Friday, June 3, 2011

At Work and Play in Toau

We have been here a few days now and are really enjoying the 'idle time'. But we haven't been completely idle.

We have been diving every morning outside the atoll on the drop-off. So far we have only visited the sites we had found last year. But the wind has finally dropped off to nothing, so today we will go further afield and find some new spots. I also have been snorkeling the reef beside the anchorage every afternoon. The water is only 8-10' deep, with coral heads that come up to within a foot of the surface. When the tide is coming in, it is crystal clear. All the pretty fishies are playing around the coral heads--hundreds around each big head. I like to just drift around watching them feed and play. After I snorkel, I go back to the boat and leaf through our copy of Reef Fish of the Pacific Ocean, trying to become familiar with the names of all the fish.

In one of these lazy snorkels, I discovered tiny pipe fish--only about 4-5" long and as big around as a piece of yarn. They look like little short snakes, but with a funny goose-like beak. They hang out in clusters in the mossy areas around the top of coral heads. Now that I know where to look, and what to look for, I see them on almost every head with moss growing on it. I like to just hang motionless and watch them 'grazing' on the moss and swimming around.

The 'work' part of my day has been disassembling and cleaning our big genoa winches. On our last passages, under heavy strain, our starboard winch started squeaking a little. As the 'sailing master' aboard Soggy Paws, it's my job to keep the sailing equipment shipshape. This is a nasty dirty job--we clean the old dirt and grease off the winches with a pail of kerosene. These winches (Lewmar 48's) have about 10 gears inside, and every gear has to be soaked in kerosene and patiently scrubbed with a toothbrush and a metal pick to get all the old caked grease and dirt from between the teeth in the gears. Then it has to be reassembled and every square millimeter of surface area coated with a thin coating of new grease.

I thought I had the manual for our winches downloaded from the internet, but found it doesn't properly cover our older Lewmar 48's. There was one part we couldn't figure out how to take apart. But fortunately one of our CSY friends back in Florida, with directions in hand, actually took their winch apart so they could try to figure out what I was talking about (thanks Warren!!). It is very difficult discussing technical assembly instructions without being able to share diagrams, which we can't do on our Sailmail. But after several back-and-forths via email, we finally got it figured out. As I took everything apart, I took pictures of each gear assembly before I dismounted it from the main drum, and then took it apart. These were invaluable in getting the darned thing back together correctly. But I finally finished both winches--they are back together with no pieces left over, and they are operating smoothly!!

Dave, meanwhile, has been splitting his time between keeping up with boat-related maintenance, being 'mooring field manager', and social director for the boats here at Anse Amyot. With the help of Bruce and Clark from s/v Two Amigos, they finished restoring the last mooring to 100%--just as 2 more boats came in and took the last two available moorings. We now have 11 boats on moorings here. There is currently only a catamaran mooring available (in shallower water than most monohulls would be comfortable in).

Valentine and Gaston (the family ashore) are as gracious as usual, but also as disorganized as usual. So trying to make arrangements for all the boats coming and going to pay their mooring fee by having dinner with them (at $30 per person) gets a little complicated. Plus we've had 2 charter boats drop in unannounced and want to have a meal 'now'. So twice the cruiser dinners have been pushed back. I'm not quite sure how Dave ended up as Mayor of Anse Amyot again, but he obviously relishes the position.

Today Dave has arranged with Gaston to lead an expedition into the lagoon to see if we can find the Manta Rays. We had a great time on a similar expedition last year. But when we tried to find them ourselves last year (after the trip with Gaston), we couldn't. If we can't find the Mantas, we'll head east to a part of the atoll where we found some good shelling.

A few of the guys were supposed to have gone out lobster hunting on the reef last night at 1am. Dave and I passed. In this location, it's difficult to get to a good spot in the outer reef without running through coral heads. And blundering around at night with the outboard in a reefy area is a sure way to wreck your prop.

Though we are really missing the boats that were here with us last year (Visions, Nakia, Whoosh, Bluebottle, Sidewinder, etc etc), we have made new friends. We have been leading an entourage of dinghies out to our favorite dive spots.

The wind, which has been howling through the anchorage day and night since we got here, has finally dropped off to 5-10 knots. The unsettled weather that has been hanging over us for a week has dissipated. Today looks like it is going to be another drop-dead gorgeous day in paradise!!
Sherry & Dave
In French Polynesia til end of August, then onward to Tonga
At 5/28/2011 12:55 AM (utc) our position was 15°48.19'S 146°09.17'W

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