We have all been enjoying our stay in Rose Island and so far the American Coast Guard has not shown up to kick us out. We are so happy we were able to stop here as the weather finally looks favorable to continue. At the beginning of this season we were in an El Nino and now we have a strong La Nina in the Pacific. We are waiting to find out how this will effect us and our journey to New Zealand.
Today we had the best day ever. The few boats that are here organized snorkel and island adventures and we were off all morning. Sure this is the worlds smallest atoll, but that is where the word "small" stops. Alex and I were snorkeling in 4 feet of water when a five and a half foot Giant Trevally swims by. Alex tells me from his fish book that this is as big as they get. Needless to say he was just in for a look at the newcomers and was not in the least worried about us. Yesterday snorkeling near the pass there was a six plus foot grouper there and man was he a big fish and he would have weighed in at several hundred pounds.
After a lunch break on the boat, it was time for the boys to come out and play all by ourselves. We started to circle the inside of the lagoon and stop at these giant pinnacles that come up from the bottom of around 60 feet right to the surface and look like giant mushrooms from below. One after another we would stop at, drop anchor on the top and snorkel. Each one was unique but there were always sharks around us, massive schools of fish and brilliant coral. We came across giant turtles and on the last pinnacle, we found the remains of a humpback whale on the bottom.
From the pinnacle we went right out onto the outer reef where the water was flowing over like a mountain stream. You had to step up to get on it, and the constant water had eroded the coral to a smooth surface. The sharks in this lagoon have no fear of humans like in other places and are very aggressive. You really get the feeling they are just waiting for an opportunity:)
Now for the finale of the day, we went to check out the pass where we brought Artemo into the lagoon. The wind and waves had subsided considerably now and the pass looked reasonably safe. We decided we wanted to snorkel the pass and lined ourselves up and jumped in. We put out lines from the dingy to hang on to and began at the entrance of the inside. Soon we were flying through the pass with massive schools of fish, sharks and at least a dozen turtles. What a rush this was as Alex proclaimed it as his best day ever! It was not long and we were in 200 feet of water in the open ocean in near perfect visibility. What a rush! We are just now coming into our element where activities like this seem like a reasonable risk. A couple of months ago, I would never have done this unless with a organized tour.
We finished the night off with a pot-luck dinner on our new friends boat, Rolando and Sarah from Lebanon. These guys love their fish and would rather eat the head and roe than the other bits we eat. We feasted on a large jack head. We would have had the entire body of the fish to eat if the sharks had not gotten to it before he could land it in the boat! A true story that ended with Alex and Rolando eating the best part of the fish... the eyes! Yes sir, Alex was in their and said it tasted awesome. (Alex also wanted to add that he ate its tongue and its very small brain to!)
Such a treat to have been able to visit the thousands of birds on the small island. At the end of the day, I would never recommend going into that pass unless in very calm conditions and high tide. We left the lagoon in these conditions and it was a much easier exit than it was on the way in.
We will post pics when we get internet. We are now enroute to Tonga and hope to arrive in a couple of days.
ps.....moments ago Alex made himself a homemade lure by using Amelia's pink craft feathers, her glitter, shiny string and other bits...he then put it out and not 2 minutes after it is in the water he gets a Mahi! He reeled it up to the back of the boat and we all admired it within arms reach. He then asked Graham to take the line while he gaffed it and then just as he misses the gills on the first go we watch as it wriggles free of the hook and swims to freedom. Needless to say that homemade lure production is in full swing on board Artemo!!!