Month: October 2009


October 31, 2009

TIME: 2009/10/31 16:51
LATITUDE: 16-43.26S
LONGITUDE: 151-02.34W
BARO: 1012.1
COMMENT: Beach House – ANCHORED – Fare Harbor, Huahine Island – Society Islands

Moorea, A Fluke Encounter…..

October 30, 2009

Dear F&F,

Moorea – A Fluke Encounter

We enjoyed the morning dive, drifting with the current outside the reef. The
wind was blowing opposite of the current which made it a bit more strenuous
to tow the dinghy than yesterday when they were flowing the same direction.
I tried to hold onto the dinghy as a test for when Scott has a camera, but I
could not kick against the pull of the dinghy on the surface blown by the
wind. So Muscle Man got his workout. We saw the usual suspects but it was a
bit ho-hum. There are plenty of fish, but the coral looks dead, brownish. We
see the occasional black tip reef shark.

After the dive we had drifted down by the second bay so decided to take the
dinghy inside the reef to return to “Beach House”. We knew there were some
very shallow spots but have seen other small boats zooming in there, so gave
it a try. As we neared an anchorage area, we spotted catamaran “Azizah” that
we had first met in the Marquesas. We went over to say hello to Semia from
Brazil & her French man. As we were catching up with them, another couple in
a dinghy came up excitedly to tell us there was a whale Mama & Baby INSIDE
the bay & they had snorkeled with them for an hour. We all sprung into
action & zoomed over there. There were about 5 other boats in the area &
sure enough the mother & baby humpbacks were surfaced & letting snorkelers
swim very near. We both slipped in the water & had a real thrill. The water
was murky green, so despite how easy they were to see above water, it was
hard to see below. But when they moved a fluke or turned to expose their
white underside areas we could see them well. Intermittently they would dive
down for awhile. Young babies cannot hold their breath long, so it surfaced
often. We enjoyed watching them for about an hour. One of the local guys in
an outrigger canoe said they have been seeing this humpback pair for about 3
weeks. A late season baby – how lucky for us! The Baby was about 15 feet
long. The Mama a big 40 feet. We were astonished at how calm she seemed even
with 10-15 people near them in the water plus several small boats. We all
turned our engines off when close. We also know not to attempt to touch
them, but they each brushed up against Scott as they swam by. I swam out of
the way of Mom’s enormous fluke in order not to be bashed by the 12 foot
long, thousand pound appendage. Incredible. It started out as just any other
day…you just never know what will happen. Very very exciting. We hope to
see them again. Hunger eventually drove us back to “Beach House”, but we
plan to re-anchor over there in hope to see them again in Oponohu bay.

While talking to the couple on “Azizah”, they asked if we would be going to
see the big canoe race, Hawaikinuivaa, next week. We had heard about it.
About 200 outriggers participate from all over the world. It is one of the
biggest events in the Society Islands for the whole year. We looked at each
other & grinned – why not? The weather is predicted to be calm & it gives us
a great reason to explore the other islands. The race starts in Huahine
which for us will be an overnight sail. Then it is about 30 miles to
Raiatea, then 5 miles to Tahaa. The finish will be 30 miles further at Bora
Bora. There will be much fanfare & parties at each end. FUN FUN FUN!

So we are going to go the little market here soon to stock up on food so we
don’t have to worry about shopping on the other islands. Depending on whale
sightings we will set sail either Friday or Saturday night.

Just when you think you are in a routine, something changes. Stay tuned for
more “tales” of adventure!

Cindy & Scott

Moorea Diving…..

October 26, 2009

Dear F&F,

We headed outside the reef, it was sunny & calm. A dive company with guests
zoomed past us, so we followed their lead to a good spot. We anchored not
far from them & swam up current for a while. We saw a few black tip reef
sharks & lemon sharks. Lemons are all grey, girthy & 8-9 feet long. Yes: we
wore our shark shields. I was kind of hoping one of the lemons would swim
close enough so I could watch its aversion reaction to my shield, but they
kept their distance.

When we swam back toward our dinghy we saw that the dive master for the
group was doing a shark feeding. They taunt them with fish heads. It
attracted swarms of small fish as well as a few dozen black tips & one lemon
shark. We decided to stay & watch the show. Scott was frustrated that he did
not have his camera. But the folks that had cameras sure got some good shots
of feeding behavior. What amazes me the most is when the fish head is
finally given to or snatched by the shark, it swallows the thing whole. A
good 15-20 inch diameter fish head, mostly skin & bones, swallowed in one
bite. They did this routine several times. They claim it is such little
nutrition that it does not train the sharks to rely on these feedings. It
clearly changes their behavior, so we are not fans of the practice, but it
is common in all tourist areas with sharks.

When we were ready to go back for a second dive, the wind picked up & there
were whitecaps outside the reef, so we decided to tie up to a mooring near
the pass, inside the reef. The water clarity was not good. Like swimming in
a cloud of dust. But we saw a wide variety of creatures that made it a
fantastic dive. First we saw a black tip reef shark. Then we observed a
large number of dart fish which are pretty and fun to watch hovering over
their homes (holes in rocks or sand) then dart down into them when we
approach their territory. There was a stone fish that sat so still and is so
well camouflaged you have to really focus to identify his fishy features. A
major highlight was seeing about 10 big beautiful anemones, all with clown
fish. They were clumped in one area. It makes you wonder what is different
about that part of the reef that they thrive just there? We always enjoy
seeing eels. Their funny faces remind me of the song “Puff the Magic
Dragon”. A turtle did not swim away from us, but lingered for us to get a
good look. The spaghetti worm has long pasta-like tentacles that splay out
several yards like confetti. We saw two kinds of nudibranchs we’d never seen
before and a pipe fish, which are not that common.

Both dives were easy, a short dinghy ride from where the big boat is
anchored and we get to go again tomorrow. I am loving life! You can be sure
that we will be coming to Moorea many times over the next 5 months!

We hear children laughing as they play in the shallow water as parents sit
under the palm trees. Sunday seems to be family day around the world. Two
other catamarans left today, there are only 2 monohull sailboats anchored
far away. It is times like these that makes it all worthwhile. I am so
grateful that we are having this good experience early on in the “off”
season. Between here & Tahiti, it seem a good place to linger. All the
conveniences of dock life, but “getting away” is easy too. Fantastic.

Cindy & Scott