Suwarovv day out

Tue 11 Aug 2009 19:38
What a day! 0900 10 aug Vagabond Heart, Lucey Blue, Silja, Yarrabonga? crews all met on the beach where John, the warden drew a map to advise us where the best snorkeling , most bird/fish etc were to be found.
Then, after distributing kids into everyones dinghies so we could all plane, we set out. A ten minute trip in the dinghy alongside the reefs, with the bottom clearly visible only 6 feet under the hull, all the fish zipping away from us. smaller motus with thousands of nesting birds, and pristine beaches. We arrived at whale island, so named because they recently found a 60 sperm whale, dead and beached on the reef. Its jaw was cut off, and has been partially buried on the beach at anchorage island to clean it up before being sent back to be studied. One can see bits of the jaw and teeth sticking up through the sand.
We anchor off the beach at whale island, in about 2 feet of clear water, and wade ashore. The noise from all the birds is quite incredible, they nest on the ground, not in the trees, and the eggs are laid on the ground. White, speckled in brown, they are quite hard to spot. We then walk gently round the northern edge of the atoll, along a sand and coral beach, with a reef extending off out to sea.
On the way we break into small groups, I am lucky enough to walk along holding Amanda`s hand and chating quietly about the trip so far. Once we stop to investigate what seems to be a pile of shells, it turns out to be about ten of twelve hermit crabs all climbing over each other. Intrigued wwe settle into see what is going on. The largest shell is perhaps 1.5 cms long, and they decrease in size from there. There is much jostling, and then all of a sudden we see the largest hermit crab pop out of his shell and into the empty one he has been holding and manoeuvering into the right position. As soon as his move is complete, and his shell is empty, the next largest crab pops out of his, and takes over the empty shell, and so on it goes. The move is completed very quickly, as soon as one is vacated it is filled by a new crab. Really quite amazing to see, and all over in perhaps 90 seconds.   
There is a small shallow channel between whale and the next island, (I rather gather these islands change names as various people visit them, and talk to John) a cooling wade through the channel brings us to another bird full island, walking round that one brings us to Turtle island. No turtles here at the moment, or birds either, quite surprising after so many birds crushed on the last two little islands. There a real palm trees on this island, rather than the scrub that we have seen on the others, aparently there are also some Frigate birdds nesting in the trees, and they are predatory towards the much smaller swifts.
Once we reach the southern most end of the atoll the kids decide they need to cool off, so wade out into the swell to stand facing the waves at the edge of the reef. Great to watch all six of them playing out there, whilst the adults sit and chat with their feet in a rock pool.
The walk back is a little faster, the sun is high up, and beating down now, and no one thought to bring watree with us. Soon we are back at the beach for a little picnic lunch. Then it is back into the dinghies, and a short way away there is a litttle pinacle of rock sticking up out of the depths, (generally 30/40 mtrs in the lagoon here) with masses of coral on it. Carefully setting the anchors, (that actually involves handing the dinghy anchor to one of the children, and then having them jump over the side and set the anchor in the sand), fins and masks on and it is off for a snorkell. Lots of incredibly colorful Parrot fish working away at the coral, plus thousands of others that I have no idea what they are called, plus coral and clams. Even a couple of black tip reef sharks (6 or 7 ft long) swim by, but keep their distance.
Somehow on the way home, all the boys have managed to work themselves into the dinghy with the biggest engine (hint for those who are thinking of going cruising, your street cred is greatly enhanced by having a 15 or even better a 25 hp motor on the dinghy, of course you will be begged to take every kid in theanchorage out wakeboarding!) so they streak off ahead of us, curling back to hop over the other boats wake. Bill and Debs on Vagabond Heart, free of kids decide to troll a line on the way back (it`s just a way to get some more peace and quiet) whilst we take Alice back to Lucey Blue.
Once back aboard, the girls settle in for some more needlework, Alice has designed a momentoe to leave here on the wall of flags, Amanda is working on one of her other projects. The boys have found out that they are going to drag two boogie boardds behind our dinghy for the rest of the afternoon. Ina sets to in  the galley, (in trmendous heat), to conjure up something for tonights potluck birthday party. I end up doing odd jobs about the boat, and watching Bill install some software on my computer for me.
After a while the girls get a bit hot, and join the boys on the boogie boards, then it is back to decorate the cakes, and make birthday cards. All of a sudden it is 1700, we have to get ashore for the start of the party. One of the other boats has landed their HARP! which is just part of the musical accompaniment for the evening.
The festivities start by taking the scraps of fish (caught by John and his boys in the morning) out to feed the sharks, on the outside of the lagoon!, then moves on throught a quick welcoming speach from John, Grace was said, and then a magnificent spread begun.
The kids were all done with eating, they went off to play rugby,and various other games as it got dark, including catching coconut crabs, and hanging them in the trees, using their claws. The crab sits there for a bit,and then if left alone just climbs back down and heads off. The crabs are a remarkable range of colours, reds, blues, greens etc.
Heads are starting to droop, and the party is starting, so we tak the kids back to the boat, where we all lie on the nets forwards, watching the shooting stars, billions of stars, and fell asleep out there.
What a life!