Hello! Here is another addition to the blog. APO REEF

Lars Alfredson
Sun 24 Jan 2016 11:02

I recently joined Lars' crew for a short time, so I'm adding my blogs while I'm here. Thank you!

We got an early start for Apo Reef at around 7am (pretty sure Darryl was still asleep on the sofa), so as to get to Apo in time for some snorkeling. Darryl mainly drinks and sleeps (according to Darryl, Lars, and Kenneth). But that's not quite fair--he also knows a lot about sailing and a crazy number of helpful knots, like the icicle hitch, which came in handy when setting up the hammocks. I can't blame him for sleeping a lot--for me, sleeping is the only cure for mild seasickness. Although I'm getting better at being at sea, as I write this, I'm in my cabin about to doze off again, feeling decidedly nauseated. Kenneth helped me out with a lunch of toast and tea. I slept for about 4 hours from 8am until noon. Sweet bliss really to relax this much while on vacation.

We saw some nice fish during our first swim at Apo reef, but we were in the atoll and we discovered later that the best coral was around Apo island nearby. We would have to explore the island the next day. Tonight we enjoyed Kenneth's tasty fish dinner and finished our game of Mexican Train. Kenneth won by a long shot.

The next day we set out for the island to do some snorkeling. My goal this trip was to see my first shark and I scored big. On the first snorkel, I saw a big whitetip reef shark about 30 feet below me.

As Kenneth and I were swimming back (we lagged behind the others), we saw a few guys in a bangka headed for our boat. They toted a Kalashnikov rifle with them to inform us that we needed to pay the national park fees. I guess they were used to much more stubborn park visitors.

We set off in our dinghy to the beach to pay the fees and climb up the lighthouse for a view of the island. Along the way to the lighthouse, the trail brought us along a rickety bamboo bridge out to a mangrove pond (where we spotted two miniature sharks!).

Despite my vertigo, I made it up to the top of the lighthouse, which everyone informed me couldn't have been more than 50 feet tall. From the top, we spotted another shark in the coral reef next to shore.

As we motored over for our last snorkel, I spotted a large, rare chambered nautilus floating in the water. Lars made a u-turn and Kenneth and Darryl jumped in the dinghy to pick it up. It was huge! What a nice find.

By the time we started snorkeling, I had already met my shark goal. As I got in, I swam for the wall and looked down. Huge schools of triggerfishes swam around me and below was a 6-foot grey reef shark. I swam after it, splashing and making all sorts of noises that are not suggested when sharks are around. It made a u-turn and started swimming toward me. I froze. It continued on its way and so did I in the other direction. I stayed near the wall and saw 5 other sharks--two smaller reef sharks following each other along on the wall and several others (one was likely a repeat of the first one I saw). Kenneth found one or two sharks and Darryl spotted the largest turtle I've ever seen. Totally successful day!