We arrived in the Tuamotus (Dangerous Archipelago) yesterday. Paradise found.
After waiting outside Fakarava’s south pass for about an hour we put out a general hail on the VHF, channel 16. “This is sailing vessel Hydroquest, Hydroquest. Is there anyone who can tell us how the pass is for entering?” Another cruiser answered us and offered guidance that it was a perfect time to come through (meaning close to slack tide and little current). It was earlier than we had estimated, but that was great. We hoisted Ben partially up the mast in the boson’s chair as a lookout, Katy at the bow, Will at the wheel, and me with my camera. We began out first ever navigation into an atoll. It turned out to easier than expected. The pass itself is quite deep although in the channel we saw less than 3 feet under the keel. Will noticed that the Navionics chart on our ipad is much more accurate than the Garmin chartplotter. We glided by the small pension built out on stilts over the coral and the water color changed from deep blue to hundreds of shades of turquoise.
As we motored towards the “anchorage” (quotation marks because it is not a great anchorage – over 40 feet deep with a coral bottom) I said what we were all thinking: “We are going to see our first shark within minutes”.
Before we had the hook down, there was a shark. And then another. And another. They are everywhere! As far as far can tell they are blacktip reef and grey sharks.
So, the shark comfort curve has been a very steep one. Yesterday we had never seen sharks in the wild before and were very excited with cameras out and squeals coming from Katy and I. Yesterday at noon we were snorkelling around the boat checking them out as well as inspecting the anchor and chain (which is already sitting on a giant baumy … I’m unsure of spelling, but it is a tower of coral). By the afternoon the boys were jumping off the boat with them all around. By sunset we were relaxing on the dock of the tiny pension drinking cold beers and watching sharks swarm fish guts that Finny, the chef, was throwing in the water. By evening we were having a boat party: drinking wine and hanging out with new friends (a Parisian couple staying at the pension, Finny, and a couple other Polynesian guys) and Ben was jumping into the water in the dark. This morning it was pronounced: “Sharks are the new dogs” and Will spent over an hour in the water cleaning the bottom of the boat. This afternoon we are doing a drift snorkel through the pass where we are assured of 100+ foot visibility and over 200 of them! Comfort level from 0 to 200 in less than 24 hours. Less of a curve and more of a vertical line.
WHAT THE HELL!!! This is so crazy. So cool. So remote. So beautiful.