Saturday, 19 July 2014

Deserted Anchorage.

Greetings from an absolutely deserted anchorage :)

The kids spent most of the morning asking if they could empty the "overboard bucket" (ie scrap bucket). This is most unusual behaviour, but it was because there were some shark sucker fish living under the boat, and it turns out that they love table scraps, especially weevilly cereal (guess what I found in the cupboard this morning?), pamplemousse rinds, and soggy bread (carefully mushed by Benjamin). Every time someone would put some thing over the side up to a dozen of them would emerge to take their share. Fun to watch; Victoria even managed to get a quick video clip of them swarming around.

We left the village of Rotoava in the late morning to head south. We had a couple of anchorages (from the Soggy Paws Tuomotus Compendium) we copied into our chartplotter, and we figured that we would decide as we went how far we would go. As we passed the first one, we had good weather, good light, a sleeping baby, and quiet kids ... so we continued on to the next one. Every hour that we travelled today is an hour in the bank that we don't have to travel tomorrow.

When we arrived at our anchorage, for the first time in a long time, there was no one already here. We are well south of the village, so there are no lights ashore, and there is not another boat to be seen in either direction. We are in an empty South Pacific anchorage, with flat water, steady wind (10 kts) and palm trees overhanging the beach. Now this is the stuff that dreams are made of!

After a couple of attempts, we found a nice sandy patch to anchor in, so we have gotten by without buoys tonight. Since we had kept our dinghy hoisted on our side for the transit (where we put it every night) it was easy to launch and go ashore for a little stretch and exploration. The shoreline is alternately white coral sand and black coral "cement" (a bit like a moonscape). We were met by lots of crabs scuttling around under the trees (not the huge coconut crabs we saw last week, but still pretty fierce!), a couple of salamanders, and loads of tiny biting specs (bo-bos or no-see-ums or no-nos - call them what you like, they are unfriendly). There is a little swamp just behind the beach, so we weren't too surprised to get bitten. The water is so clear that we didn't need to snorkel to see the detail of the coral or the fish (or the black-tip reef shark that swam by; nice to see it from the safety of the dinghy!). It was also so calm that we could see the ripples spreading from the tail fins of the fish as they scooted around the coral by the beach. We stayed ashore long enough to find a coconut and have a little walk, then we sent the kids around the little point to the next sandy stretch and we left in the dinghy to pick them up.

The funny thing was that due to the time of day and the angle of the sun, the coral heads were only clearly visible *after* we were almost on top of them, so we paddled around to the other beach (about 300 yards), giving the kids time to wonder where on earth we were! This beach has coral unlike any we have yet seen - spiky growths that look like antlers gone wild. Unlike some places in the world, most of the coral here is pretty monochromatic (white/beige with the odd splash of purple).

Speaking of the sun and its angle, I realized today that it has turned out to be a lucky fluke to have chosen to start at the north end of the atoll and work our way south: the sun is behind us for most of the day, making this journey much easier than it would be if we were transiting north, with the sun ahead of us. With the light behind us, it is easy to see the changes in water colour that indicate shallows and reefs. We were in a charted channel, but still, it is nice to have all the factors in our favour as not all of the shallows are marked! I think that in any other atolls where we have the choice, we would head for the north end first.

We have initiated another attack on our unwelcome residents tonight. Alisa from Galactic suggested we try boric acid tablets. Even better she *gave* us some to place around the galley and other areas where they congregate! {They have been cruising for almost eight years, and have not had any issues with our bugs; any time there has been a sign of them, they have been quick off the mark to eradicate them, and that has been the end of the problem. I had read that this was the only approach, but now I have lived the result of being too soft-hearted in the beginning!} We are going to look into getting rid of them for good in Papeete, as NZ has very strict rules about bringing any pests into the country, and we want to keep our entry as simple as possible. I am gaining grim satisfaction sitting here and watching the bugs show interest in the pellets - they have stepped nimbly around any of the other powdered poisons we have laid out for them , and they seem to be attracted to these. Here's hoping. Live and learn!

Anyway, from our starry, beautiful, buggy anchorage, we wish you good night and send you our love,

Elizabeth
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At 7/18/2014 4:41 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°20.29'S 145°29.77'W
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At 7/18/2014 4:41 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°20.29'S 145°29.77'W

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