Monday, 14 September 2015

More Mantas (Plus a bit on SAS Planet and Ovitalmap) - 31 Aug 15

[Liz wrote this some time ago, 31 Aug 15, and I had great intentions of taking the letter and adding photos before turning them into blog posts .. this did not happen and now we are "off-grid" again so I am posting them as text only blog posts. Max]

Hello,

After the brick I sent last night, I thought you might like a shorter note today :)

We had an early start - "time, tides, and Mantas wait for no man". By 0730, we were all in the dinghy and heading to the Manta pass, where our friends on Honey, as well as several boatloads of tourists were already snorkelling. Benjamin and I hung out in the dinghy for the first few passes (I had taken him, jammies and all, from his bed and popped him into the wrap, so he was still half asleep), then Max drove the dinghy and I went into the water. Because of the tidal current, the swimmers get dropped off at one end of the pass, and they drift towards the other; meanwhile, the mantas are swimming both upstream and downstream to feed. They look a bit like spaceships swimming towards us with their mouths wide open - it is disconcerting, but amazing. The kids loved it, and I have never seen anything like it. It felt a bit like a carnival with so many guides and swimmers, but it was nice, because there was always someone pointing out with great excitement where to swim next. The water was murky enough that I sometimes had a manta 3-4 feet from me before I could see it; the mantas would just swim by, unperturbed by the excitement, and seemingly unaware that they were the center of attention.

Our next anchorage was a whopping 5 nm away, so we had our breakfast, warmed up in heavy layers, and weighed anchor. The passage would have been a bit tricky if we only had charts, but we have begun using a new app that lets us see satellite imagery while we are underway, so we had a pretty clear sense of where to look for the reefs {I am sure that Max will add more info about this on the blog for the sailing geeks reading this ..[Ok, there are various ways to do this. My favourite is SAS Planet which allows you to view and cache imagery from a wide collection of sources including Google satellite, Bing, Yahoo and Nokia. I can use this to recce a route or anchorage and to determine where to put waypoints. Using GPS Babel I then take the KML {not KMZ !} files from SAS Planet and create GPX files that Coastal Explorer, Open CPN and our chartplotter can use. With a GPS feed to the laptop we can also see where we are on the satellite image. Tim has also used the system to great success to pick out excellent spearfishing locations ! We have also started using Ovitalmap on the iPad so that we can see the view in the cockpit. It not quite as user friendly but nice to have a back up. All of these are free but take a little while to figure out as SAS Planet only has instructions in Russian and Ovitalmap in Chinese. Max] }. Combined with our marriage-saver bluetooth headsets we are getting pretty high-tech :)

We had hardly set our anchor when Tim (Exodus) called on the radio to invite Max and the other dads to go spearfishing. While he was gone, the rest of us arranged for what turned out to be girls on Fluenta (watching part II of the Sound of Music, then sewing more dresses), boys on Exodus (playing games and Lego), and (hooray, hooray) moms on Field Trip for coffee. Having one another to talk to really helps us keep our collective sanity. I was especially grateful that Benjamin napped well before I left, so I could leave him with Max & Victoria with a reasonably clear conscience: it is not often that I can give a grownup conversation my undivided attention! As for Max, he had hardly arrived back on board from spearfishing when two girls were climbing aboard with various sewing and crocheting materials and I was on my way off the boat. It was a go-with-the-flow sort of day.

For once, I had planned ahead for dinner, so we were able to watch a movie together while eating chili. I am not sure which was more entertaining - watching Night at the Museum II or watching Benjamin exclaim with great excitement over all the airplanes flying around the screen!

Anyway, it has been a good day, and I have managed to send an email of a more reasonable length! We are anchored right under a cell tower, so there is a technical possibility of some photos getting posted or some Skype calls being made while we are here, now it just remains to be seen if it is a temporal possibility as well :)

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 8/30/2015 11:13 AM (utc) SV Fluenta was 17°10.00'S 177°11.00'E
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At 9/11/2015 11:57 PM (utc) SV Fluenta was 16°48.99'S 178°19.55'E

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