Wailangilala is a strange atoll: not a single coral head inside the lagoon and hardly any on the oval-shaped barrier reef. We went snorkeling in the pass, but even there we found only rocks with isolated, sparse coral growth and only a few fishies (at least a couple of grey reef sharks came by to check us out). We are puzzled by the lack of life: if the reef got damaged by a cyclone, wouldn’t there be young growth everywhere? And shouldn’t the deeper coral be in a good shape? But if it’s man-made damage (from dynamite fishing or fishing with poison), how can it be so wide-spread? We have no explanation.

The reef doesn’t give much protection, so it’s bouncy at low tide and rock and roll at high tide. We arrived with a light SE wind that was supposed to die down, but has shifted to the SW instead. There’s only one little island on the NE side of the lagoon and the anchorage in front of it doesn’t give any protection from the SW. We anchored there and it was unbearable, so we took the dinghy with the portable depth sounder around the cape to see whether there was a possibility to anchor Pitufa there. We found a deep, but incredibly narrow channel between rocks, but no open space big enough to anchor with swinging room. We ended up taking Pitufa through this precarious channel (breaking surf on the beach on one side, shallow rocks on the other) and anchored with a stern line to a bommie. It’s a bit better here, but we still spent the night in passage-mode (one of us sleeping in on the salon couch, the other one on the passage mattress on the floor).

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