Michael Hughes and Ger White
Tue 3 Jun 2014 12:46
We arrived here on Saturday, spent most of Sunday working on the boat---trying to sort out the autopilot problem and servicing the generator---and also part of Monday, when we hoped we might have
the autopilot fixed. But most of Monday we were exploring the atoll—a dinghy over to one of the smaller islands with the crews of 2 other yachts here—Smoke and Grommet---where, inter alia, we saw the most enormous
coconut crab, about a foot in diameter with claws that break open coconuts! And snorkelling—some lovely corals and reef fish, though less fish than we had expected. And we’re back swimming with the sharks! Seen a lot
of black tip sharks both when snorkelling and swimming around the boat. The water is lovely and clear. This is the most amazing place! A nature reserve, totally uninhabited, inaccessible other than by private yacht
(apart from the sailors on the fishery/reserve protection vessel who come into the lagoon every so often), hundreds of miles from anywhere, safe and snug in the lagoon but outside a big ocean swell and strong winds—it’s great
and we’ll stay awhile.
But we needed to test the autopilot fix---so today we left the lagoon for a sail---joined by the skippers from Smoke and Grommet—Michael (Canadian) and Davie (New Zealand)--- who wanted to come for the ride. Quite a day.
We did some autopilot calibration on the way out and testing under power in calm waters---no problem. We left the atoll and put the sails up---the real test---the autopilot coped fine with the big seas and 20 knots of wind---so the fix looks good and we’re celebrating! But we also had 3 fishing lines out the stern as we sailed—the bigger fish tend to be just outside the pass into the atoll—and suddenly all 3 lines took a fish—we must have gone through a shoal of what turned out to be yellowfin tuna. One got away, but we safely landed 2---one around 5 kilos, the other at least 6 kilos. And by the time we got back to the anchorage they were gutted and filleted and we sat down to a late lunch of delicious sashimi—the
best and lots of it---joined by the remaining crews of the other 2 yachts (other than the 6 kids they have between them, who were too busy building a shelter on one of the islands). A nice sociable afternoon. And a fridge full of tuna—tuna steaks this evening!
Is this paradise? So glad we came!