I was determined to be even lazier today than I was yesterday. We continued to have good sailing, though in early afternoon the winds started dropping and we motor sailed for a little while. The winds picked back up later and we sailed through the night, just a really dreamy and pleasant day. Despite this I was still a little grouchy in the evening due to continuing pain. I talked with Lisa about this and we decided to avoid being negative on the boat and in life and that we should call each other on that.
The great sailing continued in the morning and a relaxing time was had by all. The weather seemed to be getting sunnier and less squally as we headed south, there were a lot of puffy clouds around but we had sun all day. We were sailing pretty close to the weather and not going too fast, but this was ok as we needed to time our landfall and we reefed the sails more so that we would spend the night going 3 or 3.5 knots.
At first light we were 12 miles or so from the east pass on Makemo, our destination. We slowly sailed another couple of hours until we were within 5 miles of the entrance, then started the engines, dropped the sails, and started towards the pass. The starboard engine overheated and coolant seemed to be leaking out of it quickly, so we continued with just the port engine. Winds were in the low teens on the nose and we were towards the end of the flood (wind against tide situation). As we got close we looked into the pass and it didn’t seem too snarly, so we continued on. From when we started entering the pass to when we anchored and snorkeled around the boat was a downright dreamy experience. Turquoise shallows surrounded by deep blue water, breaking waves, palm trees, it was like a postcard. We motored around a few charted bommies and anchored near the village. We got in the water right away and found 100′ visibility, groups of fishes in midwater, and a bottom covered with small dead coral heads. The water was a little cooler than the Marquesas but felt great. After relaxing on the boat we went out snorkeling at three nearby bommies. This first taste of sea life in the Tuamotus was great, lots and lots of fish around and some good coral near the surface. The highlights were at the third bommie we visited when several white tip and a few black tip sharks were patrolling around, ignoring us but there always seemed to be one or two sharks in view. After we got back to the boat we both developed splotchy sunburn-like rashes and felt exhausted, needing to lie down. I don’t know what caused these rashes but it doesn’t seem to have been something in the water, and may have just been our bodies reacting to all the stress of the passage and the sudden flurry of activity on arrival. We went to bed early and got a good 10 hours of sleep.
We felt great in the morning. There was some wind so I went out looking for a spot to kite from, but the wind was gradually dying and marginal as is so I didn’t try to set things up. I crossed to the other side of the pass and walked around a bit in the stunning beauty, studying a potential surf spot next to the pass which looked like it might be better on a higher tide. I returned to the boat and we went diving a little bit later, at the closest bommy to where we were anchored. This was a neat dive, lots of limestone formations in 30-40′ of water. Not much coral but there were a fair number of fish and several sharks. We came back to the boat and a little while later went out again, across the pass to the spot I’d seen earlier. We did the same hike together (it was close to high tide now and the surf break looked a lot better), spotting a ray in the shallows, and then took the dinghy further into the lagoon, anchored off a beach and walked around for a while. This beach was just as stunning and walking it was pretty nice, not just for the views but also some wildlife: a shark passed just feet from shore, and a couple hermit crabs on the beach were trying to evict a third one from its shell.
After a lazy morning and breakfast we went snorkeling in the nearby pass. We would take the dinghy to a suitable point, hop in the water while holding onto it, then float along with the current. It was in the middle of the flood when we started and we were zipping along pretty quickly; when the coral ended we got back in the dinghy, motored back to the pass and started again in a different place. The coral was excellent on both sides of the pass, with lots of fish around. Every pass we saw several sharks: white tips, black tips, a couple gray. We also saw a cownose ray once. After seven or so passes we went back to Magic for lunch. Afterwards we went back out, timing the slack tide pretty well (about 1/2 hr before Rangiroa high tide) and drifted over a large shallow coral area near the pass, which had some of the best coral we had seen earlier. A couple more sharks, one of them pregnant, and lots of fish and nice coral up close. Afterwards I tried to go surfing at the spot I’d checked out earlier, but didn’t get any rides — even at high tide the waves were still breaking right on a coral shelf and I didn’t want to risk wiping out and getting smashed on the coral. I was getting a headache from getting so much sun and generally didn’t feel great, and eventually came back in and went back to Magic with Lisa to relax the rest of the afternoon.
I left in the dinghy a little before 7:00am to try to dive the pass at low water. The current was still ebbing very strongly as I got to the pass so I went ashore and hung out for half an hour or so, after which the tide seemed to be slowing down so I went in. The current was still extremely fast, at least four knots in places. I started in about 30′ of water and had a hectic first few minutes zooming over the coral and trying to get things under control, before I got spat out into the main channel and deeper water. I slowed down a little but was still going pretty fast as I went out the pass and into deeper water, at which point I finished the dive. There were some sharks, and a catamaran we knew, Te Poe Rava, came through the pass near the dinghy, but there was too much going on to really absorb much. After finishing the dive I wanted to come back in and wait until closer to slack, but I saw a mooring ball on the wall outside the pass and decided to dive there instead. This was a wonderful, mellow dive with lots of coral, lots of fish, several sharks (including some grays early on that were bold and would directly approach me at low speeds before veering away), tremendous visibility (100-150′), and easy navigation. Back at the boat I relaxed for a few hours, then we went out with Dan and Kristy from Te Poe Rava to snorkel the closest bommie — I took macro photos of some pipefish and other creatures — and to check out the site under the mooring by snorkel.
We left around 9am with Dan and Kristy to dive the site at the mooring ball. As we exited the pass we saw that the current was already flooding, instead of the ebb that we expected / wanted. When we got to the ball there was a current heading for the pass, but it was pretty weak so we started the dive. Me and Lisa stayed in 30-40′ of water, even with the base of the mooring ball, and ventured upcurrent a few hundred feet, admiring the wonderful coral. The current continued to strengthen over the dive, and after 20-30 minutes we decided to end the dive, floating back to the mooring and hanging on for our safety stop. At the surface the current was piping along at 1-1.5 knots. We finished our tanks by diving at the bommie near the anchorage, nice and mellow but the ~60′ visibility felt bad to us (we’re getting spoiled). Dan and Kristy finished their tanks by floating the pass, and reported seeing lots of sharks and other critters. This inspired me and late in the flood I went back to the pass with Lisa. The current was considerably less than when we snorkeled here a couple days ago; we did another snorkel through the pass, which was nice, then I went diving off the dinghy while Lisa at first waited in the dinghy. I had a nice time in the outer parts of the pass floating past the coral and checking out all the soldierfish hiding in the ledges on the east side of the pass. As I got further in the current slowed somewhat, lots of little fish left the coral heads to feed on plankton flowing by, plus a great variety of larger fish — triggerfish, angelfish, pufferfish — swimming about. Great conditions. The coral started to peter out and I thought about coming up, but then Lisa started snorkeling and we came across the scene described for us earlier. A large shoal of bigeye scad was down near the bottom with more than a dozen gray reef sharks in the mix, some a little interested in me but they all kept their difference. I didn’t see any predation activity but the shoal was rather frantic and it was a very exciting scene. Several dogtooth tuna were there as well. After passing the bigeye scad there was another group of bigeyes, still with sharks, and then things kind of petered out. The current was very weak at this point and I tried to swim back to the sharks, but the dinghy wasn’t having it and I continued to float away and ended the dive.
I left alone around 9am to try to dive at the mooring ball while it was still ebbing. I found conditions as expected and started the dive with a very weak surface current and no current on the bottom (during an ebb this area seems to be in a big lazy back eddy and this is the ideal time to dive it). Wonderfully relaxing with the incredible vis as usual, schools of snappers, barracuda, rainbow runners, and other fish out and about. I looked out past the wall and saw now that it didn’t stop at ~150′ as I thought, but rather had a relatively narrow sand shelf at that depth and continued to drop away into the abyss after that. I went down to 130′, looking out across the wall and back up towards the surface, which was easy to make out at this depth. I only stayed a minute, and spent the rest of the dive around 40-60′. About 15 minutes in Dan and Kristy started to dive, having arrived a little after I did. We waved to each other but did our own thing. I hung out looking for fish and reef scenes to photograph. I stayed down nearly an hour and by the end the flood had started but the current was still pretty weak. I came back to Magic and rested for a couple hours, then after lunch went out with Lisa to dive at the nearby bommie, taking macro photographs of lots of neat fishes (including several pipefishes), clams, and so forth. A nice, relaxing time.
Lisa and I went diving around 9am at the mooring ball, repeating my experience yesterday. Dan and Kristy showed up as we started and did the same dive as well. Conditions were as yesterday with weak current and the usual spectacular visibility, and we had a great time. A big school of parrotfish was the highlight, roaming the bottom and leaving a cloud of sediment in the water behind them. In the afternoon we went to shore to walk around town, which was interesting but we didn’t find much in the way of groceries.
We had stormy conditions for much of the day. We tried diving in the morning but low water slack was a lot later than expected and we weren’t too enthused about the dark conditions so aborted. It rained a lot, and then cleared up a bit in the afternoon. We went out again but found the high water slack was a lot earlier than expected and the tide was already going out. I dropped Lisa back off at the boat and went diving anyways. Conditions were good; I encountered the group of sharks, scad, and tuna in a nearby place to earlier and spent some nice time with them, getting very close to some of the sharks and good looks at all the other critters. The current picked up more on the way out and as I did my safety stop I watched the standing waves above me. I hurried up at the surface to get things ready to go and then motored back, weaving through the now largish waves.
Conditions were nice in the morning and we dove at the mooring ball, finding a little current in the expected direction but not too bad. We had a really nice dive together, going down to about 70′ (new for Lisa) and enjoying the coral and fishes. Te Poe Rava left after we got back, and In the afternoon I went out by myself to dive the pass. As usual the tide had turned earlier than expected; I got in soon after it started ebbing, and spent about 15 minutes with the sharks/scad/tuna group before drifting out of the pass at a faster speed. There was less wind and waves compared to yesterday, though, and conditions were mellower than yesterday. Halfway through the dive it rained pretty hard on the dinghy, it was neat to watch and listen to the rain falling on the surface from fifty feet below.
In the morning I did some boat projects — sealing up a leak in the stb engine coolant pump, installing new solar vents. I want to get back to an hour or two of boat projects per day. After relaxing and working the rest of the morning we went diving at low water slack around noon. We timed things just about perfectly; there was a weak ebb for the first 10 minutes of the dive, then a gentle flood carrying us deeper into the pass. After fun with the coral and many fishes out at the entrance of the pass, we finally found the sharks, tuna, and scad assembly as we started to get low on air. We still had a few minutes with them, though, which was amazing as usual and Lisa had a great time with everything. We went paddleboarding at the nearby bommie and the channel next to town in the afternoon, which was fun, but otherwise relaxed the rest of the day.
It rained a lot for much of the morning and we hung around the boat. Later it cleared up, we went into town to get some groceries and gasoline, and a little after noon went to go diving with the sharks. It was still ebbing hard and we went ashore and walked around, looking at crabs and the big surf for a while, then Lisa found a hammock with some shade nearby where we continued to wait. After about an hour and a half we went out and did a short dive with the sharks, but the current was still ebbing and we surfaced after getting blown away from them. We tried to do a second dive, but the current was even stronger and we had issues with getting too deep and general confusion with staying together and communicating while drift diving. We surfaced and went back to Magic, talked about how things went with the dive, then hung out for the rest of the day.
The morning was pretty gloomy. I did some work on the boat — going through and cleaning the contents of one of the salon lockers, which had gotten water in it — but mostly relaxed. In the afternoon we wanted to dive, but were wary after our experience yesterday. I went out by myself to look at the current, which was still ebbing but not too strongly, and thought that coming back a half hour later would be good timing for diving at slack. We went out together at the appointed time, finding the current still ebbing a little but very weakly. Near the sharks the current seemed pretty much nil, though (I think this is a small eddy that forms during ebbs) and we went diving. This was an awesome dive, one of the best since we arrived in French Polynesia. Right from the start we were surrounded by sharks. There was no current, and we just got to hang out with them for twenty minutes. Some very dense aggregations of sharks early on. The main highlight was a bigeye scad with a torn up back that came swimming right up to me, panicking, before taking off. A grouper chased after it and bit at the wounds on its back, then another fish started chasing it too, then a shark arrived and that was the end of the scad. The current turned during the dive and started carrying us away from the sharks. We passed through the bigeyes, some of which were trying to predate on sharp nosed puffers that were inexplicably swimming well off the seafloor (spawning behavior?). There were still sharks around, and this was nice, but eventually we drifted past them, the reef petered out, and we surfaced. It was rainy with poor visibility, wind and wind-against-tide waves, but we didn’t care and felt great on the ride back to Magic.
There was a nice breeze in the morning and I wanted to go kiting. After having some cereal I left in the dinghy and went to a beach we’d visited on the east side of the pass. There wasn’t as much wind here and the beach was pretty narrow, but I was still hopeful. Unfortunately as I started to inflate the kite I noticed a broken valve that would prevent me from going out. So I headed back to Magic, and talked to Lisa about kiting from the boat — going from the beach just seemed absurd here given that conditions at the boat were much better. Lisa agreed, but given our bad experiences doing this two years ago she set several rules to make for a more relaxed time, most importantly keeping safety first and no yelling. I went over my instructions from two years ago, made some changes, and started work on getting the kite ready. After what felt like an hour later I still hadn’t gotten things ready — I let the kite out, couldn’t get it to fly right, pulled it back in, let it back out, pulled it back in to fix some enormous tangles, on and on. While this was going on one of our neighbors, Adam and Alicia on Black Watch (who we knew a little from Nuku Hiva and had talked to here as well), came over with kiting gear and we made plans to head over to the boat ramp ashore. They left, then Lisa and I went to join them. There was a small area to set up but it was just large enough. With some help from Adam with the launch I got going and found great conditions, a very consistent breeze and smooth, warm water, just wonderful. I left so that Adam had more room to launch himself; I hung out in the area until he launched, but he was having trouble getting going and was picked up by Alicia not long afterwards. I made my way back to the boat ramp and talked to Lisa, then I returned to Magic while Lisa returned in the dinghy. A little bit later we went back to the boat ramp to throw away garbage, and talked to Adam and Alicia again for a while (they’d returned to shore). When we got back to Magic it was mid-afternoon but I wanted to take another crack at kiting from the boat. Things went better this time; I made one mistake (running a control line through the bridle) which crippled the kite but I was able to get it sorted out, get it flying, and go out kiting for a little while. Adam and Alicia came over to the boat for drinks and a light dinner and we talked for a while, which was really nice.
I was kind of sore in the morning but there was still a nice breeze, and after doing some boat projects and a nice breakfast I tried kiting from the boat again. This went better than yesterday, and despite a little bit of tangling I got the kite launched pretty efficiently and had a great, long session, slowly making my way upwind to the large shoal/coral area to the south and west of the pass. The waves elsewhere weren’t too bad compared to Mexico, but in the shelter of the shoal there weren’t any waves at all; I was cruising on flat water past coral heads in warm, electric blue water. It was, basically, a scene from my dreams. After a little while there the wind felt like it was dropping, and I headed downwind back to Magic and put things away. I cut up a board so it could hold the line that kept tangling, then went out with Lisa to snorkel at the spot I’d just kited at. This was really nice, there were an enormous amount of clams here and I drifted down the exposed side of the shoal, seeing many sharks (including a nurse shark, my first in french polynesia), parrotfish, and so forth. I finished circling the shoal and met up with Lisa to return to Magic.
We wanted to dive the pass in the morning but the supply ship arrived the previous afternoon and was still at the town’s wharf. We didn’t want to go diving and then have it exit the pass close by. We were kind of bummed out (about this and annoying house maintenance issues) but waited until after slack and went diving at the mooring ball, having a wonderful time which evaporated all our worries. It had been several days since we were here and everything felt fresh. There were several sharks early on, several groups of green parrotfish flitting about — at the end of the dive I saw them spawning in shallow water, leaving a milky area of egg and sperm near the surface which light diffused through — a napoleon wrasse and lots of fish I got pretty close to. The best sights were towards the end of the dive, when in succession I found two octopus out in the open. The first one retreated after Lisa got a look at it, but the second one didn’t have a good place to hide and was pretty curious regardless, staying out to peer at us as Lisa got close to it and I took photos. A really wonderful time. After getting back to Magic we talked to a boat we knew from La Paz, Tumbleweed, who had arrived yesterday and had just done some shopping. We wanted to get groceries now that the town had fresh supplies, and went ashore with bike and skateboard to head around. It was lunchtime and all the stores were closed, but Lisa found the owner of one of them who let us do some shopping and get cabbages and cucumbers and such. Skating around town was fun with the concrete roads and flat terrain. After dinner I went for a night dive under the boat while Lisa did a short snorkel. I went to the anchor and led the reel out to the end, then came back. Lots of sleepy fish, several morays, shrimps, and sea urchins.
We went diving in the morning, arriving at the pass close to the end of the flood. We did a nice and mellow dive floating in, then came up as I started getting dragged back towards the mouth of the pass by building winds inside the lagoon. We tried to dive a second time with the sharks, but the ebb was pretty strong and while we saw the sharks we only spent a few minutes with them. After getting back to Magic there was some wind and I went kiting from the boat. Pretty quickly a bolt holding one fin to the board fell out, causing that fin to spin around and make it much harder to ride. That combined with fairly light winds meant I had trouble staying upwind, and after not too long I aborted and came in to shore. After walking a bit along the beach Lisa spotted me and came in to pick me and the gear up. Afterwards I relaxed and worked the rest of the day, and we spent the evening on Tumbleweed, a boat we knew from La Paz who had arrived a couple days ago.
The wind increased to the high teens overnight and in the morning we decided against diving. I went out kiting after breakfast for a couple hours and had a great time. I quickly made it upwind to the bommie near the pass, spending a lot of time weaving around the coral there in the smooth water, riding toeside, and so forth. A couple boats were outside the pass and making their way in, and I ventured across to the other side of the pass a few times and waved as they passed by. Back at the anchorage I found they had anchored right next to us, making landing or launching the kite difficult. The anchorage was getting pretty crowded now, with nine boats instead of the three to four that we had seen up to this point. In the early afternoon I highlighted Lisa’s hair, then we went into town in late afternoon to bike and skate around a bit, which was pretty nice.
After a lazy morning we went diving at the pass at high water. We drifted past the sharks in very clear water, seeing all the usual culprits here and a little predation activity, very nice. It was still flooding and kind of windy up top so after we got past the sharks, instead of fighting things we surfaced and went for another pass. We found that it had started ebbing and was quickly getting stronger, and there was also a bold Galapagos shark near the surface following us around and doing a little circling. Lisa was having trouble clearing her ears, and with all the things going on we aborted and returned to Magic. I was interested in kiting when we got back but took a nap first after the arduous dive and the wind started dying, so we hung out on the boat the rest of the afternoon, and had Tumbleweed over for drinks and a light dinner in the evening.
We had some stress in the morning as we’d wanted to leave the anchorage today but unresolved issues with the SLC house kept us tied to the internet. We decided to stay the day and went diving in the late morning, at a bommie further away than the one we’d usually been going to previously. We had a long, mellow dive with lots of fish life, a nudibranch, shrimp, and so forth. Afterwards another guy in the anchorage, Mark, came by and we filled a tank for him. He was interested in diving with us, and we were interested in diving again, so we all went out to the mooring ball. The swell was pretty high, which seemed to reduce visibility here, but the surge was manageable and there was little current so we had a good time diving. On the way out and back in the pass there were pretty significant standing waves due to the swell going against a strong ebb.
In the morning we met up with the crew of Shindig, who we knew from La Paz and had just arrived yesterday, to go snorkeling. We went out to the nearby bommie for a little while, and then went out into the pass to float back in on the flooding tide. This was fun and we were able to steer the dinghy over the area with the sharks, tuna, and scad, which was neat to see from the surface. Back at the boat there was a nice breeze for kiting, and Shindig came over and watched while I set up and launched the kite from the boat (they’re kiters too and wanted to see the system I was using). This went smoothly and I had a great time kiting, making my way up to the large shoal and doing lots of toeside riding there (even making my way upwind while toeside, for the first time). The tide was high and I did a lot of riding back and forth over the coral. I started getting overconfident and attempted a toeside turn while in the middle of the shoal. I fell off the board into about six inches of water over sharp coral, then bodydragged off the shoal, bodydragged back to the board, then bodydragged off the shoal again. My legs were pretty scraped up and the board lost a fin in the process, so I kited back to Magic, blood running down my legs. Back at the boat the scrapes didn’t look so bad; I cleaned up and put some iodine on them, then worked on building a new line storage system for the kiting bar. I started getting pretty tired (it was getting after dark) and stopped for the day, then shortly afterwards we headed over to Mark’s boat to visit him and his family for a couple more hours. It was a great day but very long and tiring.
After breakfast we went ashore with the crews of Shindig, Pangaea, and Tumbleweed to go to a new grocery store and check out a market someone had heard about. The market never materialized but the store had some good things and it was fun to walk around with folks. Soon after we got back we headed out with the same crew (plus that of Wiz, another boat in the anchorage) to drift snorkel the pass, going several times and having a lot of fun. A couple other boats from the anchorage saw what we were doing and joined in, too. In the afternoon I went kiting and had yet another great time, heading back to the large coral shoal, riding around a lot in smooth water, over the coral, and never touched bottom. As if this wasn’t enough, soon after getting back from kiting the other three crews, plus that of a fourth who we didn’t know, came over for a potluck, and we all spent the evening in Magic’s cockpit talking and such.
It was pretty windy in the morning and we decided not to try to go diving. I tried to go kiting but had problem after problem while getting it launched. The first try there were lots of twists in the lines after the kite inverted early on, and while fixing those I let go of the kite and had to go fetch it with the dinghy. I tried again and a strap on my board broke and it floated away; I spotted it with binoculars and got it off the beach, with some scrapes. Back at the boat I tried to launch the kite in an easier way but a control line got caught on the bar and the kite did a death loop. I dumped the safety before it had a chance to do another loop and gave up for the day. All this was done safely but Lisa didn’t like seeing it or being around it at all. We wanted to do stuff together the rest of the day, and after a couple hours later tried to go snorkeling. Before leaving I got obsessed with untangling the float line, and had a mini-meltdown after the stress of the day. We went into the cockpit to talk, but things just felt bad and it took some time before we felt good enough to go snorkeling. The actual snorkeling was fun, we were both free diving a bit and enjoying being close to each other.
It was a little windy in the morning and after the stress of yesterday we decided to not go diving. Instead, it was time to leave the anchorage, traveling with Shindig, Pangaea, and another boat, Alcyone, to the east end of the atoll to wait out some strong winds that were expected in a couple days. We got the anchor up ok, despite it being caught on limestone in a few places, then motored with both engines for 2.5 hours nearby the other boats. It was sunny and we were able to spot the bommies easily, and the passage was pretty nice. After anchoring in 20′ of clear water with sand and scattered coral heads we felt this was a wonderful spot to be. We did some snorkeling, then took the dinghy ashore to explore, walking along the beach, over to the ocean side (lots of big rocks on the beach here, so no surfing, but it would be interesting to look for lobsters here), into the forest for a bit, then back to the boat. With my scrapes and an achy knee I wasn’t enjoying the walking a lot but it was still nice to be out.
In the morning Lisa went ashore with the ladies from the other boats to walk around for a couple hours. When she got back we did a short dive at the coral heads under the boat, seeing some small fish and having a fun time. After that I went ashore to go kiting; there is a big sand beach here with easy launching and lots of shoal areas to check out. Winds were relatively light but I was able to get around fine and had a great time. The folks from Shindig and Pangaea were ashore too for kiting, but only Rob from Shindig was able to get a lot of riding in, as he also had a directional board. Along the way I saw a black tip shark and a turtle. I rested at the boat an hour and then we motored to an area I’d been kiting in which was close to the east edge of the atoll. I hopped off in chest deep water, then dragged the dinghy (with Lisa on it) into shallower water. There was a pretty strong current here: inflow into the lagoon from the huge breakers outside. I had to struggle with the dinghy, and even after getting out it was tiring to walk into the current. We gradually made it almost to the edge, which was an awesome experience as we looked at this unique place; an awash reef, top scoured flat, dropped off into the abyss with waves crashing onto it. Towards the outer edge there were lots of fish hiding from the current behind rocks, and I saw a black tip shark dart away. After making our way back we had drinks on the beach with the other boats, and dinner together on Shindig.
In the morning Lisa went ashore again to walk around. I left around the same time to a spot I’d scoped out yesterday, a big pool of deep blue water surrounded by shallows. I wanted to use this as a sort of kiddie pool for working on using the foil board. I launched with difficulty, having some tangle and crossed line issues (and, after my experience a few days ago, suspecting the foil was cursed) but eventually got sorted out. I had some success with the foil, clumsily riding it for several seconds at a time. After a while I crashed the kite on the water and it quickly deflated. Fortunately I’d picked this location with such an event in mind, and I drifted a little ways into the shallower water, tied up the board and kite to a rock, and walked / swam back to the dinghy. This was kind of tiring but wasn’t stressful, things were happening the way they should. When I got back to the dinghy I picked the stuff up, then headed back to Magic (the kite was fine, it deflated because a valve I had put in recently popped open). Lisa got back minutes later, and we went for a short dive under the boat, doing a photo shoot with the boat and coral underneath. Not long after the dive I went back to shore to go kiting, this time trying out a surf board I’d had for a while, no foil but no straps either. I initially used a 7m kite, which was undersized, then went to a 13m and had a good time, quickly learning how to do a strapless water launch and then riding and gybing the board pretty good. More life in the shallows, I saw an eagle ray and another turtle. Not too long afterwards the wind picked up substantially, and I was overpowered. I made it back to shore ok and got everything put away as the beach we’d launched from was being erased by the flooding tide. Back at Magic we went for another dive at the coral head under the boat. I didn’t have a camera and still spent half an hour peering around; there were some little critters like tiny 2mm snails on the coral, and it was interesting seeing the same fish as we had on previous dives — resident groupers, butterflyfishes, wrasses, dascyllus and so forth. This is their home and the ecology and diversity of the community here is fascinating.
I went ashore in the morning to go kiting. Winds were strong / turbulent and I stopped pretty soon. Most of the rest of the day I worked on rebuilding the center block of the watermaker’s clark pump. We tried snorkeling in some shallow areas but the current was very strong, so we did a drift snorkel over the bommies out to Magic. Afterwards everyone had dinner on Alcyone.
Early in the morning I finished rebuilding the clark pump, installed it and watched it drip a lot of water into the guts of the 110v feed pump, which shut down. I rinsed it and let it dry, then repaired the clark pump (an o ring was damaged during reassembly) and ran it with the 12v feed pump, which worked ok. A little bit later Lisa went ashore in the morning for a walk with the other ladies. I went ashore to try to go kiting, but everything was underwater and I didn’t feel like setting up my gear. I started trying to set things up on the boat, but Mike from Pangaea came by and we worked for a while on fixing a leak in his kite, which went well. Lisa got back and we went diving, visiting several bommies in 15-20′ of water and having fun looking at all the different communities. Afterwards I was still determined to go kiting. I went ashore, took a while getting my lines set up, and as soon as the kite got some wind it hit some coral on the ground and popped. I went back to Magic to start on repairing it, feeling pretty frustrated. Some folks who lived nearby visited in their boat, playing music and sharing some coconuts and palm hearts with us, really nice. It was an ok day, but pretty exhausting and I fell asleep early.
I got up a little after 3am and spent a couple hours repairing the kite’s leading edge with a sewing awl and some ripstop tape. I got the kite together and inflated it, then fixed a couple pinhole leaks at another spot in the bladder, and then the kite finally seemed to be able to hold air. With that done I started work on the watermaker, finding that the 110v feed pump worked now but I had a lot of trouble reinstalling it and was running low on time as we wanted to go ashore to walk around with the folks on the other boats. I was having a lot of trouble and was feeling very stressed so set up the dinghy so Lisa could go in by herself. After that I worked on the watermaker some more, but mostly just sat in the bedroom feeling terrible and lonely. When Lisa returned three hours later we talked a little and I felt a little better but still pretty off. Later we went snorkeling, which was nice, and shortly afterwards went to a dinner on Pangaea. In the evening we talked about the problems we’d been having over the past days. We get into negative feedback loops with each other and I need to remember to not let things upset me and to be able to disconnect from them if I start getting obsessed with problems.
In the morning there was wind so I went ashore and got the kite set up, with the Shindig crew’s help, as the beach started to disappear. Unfortunately just after launching the wind died and the kite dropped in the water, and the repair I did yesterday failed as I launched. My backup 12m kite was leaking in multiple places, so I didn’t get to go kiting, but didn’t let this get to me. A little while later Pangea’s crew came over and we went to the beach together, walking to the east end of the island along the beach and having a nice time looking at the scenery and the beach. At the beginning and end of our walk we visited a shack where the locals were staying, and we talked to them a while. This was really nice, they were very friendly and were there harvesting coconuts and just having a great peaceful life making moonshine and smoking weed. Around noon we went back to the boat and quickly left to return to the village, 10 miles away. The passage was nice and uneventful, but it was windy as we entered the anchorage. Our initial anchoring left us close to a neighboring boat, REDACTED, who glared at us, radioed us, and then came over to ask us to move. We did, with difficulty — I had to dive to clear the chain where it was caught on a piece of limestone — then moved to the outside of the anchorage. Pangaea came in about the same time, anchored in the wrong place and also got their anchor stuck. I came over and dove to free their anchor, then back to Magic. Pangaea came by later and we hung out for a little while, very enjoyable.