Manihi - The Lagoon Day Out
As promised, albeit somewhat late. (Been so busy relaxing, and having fun)! Herewith the blog on our Lagoon day.
Fernand had been hired to take a group of us in one of his boats to an area in the north east of the Atoll where his family own a large Motu and where they grow Coconuts and Neno Fruits. (Used for making anti-cancer drugs by the Mormon Church). This was about a 40 minute ride in this ridiculously fast boat, with a 275 HP outboard engine that consumed 43 litres of petrol and hour!
We stopped off at a couple of beautiful bays along the way to have a swim to cool down. The water was a stunning colour, and was teaming with fish, and sharks. Mostly white tip reef sharks and some black tips, but all quite small in the 400mm to 1.5 metre range.
We then descended on the beach where Fernand's daughter and wife had arrived earlier to prepare the food.
We then set about collecting coconuts. Some were pulled down out of the trees, using a very long pole with a sharpened hook on it. Others were older, already on the ground and these had begun to germinate.
Before this trip I had no idea how many uses there are for coconuts. The fresh coconuts were opened so that we could drink the warm but soothing and cooling coconut milk. This was made particularly interesting because some of the Ralliers had brought some rum with them. So the trick was to open the coconut. Drink a little of the milk. Fill up the removed milk content with rum. The swirl it around before inserting a straw and drinking the contents. I am told this is the ultimate Pena Colada!!
Next the shell is cracked open and the flesh eaten. Some of this was taken away by the girls to be shredded and added to the food preparation.
The coconuts that have been on the ground for a while had germinated and as you can see from the picture above had started to grow. The flesh tasted totally different in these. Also they had coconut oil in them, which is superb for protecting your skin from the relentless sun.
The dried husks were then used as the fuel for the barbeque fire.
Bradley from Hakuna Matata, Paul from Anahi and I joined Fernand to go spear gun fishing for the fish for the Barbeque. We motored out to a coral reef about half a mile off the beach and tied off to the coral head. After some discussion it was agreed that only Fernand would use the spear guns. So he dove down to around 20 feet and POW, fired the spear gun and got a Rock grouper first shot. The spear is attached to the gun by a line, and so the fish was reeled in and then taken back to the boat. The processes is then repeated. Fernand fired seven times and got six fish. Very skilled guy, who made it look soooo easy. Mind you we did have an interesting moment when we were joined by a 2.5 meter Lemon Shark. At that point we all retreated back to the boat and waited until he lost interest and disappeared. THAT is why each fish caught is returned to the boat. That way it minimises the blood in the water and so reduces the risk of a shark attack. Our catch of Grouper, Unicorn fish, a Bass and a Parrot fish were then taken back to the cooks for the barbeque.
Whilst all of the above had been going on, Fernand's daughter had been making fresh plates…………………
This is another use of the coconut tree.
The same techniques were used to make all of the girls straw hats. No pictures this time as the camera battery went flat at this point!
The food was as fresh as it gets and tasted divine off the fresh plates.
The wildlife in the water was many and varied. As already mentioned loads of sharks,.loads more fish and one solitary Octopus.
I saw it at the waters edge, and as is the case with these fascinating creatures, she was the colour of the sand, as she approached the boat she took on the colour of the boat. I then grabbed one of the tentacles, and the Octopus fired a jet of back ink as a defensive mechanism. Fernand’s brother Ricky hauled up the Octopus and let it wrap itself around his arm. We had a devil of a job extricating him!!
All the while our fellow Ralliers and ourselves had been dipping into the water, snorkelling swimming and frolicking about. Then once we had finished eating, all the left over’s were thrown into the water for the waiting sharks, trigger fish and other water borne vultures. Two large Lemon sharks came right up to the waters edge at this point. Then Ricky threw himself into the water, cigarette clamped between his teeth and grabbed the tail of one of these 2 metre plus Lemon Sharks. All hell broke loose for a few seconds, then Ricky stood up in the shallows, laughing his head off, and the sharks all scarpered. The only damage done was to the cigarette, which by now was extinguished and rather soggy………
As the sun was setting we headed back to the anchorage, absolutely satiated with such a unique and overwhelming experience.
The next day it was to be the Black Pearl Farms and Sailmail Base station……………………….