We enjoyed our day at beautiful and protected Baulailai. We explored the river by dinghy. Walked the pretty beach. Snorkeled the reef nearby. Normally that would be three days of activities for us...but we had a busy day and did them all. The reef was pretty, though visibility wasn't terrific. There was a nice drop-ff so there were lots of variety of fish including a few new ones we hadn't seen. A new anenome fish (clownfish or "nemo") and several others were spotted. Unfortunately, we also saw a few crown of thorns starfish (painful, reef destroyers) and they were big ones.
The next day we moved on to Bua Bay or Mbua as some charts call it (closer the pronunciation). We anchored quite a way into the bay (almost two miles) but that got us out of the swell. The winds picked up as the day went on and the low mangroves didn't give much protection from them. Another boat was anchored towards the entrance of the bay and the next morning they came in telling us they got no sleep out there. We didn't do much there other than listen to the wind which was hooting pretty good all day.
This morning (Thursday) it felt liked it calmed and certainly the skies were bright blue with very few clouds. So we made the call to leave around 0630. Once out of the protection of Bua though, it was blowing and the short steep waves had us moving under motor at 2.5 knots! Luckily our destination was about 10 miles away...but it still took almost four hours. We anchored at a suggested place in one of the guides and a ferry was just leaving the dock as we dropped the anchor. They got mighty close! There was another ferry coming as well – didn't think there would be two the same day! They honked at us as they came in and told us we were too close to their turning radius. So after they had safely docked without hitting us, we moved to the other side of the dock where the captain of the ferry suggested. The water here was much more shallow and the visibility in the murky water was non-existant. So we depended on our depth sounder and one of the ferry's crew directions (he was standing on the top deck telling us where to go.) We dropped the anchor in the designated spot with only 10 feet under the keel (it was high tide!).
A policeman in a boat came by and told us we were good where we were – though still close to the ship. The wind is a little less on this side as there is a bigger hill protecting us and we hope that we'll have enough protection from the swell. It is supposed to be pretty windy the next few days. We saw 30 knots as we were approaching the anchorage.
The good news is there should be internet here and Michael went ashore to buy some internet time. So perhaps there will be some new pictures soon.
Latitude: 16 59.59.55s
Longitude: 178 41.13e
At 8/24/2016 9:00 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°58.07'S 178°38.02'E
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