We are now anchored in Cocos (Keeling) Island, approximately 500 miles west-south west of Christmas Island. Cocos is a territory of Australia, and the small, isolated atoll resembles many we have seen throughout the Pacific. The lagoon is on the lee side of the atoll, but the 20+ knot wind has found its way through the brush and trees.
The crew has just finished dinner after a pretty easy day of exploring Destination Island. It is a great feeling to take a break and relax after more than a week of hard sailing in excess of 1,000 miles. I don’t think the crew has really let down their guard and allowed themselves to enjoy land too much. The looming thought is of the approaching 2,300 mile journey across open ocean with no stop until Mauritius.
We intend to be in Cocos only for a few days while we tidy up a few small details and dry out wet clothes from the recent weather. Fortunately, we have access to non-potable water to wash clothes and the canoe. For the past 9 days, we have been washing our clothes and bathing with salt water. Fresh water is a luxury that cannot be missed! We have all our gear out that needs drying. At least the strong wind is good for that.
I don’t think I’ve written about the swamp yet, but my towel fell in it last night and would not be the same until I could find fresh water on land. Luckily that was today. The swamp, as it is affectionately known, is actually the wet deck of the canoe that keeps the water out of the hulls. We sleep about 12 inches off the wet deck on a piece of plywood and mat. A mere foot away from where you sleeping, water is washing through the swamp constantly. I do everything I can to keep personal articles from becoming one with the swamp. First, because there are a multitude of scuppers – holes above the wet deck to let the water in and out back into the sea – that are large enough for small items such as iPods, phones, and eyeglasses to be swept out to sea. The other and equally vexing reason is that once you let something touch the swamp, it will not be the same until you find some fresh water. The classic swamp story that every crewmember faces at some point is that in the middle of the night you will turn over in your bunk and pull your blanket over you, and the corner has just come from the swamp. Needless to say, it’s very hard to go back to sleep with the swamp water on you just after you bathed.
Tomorrow brings new adventures. We head off to Home Island and West Island in search of provisions as well as other small souvenirs that will remind us of this place that most of us will probably never visit again as it is one of the places that is really off the beaten path.