Position report sent via Iridium GO
Departed Marigot 6pm today, heading for Panama canal. Greg has joined us as crew today and is doing a great job. Occasional showers, making 5kn average due west. Taking it easy for now with just the jib, will add more sail in the morning. All's well on board.
Ohana - Photos from the voyage to rapa
We're struggling to get usable Internet here but this is an attempt to upload some photos of my birthday cake and the pay we made for the engine on the way to rapa. Photos of rapa coming soon if this works!
Ohana - Pilotage chart of Olal, Ambrym, Vanuatu
We were warmly welcomed by the villagers at Olal who have built a brand new yacht club and bar there and organise the annual Rom dances and Back to my roots festival. Unfortunately yachts never visit there and anchor an hour's walk away just because Olal is not in any of the cruising guides or pilot books. We decided to fix that and carried out a survey of the anchorage which we will submit to all the vanuatu cruising guides... here it is so you can be one of the first yachts to visit!
Further Read more...
Neighbouring Nopul is a good anchorage (Much better than Ranon) but it
means a very long walk to Olal including crossing a ford which can be impassable
after heavy rain. We spent 3 nights there before moving to Olal to do
Olal has the new yacht club and bar and is where chief Sekur lives.
The Rom dances and two annual festivals are held about ten minutes
walk inland and everyone comes back to the yacht club afterwards.
While we were there the BBC were filming a documentary primarily about
the volcano but also featuring the dancing at Olal. The
villagers there are doing good things to raise money for the school,
keep their traditions alive and put on wonderful events where the
dances are very real, not just put on for tourists and they are making
a real effort to attract yachts. Chief sekur has travelled widely as a
cultural ambassador for Vanuatu. He can organise dances, pig feasts
and open the bar any time, all night on occasion! The chief at Nopul
was also very friendly but there is not much to do there.
I would say Nopul is the better anchorage in trade winds mainly
because it is bigger but on windy days you can get random gusts and
swing about there. In Olal the wind is less gusty and there is a
steady breeze which is better for ventilation and power generation,
not much swinging. The reef offers good shelter from all sides except
from the north. We had winds from due east and although the waves can
wrap around the end of the reef a bit our anchor location still had
very good shelter. It could be a little rolly right at the top of the
tide for a monohull but otherwise very calm.
The depth soundings were calibrated roughly to spring low tide.
The least depth I saw on the sounder as we swung at anchor was 1.9
metres and deeper water was available nearer to the entrance.
Waves were not a problem in the entrance at all in the conditions we
had but they did come over the reef towards the dinghy channel a bit
at dead high tide.
Locals reported that a major tsunami or storm surge a few years ago
had drastically altered the anchorage, destroying the wharf and
reducing the depth by several metres. silting up may be continuing and
the sands may still be shifting. Locals who came aboard were surprised
when they saw our depth sounder, expecting a lot more water (a small
cruise ship used to visit Olal until the wharf was destroyed).
We had only about 15m of chain out, there would be room for maybe 2-3
big yachts in there on short scope if they are not too deep drafted, plus a
couple more cats if they have daggerboards.
Holding seemed very good but avoid the rubble near the reef, there
were a few larger boulders there which could snag an anchor.
A new airstrip is under construction at Olal near the school, nearing completion
now. I got the impression Olal hope to become the main transport hub as well
as already being the main cultural centre of Ambrym.
As the waves push water in over the reef the current appeared to always flow
towards and out of the entrance and can be strong between the inner pair of stakes
and in the small boat channels both sides of the harbour, especially in the first half
of a falling tide. this current probably helps reduce swinging but might make it
unsafe to swim.
To download the chart - click on the image of it at the top left of this blog. A bigger but still squashed version will appear. Right click on that and select "save image as..." or the equivalent option in your web browser to save the full size image.