Monday, August 10, 2009

busy 24 hours in Moorea

Saturday afternoon we re-anchored by motoring out of Cook's Bay and west 1 mile to the entrance of Oponuha Bay. As we pulled in, we saw Banyan, a boat we know with 3 California surfers all in their 20s. So, we anchored next to them. The anchor wasn't even fully set when they hollered over to have us come later that night for drinks and snacks on their boat. No problem, we'd had a quiet couple of days previous and were craving socializing. We ended up having some great conversations and then saw that our boats were rotating toward each other, and about to collide. This has never happened before. The situation was that Banyan was in shallow water without much scope on their anchor chain while Nomad was in deep water with a lot of scope on her anchor chain. Instead of fighting the inevitable, we rafted up when Nomad came alongside. Fenders were placed in between the boats and ropes attached between our bows and sterns. This allowed us to easily invite them all (the numbers had swollen due to the arrival of two French nurses) at about 11pm to the hamburger barbecue we had planned for ourselves for earlier in the night.

The next morning, Brian and I went in search of the rumored location of a place to swim with manta rays. On our way we saw and spoke with John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal aboard Mahina Tiana. They are well-known cruisers (we took a seminar from them at one of the Oakland Boat Shows) and were very friendly and gave us good advice. We arrived at the sting ray location just as a tour boat disgorged its 30 passengers into the chest deep turquoise water. They were sprinkling shrimp parts around and the rays were flying in between people eating and not minding being touched at all. The largest we saw was about 4 feet in diameter and the rest were around 3 feet. They all had tails that were straight and stiff, up to 4 feet long. I got to touch some delightfully slippery wings and swim a foot or two above others while looking them in their top mounted eyeballs while the gills below the eyes opened and shut. They are incredibly agile and graceful and strong. The feeding also attracted about 10 black-tipped reef sharks, some of which were about 4 1/2 feet long. It was a good thing for my fear of sharks to be around them and realize that they just want to eat small things, not attack me. Many times they glided by within a foot of my legs looking for tidbits of the fish parts the tour guides were flinging out for them.

After the ray-feeding session, we tried to find the location of the underwater tikis. I'd read about them and wanted to see them. Apparently, when the missionaries were here in the early 1800s they were making the people all destroy their stone and wood tikis. A few people went out into the lagoon and dropped their stone tikis into the water to hide them from the missionaries. The tikis are still there. I saw pictures of them and hoped to find them. Alas, I snorkeled all around their reported location and saw only coral and beautiful reef fish.

When we returned from this excursion, it was time to un-raft the two boats and get Nomad ready to leave for her overnight journey to Huahine.

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