22nd March 2019
A quick crew change. Escapade has never had so many visitors! We waved farewell to Rob and Ailar and went back to the airport to meet our last guest of the season, Fiona arriving from Auckland for a week.
A week’s not long in the Tuamotus, time flies down here. Just when I’m busy seizing the day, the sun goes down again.
But it’s long enough for a last lap of the Fakarava atoll, a spin round some of our favourite anchorages, a blur of turquoise water and coconut palms for Fi.
Fi had said that she would be “happy to do nothing” and just have a relaxing week, but of course that was never going to happen.
We soon had her helming Escapade through the reefs, snorkelling amongst the sharks (it’s ok, Monty’s still on board), climbing coconut trees and riding the currents as we drift through the pass. Fi was a bit concerned about sharks, so for her first snorkelling trip we started in a shallow sandy spot where we had never seen any sharks. As Fi got in the water to take her first glimpse below the boat, a large black tip shark swam straight for us. Fi barely flinched. The shark swam by. Monty and I exchanged a glance and we all continued on our way. This will be fine.
This was an amazing drift. Monty, Fi and I holding the line, staying close to the dinghy in the fast flowing tide.
It’s like a spacewalk, another planet rushing beneath us.
As we come to a ridge entering the atoll, we see thousands of groupers below us, all aligned to the current, a mass gathering of identical fish spread over the sandy canyons. Feeding? Spawning? I dive deep to see what’s going on. As I ascend, I see this grey shark speeding up towards the dinghy.
When I get there the line is dangling unattended.
Monty and Fi are back in the boat. Several greys have started to circle.
Are they closing in on me?
We were a good crew.
Fi grew up with boats and sailing in New Zealand, so she’s happy to take the wheel or trim a sail.
And Monty is up for anything, if you can get him motivated him to put that book down and get on with it.
We sailed back to Laiza’s place.
Lunch and a fiercely contested game of petanque, naturellement.
But this time Laiza directed us to swim in her own little aquarium, a shallow lagoon behind her motu. It was one of the most magical underwater worlds we have ever seen. Live corals and clouds of fish in shallow, sunlit water.
We found another spot by the North Pass, a reef wall dropping down to the sandy seabed far below, and alive with such a variety of corals, passing shoals of fish and all the busy residents of the reef, doing what they do.
That week flew by and now we are all leaving.
Fi to New Zealand, Monty back to France, Dawn and I are sailing north to the next atoll, crewless! Takes a bit of getting used to.