Somewhere in the Indian Ocean

I apologize to our followers for my failure to post blogs over the past few months, but since leaving Darwin, Australia, we’ve been either offshore with no Internet or in Indonesia, which I will charitably say is not a developed country. Travis has a post coming out shortly detailing our visit there, but from my perspective, suffice it to say I’m glad I went, but probably won’t go back anytime soon.

Today my buddy Joe from Colorado Springs, who is sailing with his wife and 3 kids in the ARC (around the world rally for cruisers) fleet, took me in his big dinghy at 0700 the 2 miles to “town” on Home Island to get fuel.  Travis stayed on the boat since there was no room for both of us plus fuel cans.  The wind has been steady 25 knots all week, and town is straight upwind, so it was a wet trip.  We have two 20l fuel jugs on “Nor’easter,” borrowed 3 more from some other friends in the ARC, and Joe lent me 2 of his.  We beached the dinghy near the commercial wharf, and lugged the 14 total jugs, which included Joe’s as well, a few blocks to the hardware store. There we paid for the fuel and continued our treck across town (maybe 3 blocks) to the fuel tank that serves as the island’s gas station.  We were now maybe 1/4 mile from the dinghy, and had no plan to get the 490 lbs of diesel back to the wharf, but the hardware store guy kindly anticipated that and had a golf cart standing by just for us. Getting back to the sailboats was slow, as the dinghy was so laden down with fuel, but at least we ran with the waves. Safely back at the anchorage, we siphoned all the fuel into our tanks, and then cruised over to the beach, where we met with the wonderful Cocos Police chief, who had previously taken me all over the island trying to find me an electrician to fix our alternator, to clear us out of the country for tomorrow’s departure.  It was a breeze!  

Next we lined up Peter, a local who runs a small inflatable tour boat called the Sakai Goose,to run us back to town for provisions.  The biweekly supply plane had arrived Friday, so there were still plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, granola bars, and bread on the shelves. We loaded up and had everything stowed away by 1200.  

After a relaxing lunch on board and a short nap, We ambitiously set out on a fishing expedition in our dinghy, trolling for coral trout along the offshore reefs. Since the wind was still howling and seas were choppy, we wore our wetsuits to stay warm, but not dry.

After 30 minutes with no bites, I’d had enough of that, much to Travis’s chagrin. We tied up to a channel marker and snorkeled the reef where it drops off to deeper water.  I lost track of Travis immediately, as usual, and soon a pair of medium-sized black tip reef sharks started stalking me.  One would swim slightly ahead, while the other lagged just behind me. Scuba diving with sharks is generally safe, according to Travis, but snorkeling makes you more vulnerable, being unprotected all around, and you can’t keep the sharks in front of you.

These overly affectionate chondrichthyans and I engaged in this dance for several minutes, and I did not like the feeling of being shadowed, so I turned on the one following me and swam right at him. He spun 180 degrees from me, and the pair cruised away together.  I stayed in the water unmolested another 30 minutes, swam back to the dinghy, hauled myself half way out of the water and was just looking around when Travis came, moving fast, from the other side of the boat and literally launched himself on board. I asked innocently, “Sharks, Travis?”  He had 2 big ones showing a lot of interest and got a bit uncomfortable, which is unusual since he’s usually happy to swim with sharks, but not while snorkeling.

We weigh anchor 0700 tomorrow for the 2300 NM shot to Mauritius.  You won’t hear from us probably until October 22, give or take 2 days.  Cocos Keeling is a magical place, and we are sad to be leaving, but cyclone season in the Indian Ocean doesn’t wait, and we need to be in Capetown before December.


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5 thoughts on “Somewhere in the Indian Ocean

  1. Hi George, glad you and Travis survived those curious sharks. But turning around and facing one? Very brave indeed!

    Safe travels on your next leg.

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  2. Another fascinating post. When you described being tracked by the two sharks, I was afraid it would end “and they chewed me up. This blog was written by my ghost.” I’m glad you and Travis escaped being lunch.
    What an ordeal just to fuel up the Swan! Apparently it takes a village.
    Safe travels.

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    1. Hi Dale, Just landed Mauritius after 14 days at sea. Ran out of food and our alternator died 2 days from Mauritius, but now we’re at a dock and can fix stuff. Good to have restaurants again.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

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