Wow - sleeping on a flat bed - a flat motionless bed no less. Heaven!!! The wind has continued to blow, but the anchorage here is pretty smooth. We are thinking that maybe this Island was worth the discomfort of getting here. Certainly is beautiful.
The head Ranger (Harry) and his officer (Charlie) came by the boat this morning to check us in. Think we filled in half a forest's worth of forms, and definitely had the best inspection of our boat yet. Still not good enough to find my wine stash, but was a close call for the contraband plants. Lots of rules here - no spearfishing or diving in the lagoon, no eating the coconut crabs, no fishing in the lagoon...... Primary reason for the fishing is the sharks. They have gotten used to boats being in the anchorage and come after any fish you catch and not even a thank you for the free lunch. Diving is an issue as some divers recently got swept away out the pass, their own dinghy could not find them, so the rangers had to go after them, and the coconut crabs are not edible because somehow or other the island became rat infested (brought by a cruiser?). The have put out poison for the rats, but the coconut crabs eat the rats. The poison doesn't kill the crabs, but remains in their system and it is bad for humans. Just goes to show what can happen in a few short years. We had friends come through here in 2010 and eating the crabs was part of the draw at that time. Lots of other rules as well, just like being in any other national park: pack it in, pack it out, no dogs or cats, no guns, drugs, no taking shells, sand or marine life...... Once the rules were made clear and we pushed a little we found that the head ranger has discretion over many of the don'ts that we want to do, so maybe it won't be so bad after all. Mostly they just want to guide you, but you have to provide the fuel as they have only what they are left here with when they are dropped off for 6-8 months, so pretty understandable. Charlie seems to be the outgoing social one of the pair, and invited us in to tour the island and maybe have drinks in the afternoon.
There are now 4 total boats in the anchorage including Moondance and ourselves. The other two are catamarans. One is from Europe (Charles, Mariett, Bridgite and Michael). At least one of the 2 couples is from Luxemburg (sp?). They are primarily French speakers, but their English as always is better than our French (thank goodness). The other Cat "Lazy Bones M&M" is a young couple (Mike and Megan) on their honeymoon. They are Canadians living in Australia who quit their jobs, got married, spent 4 months in Africa (her dream), then bought the cat in Guadaloupe and have been sailing towards Australia since last November (his dream). All very interesting people and fun to be around - which we found out over coconut juice and rum this afternoon.
After a leisurely morning, we finally headed in around 1500 - sadly we flooded our dinghy engine, but Moondance came to the rescue and gave us a lift in. Good thing it is not far - 5 people in their dinghy is tight and lots of work for their 9.9 hp engine. Charlie met us as we were wandering around, and gave us a tour. Their little area of the island is immaculately maintained, raked with walkways and hammocks hung all about, a cruiser book exchange in the older "Tom Neal" house and a newer house with flags from different cruisers over the years. Very nice. Charlie showed us the cistern we could use for showers and laundry, but no drinking, somebody's grave ( i was at the back of the pack, I think it was Tom Neal's, but that is not what the grave marker said) and then took us out to the beach overlooking the pass. Wow! a beautiful view. Then he came and fed the sharks. He stepped into the water and called them first and sure enough they came before he threw out any food - talk about conditioned responses, but very cool. I took a bunch of pictures, but they probably won't do justice to the actual event. Dennis even tried his hand at it. So we have dubbed Charlie the resident shark whisperer. After that we headed back to the beach area and tried coconut juice with rum. Quite tasty although I think ice would have helped. Turned into quite the party. Harry had gone out with the other half of the forest's paperwork to check in Lazy Bones, so shortly thereafter they came in followed by the folks from the other cat. Finally called it quit at sunset - barely made it home by dark (we would have been trouble, cuz I am pretty sure that if there were streetlights, they would have been on). We cheffed up the last steaks with rice and green beans, then dispersed to our various corners to wind down.
Hoping to do some snorkeling tomorrow (Sunday), maybe walk around the Island a bit. We calculated that we had not been off the boats for 12 days, so very nice to be on land.
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