We are now anchored at Emae Island after having spent a day and one-half at Cook Reef. Cook Reef is a partial atoll covering quite a few square miles. Only a couple of coral rocks are visible at low tide, and nothing at high tide. Our digital cruising guide claims that there is a small notch in the northeast corner of Cook Reef that can be a place to anchor but only in perfect conditions and only during the day, and fails to provide a waypoint for the notch. We arrived in near perfect conditions and, with Laura sitting up on our downwind pole installed on the mast, we could not find the “notch” in an hour or trying. As we werre giving up and heading away, we saw a narrow gap in the reef and wound our way in very slowly until we entered a sandy basin with 8 meters of water that was just big enough for one boat to anchor.
The snorkeling was great. The water was extremely clear in the basin and reef around the boat. We saw sting rays, a turtle, grouper, and large vibrant mounds of coral. The weather was so settled, we decided to stay the night. The boat hardly moved in the flat seas and calm winds. This morning we took our kayak out to another part of the lagoon where the water was only 2 to 4 meters deep and there were many smaller tropical fish. Early in the afternoon, with the sun high overhead, we threaded out way out and sailed the five miles to Emae Island in 10 – 12 knots of wind. Tomorrow we will head up to Lamen Bay on Epi Island to visit the dugongs that live there. Dugongs are very much like manatees.
It is good to be exploring in the islands rather than waiting on weather in Port Vila or Noumea. The stars are shining brightly tonight, and we are going to go out and have a look from the deck.