We spent a second day at Hirifa and took another long walk on the windward side of the island in search of floats, tide pools, critters, shells and generally just exploring. It was a great walk and we found a pair of floats and a really good orange one. We passed up on the pair as they had no place to tie a line (they were bound in a net). The massive reef is incredible to see as the waves simply crash over it and you can tide pool just on the inside of it. Back on Astarte, we enjoyed watching the pigs and chickens on the beach scrounge for food.
After two lovely days anchored off the sandy beach of Hirifa, we had an early sail the seven or so miles to the South Pass of Fakarava. The wind was blowing about 15 from the southeast, we put the head sail up and away we went. We had a great sail inside the reef thanks to a well marked channel and only a few shallower spots. Visibility was good so we could see things clearly.
We anchored amongst many, many, many coral heads. There were two other boats here, including Gaku, our Japanese friends. They told us there were many bommies – but we had already heard that and you could see them under the hull. We dropped the anchor with two sets of floats to try to keep the chain off the coral. These were the new floats we did find after the second day of beach-combing and a gift from the folks on Lady Bug who had a lot of extra floats. Michael then snorkeled to see how we were set (we miss "anchor boy"), and as he entered the water, the very first thing he saw – a five foot black tipped reef shark. The shark was just cruising by. The anchor was just lying on the bottom (though we backed hard on it) and was very near a coral – but there was no other place that wouldn't be "very near a coral" - and the floats were doing what they were supposed to be doing. We'll see as we try to pull it up how tangled we are.
We did a few boat projects – had to wash the mattress cover that we were airing out that somehow took flight overboard in a heavy wind. Michael also put netting in one of the storage spaces that was a pain when you opened the door at sea in any roll or heel. Barbara cleaned out the "munchies/cracker/storage" area under the stairs and we just generally did some organizing and tidying preparing for our upcoming guest.
It was pretty windy and squally most of the day after we anchored, so we decided we'd get in the water the next day.
This morning, it was still pretty squally – but is clearing. The water is very clear and its like being anchored in an aquarium. Two or three sharks have been cruising around the boat (they seem to like sliding under the dinghy. There are colorful large fish, an eagle ray and many smaller fish around the boat. A beautiful water to water rainbow was just off the stern of the boat as well this morning. Lovely.
Some snorkeling this afternoon – amongst the toothy critters.