Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Burning the Remains of the Kon Tiki Raft

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We motored over to the east side of the Raroia atoll, dodging the corals and reef along the way for 7 miles. In between the reefs the water is 80 feet deep. We caught up with some friends on a catamaran --  yes, we do actually have cat friends. The boat’s name and their faces have been obstructed – for soon to be obvious reasons. They invited us over to the small motu(island) that is where the Kon Tiki raft wrecked in 1947 for a bonfire. What we didn’t realize was that they were collecting the left over parts of the raft to burn for the evening!
raroia2IMG_0735 There’s a small monument to the Kon Tiki on the motu. The next night we watched the Hollywood version of Kon Tiki. Pretty tacky movie, but what a great venue for a showing.
raroia2IMG_0737 Here’s the actual reef that the Thor and his buddies crash landed on. He did manage to show that 5 or 6 Norwegians led by a charismatic non-swimmer could take a  leaky raft from Callao, Peru, to the Tuamotus, French Polynesia, in 101 days at sea. Today, most of his theories about Polynesia being settled by early South Americans have been discredited.
 atuonaIMG_0716 Before we left the Marquesas we stocked up on pamplemouse (Polynesian grapefruit) with this 60 lb bag that was harvested for us by tour guide extrodinaire, John, on the north shore of Hiva Oa.
raroia2IMG_0738 Exploring one of the many small cuts between the uninhabited motus that make up the Raroia atoll.
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There’s even some pink sand beach walks available.
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The Fairy Terns were not too happy about us walking on their motu. They would raise up into the wind and stay in one spot right over our heads keeping a careful eye on us.
raroia2IMG_0749 The blue-gray noddies were not happy about our presence either, but they keep their distance.
raroia2P5140082 We snorkeled a reef just NW of the Kon Tiki island. We weren’t expecting much as it was a bit windy. Turned out to be a really nice snorkel. The shallow corals are a hang-out for small colorful reef fish, you can see some hiding down inside the crevices of this coral.
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There were dozens of these Giant Clams. When ever you approached them they closed up and hid most of that blue mantle.
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There were a few big fish around, including this shy grouper.
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We think this is a Pacific Pearl Oyster, about 10 or more inches across. We didn’t check to see if he had a pearl inside.
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The corals were healthy with some amazing colors.
Paul

Monday, May 18, 2015

Raroia Pass Drift Dive

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We did our first drift snorkel through the pass on the atoll of Raroia, where we are anchored in the Tuamotus (in the east central area of 1700 km chain of atolls). This place is known for its sharks – actually all of the Tuamnotus are known for sharks. So I wanted to get the shark thing out of the way in the first picture.  The drift dives in the pass are just what they sound like. You wait till the current is going into the lagoon, go out to the ocean side in the dinghy and jump in holding a long line to the dink and float through the pass. When we first got there the pass current was probably 3 kts and you  jetted through the pass, floating over the corals, at high speed. By the time we were on our fifth or sixth run in, the current had laid down to a gentle shove.

raroiaP5120021On each drift in we saw three or four sharks cruising around. There is a pretty wide variety of sharks here. The upper photo being a Black Tip Reef Shark, the next one being a White Tip Shark. Both species non-aggressive, or so our book says. The unidentified sharks are the ones that worry you while you are in the water.

raroiaP5120041  The drift dives are really perfect for GoPros. Chris got some good video. A scene like the one above goes flying by you in about 5 seconds when there’s a strong current.

raroiaP5120026 Reticulated Butterfly Fish. You can tell it is a reticulated one by the way she looks at you.

 

raroiaP5120039A Striped Surgeonfish (front) and a Steephead Parrotfish (back)

raroiaP5120048 Moorish Idle idling away in the cut

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Another Parrotfish, uncertain species, probably another Steephead.

raroiaP5120061 Interesting sponge growing among the corals in the pass

taehataP5070001 I snuck this picture in because it is so cool, a Cushion Star we saw in the Marquesas

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Did I mention that there are sharks in ‘dem waters?

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And the correct direction for a shark to be swimming – away from us.

Paul

Monday, May 11, 2015

Raroia

We made it through our first Tuamotus' pass this morning. Big, wide pass, with a nice set of range lights. Not much current either. Maybe 1kt, in-going. The winds are basically completely calm right now. So it was not a true Tuamotu pass experience- way too easy. We did a walk around the town. Bigger than I expected and with a decent airstrip. Tomorrow we plan to do a drift snorkel into the pass with the folks on Tayrona, the only other boat here.

Paul


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