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Thursday, May 13, 2010


Well, here we are staying up until it gets light on Thursday morning. We've been up since just after midnight when John woke up to go to the bathroom and realized that the wind had switched to the south putting us on a lee shore. He had to work hard to get the anchor back on the boat (much complicated by two sets of anchor buoys tied to the chain to keep it off the coral heads). I drove while he directed me from the bow which is not an easy thing to do when it's pitch black out and the wind is blowing 20 knots and there's a coral reef right behind you. But we only saw a low of 15' before we reanchored out in deeper water. Our two buddy boats had moved on to a spot near the main pass late in the afternoon, and one of them had to reanchor, and the other wound up in 12' of water. We all knew unsettled weather was on it's way, but it wasn't supposed to blow out of the south and we all prepared for N and NE.

Oh well, it was paradise up until now! Here are the places we've anchored so far.

Just inside and to the right of the main entrance pass:


This was our first stop and had a small reef and good coral heads for snorkeling. This was where we got our first look at the "giant" clams, although these are only about six inches or smaller. They are quite astounding in their color variations (of the "lips") and are fascinating to watch. The corals were also interesting, and though there weren't very many fish here, we were elated by the clarity of the water. It was just like snorkeling in an aquarium!

To the west of the pass at the village:


This was a nice position from which to visit the village where there are two rain cisterns with potable water (according to the gendarme). It was an easy dinghy ride across the pass (assuming reasonable wind and tides), as opposed to anchoring to the east of the pass which was much choppier. We did a nice "drift" snorkel in this pass and it was beautiful, but we went by everything too fast on the incoming tide! We also did a little laundry and explored the mostly abandoned buildings in the old copra village. The only place in good repair was the chapel which was absolutely charming because of it's immaculate condition out in the middle of virtually nowhere. As we finished up the laundry a cigarette type boat pulled up with 12 passengers aboard, including a gendarme. They had come from Makemo for an overnight before continuing on to Feeiti. The policeman asked us some questions and made arrangements to check our passports the next morning. They were all very nice, offering us drinking coconuts and letting us know that we were welcome to use the water. I only had one pamplemousse with us which I offered up "pour les enfants." On our way out the gendarme called us back to give us two baguettes which we passed on to our buddy boats who had been without fresh stores longer than us (they both came up from the Gambiers Islands).

In front of the reef in the SE part of the lagoon:


Here we had two long morning walks and one night walk at lowish tides on the reef itself (not a motu with trees). It was an easy walk from where we landed the dinghy to the ocean side of the reef, though we did switch from our knock-off Crocs to tennis shoes for the rough coral. There was a little bit of shelling but most of the good ones were already inhabited by hermit crabs so we let them go. The most fascinating thing was watching the numerous eels making their way through the tide pools. We tried to rescue one which appeared to be trapped in a dry spot, but as soon as John disturbed the rock the eel shot off over the jagged coral just like a land snake. After we did this a second time we realized that the eels knew exactly what they were doing and didn't need any help from us! John went out with a few people from the other boats after dark one evening to look for lobster. He reported that it was cool to see urchins and lobsters out walking on the reef, but we didn't keep any of the latter for Nakia.

Near a small reef for snorkeling:


This was the best snorkeling reef yet maybe because it's in deeper water beyond the anchorage. Here we saw a tiny snakelike seahorse, lots of fish, a good sized eel, and most exciting of all, two octopus playing rock statues on the reef. One of them reached a tentacle out to hold on to its mate/friend while I hovered well above them. Absolutely wonderful!

We've covered a lot of ground since we arrived on Saturday and have shared drinks, food, and the good company of Visions of Johanna and Soggy Paws for three of our five evenings here. We continue to be amazed by the clear water and beautiful scenery. People have told us, "If you've seen one motu, you've seen them all" but I can't imagine ever growing tired of the sight.