Where to begin....so much has happened in the past few days. When night comes I am so exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open through dinner. I think I last left you in Maupiti. We had a really awesome day there. We had our dinghy all deflated and stored down below, so Simpatica suggested that we all spend the day together in their dinghy trying to circumnavigate the island and having adventures along the way. Louis said he would pull along their two kayaks and bring all their snorkel gear. We all packed snacks and drinks and away we went.
We left at 9 and didn't get back until late in the afternoon. We snorkeled, kayaked, reef walked, hiked over an island, played on a cool teeny tiny sand spiff out in the middle of the lagoon in crystal clear water, fished, swam and played on the beach and LAUGHED. Totally great day. The kids were in heaven. Louis let Alex drive and even pulled out the tiller extension for him. Alex was so happy. He is always envious of all the other cruisers standing up in their big dinghy's with their big long handles. Finally he was on the other side of that picture! Louis let the kids ride in the kayaks and we pulled them. They got up on the huge wake we were making. It was so funny because after a while Louis just unhooks them both and drives off. They were in shock. It took them a while to realize that they should start paddling. I thought for sure Louis would go back for them but he just kept right on going and went for quite a ways......maybe 2 miles. We then anchored and waited for them both. They had to come against a current and the waves. When they finally arrived they were so mad. Louis was laughing. He kept yelling at them as they were getting closer..."We are over here."....they weren't laughin. I told them that the reason they like Louis is because he is unpredictable and crazy.....sometimes though these characteristics might work against ya! HA. Didn't take them long to forgive him and Alex was off with his spear gun sitting on the back of the kayak with Louis paddling to get up close to the outer reef.
The next day we headed out to an even more remote island named Maupihaa. Only one family lives on the island. The guide book says that it is the trickiest pass in the French Poly islands. We left Maupiti with 4 other boats. We were shocked to find that Artemo was going tbe fastest! We were only getting 8 knots of wind from behind and we were able to do almost 5. It was really shocking and so glorious. We arrived first at the pass the next morning. Just as we are about to get all lined up to go in Alex tells us he has hooked a bird with his line. My first reaction was to just cut the line. Luckily Graham and Alex thought this was a bad plan. Alex went and grabbed a towel, needle nose pliers and wire cutters. Graham reeled in the bird. He then lifted it on deck and Alex covered it with the towel. As soon as the towel was over top of the GI-normous bird it quieted down. Graham then got to work removing the hook from its web foot. Once he had it out he backed away and then instructed Alex to remove the towel. The bird then just stood on the back deck. It was so odd. The bird had a long blue beak. It was a boobie bird. It didn't seem to have any injuries it looked like it was just taking a break. I was flipping out. I have a fear of birds, so weird eh? We had to slow right down because there was no way I was going through the pass until the bird was gone. Finally 15 minutes later the bird crawled through the lifelines and flew away. This is when I started to breath again.
We then proceeded up to the pass. We got up close and Graham yelled from the front of the boat that he just wanted me to have a look and circle around and come back at it again. I was "in the zone" and didn't want to circle around again. It was time to DO IT. I told him I was going for it. The sun was perfect and we could see the reef on either side and the coral heads. I navigated Artemo brilliantly and before we knew it we were safe and sound inside the lagoon.
We arrived on our 19th wedding anniversary. Graham and I made a deal last year to take turns organizing the festivities on this date each year. This year was his turn. He kept asking how I was going to top a deserted French Poly island next year! Lucky for us Simpatica took the kids for the night and Graham totally outdid himself. We had a romantic sunset walk on the beach with wine in hand. We then drifted back in our dinghy to Artemo and enjoyed an awesome Green Curry dinner. Really perfect evening. He did good.
In the morning we all decided to move our boats to the other end of the island where we had heard the family lived. The kids stayed on Simpatica and Louis let Alex take the helm all the way to the next anchorage. He was pretty happy. Louis and Julie went in and met the family and the family offered to take us all lobster hunting tonight. We spent the day exploring the reef and a few of the abandoned houses on the beach. At one point today I was pushing the dinghy out of the shallow water with Graham, Alex and Amelia in it (since we couldn't put the engine down or it would hit coral) and I see this black tip reef shark circle me! I jump up on the dinghy and Graham is laughing at me and razing me....about barely escaping attack (obviously dripping with sarcasm). I was so mad.....I am like..."geeesh you guys if I am the only one pushing the least you can do is look out for sharks". What a strange world we are living in!
Everyone just got back from the night time lobster expedition. I hung back to have a little "me" time. They said it was a lot of fun and pretty cool to be doing in the dark. They said the family was so happy to get the huge bag of candy I put together for them and they dug right into it. Unfortunately they only got one tiny lobster and the family kept it but it sounds like it didn't matter the experience was cool enough to make up for it.
We may leave tomorrow for Palmerston. Not sure what tomorrow will bring. We will see how everyone is feeling in the morning. It will be about a 4 night sail and the winds look good right now. We will keep our position reports updated. Thanks for all the nice Happy Anniversary emails. (I sent a few replies from our SSB email since we don't have internet. You may want to check your junk boxes....the email address begins with VA3PRY.)