Friday, July 04, 2014

Day 9 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 5, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 2 @ 1930)

Day 9 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Bikar Atoll, Japanese glass fishing floats, turtles, turtle nests

Anchorage position: 12 12.68N 170 06.88E (east side, mid-atoll at kite launch sand island)

6nm day/360nm total

Wind 20 NE
30 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 82F

Seas: flat inside lagoon
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday was a busy day. Before breakfast we headed over to check out the shipwreck at sand island, then we motored up to the other sand island in the NW corner. Along the way we made use of the power the engines were generating to run the water maker.

NW sand island was beautiful, but smaller than expected, so after a short walk we snorkeled at a nearby patch of coral and wow was it loaded with sharks! Grey reefs, black tips and white tips swarmed in the minute we got in the water and their curious circling was a bit of a distraction from the intended search for super giant clams.

Next we moved LightSpeed again to a short term anchorage near the pass and launched the dinghy to scout the pass for our eventual departure. We tied a fishing float to the most dangerous shallow coral head in the approach and made a few mental notes about the locations of other shallow coral heads. The current is a solid 3-4 knots in the approach, so no place to hang up on a coral head or we might find the same fate as the wrecked fishing boat nearby. We ran the dinghy through a few times to feel the current and did some power snorkeling where Kathy leans off the side of the boat far enough to get her snorkel mask in the water and Dave slowly pilots the boat. Kathy said there were thousands of fish along the walls.

We considered drift snorkeling the pass, but the currents are too wicked strong and boiling and the visibility too poor in the churning waters for the risk. During our observations around low tide the set of the current within the pass has a strong cross flow setting to the north side of the channel especially in the vicinity of the 'Y'.

After a few runs we headed all the way out the pass to snorkel on the outside reef wall. Once outside we donned our gear and stuck our faces in the water in what we call the 'shark check' to see if there is a really big shark waiting to eat us. Wow!!! The amount of sharks surrounding us kept us in the safety of the boat to enjoy the show as we leaned over the edge. At one point I counted 30 grey reef sharks circling around us! Numerous Giant Bump head wrass, giant groupers, giant everything was checking us out. Schools of mackerel and permit obscured our vision and times in dense schools. Turtles joined the mix. Incredible and we never got in the water, just way way too many grey reef sharks way to close. So many and so close that even sticking your head in the water from the dinghy was a bit stressful. Eventually our heads were about to explode from hanging upside down for so long and we headed back to LightSpeed to move once again across the lagoon.

We anchored at Jabwelo island again and without delay headed in to beach comb the final island at Bikar atoll. Although, the smallest it had a lot of junk piled on its shores, fishing floats of every description, huge pile of line and way too many empty bottles both plastic and glass. We found three Japanese fishing floats, two round and one rolling pin bringing our total to 11 in the last 9 days, I think we can check that one off the list.

We were considering leaving Bikar today, but this morning the wind is a solid NE and steady at 20 knots. Perfect weather for kiting, so I think we'll be moving the boat again to sand island for some kiting.

I have yet to download a GRIB, but based on the local wind conditions I doubt we will sail today.

That's it for now.

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