Mopelia - Last stop in French Polynesia - Coconut Crab "Safari"
Grete & Fred Vithen
Thu 27 Jun 2019 06:57
Mopelia (last stop in French Polynesia) 16 46 73S 153 56 92W
We had a crazy night sailing which was our, Alex and mine, second night watch on the boat so far. It was a bit scary, it was raining in and the waves were coming in from behind. We almost lost our bananas during this sail but dad managed to tie them up again after they had a bath in the salt water. Luckily it is very rare that Sans Peur takes on water from the front and the back. It was a bit of a rollercoaster ride trying to sleep after our watch. You are rolling from side to side and you just have to see which side the boat is leaning and stay sleep there.
We arrived to Mopelia after 17-18 hours instad of our calculations of 21 hours, our top speed was 13 knots so you can imagine it was blowing quite hard from behind which pushed us forward. The entrance to the lagoon of Mopelia is very hard to find as the proper markers were destroyed in a hurricane, we did manage to find it due to some temporary white indicators. This pathway was a very narrow pathway, with coral walls on either side and on top of this we went the wrong/made our own path. Nerv-wrecking! But we made it in safe and sound and couldn't wait to put the anchor down.
As a reward for the rough night and crazy entrance, we had a big breakfast in the calm waters of yet another shallow lagoon (anchored at 6 meters). We were welcomed by a herd of pilotfish and 5 black tip sharks which would stay with us until we left. Unfortunately, we have been a bit unlucky with the weather lately and we had to wait out the rain and wind to be able to take the dingy into shore to see if the two women (mother and daughter) that my parents met when they were here in 2013.
According to the formal information this is a unhibitaed island. But there are some people living here, all related to the island Maupiti. We saw at least 6.
We went in with the dingy and they came to greet us at the beach infront of their house. Turns out that they are still here and that the father and the younger sister moved over from Maupiti so the whole family is united. The two women still remembers mom and dad and they invited us for dinner in the evening. Lobster caught by hand at the reef at night with help of a strong torch. What a nice welcome! We of course said yes to this kind offer and spoke to them for a while before we went on a nice beach walk with their 2 dogs as company. It is incredible how many hermit crabs there are on the beach and in all kinds of sizes and shapes - apparently they climb onto the branches of the bushes by the beachfront when the high tide is coming in.
Instead of paying for dinner we brought a basket with some things we thought they might long for as the cargo delivery only comes every 8 months or 12 months (can you believe it!?) - we put in meat, coffee, cookies, beer etc etc.
As mentioned before, we have been a bit unlucky with the weather and it started to rain cats and dogs so we were absolutely soaked and got soaked again when we took the dingy back to the boat. In the evening, we had quite crazy weather but we still managed to get into shore with the dingy fully equipped with rain jackets and big Berta (the massive flashlight). Delicious dinner with he whole family and they had prepared the best Poisson Crue we have eaten so far with parrot fish meat, lobster cooked in Dutch curry, grilled parrot fish served with rice and cooked eggs. They told us about a older man who ended up onto the reef with his sailing yacht due to a miscalculation, painful and strange to see when we went across the island for a walk.
During our time here we went for coconut crab safari twice, once during the day with the oldest daughter and the mother and once with the sisters. The coconut crabs are of course hiding away in their holes during the day but it was still quite funny to see them. They look a bit like spiders crossed with crabs. At night the coconut crabs are a lot more active and are running around during the night and climbing trees. Such weird looking creatures and it is crazy how strong they are when you pick them up. Apparently, they can cut off a finger with their claws so stay clear. This is an threatened spicy and it's very rare to see them this way. This family are carefully taking care of them. Only harvesting a few when they are at a the right size. It's delicious food but we just wanted to encounter them.
Another great experience!