Tuesday, September 20, 2011


That's the acronym that I've come up with to describe what we're looking for in tropical anchorages at this point - N.O.D.Y., pronounced "noddy", as in the seabird.

It stands for No Other Damn Yachts.

I don't want to come off as any kind of misanthrope, which I'm surely not. And I hasten to add that some of my very best friends are other yachties, and we've gotten to know some really remarkable people who are out sailing the world.

But in the Society Islands, which we just left, there are so many yachts that all the anchorages begin to look like RV campgrounds ("caravan parks", I think, for the Antipodeans). After a month there, sailing felt like RVing for people with lots of money who don't mind being seasick.

So in Penrhyn we were looking for N.O.D.Y. And that's what we've found - we're the eighth yacht to visit this year, and the last one was here two weeks ago.

So that's all good. It's really an incredibly isolated place - we're anchored off Omoka, the larger of the two villages, a cluster of houses built a meter above sea level and a hundred and ninety miles from the nearest neighboring island.

The Customs, Health and Quarantine officers who came on board this morning told us that the island gets only two visits by a supply ship each year. Right now petrol is perilously scarce, and it will remain so until the next resupply.

Our plan was to clear in with the officials and then head over to the smaller village on the windward side of the atoll. Omoka is on the leeward side, which means that seven miles of open water lies upwind of us, which makes for quite a choppy anchorage when the trades are booming.

First we fought to get our 250 feet of chain up as an approaching squall had the bow forever swinging away from where we wanted to go. But when we almost had the anchor up the squall line was nearly on top of us, which meant it was no time to be picking a route through the coral bommies of the atoll lagoon. So we left the anchor where it was, and once again put out 250 of chain.

And then, when the squall was gone and the winds were calm, the windlass refused to retrieve the anchor. This is the fourth time that the windlass motor has failed to heed the call of duty. And this time I think it's for good. And this is where I should mention that we don't really have a manual backup on the windlass. So tomorrow we'll get to figure out how to retrieve the 250 feet of chain and the 88 pound anchor against the tradewinds, which are again booming. Should call for a bit of seamanship!

Meanwhile, I was all for a visit ashore to Omoka this afternoon, until Alisa reminded me that the Health officer had told us that all the kids in the village have the flu. And we don't particularly fancy the 810 mile passage to Pago Pago with two sick kids. So here we sit, off one of the most isolated villages that we'll ever visit, in self-imposed quarantine, all too securely anchored to the bottom.

Clearly, we're living the dream.


  1. hey, man. this post makes me chuckle.
    my best to you, alisa, and the boys.
    you've got to let your Dear Readers know
    how you get the chain and anchor up.

  2. love these gritty tell-it-how-it-is posts. They temper my envy (a little).
    Can't wait to see you guys...
    Melissa & co