knots and at the 'Y' where the higher volume flow rushed in a deeper channel there was a wicked eddy line. In the dinghy it was all fun and games, in LightSpeed it would feel pretty tight.

Back on the boat we had a quick discussion and then hoisted the dinghy back on the davits. We decided to go for it and head in on low water as depth wasn't an issue for us with only a 3 foot maximum draft. LightSpeed is loaded for the passage and the steering felt more sluggish as the first swirling and boiling currents alternately grabbed at the hulls pushing and pulling in the narrow channel with jagged overhanging coral edges. At the 'Y' I hit full power and the steering required extremely large rapid corrections as one hull entered the stream while the other was still in the eddy line. Whew, I sighed with relief as we charged over the shallowest spot leaving only 4' beneath the keels while nearby bommies protruded from the fast flowing stream. The hulk of a wrecked Japanese fishing boat a visible reminder that any mistakes or mechanical issues would have dire consequences.

Once safely inside the lagoon, I began to worry about going back out as the wind and current will be pushing and I'll need 3-4 knots of headway to maintain decent steering. That means on the way out I'll be going 7-10 knots relative to the adjacent coral edges vs 3-4 on the way in. Not looking forward to that.

We've only been at Bikar for a short time, but we've seen turtles swimming, turtle nests ashore, seas birds in every stage of life form eggs in a nest to fledgling chicks to hundreds and hundreds of birds aloft and in the bush. The lagoon floor is wilderness with vibrant coral gardens, huge wrasse, giant groupers, fearless schools of fish of every description and clams o plenty. One surprise was the abundance of obviously planted, non indigenous Palau clams many of which are as big as 24" across. These Palau clams look out of place, some in the sand and some grouped together in on coral outcrops none meshing with the surroundings.

Beach combing Dave found 2 small Japanese glass fishing floats, so that's 3 in 3 days.

That's it for now.

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