Archive for May 26th, 2010

Pass Teavatapu, Tahanea Atoll

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

We slipped into Tahanea after a calm night of incredibly slow sailing. Our entry was well timed and we eased around the pass reefs into a rare protected spot just before a blow from the southeast.

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We put out a Bahamian mooring (two anchors spread 180° on one line) in a 150’ x 60’ sandy patch, and added a third bow anchor just to hold us off a shallow coral head on the inshore side.

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We spent a quiet week snorkeling, beach combing, and hanging out with Bart, a Dutch vodka mogul who has been singlehanding his one-off 54’ aluminum boat Tranquillo for the past 5 years. 

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Bart is a man of action; he singlehanded to Antarctica and continued west-about around Cape Horn into the Pacific. After a couple of days of high wind boredom we started a kitesurfing support service so Bart could kitesurf and we would have something to do.

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We would launch him off the beach and then pick him up in his zippy dinghy before the sharks got him when he was done. Very entertaining!

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Bart shared his Argentinean barbecuing technique with us. It takes quite a while to grill a 4 lb roast but the results are fantastic.

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There was gluttony all around the beach that night. The hermit crabs were slack jawed at the size of S’s rum and coke.

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We discovered they have incredible powers of coconut detection. K found the very lowest of lowconuts – so we helped ourselves to a refreshing green coconut drink.  We left the empty nut on the ground and watched.

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Within minutes the leaf litter erupted as a scrum of ravenous hermit crabs marched out for bits of newly opened lowconut.

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The weather cleared and we got back to the business of tropical life.

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The small patches of reef on the sandy bank near the boat were full of life, mostly at a very small scale.  We cracked open the tropical fish of the Pacific book we packed across the ocean with us, so we’re able to identify a few.

A dusting of Blue-green Chromises…

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a Moorish Idol (with parrotfish and yellow-tailed dascyllus [dascylli?] in the background),

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and more chromises.

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The bigger corals were full of christmas tree worms,

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which come in a wide variety of colors.

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Here’s one of our new favorites – the big, colorful, luscious-lipped giant clams.

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They also come in many colors.

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Here’s a little Humbug Dascyllus

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A couple of Neon Damsels…

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Um, some other sort of Dascyllus…

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a chain of Convict Tangs

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a Picasso Triggerfish

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a Reticulated Butterflyfish

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a Donald Duckfish (actually, a Saddleback Butterflyfish)

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and a Threadfin Butterflyfish.

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In addition to the ubiquitous Blacktip sharks there were a few larger specimens, not nearly as menacing. 

(a Goatfish)

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(a Flounder)

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(a Parrotfish)

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(a Trumpetfish)

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16°50.89′S 144°41.58′W   25-May-10 21:16 UTC