At anchor Rangiroa Atoll
Wind: North-east, F1 light air
Weather: mostly sunny, warm
I awoke this morning with Sylph as still as if she was still on the coral hard of the Apataki carenage, the water was still, the air was calm. After breakfast I jumped over the side to inspect Sylph's keel. Sure enough we had a few scratches along the bottom, nothing to worry about, my pristine antifouling lasting only a bit over a week, which even for me is a little worse than average. I was dismayed to see that I had also bent the wind vane rudder shaft but only about five degrees and I do not think it will affect its performance too much. I will see if I can get it straightened when I get to Papeete. After my swim I rowed over to Sea Fable (not Sea Eagle as I erroneously reported yesterday) for a chat with my new neighbours, Gerard and Zelda. As there was no wind they were going to spend the day at anchor doing laundry having found an abandoned shack on the nearby sand spit which had two large plastic drums full of rain water. I decided to follow their lead and after morning coffee I returned to Sylph, collected a bucket of laundry, put fins and mask, vegemite sandwiches and some cordial in my back pack and rowed ashore. When I got to the shack Zelda was already sitting on a crate scrubbing at some clothes in a shallow container. The shack looked as if it had not been used for a long time, about ten feet square it was open on two sides, contained a rudimentary table, a rusty mountain bike with no seat, a rusting moped with no engine, two rusting saws, some cooking pots and pans, a fridge and three portable electric cool boxes. Presumably its part time occupants Tim and Sandra (they had left a sign in Polynesian and French saying come in in but do not touch anything) when in residence brought a generator with them, though I doubt whether any of the electrical appliance had worked for a long time. As Zelda commented, where Tim and Sandra could have ridden a bike or moped to on the island was something of a mystery.
The water in the two drums was collected from the small rusting corrugated iron roof through a rudimentary and largely broken drainage system. After filling my bucket to soak my laundry in, Gerard and I did some very basic repairs to the water collection system for anyone else that might have a similar need. I then attempted to go for a bit of a hike further along the shoreline but after maybe a kilometre came to a deep narrow channel leading into a small lagoon that dominated much of the inland of the little island we were on. There appeared to a be a shoal that surrounded the exit to the lagoon and I tried wading out around it but it soon became quite deep again so I aborted my hike and made my way slowly back to the shack which I now had to myself, where I finished my laundry and had my lunch. It was very still and quiet, the warmth of the afternoon only disturbed by two wasps exploring the shade under which I was sheltering and the rustle of a gecko in the sand by my feet. The light blue of the sea, the white sand, coconut palms reaching out over the water, all drenched in the sharp hard glare of the sun made for a classic moment of tropical solitude. After finishing my sandwiches washed down with some orange cordial, I walked back to the dinghy, disturbing some fish sheltering in the shade of an overhanging palm tree as I waded past. A juvenile black tipped lagoon shark about 20 cm long patrolled the shallows along the shoreline, not seeming to disturb very much, little fish did not even get out of its way and bigger fish swum nonchalantly by its side.
Back on board I went for a snorkel to a nearby coral head, the visibility was not very good but a few fish were swimming around it was good to see the structure of one of these things with which we had had too close an encounter yesterday.
This evening I shared the remnants of a small cask of wine with Gerard and Zelda sitting in the cool of their cockpit. They invited me to stay for dinner which was not too dissimilar to Sylph's cuisine, namely a vegetable stew cooked in a pressure cooker, after which I rowed back to Sylph basking in the argent moonshine reflected in the rippled waters from the setting crescent moon hovering above her mast.
All is well.