Saturday, May 24, 2008

Apitaki Drift Diving

May 24, 2008-Yesterday, we had planned to begin our circumnavigation of Apataki lagoon; however, s/v Fearless anchored by us in the morning and s/v Chinook would arrive around one o'clock. We decided to stay one more day and do some drift snorkeling with them. Fearless got anchored and then we climbed in our dinghies and went to the pass. The current was on an ebb tide, which meant that we had to be careful not to get carried out too far through the pass. We entered the water in the channel with the dinghy tied to our hands so that it would be pulled along with us. The visibility was not great, but the tide carried us along a wall of coral, and we just floated by and looked at all the interesting fish.

There was one fish that looked like a unicorn. We saw a lion fish and a Morey eel. There were lots of angel fish, needle fish, neon tetras, parrot fish, and many more that I can't name. It was so much fun. We ended the snorkel at the other end of the pass and climbed back into the dinghy.

We had lunch and relaxed for a bit until Chinook came in and anchored beside us. Around 2:30 we all headed back to the pass for another snorkel. This time it would be on a flood tide so the water would push us back into the lagoon. We drove the dinghies out to the beginning of the pass and began the snorkel there. We were viewing the same coral wall but in the opposite direction. The current was light and the sun was out so we had very good visibility. We all drifted along thoroughly enjoying the experience. About half way through Steve spotted an oyster shell so he dove down to get it. We also found some top shells that are edible so we added those to our collection so that we could make some chowder for dinner.

We found that the further into the lagoon we went, the stronger the current became and the faster we went. At one point I felt as though I were on a flat escalator in an airport viewing art work as it went by. Now toward the end, we were really moving fast and before we knew it, we had washed into the wrong channel and were getting into very shallow water filled with coral. Steve quickly hopped into the dinghy and started the engine, but I couldn't get in with my flippers still on so I just hung on the front of the dinghy. Candy from Chinook was with us so she hung on the side. At one point I really believed that my backside was going to come into contact with all that beautiful, sharp coral. However, Steve kept going as fast as he could against the current and was able to get us out of the channel and across to the correct channel. It was an exciting ride!

We all retreated to our boats to clean up and rest up. Dave and Candy invited everyone over to Chinook for appetizers at 5 o'clock so we all enjoyed talking about all the wonderful things that we saw on this snorkel.

This morning Steve went to clean the shells, and when he opened the oyster, he found a pearl inside. It is a pistachio color and about 8 mm in size. What a wonderful memento of our visit here.

We went into the village around 9 o'clock to look for some bread and Cokes. We found the magazine, but the supplies were very low and had nothing that we wanted. We decided to walk around for awhile and every where we went the locals greeted us and smiled. One woman stopped us to ask if we needed help. She didn't speak English, and we don't speak French so it was an interesting conversation. We asked her about the other magazine, and she told us it closed down. Steve asked about Coca Cola, and she said there was none. She then asked us about baguettes, and we, of course, said yes. She told us to follow her, and she took us to her house and gave us two baguettes. We offered to pay her, but she refused. She said something regarding the magazine, so we thought that she wanted us to pay for it there. We thanked her and walked away but returned to confirm what we needed to do. She clarified that we did not need to pay for the bread at all. What a wonderful gesture of hospitality. She also invited us to the church service in the morning since they were celebrating Mother's Day. Unfortunately, we would have to leave but thanked her for the invitation. Our time in this village was wonderful, and the people were warm, friendly, and helpful. We will have good memories of our stay here.

Tomorrow we continue our trek around the lagoon.

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