Day 1,640 - Fakarava, Tuamotus (16° 31S 145° 28W)
10:29hrs - November 26th 2011
WC Woes

You know the expression: 'everything happens for a reason'? Well, we're not in the Marquesas yet, in fact we're still anchored in our favorite corner of Fakarava. The wind remained north of east this week, and as it's a northeast sail up to the Marquesas, and not particularly wanting to spend a week or more tacking and pounding into head winds, we decided to wait for better conditions - which as it turned out, was rather a lucky thing.

You see, this morning our Wilcox Skipper II Marine Head, after providing seven years of steadfast, trouble-free service, decided to stop working, leaving us with no loo and the grim prospect of having to adopt the 'bucket-it and chuck-it' method - which is unpleasant and a huge inconvenience even when anchored in a sheltered lagoon, so imagine (or perhaps you shouldn't), what it would be like close-hauled and thumping into choppy six foot seas en route to the Marquesas - messy to say the least.

So motivated to fix this issue quickly, I've spent most of the day removing and dismantling the head - which for something required to perform a rather simple function, seems to have more gaskets, seals, moving parts and components than our engine. And now knowing far more than I ever wanted to know about 'pump shaft packing glands', 'waste flap valve springs', and the culprit to our WC woes: a dislodged 'pump shaft key', I am relieved to report that the head is once again in working order and we are back in business!

The trades are blowing with gusto from the east, so we're waiting for a window that will hopefully get us up to the Marquesas in time for the festival, which begins in just 19 days.


Hot Off The Press!
Click here to read our
article in the November
issue of Blue Water
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November 18th 2011 (day 1,632)
Quick Fix: 16° 03.58 S / 145° 37.22 W

Conditions:  Wind: 5/E-NE     Sky: Clear
                    Boat SPD: 0.0 Kts  (anchored)

Get Your Groove On
Tomorrow we'll leave the Tuamotus and head up to the Marquesas on a five-day sail to Nuku Hiva, where in just under a month the Polynesian 'Mata Va'ha' (The Eyes Open) festival begins.

It's an event that only occurs every four years, a sort of Polynesian arts and dance Olympics, where islanders
from across the Pacific: Hawaii, New Zealand, Rapa Nui,
New Caledonia, Tahiti - get their Polynesian groove on
and compete in an intense four day dance-off. With over
2,000 participants, and very few tourists, this is
definitely a party we don't want to miss. - NH


Day 1,626 - Fakarava, Tuamotus (16° 31S 145° 28W)
14:36hrs - November 12th 2011

Not so long ago the very idea of going for a swim with no fewer than seven blacktip sharks circling
our boat, would have seemed out of the question - a suicidal snorkel to be certain.

My very first shark encounter was in Australia, I was 24-years old and snorkeling on the Great Barrier
Reef, when a curious grey reef shark suddenly appeared out of the blue. From somewhere deep within me a primal and uncontrollable survival instinct took hold, and in an effort to defend myself from this natural predator, whom I was certain was about to make lunch meat of me, I armed myself with the only weapon I had - I removed my flipper, and brandishing it much like a baseball bat, was prepared to stay off the attack.

Of course, anyone watching would have wondered why the English guy was frantically waving his flipper at a shark, that in reality, was probably a good fifty feet away from me. But my fear, however absurd, was very real.

I've had other scary snorkeling experiences since we left New York - one involving a grumpy 500 pound grouper in Dry Tortuga, and another with a large pilot fish in Belize that chased me around Dream Time whilst trying to attach itself to my stomach. But experience is the best teacher and over the last four years I've learned that fish are our friends, that I am generally not considered to be food, and besides perhaps
a great white, or a disgruntled tiger shark, I really have very little to fear snorkeling around the boat.

For the last week we've been anchored off Fakarava's southern pass, snorkeling, scuba diving and making friends with the hundreds of blacktips, greys, whitetips and even a couple of long nose sharks that live here. I still have a healthy respect for sharks, after-all they are sharks, but I've been close enough now to touch them (not that I have), and while they still look a little vicious, I'm proud to report that my flippers, have at all times, remained attached to my feet.


Day 1,615 - Fakarava, Tuamotus (16° 03S 145° 37W)
18:53hrs - November 1st 2011
Crabby Patties

Have you ever seen a coconut crab? If like me you haven’t, you might imagine, like I did, something like
a little golf ball sized mini crab that nibbles endearingly at coconuts before running away to hide in little sandy holes on the beach like crabs usually do.  So when we were invited to meet one face to face I
wasn't sure what the fuss was about. 

We had just spent several days visiting with a family that lived in a small house near the south pass where we were anchored waiting for favorable winds to head down to dive and snorkel.  We played with the children, they told us their family stories and we told them ours and we took and printed photos of them and their children. The grandmother showed us how she made the delicate and intricate shell baskets and ornaments, the mother made Neville a hat right in front of us that seemed to appear as if by magic from one palm frond!  And the children introduced us to all the pigs chickens, ducks and dogs that make up their busy corner of Fakarava.  Then the father asked if we had seen or caught any coconut crabs yet? We told him no and he asked if we would like to see one?  The crab in question was at his uncle's house just a little walk up the beach, and we should come see.  Never having been a big crab fan, I would normally have passed on this moment without a thought, but it was a lovely day, the house was only
a short walk along the beach, and really what else had I got to do? 

I probably should have guessed that it wasn't an ordinary crab when the father shooed away his excited children as they chased us along the beach telling them they couldn't come with us, and having just watched the 3 year old fearlessly chasing grumpy pigs 5 minutes ago I wondered what danger a crab could possibly be?  Until I saw it. The uncle went into his house and appeared moments later smiling holding up what appeared to be a mixture of crab and lobster with an element of turtle.  The colors were beautiful but it was huge, more like a football with really long legs, not at all crab size, and its massive meaty claws had teeth!  And yikes this wasn't even a big one!! Rather than trying  to explain the dangers
of putting fingers near the dangerous end, the uncle took pieces of coral and smiling put them between
its toothy claws to watch us wince as  it crunched and smashed its way through the rock. 

Well I have met my first coconut crab and I can tell you that they are big, beautiful scary coconut eating machines, they climb trees dig deep holes and eat a lot of coconuts and they are very hard to catch but
if you manage to get one they have tons of meat and they are delicious, apparently they taste of coconut!