Wednesday, June 8, 2016

And the Most Amazing Thing I Saw on My Snorkel Was...

We moved two days ago from Wayag to Urani, a trip of about 15 miles, anchor to anchor. The wind was light S-SW and we were headed mostly east, so we even got to sail a little bit...for nearly an hour with no engines!! Then a squall came up in the distance and conservative Dave wanted to reef well ahead of the wind. We ended up having to turn an engine back on to get in. As has been our experience everywhere here near the equator, the squalls are pretty benign--we never saw over about 17 kts. And, just a sprinkle of rain.

On the way, we passed a current "rip" and saw some Manta Rays feeding in the current. Once well offshore, we put out a fishing line, but only caught a barracuda which we released.

We had no information on our planned anchorage on the West side of Urani, until a few days ago. Our friends on Mystic Rhythms, mad keen divers, had anchored off the south coast in 100 ft of water (!!!), to do a couple of the dives, and we really weren't interested in doing that.

But the megayacht, Alchemy, that we met in Wayag, showed us a drone picture of them in the tiny cove on the west side of Urani. Their dive guide, Matt, told us there was plenty of space for 3 boats to anchor in that cove, and the depths were reasonable. We told our friends on Sirius, and they stopped in there overnight to do a dive. They managed to fit 2 50 ft catamarans comfortably in the outer part of the bay, and told us we should be able to get 3 smaller boats in there easily.

So our little "rally flotilla" headed for Urani. Evia Blue arrived first, and took the innermost spot. Jan quickly launched his dinghy and tied his stern to the innermost rock. Then we arrived, and Jan help us get tied to the next rock. We dropped the anchor in 30ft sand and backed toward the rock (yay for twin engines!!!--even I could get where we wanted to be). There were already ropes with loops in them, fastened to the rocks, so it was really easy. We used our 600 ft stern line (on a reel mounted on the stern) for the first time in 9 years of cruising. Then John on Sapphire, a single-hander followed about an hour later. We got him tied up to the outermost rock. The wind was blowing from S-SW the whole time we were there, and we were "snug as bug in a rug". After an afternoon snorkel, we liked it so much that we decided to stay an extra day.

The coral and sea life diversity was just amazing, even right off our boats. The wind was blowing enough out in the channel where the acclaimed dive sites were, that we just decided to dive in the anchorage. We did an hour long dive at 25 ft around one of these pinnacle islands, in the morning, and Dave and Jan did another dive in the afternoon. Jan is an enthusiastic "nudi photographer", and so is Dave. They spent 2 hrs underwater looking for and photographing nudibranchs, flatworms, and other tiny underwater life. It was a really nice calm, clear location for an easy dive with lots to see.

My favorite things I saw were (1) a "bait ball" only about 2 ft in diameter, made of of tiny half-inch black fish. It was so tight that when I first saw it, I thought it was a small black trash bag floating in the water. You could even insert your hand into the ball, and the fish stayed together (with a few nibbling cutely on your hand). We watched it and played with it for about 10 minutes. (2) 20 different types of soft and hard coral in any square meter of space. Many of the corals were soft with flower-like "petals" waving gently in the water. (3) 2 tiny nearly transparent cleaner shrimp in a large anemone.

In addition to the underwater life, we saw a number of different bird species, including an eagle of some kind and a flock of red and green parrots or parakeets.

We are sorry we didn't get to dive Magic Rock or Y Reef--maybe next year. But we loved the dives we did.

Tomorrow we head further south toward our ultimate goal of Waisai, on Waigeo island, on the 17th.
Sherry & Dave
In Indonesia for the next few months

At 6/6/2016 2:44 AM (utc) our position was 00°06.23'N 130°15.22'E

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