Ile Boddam, Saloman Island, Chagos, BIOT, 2009.
High tide in the lagoon.
Throughout our stay we remained at Ile Boddam, while other yachts went off and explored the additional anchorages at Ile Foquet and Ile Takamaka all within Salomon atoll.  Some even venturing to Pedros Banhos, which we have heard is superb.  Instead of taking Blue Sky to these locations, we would pack a picnic and go on day trips in our dinghy around Saloman atoll.  Between Ile Foquet and Ile Takamaka is a lovely lagoon with numerous birds nesting, including the red footed boobies.  The snorkeling was splendid.

The surrounding sea is crystal clear and dazzleng shades of blue,  with coral bonnies five feet off the boat.  Daily turtles, sharks and an abundance of sea life would swim under and around the boat.  Every time we swam one or two black tip sharks would be near by.  At first it was unnerving monitoring their presence so close to us, after a while we realized they were not threatening.  Even so, I never took my eye off them and always insisted that the children would swim with an adult. 
On only one occassion did I (Jim) snorkel outside the reef.  I went with a group of 5 men.  A father with his two sons and one other sailor from France.  We headed out from the beach and began exploring the coral.  I was working an area very similar to the photograph on the left.  Basil who is the younger of the two brothers and I were tag teaming our free dives.  I would stay at the surface while he dove down.  When he could hold his breath no longer he would begin his assent and I would begin my dive.  This way we had one person watching out for the other the whole time.  While upside down looking under a plate coral I felt a smash to my jaw.  I thought, wow the current must be strong and pushed me into an ajoining piece of coral.  Try Bullshark!  The boys on the surface told me later that they thought it was going to take my head off.  It was rather just an exploritory "kiss" to see if I was fat enough for the challenge.  Needless to say, I headed for the surface and with my back to the beach kicked away from the now two menacing sharks.  Unfortunately I don't think the "kiss" even made a dent in the shark.  My jaw on the otherhand was really sore for a whole week.   

On the south side of Boddham Island inside the lagoon is a shallow protected pool.  (Left Photograph)  Here is where we found the black tip reef sharks nursery..  (Right Photograph)  They  mature in this protected area until they are large enough to defend themselves.  When we tossed in the fish carcasses at the fish cleaning station we only saw mature black tips.  Life was everywhere one looked.  The small blue fish would go in and out of the coral and it was home to countless species that we could hardly identify.  I nearly stepped on the eel in the photograph on the right.
Planning any voyage to a remote destination we try to gather as much information as possible, by reading guides and talking to other cruisers who have traveled there.  Many boats travel to Chagos for the season and return to Malaysia or Thailand.   Some have done this 10 plus times.  When we solicited information from these "veterens" they all had a similar analogy, they all affectionaltely called it "summer camp"  The general order to the day would be school with the children then we would have to decide which island to go for an explore or what reef to go for a snorkel.  Sometimes we went fishing with other yachts.  To mix things up we would announce on the VHF that evening sundowners would be held at this beach or that point and Phoebe and Drake would gather up a bunch of drift wood so we could have a nice beach bar-b-que.  Most times sundowners were held near the volleyball court and over the years beach chairs had been left which made for more comfortable seating. 
Innitially I was concerned that we would get board on this remote island atoll.  Wow the time flew by.
Liz and Hans from the yacht Rev-de-Lune were always ready to join us for another islet explore.  Drake really enjoyed swimming with Hans as he would always let Drake have a little rough housing.

Boddham Island lies at 5 degrees south of the equator.  During the day a refreashing soak was the only way to beat the heat.  The other unusual thing was the mosquitoes were a nucance during the day.  As soon as the sun got low they went away.  Thus if we were not soaking up the lagoon we were watching the sunsets.

Off of  Ile Takamaka we went for a snorkel to see the wreck of
s/v Isis. They arrived last year and dropped the anchor and awoke to a squall that caused them to drag onto the reef.   The three photos below are sad as it is proof of someones lost dream.  There is also a massive wreck on the outer reef.  A large Sri Lankan fishing vessel.  We never did get the story on that disaster.   
Cool and calm on the inside of the reef.  You can see the breakers on the outer reef.
The cross at Ile Boddham & Blue Sky
Voyaging with Liz an Hans from s/v Rev-de-Lune has been a joy to say the least.  They are always game and tolerate the energy two growing children (Emma will say three).  Miss Phoebe was in her heaven as you see the photograph on the left.  We call that shade of blue, Phoebe Water!
Chagos Part III coming next.
...and low tide.  Approximately ten feet.
Red footed boobie on Ile Foquet.