Posted by: Carol | April 20, 2009

Diving with Sharks, Bitten by Butterfly Fish!

2009 South Pacific

cbparker-d3-20090419-boraborauw-067-edit-2.jpgWe’ve had a couple of busy days – a swim or a snorkel every day is the best way to take a shower. Swim first, then shampoo and a fresh water shower on Raven’s swim step – towel dry and repeat whenever it gets a little hot. The kite surfing expedition was a bust; got all the gear together and dinghied off to the beach, but ultimately determined that it wasn’t an ideal location for starters so gave up on that plan. Tried some water skiing and skurfing, but we need a more powerful outboard motor to give provide sufficient oomph.

We’ve been enjoying delicious healthy meals on the boat, but splurged one night and went out to Bloody Mary’s, a famous Bora Bora restaurant specializing in seafood. There’s a sign out front carved with a hundred or so names of famous personalities who have dined there – Johnnie Depp, Lauren Bacall, Pierce Brosnan, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet – just to name a few that we recognized!

Today was our first Scuba dive of the year – back to the reef we remembered fondly from a couple of years ago. Sharks guaranteed as well as an enormous array of small tropical fish. The sharks swim in big circles around the underwater plateau – small black tipped reef sharks and much larger, fat-bodied lemon sharks that hug the bottom. One big guy had a fish hook embedded in the corner of his mouth and as he cruised past he grimaced and bared all his teeth. If he had been looking straight at us we would have beat a hasty retreat, but he wasn’t paying us any attention. I got a couple of cool photos with a good view of all those rows and rows of shark’s teeth! Look close and you’ll see the fish hook as well.

Mike has put his Shark Shield back in service – supposedly it deters sharks by emitting an electrical field that messes with sensory receptors on their snouts – however it also discourages all would-be dive buddies as he trails a 12 foot electrified line about the size of a horse lead rope that would give a shock to any human who happened to brush it! Frankly we’re all more worried about Mike’s Shark Shield than we are about the sharks!

The big injury of the day was mine – I was bitten by a butterfly fish! He drew blood, too! The dive masters in French Polynesia feed the fish to draw them in for the tourists, and the butterfly fish are real beggars. They swarm too close to the camera to even snap a photo, and this particular little guy got a bit greedy and nipped the back of my hand. Fortunately Mike was unaware that I was leaving a trail of blood (at least one or two drops) on the dive or he would have freaked over the possibility of a shark feeding frenzy.

A tourist submarine was puttering along nearby – it was kind of disconcerting to hear the strange noises it emitted. I pointed my camera at the sub and the folks inside were pointing their cameras at me!

cbparker-d700-20090420-borabora-147.jpgThis evening the wind, which has been consistently 15-20 knots since our arrival, died off to almost nothing. The water turned glassy calm and as a result we enjoyed a glorious sunset during cocktail hour which features our new favorite drink – a watermelon slush with salt around the rim of the glass. Very refreshing in this warm humid climate, and almost zero calories.

Tomorrow is a busy day – fuel dock first thing in the morning to top off the diesel, then stern tie at the yacht club (Michelle probably remembers that experience as well!) to fill up with water by hose. Last minute shopping for provisions and as much green stuff as will survive the trip. Where we’re going veggies will be few and far between. No soil on atolls for a garden, and no inhabitants to tend the non-existent gardens. Also a visit to the authorities to clear customs preparatory to our departure from French Polynesia, and a farewell dinner at the Yacht Club. With any luck, the following morning we’ll set sail for Penrhyn some 600 miles north – about a three day sail.

I can guarantee wifi will be non-existent pretty much from now on – so sailmail and the Iridium satphone are the best ways to stay in touch! We’ll test out the BGAN satphone as Mike thinks I can post to my blog and upload photos (small-sized). If not, back to emailed travelogs.


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