Sunday, 14 September 2014

A little about the Birthday Feast and a lot about the Lobsters

Greetings from Fluenta!

Today was the big day - we attended the Birthday Feast for Sam in honour of his 21st birthday. It is late, the boat is quiet, so more on that tomorrow. In the meantime, Max has written a bit about the lobstering he did with the men the other night (in preparation for this afternoon). We enjoyed the last of the lobster meat today at lunch time, and it was very tasty :)

Over to Max ...

***

A few nights ago Rio, one of the two council members for Te Tautua and a fisherman, invited me to go out with some of the men to go lobster fishing. They came by in their aluminum outboard fishing boat just after sunset and headed for one of the further motus at great speed. Once there we dropped two of the men at the west end of the motu while we took the boat further to the east. From there Rio, Sam and I crossed the motu to go the reef outside the atoll facing the surf.

At that point Sam and I walked along the reef in water ranging from waist to ankle deep sweeping back and forth with our lights looking for the light on the lobster's eyes to reflect back. Rio snorkellled in the intertidal zone pool between the reef and the motu and then joined us hiking on the reef. It was a challenge to keep a good eye out for lobster while watching one's footing as the reef water depth varied quickly from above water to neck deep and the reef would crumble in some places. Added to that the surf, although subdued, was still rolling in and the ebb current was flowing. And, of course, one had to dodge the numerous sea urchins and not slip on the sea cucumbers.

Turns out I would need more practice if I were to sustain my family based on my lobster fishing. While the three of us must have caught 35 lbs or so of lobster, I caught a grand total of two lobsters ! One that I caught ran under the coral so I had to stick my hand blindly under the reef to pull him out despite the fact he would much rather stay put. Lesson learnt: better gloves next time as several days later my thumb still hurts ...

Although I was too busy to notice while looking for lobsters and trying to keep up, when we paused I noticed that the moon has risen so the view along the outer reef was outstanding.

After about 2.5 hours we paused and went back onto the motu. At this point I still thought we would have to back track along the reef to return to the boat. I was feeling okay but was thinking that I would be pretty knackered after another 2.5 hours on the reef ! Turns out Rio had a much better plan. The other two fishermen collected lobsters until they reached the point where they could cross the motu and find where we left the boat. They then took the boat to across the motu from where we were so all that we needed to do was hike across the motu with our loot and take the boat back to Fluenta and the village. Whew...

It was a great experience and I was honoured to be invited by Rio to get a better insight into their lives. Looking forward to the next adventure !

***

There you have it. I was certainly glad to see them back safely on the boat, (just before the generator ashore went off, as promised :) ) I hope you are well, and we will give you a description of the feast tomorrow.

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 9/10/2014 3:07 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°57.50'S 157°55.72'W
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At 9/10/2014 3:07 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°57.50'S 157°55.72'W

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