What constitutes a great anchorage?
Everyone has their “must haves”, for some it is a WIFI signal, for others it is easy access to a resort or restaurant ashore. Some people choose an anchorage because the guidebook recommended it, some like to anchor where other boats are. Some people are into kite boarding or windsurfing and anchor close to prime beaches and shallows, the surfers pick spots within reach of all the great waves.
Here on Kate when searching for that perfect place to throw the pick we look for a spot that is:
- Not too shallow and not too deep; we draw 2M so 5-10M is perfection, 10-15M is good, 15M-20M is OK, 20M is doable if it is calm weather and anything over 20M is almost always out (exceptions made for spectacular anchorages in the South Pacific.)
- Good holding in a sand or mud bottom.
- No rocks or bommies to get stuck on/for the chain grind against-both for the health of the marine life and because there is almost nothing that will keep you up at night like the sound of your anchor chain dragging over coral heads.
- Protection from the wind and swell. We definitely like lots of protection from the swell but we prefer a little breeze in our anchorages, both to keep the boat cool and to keep the wind generator happy.
- Clean water; it helps if you can see the bottom to know if you have #2 and to avoid said rocks in #3. Clean sea water also allows us to run the water maker if need be.
- A little privacy. Sure we like getting to know the locals and meeting other boats along the way but I also like sitting in the cockpit in my underpants at 0530 to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee without having to wave hello to passers-by or watch my neighbour take a piss off his transom ‘cause he thinks everyone is still asleep.
We’ve been hanging out in the Vona Vona Lagoon for the past two and a half weeks; a large, shallow, enclosed seaway just east of Ghizo. The charting is poor to non-existent so it has been interesting navigating our way around the reefs and shallows by sight, and a photocopy of some mud maps from the 80’s, but the lagoon meets all our anchoring requirements. It is totally protected from the open ocean swell but the islands are low enough that they don’t totally block the wind. The whole lagoon is 3-15M deep, you can literally stop anywhere, anytime. And the bottom is sticky mud or white sand, everywhere. The water is clear enough to see obstructions…most of the time. Several islands are uninhabited or have only small settlements on them and we’ve only seen one other yacht for one day.
How could it get any better, you ask? There are also plenty of cephalopods.
That’s squid by another name. They like hang out in the shade underneath Kate and congregate at the anchor chain first thing in the morning. We’ve seen them everywhere in the South pacific but they are usually just as big as our lures and I joke that they would be “one biters.” That is until recently.
In the Vona Vona Lagoon they have been big. Not only have they been big enough to eat but they’ve like the look of our lures. A lot.
In one particularly picturesque spot we’ve woken several mornings surrounded by a school or 30-40 squid and before I’ve had my first cup of coffee, or as Steve so eloquently phrased it “even before we put on pants or scratch ourselves”, we’ve caught enough for a meal or two.
Catching squid is pretty simple; drop a squid jig tied to a piece of fishing line over the side and wiggle it up and down a couple times. If the squid like it they grab a hold, get caught on the barbs and then up you go and into the bucket. The trick is trying to get the darn things into the bucket before, or after, they ink.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing squid ink it is gooey, slimy, stinky stuff that they release when under attack: AKA being ripped out of the ocean on the sharp hooks of a jig. But they don’t just drip ink they squirt it at high velocity. And their recharge time is pretty quick; even if they ink the water it does not mean they won’t ink again in the 2 seconds between pulling them out and getting them in the bucket.
This has made for some pretty messy mornings.
But it has been totally worth it. What could taste better than calamari for lunch? Try fresh caught squid, flash cooked on the BBQ in a pineapple, ginger chili sauce served over jasmine rice for dinner. Life in the lagoon has been treating us well.