On the fishing front, we had two lines out the next day, and simultaneously they were both taken by mahi mahi. Whilst we slowly wound in the first, the second managed to escape. Just as the one we were dealing with was approaching the stern, it too managed to dislodge the hook. Shortly after, we caught another large mahi mahi, it too escaped! Come back Tim, all is forgiven!
In the evening we did catch and land another wahoo, so now have plenty of fish in the freezer!
The wind then strengthened to a maximum of 35kn, which is gale force. We put in a 3rd reef, and decided to run without a headsail, so as to arrive at the Duchateau Islands at daybreak. It was a rough night, and by morning we had 4 metre waves. The pass into the Louisiades at this position is wide, and we had a bit of current with us as well. We were relieved to finally get behind the shelter of the island, and find that the anchorage was tenable, though rolly. Far better than being out in rough seas.
Lop To arrived the following day, and anchored close by. The islands are attractive but deserted, and apart from driftwood and old turtle egg shells, there was little of interest. However, we did find a clearing near the beach where three small huts stood, seemingly abandoned. It turned out that shark fishermen use them when they are in the area. Sharks are caught simply for the value of their fins, which are kept and the rest discarded. Fins are sold to Korea, China and Japan…
After two nights there we set off for Panasia Island.