Chagos part III, 2009
Drake running on a sand bar, our boats were anchored off Boddam island located in the top right of the photo.
Many cruisers display talents as artists and for making crafts, so we decided to have the first annual Chagos Arts Festival.  Phoebe and I spent a day on s/v Mr. Curly with Cathy making earrings and jewelry to sell.  Graeda, who is with Phoebe, is from the San Blas islands and makes colorful mola's, which she is wearing one as a shirt.  Another woman from Madagascar displayed her resulates, which are the hand sewn table clothes hanging on the lines.  Drake sold home made chocolate chip cookies and lemonade.  The whole anchorage came out for an enjoyable day.
Most of the men, not into jewelry etc, all brought their cruising guides and books to discuss the next phase of our passages. Recently we had just learned that the Somali pirates had expanded their territory and were now as far south as the Seychelles, capturing boats on each quadrant of the island group.  This was unfortunate, as the majority of the boats were planning on going to this archipelago.  There were two other options, travel around the north tip of Madagascar, very close to shore, or head south to Rodriguez, Maurituis and Reunion.  Both having their negative sides. Cape d'Ambre at the northern tip of Madagascar is known as the witches cauldron, with two oceans, the Indian and the Mozambique channel, converging  with strong currents.  Yachts are tramatized by the experience, where the wind rarely blows below 30 knots and the seas, with opposing currents become massive.  Choosing the latter, the distance to South Africa is further and one is sure to experience a gale on the long passage.  There was much to ponder the next couple weeks during our stay and gather as much information as possible to make an educated decision.
While in Chagos, we experienced a king tide.  Between high and low tide the difference was approximately 12 feet.  The weather cooperated and was calm with barely a ripple on the water.  You can really see how close the reefs are to the boats and how clear the water is.  Many took this opportunity to climb their mast and take photos.  The one above is of s/v Blue Sky and s/v Rev du Lune taken from s/v Jan Plezier.  On one of our walks we discovered a hidden lagoon, which is pictured on the right.  At the old hospital, bed pans were still scattered on the floor.  Drake found many items in the shed and made his own Iron Man suit.  There was a skeleton of an oil lamp, the same of which we had on board, so for sundowners we brought the insides of our lamp so we could stay a little longer enjoying the candle light and peacefulness of the island.
There is never a need for an excuse to have a celebration on Chagos.  Annually the cruisers hold a Cinco de Mayo party.  Bringing bottles of Tequila, cointreau and trying to preserve limes until this occasion..  One of the best ways we have learned is to wrap each individual lime in aluminum foil, this helps retain the moisture.  As there was a limited supply of ice, everyone enjoyed their tequila straight up as opposed to margaritas.  Eileen and Ron, upper left, off s/v Tiger,  have been to Chagos approximately 20 times, they even renewed their wedding vows one year in the remains of the church.  Cathy and Richard, off s/v Mr. Curly, have also been to the island group many times.  They played bartender throughout the evening.  Phoebe poses with Tuk off s/v Papa and Nat off s/v Millenium, both from Thailand, at the Cinco de Mayo party.

This year there were only a couple other boats with children, however, they were much older than ours.  We have heard that in the past there were up to 15 children at one time.  Fortunately Phoebe and Drake were never bored and would be creative in ways to entertain themselves, for instance placing hermit crabs in pans and having races with them.

Nat was the local hair stylist, giving all who needed a hair cut.  Phoebe is patiently sitting out her turn and to the right is showing off her new style.
A week before we left Liz, s/v Rev Du Lune, was to celebrate her birthday.  Phoebe's 11th birthday would happen while we were underway, so we decided to have combined birthday party.  Planning the Chagos Olympics during the day, each yacht was placed into four seperate teams.  Competing in tug of war, wheel barrow races, coconut toss, three legged race and a final volleyball match.  The best part was watching these old salts acting like children again.  In the evening there was a silly hat competition along with a pot luck.  The winning team on the right received winch wenches and Lats and Atts flags for their boats.
Phoebe getting ready to blow out her candles
Liz and Hans with their silly hats
Hans chucking a coconut.
Jim participating in the wheelbarrow race.
Phoebe poses with Denis and Graeda, wearing the hand made mola that Graeda gave her for her birthday.
Phoebe and Liz blow out the candles on the chocolate cake that Eileen made for the celebration.
The weather was good and sadly it was time for us to leave.  Finding mooring balls on the lee shore of the island, Phoebe and Drake painted faces on them. We hung them as trail markers, so others could see that we had been there.  Our decision was made to go to Madagascar, 1500 miles away, approximately an eleven day passage.
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