Tuesday, March 06, 2012

West Fayu

As usual after a stretch of very calm weather, the day we decided to leave Puluwat was the windiest we had had for a while. Oh well. We left mid morning in order to have good light through the pass and set sail for West Fayu, a tiny island about 150 miles away. It was blowing about 25 knots and quite choppy around the island, so we were quite impressed to see some of the sailing canoes out fishing. We had a fast trip to West Fayu, arriving in under 24 hours and were through the pass and anchored in sand off the island by about 9 am. There was a yacht already anchored there who got a bit of a shock to wake up and find another boat next to them. We were also very surprised to see another yacht as we haven't seen any since we were in Pohnpei, well over a month ago and now we see one here, in one of the remotest spots possible. The day after we came in, we were sitting chatting with the couple on 'Ivalu' and we saw another sail on the horizon. Eventually, this resolved into an outrigger sailing canoe about 30 feet long with 10 men and one pig on board. They come regularly from Satawal, 40 miles away with just a compass for navigation and not a piece of safety equipment or lifejacket in sight. On the day they arrived, the wind was between 25-35 knots with around a 3m swell, not conditions I would've wanted to be out sailing in an essentially open boat for 40 miles. When they sail overnight, the canoes run watches of three people: one to steer, one for the mainsheet and one to bail.

West Fayu is a small lagoon with one island, with no permanent inhabitants, but there is a fishing camp which is regularly visited. There are several rough huts, a corrugated iron church and water catchment. There are also gardens with bananas, papaya, taro and tobacco but large supplies of betelnut must be brought from home. The trees are full of nesting seabirds (noddys?) which must make the soil quite fertile. I found one bird that had got tangled up in some twigs and we managed to set it free. It was lucky for it that we found it, as roast seabird is definitely on the menu here. One evening, we saw the birds being taken by catapults and scrambled eggs were also on offer for breakfast. We had a lovely evening here with 'Ivalu' sitting on the beach in front of a bonfire, watching the hermit crabs surround us.

Apart from walking around the island, we haven't done much here yet, as since we have been here the winds haven't abated. The anchorage is quite choppy and rolly, as the surrounding reef is not high enough, and the island not big enough, to offer much protection. The roar of surf breaking on the reef is constant and some of the breakers we can see from the yacht are quite large. Also on the reef are the remains of two boats. One of these, which must have been quite a large ship, could be mistaken for a couple of oddly-shaped volcanic islands, but the other, a fishing boat, is still intact. As the sun sets, in silhouettes it looks as if it is still steaming towards its next port. If the weather gods are kind, we would like to have a closer look at the wrecks and maybe do some diving but we will have to wait and see.


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