I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nature Preserves

Sharks. Lots of them. And not just minding their own business, but a little too friendly, a little too curious, a little too... aggressive.

We arrived in Tahanea after leaving Makemo at 5:30 a.m. a few days ago (hard to keep track). We managed to get the anchor up without a hitch, and as the tide was ebbing we figured it wouldn't be a problem to get through the pass. We didn't have any "problem" getting out of the pass at Makemo, but we did hit 13.3 knots, and we did see a couple nasty looking whirlpools. Regardless, we survived.

Upon our arrival in Tahanea we were greeted by a bunch of sharks who seemed to be overly interested in the boat. I thought it could be because we caught a fish on the way over and the shark could still smell the blood on the deck- even though it was washed off. I learned that a shark can detect one part blood in 100 million parts water, so it is possible. I also learned that tiger shark fetuses can bite, but that is irrelevant (for now). In other places there have been lots of sharks that swim by the boat and pay it no attention, but these sharks are well aware of us. I decided not to go swimming.

The next morning (yesterday, I think), Yuka swam over to the boat. She snorkeled around a bit before jumping in the kayak because the sharks were swimming "right at her!" She and I kayaked around the boat and watched about 8 black tipped reef sharks circle the kayak. They came within 2 feet of the kayak but I felt pretty safe, until one of us tipped the kayak too far to one side and we would both scream.

After that shark encounter we decided to go snorkel away from the boat, so Yuka, Mark and I found a nice coral head covered with fish to swim around for an hour. We saw a few sharks but they were totally uninterested in us. I like that. Plus, there are so many other fish around that it would be silly for a shark to try to eat me when they could have a much nicer meal.

Later in the afternoon we decided to do a pass dive (snorkel). The tide was coming in so we went to the outside of the pass in the dinghy to float in with the current. We got in the water and were swimming along nice and easy with a few knot current pushing us. Then I saw a shark- a big (probably 5 feet) grey reef shark. It was swimming RIGHT at me. I faced it and swam away, backing up into Mark, who was towing the dinghy. Just as I grabbed on to the dinghy it turned and swam right under me. Then it turned around and started swimming right at Mark, turning just before it was going to run into him. Soon enough the three of us were hanging on to the dinghy, being circled by 2 sharks who were wayyy too interested in us. A friend had told me that the reef sharks are "generally friendly but will sometimes swim at you, which can be nerve racking until you get used to it."

We were all trying to keep cool with the sharks swimming around us, but finally one got too close and all three of us dove head first into the dinghy. We were all cracking up. Yuka said, "wow, we are such a bunch of losers!" Yeah, letting those 2 dumb sharks get the better of us. I don't think they would have attacked us, but they certainly were intimidating.

We decided to go check out the "village" after that. The village contained a "yacht club" (a rusting tin roof and some plywood), a water cistern, and of course, a church. Nobody lives here, but the church was well maintained and as far as I could tell, ready for mass.

Today was a hot, lazy day. We snorkeled the northern pass, but again the current was so strong we moved too fast to really see anything, and fortunately we didn't run into any aggressive sharks (only nice ones). Earlier in the day Yuka and I found a huge morey eel in the shallows, so in the afternoon we went back with a piece of (cooked) fish and tried to lure it out of its cave. We found it and dangled the fish in front of it, and it was curious, but no bites. We went for another snorkel around a coral head in the evening before sunset to cool off.

Tomorrow, assuming we can get the anchor up, we will leave for Fakarava. I have been told that there is a nice A-frame wave at the south pass, which I am excited to check out, although I have come to the realization that if I surf here I will be sitting on a shark infested reef, waiting for waves or anything else that comes along. Wanna join me?
At 5/19/2011 2:15 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°51.02'S 144°41.54'W

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