January 21

 This morning we left Ant Atoll to head back to Pohnpei. We raised the anchor at about 7am and headed for the pass. We do not have a tide table for Ant, only for Pohnpei, so when we got to the pass we found the water still flowing out at a tremendous rate, and, with the sun still low in the sky, we could not see the coral canyon which marks the pass. The pass is very narrow, about 80-100ft and snakes like Lombard St. The edge of the canyon has less then 2ft of water on top, the channel itself is quite deep. But as it is the only entrance and exit for tidal streams, the current runs fast. We just managed to turn around and get out before being sucked in – we just could not see the edges of the canyon and the sticks were not familiar enough for us to rely on them.

We tooled about the lagoon for an hour and then came back to the pass. The second time, at about 8:00am, the sun was high enough that we could easily see the reef and the tidal current had subsided somewhat, though it was still moving at least 2k. We cleared the pass and immediately were surrounded by a dozen or so dolphins, always a good sign. The weather is very calm with the wind at about 6-8k from the NE. The seas are calm with a swell from the NE of about 5ft and the skies are cloudy with about 75% cloud cover though the closer we get to Pohnpei the more we get in the clouds as the island (high and mountainous) is shrouded with them.

At 9:30am we have about 11.5 miles to reach Palikir Pass, the Westernmost entrance into Pohnpei’s lagoon. We expect to enter the lagoon at about 11:20am.

By 11am the wind has increased to about 15k. We have been motor sailing with just the jib for about an hour and making a good 7k over ground. But as we turned more to the East after rounding the northwestern most tip of Pohnpei’s outer reef we are now motoring dead into it. We are on the final leg to Palikir Pass with about 2 miles to run. At about 11:15 we entered the pass. It is narrow – it is not the main pass for ships – and huge swells were breaking on both sides as we threaded the needle. It was then that the skipper remembered that the forecast had included a high surf advisory for today.

By 12:20 we are tied up at the dock waiting for officials. An arriving plane seems to have monopolized all of the customs, immigration and quarantine officials. We will have to wait.

It is now 4:30pm and we have just got the hook down at the anchorage. We were stuck at the dock for 4 hours waiting for the various officials, mostly Immigration which did not show until 4pm!