Swingin' on a Star

Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".

01 April 2010 | Palau
13 July 2009 | Palau
05 July 2009 | Yacht Harbor
03 July 2009 | Peleliu
02 July 2009 | Palau
01 July 2009 | Two Dog Beach
30 June 2009 | Mecharchar
29 June 2009 | Mecharchar
28 June 2009 | Ulong
27 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
17 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
16 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
15 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
14 June 2009 | Ngeruktabel
13 June 2009 | Ngerutable
25 May 2009 | Yacht Harbor
30 April 2009 | Malakal
29 April 2009 | Koror
28 April 2009 | Malakal
27 April 2009 | Malakal

Sailing to Yap

23 March 2009 | Colonia Harbor
We were up at 5:00AM, before the sun, this morning. We had gotten the boat ready to go last night so there wasn't much to do to prep the boat. After warming up the engines and testing forward and reverse Hideko began to raise the anchor. The water here is so clear that you can shine a flash light into the water and see your anchor 25 feet down.

There was a sliver of a moon low in the sky as we motored slowly back along our track. A direct path from our anchorage to the exit pass transits some 6 foot shoals on the chart. Our plan was to head back north a bit and then cut directly across the lagoon in water charted at around 100 feet deep. Considering the fact that Admiral Halsey's 3rd fleet, with more than five fleet aircraft carriers, five battle ships and a mass of cruisers, destroyers and support ships, all anchored here often at the end of WWII, I am inclined to believe that the charts are in the ballpark. It would be a bummer to run our little yacht aground, but I imagine it would be substantially more embarrassing to put a 33,000 ton war ship on the rocks.

We paced our lagoon transit to ensure some sunlight at the pass. As we approached we could make out the reef and shoals extending fairly far to the north from the island to our port (as charted). We aimed for the water at the center of the two islands and inched our way along. We transited the pass with what appeared to be lots of room on both sides and no less than 48 feet (45 at MLLW) of water. Outside the pass the bottom fell away rapidly as expected.

The seas were very calm and so was the wind. The Gribs show some funky Lows to the east juggling around and shutting off all of our wind for the next week. A few more days wait for wind would have made sense but as it was we wanted to get on to Yap. Our friends on Whistler and the Manta Rays are waiting for us.

Ulithi to Yap is a 97 nautical mile trip from hook to hook. With only 12 hours of daylight this time of year we needed to do more than 7 knots to avoid a night time arrival. After playing with the sails and the auxiliaries for a little bit we settled on a double reefed main with both auxs running at 1,800 rpms to produce an average speed over ground in the mid 8s.

The main made little difference most of the day because the wind was about 5-7 knots from astern making the apparent wind about zilch. Dragging the double reefed main through the air doesn't cost much and we did make a few tenths of a knot once in a while when the wind backed and picked up (usually 50 degrees to starboard, apparent). The raised main stabilizes the rig but in the calm seas this was not a real consideration. One engine wide open (about 2.2 gph @ 2,300rpm) would burn a little less fuel than both at peak torque (about 2 x 1.2gph @1,800rpm) with about the same speed over ground, but we were happy to take the small fuel hit in exchange for not running a motor wide open for 12 hours.

The day passed under blue skies with lots of little fluffy white cumulus clouds and the occasional rain shower passing by. Miki slept almost all day (amazing really) and Hideko and I exchanged watches at the helm. We saw nothing. No boats, no fish, no nothing.

Then we saw Yap. Yap is a fairly low island with no significant peaks, though it is hilly. The barrier reef is substantial and extends quite a ways out from shore. In the clam seas it was a particularly dangerous affair without a good chart. The ship wrecks sticking out of the water a mile from shore give you some warning.

The channel into Yap's Colonia Harbor is wide, deep and very well marked. I wouldn't want to do it at night for the first time, but if need be I think our Navionics chart on the plotter and the lit markers would have made it fairly safe in calm conditions. Our charts were quite accurate until we got way back into the harbor. You never know these things until you've been there once of course, unless you have a friend in harbor.

We hailed the port to get permission to enter the harbor. No response from the harbor but Eric on Whistler came on. After a quick catch up on 17, Eric agreed to take me ashore to clear in. We anchored in the south arm of the harbor (out of the way of the main fishing and cargo docks) and as Hideko and Miki put the boat away I ran ashore with Eric.

The port captain's office is only online from 08:00 to 16:30. I did catch the duty officer on his handheld before entering the harbor and he called over the immigration and customs folks. We already had our FSM cruising permit from Chuuk so things went pretty fast. We paid $40 to the port and $20 to customs. Immigration was free and the officer stamped all three passports for me.

The process took no more than a half hour and there were no overtime fees even though we started the process at 18:30. There was a fair amount of Beatle nut chewing going on (particularly by the women) which I haven't been able to get used to, but everyone was very friendly and helpful.

Our first impression of Yap is a good one. The town is clean and there are several cute shops and restaurants along the coastal main drag. The locals are friendly and everything seems quite safe. The harbor is totally protected and flat. We look forward to exploring more!
Vessel Name: Swingin' on a Star
Vessel Make/Model: Saint Francis 50
Hailing Port: Las Vegas, NV
Crew: Randy Abernethy
Home Page: http://swinginonastar.com
Swingin' on a Star's Photos - Swingin on a Star (Main)
Selected photos of Swingin' on a Star at anchor.
7 Photos
Created 18 September 2007
31 Photos
Created 15 September 2007
copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Randy & Hideko Abernethy, all rights reserved