Posted by: powellpjc | October 22, 2012

The Big Indian Part Four

Oct 22, 2012
Chagos, British Indian Ocean Territory.

It ‘s a long way from Thailand to the coast of Africa so I decided to split the trip up with a stop at the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) at the islands of Chagos. You may have never heard of them but you may have heard of Diego Garcia, one of the group. It is ‘leased’ from the UK by the USA for military purposes. B-52’s fly from there to the various wars in Iran, Iraq and the ‘Stan countries. And there must be a big naval station there too. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
I thought 20 days would be a good passage from Phuket to Chagos. Trouble was, I had to round Sumatra, Indonesia. Light winds or storms, take your pick. I had both and they slowed me down by at least a week.
After the bipolar weather off Indonesia I started to make some good time (for me that is anything over 100 miles a day) and I broke into the edge of the SE Trades after 14 days. Then things got very pleasant. Steady winds, light winds (14 kts) but all in the right direction and no dramas.
I fished. Oh, I fished. I got one mahi mahi halfway to the boat before he outwitted my hook combination and it was ‘so long baby’. I caught no fish. None. I lost 4 lures to the creatures of the deep. Stainless steel leaders and 300 lb test line. A sailfish could care less. Never mind the giant squid that follows me every day.
I arrived in Chagos waters a bit too late (midnight) for safe passage into the lagoon. It is an atoll, similar to the Tuamotus in French Polynesia with a couple of big differences. One must have a permit to enter; no one lives here; there are no services-no 7/11’s , no lights, no buoys-no nothing. And one pays a fee ($100/week) for the privilege. Fine. I paid. I needed the break in the long haul to Madagascar.
What a wonderful surprise when I did get here. Arriving late meant I spent the night drifting offshore (about 5 miles) waiting for sunup. In that early evening I smelled a grass fire. No question. Just like back home in the spring when kids get frisky and light the bush on fire. But no bush here. Then the smell changed to that of a wooden ‘strike anywhere’ match. Okay. Cordite. The USNavy boys down Diego Garcia way were having some sort of exercise and were banging off their toys. After 32 days at sea, with no smells of any sort, cordite is a welcome addition. It had drifted 40 miles on the wind. You have to love the smell of cordite in the evening.

Good thing I waited until the sun was high. Many reefs and dangers to the anchorage and I kept looking at the bottom (only 40-50 feet) and could see no sand. Just coral. I hate anchoring in coral. You may never get your anchor back. When I arrived at the only permissible anchorage corner of the lagoon–whoa–there were 3 or 4 moorings. I picked the best looking one and hitched on. No anchoring for Pete. I snorkeled on the mooring to check it out and it has a 3″ hawser line wrapped around a huge coral head and 3/8″ chain going the opposite way. This is a cyclone mooring for sure, so Pete is plenty happy.
Started bottom fishing this morning with little hooks and lamb fat bait. The bait was gone in 5 minutes and the hooks remain, nice, shiny and empty. New tricks needed.
A turtle came by to pay his respects. I’d like to lasso the guy and eat him but the marine biologists that come by here (how often?) might not like the sight of a leatherback shell handing from my spreader. Got a good pic, though.
Sorry, but as I may have mentioned I cannot send pictures over this very very very slow radio/internet connection. Text only.

Today off exploring in my kayak. Not sure if I will launch the dink and motor or not yet. We’ll see how it goes.
More reports if no cannibals hiding out.

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Responses

  1. Pink A very nice and complete report. I am surprised if there were the threat anthropophagus’, wouldn’t “cha” had a couple your bigger buddies to serve up 1st along for the ride. I do see the methods in the (madness). A couple of Phat Phocs you know, would have already showered all your water away (well at least one) and eaten you out of house and home. Subsequently wecwould have been looking at you as either bait, or a meal cooked up Donner style (via small cans of Ronsons – as promised). Glad to hear you made it. I think the fishing there has to be out of this world as it sounds like the most intentionally made remotest part of the world. JEALOUS!

    Cheers PK


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