|We spent 5 wonderful days at Manihi Atoll in the northern part of the Tuamotu group of islands.|
Land ahoy - the atolls are low coral outcrops with coconut palm trees giving them a bit of an outline on the horizon.
Manihi village. It had 2 small supermarkets & Fernand's bakery so we could do some re-provisioning. We found Tim Tams & Sao's - a real treat.
We couldn't believe how much seaweed, plant growth and barnacles grew on the hulls in 4 weeks of sailing in the open ocean. Cleaning 2 hulls, inside & out was hard yakka.
The finished product.
The homes and pearl sheds are built on the waters edge. The bats are stored in structures that support them above the water. They have rope slings placed under the hulls and large wheels are turned to raise the boat out of the water.
Clam in the shallows near the shore
Anchorage at the northern end of the island. We spent a couple of very peace nights here.
Large, brightly coloured Hermit crab.
Speccy sunrise - tropical paradise
Pearl Farm visit - young oysters are grown on strings of black plastic material which was developed in Australia and they buy from NZ. The strings are tied to a rope which is suspended between floats several metres under the surface of the water.
A baby oyster with the plastic string in the back ground.
John diving down to untie a string of more mature pearl oysters. The visibility of the water was disappointing, but according to Fernand (our guide and owner of the pearl farm) this was due to an algal bloom.
Fernand opened an oyster and extracted the scollop type muscle which he then sliced and we ate raw. It was quite nice.
John & Nigel carrying the strings of 3 & 5 year old pearl oysters which we helped Fernand gather from different sections of the pearl farm in the bay.
Fernand cracks the oyster shell open slightly then places a wedge to hold the shell open.
The shell is then placed in a holder and using a variety of specialised instruments, the oyster is examined to see if it contains a pearl.
This shell has been opened. The pearl is at the top near the metal holder. The abalone bead that is used to 'seed' the oyster is at the centre bottom. This is inserted into the oyster 'pouch' and the oyster then produces the covering over the bead. The oyster will not produce a pearl without being seeded. It also requires a small cutting of another oyster's muscle to be inserted during the first seeding. This will give the pearl it's colour. The donor muscle is selected from an oyster with a nice 'mother of pearl' colouring.
We chose to oysters each to open and were able to keep the pearl, if there was one inside. This is John's oyster. The pearl can be seen sitting in the pouch in the middle of the left hand side of the shell.
It was a beauty - large, round and aubergine in colour. I'm such a lucky girl - as you have guessed, it's now mine.
Our pearls - different shapes and colours - beautiful & unique
The passage into the atoll. The water was crystal clear here.
Fernand - Pearl farmer, tour guide, baker, Morman Minister & all round nice guy.
Following Fernand out the passage. The water races out and in only going 'slack' at the change of the tide. We exited the lagoon as the tide was going out, so went with the flow, which was a lot easier than when we entered the lagoon, when we were going against the flow.
We had a lovely stay at Manihi. If you get there look up Fernand at the Bakery. His bread is to die for and the Pearl Farm visit cost $30USD per head.