Jelly Fish Lake Anchorage
19 April 2009 | Mecharchar
We woke up to a beautiful sunny day with absolutely no wind. It was a perfect day to motor over to Mecharchar to meet up with Whistler. We left the Swiftlet Lagoon, crossing the pass with 9 feet of water on a 2 foot tide, and headed out to the big horseshoe shaped island.
As we exited the pass I considered the challenges of sneaking into protected holes in the Rock Islands. Shoal draft is an important asset but I think beam comes into play here in many scenarios as well. Our 26 feet width probably will keep us out of some nice spots even though we could easily clear the bottom. Another issue with beam is that there may be plenty of water in a pass, and enough width, but there may not be enough water on the edges. That is to say, we have two keels 4.5 feet under water about 22 feet apart. Thus a pass 10 feet deep but only 10 feet wide would shut us out. So far we have had no problems but it has been important to align the boat properly when running passes and watching for isolated rocks that would be no problem to a mono hull needing deep water only 3 feet wide.
We had a nice motor (there was no wind at all) on the way to Mecharchar and spotted three turtles on the way. Normally turtles on the surface disappear in the waves but the lagoon was flatter than flat today, so anything disrupting the glassy water stood out. We followed the undersea cable down the deep water track running North/South and then headed east toward the break between Euidelchol and the main island.
Careful coning here was important and both Miki and Hideko kept watch on the bow. We passed into the interior of Mecharchar and explored a possible anchorage to the north close to the Clam City snorkel spot. This area was a bit too rocky for us so we continued north and then around east and south to parallel the inside of the eastern most part of the Mecharchar horseshoe.
Near the bottom of the horseshoe, close to the area of Jellyfish lake we came upon a bar looking a bit too close to 5 feet to transit comfortably. At this obstruction we backed up and anchored to do some recon. The dinghy has been in tow since we left Malakal due to the calm waters inside the Palau lagoon, so it was a snap to drive around the bar to inspect things. The lead line indicated we could clear the bar in several places but it was tight in both width and depth.
Our electronic charts here are fairly poor when it comes to useful navigation details amongst the islands. We have a paper chart, lent to us by Dermot at Sam's Tours. The paper chart is a much better representation of things but it has no soundings and can be vague or a little inaccurate at the largest scale of detail. The paper chart showed a bar in front of us and to the right around the other side of a little rock island. Dinghy recon showed the bar to the right to be much deeper but still an area where caution was required.
At this point the Whistler crew, anchored on the other side of the horseshoe, appeared in a group of kayaks (3 on two one man inflatables!). Miki joined them with our two man kayak and they all headed off to Jellyfish lake. Meanwhile Hideko and I raised anchor and crept through the westward bar.
We continued along the eastern wall of Mecharchar all the way to the southeast corner. This corner is one of three little lagoons described by the south wall of Mecharchar and two little rock islands. Entering the lagoons takes some care due to shallow rocks, particularly near the edges. In retrospect the transit near the Jellyfish lake dock to the west is easier than the way we came, along the eastern wall of Mecharchar, which presented a second shallow bar to cross.
We anchored in 15 feet of soft sand. We had to attempt a set twice, adding a little chain the second time after slipping at 2000 rpms the first. Short scope is required due to the size of the hole, but the protection probably makes a 2000 rpm backdown excessive. We did so all the same and ended up lying to about 60 feet of chain.
The rest of the crew had fun at the lake. We met them at the park dock and ended up guiding Whistler over to the third lagoon by dinghy. We are happy to be in another lovely anchorage and look forward to exploring the area tomorrow.
It was Pepe's birthday today so we all piled on Whistler for a great dinner and some fun stories regarding Eric and Pepe's adventures in South America, not the least of which was an interesting tale of taking the local's way up to Machupichu. No one has stories like sailors.