Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suwarrow Day 2 & 3

We have had a fun couple of days here at Suwarrow. Sunday we had a pretty quiet start, then went for a snorkel on the reef to the northwest of us. It was a short dinghy ride from the anchorage and Doug and Carla came in their dinghy too. We anchored at the edge of the drop off. The water was pretty, not lots of colorful coral, but the formations are nice. Josh and I headed to the north and out of the blue came a good sized manta ray. I about swallowed my snorkel, but gathered my wits and got some good pictures of it and Josh (and part of my finger too - didn't gather all of my wits apparently). Josh also saw a small turtle - a hawksbill we think. So a nice start to our stay. After that we went in and walked around the island, picked up a little bit of trash, including a yellow hard hat. We think we will decorate and sign it to leave for the Suwarrow ranger's collection. When we got back to the ranger's area, Charlie brought out some ice cold coconuts for us to drink and eat. Yum! He also showed us the "apple" of the coconut. It is formed after the coconut sprouts. The center fills with a white spongy, but solid filling. I guess you grate it and add flour for the coconut pancake. Charlie promised to make us some before we leave. I hope he has time. We then made arrangements to meet the next morning for an excursion in the lagoon.
Monday we were up at the butt crack of dawn. As it turns out it was even earlier than we thought, as Suwarrow is an hour behind. Oh well, we finally got everyone gathered on the beach - Charlie, and the crews from Evergreen, Moondance and Lazy Bones. Our first stop after a very wet ride (the tarp was a nice thought, but not very effective) was Gull or Bird Island. According to Harry it is a critical rookery for terns and frigate for all of the pacific. It was pretty amazing. The terns just lay their eggs anywhere - literally. They were all over the ground, in the water, pretty much randomly, everywhere. The frigates mostly had crude nests in the short vegetation. The noise was insane - I took video and it actually captured the sound pretty well too. The terns filled the air all around, the frigates were not as excitable¸ but some still took to the air as we passed. The tern eggs didn't seem to be ready to hatch, but the frigates we in process. We saw one that had to have just hatched, it had no feathers yet - kind of looked like an alien. From there we saw them in all stages of development, from the featherless to the white and black downy ones that were standing on their nests waiting for food. They looked at us as if to say "if you are not bringing food, go away". After a group photo we waded back out to the dinghy for the next leg of our tour.
Our next stop took us to Seven Island - for dolphins at 7 in the morning according to Charlie. Great photo ops again. Then on for Coconut crab viewing. Charlie took us to a small clearing where he did his Coconut Crab whisperer (or caller) thing. He opened a bunch of coconuts and the crabs came crawling out of the surrounding foliage. A little creepy. These guys could audition for the starring role in a horror movie "Crabzilla conquers the atoll". Their shells are beautiful though. They are very colorful ranging from red/orange to blues/purples. And can they climb trees!!!! After the photo shoot there, Dennis, Josh and Mike accompanied Charlie on an excursion to find a couple big enough to eat. Josh said he put his arm into a hole and pulled them out! Brave man. Their front claws can take off a finger no problem. When they returned with our two crabs, we had lunch and then headed out for a snorkel along a coral wall just off the beach. Again nice coral formations, but not a lot of color or fish. We than headed back to the anchorage to rest up for the bbq that night. We felt kind of bad for Charlie, cuz he turned around and headed back out to go fish for something to put on the grill at the bbq. A couple hours later he came by with a big wahoo to show off. YUM!
At 1700 we all gathered back at the beach for our bbq. We had tons of food (as usual when cruisers gather together). Bushetta, coleslaw, chicken curry pasta salad, fried rice, cream cheese/hot jelly with crackers, wahoo and coconut crab. The Wahoo was really good, we marinated it in red wine, oil, lemon and garlic then grilled it. But, the best was the coconut crab. It took a good while to cook after the wahoo came off the grill, definitely worth the wait. By the time we were through I know that at least I was almost in a coconut crab induced gastronomic coma. I am pretty sure that I have consumed more calories since arriving on Suwarrow, than I have since leaving Hawaii. I console myself with the fact that coconut water is supposed to be good for you…… right?
This morning's entertainment was anchoring 101. Thankfully we were not part of the show. One of the boats that came in yesterday anchored a little close to Moondance, so Moondance took in some chain to open the gap some. Generally the last boat in would move, but they were backed right up to a coral head, so had no room to move. Then two more boats came in. The first was a big trawler and then another monohull. Charlie was out in their little boat directing traffic. Then he and Harry spent the rest of the morning checking in the two new boats from yesterday afternoon and the two from this morning.
Today's plan was to take our spinnaker in and rinse out the salt water. Has not happened yet. Has been pretty rainy and squally (convection Brad? Or is that what happens when the wind dies down?), the wind has been almost from the north - which is kinda crazy. So has been a good day to work on the blog, download/catalog pictures from the camera, Josh has done homework and we have looked at the guides for our next destination - Am. Samoa. We hope to get a day of fishing in and then a snorkel at the manta ray spot before we leave. Provisions are running low, and we are anxious to get to Fiji. Suwarrow is definitely the best place we have been so far this time - beautiful water, flat anchorage, great people, and rules notwithstanding, fun stuff to do.

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