Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 23, 2009 - Salomon Atoll, Chagos

I dream of Chagos

These past few days have been simply amazing. The wind has been so light that we've been able to range far and wide in the dinghy. We played with hundreds of dolphins inside the lagoon one day and outside the atoll another, experiences that filled us with a sense of wonder. We deep fried donuts and delivered them around the anchorage, brightening everyone's morning with the inaugural run of Dinkin Donuts (TM). We swam outside the lagoon with rays, sharks and the occasional yellowfin tuna. We feasted on fresh pesto made from Mr. Curly's hydroponic basil. We picnicked on Ile de Passe's shaded swath of white powder. After lunch, we looked for nesting terns and boobies in the woods. We lost a big wahoo but landed a beefy yellowfin before the circling sharks could steal our prize, which we served up as Ahe Poke during cocktail hour the following night. We walked on the windward reef at dawn the day of the new moon, looking for reef bunnies. We pushed each of our free diving bottom times to the limit to correct a problem with the Queen's Mooring before the wind could pick back up and blow Mata'irea onto the beach. We walked the paths of the island, our steps cushioned by a soft carpet of casuarina needles. We celebrated Ron on Tigger's 69th birthday and Mr. Curly's last night at Boddam with a beach party complete with a jerry can of rum punch, hanging lanterns illuminating the palms, songs composed by Silver Fern and Affirmation, and the best chocolate cake ever (see October 2007 archives for recipe). As we listened to Mr. Curly's adventures hiking in the Seychelles and Affirmation's tales of trading for mud crabs in Madagascar we looked forward to upcoming landfalls. But we have come far enough to know that Chagos is a special place and so we are in no hurry to move on.

Time to make the donuts!

Donuts in paradise - what could be better?
Tending the fish smoker
Bryce with a batch of perfectly smoked fish.
Ron takes Piglet for a spin around the atoll.
Boobies fill the air over Ile du Passe
A nesting noddy tern on Ile du Passe
A juvenile coconut crab
Moments before we robbed him of his protective coconut shell
Poor little guy, all exposed to the cold, cruel world (for about 30 seconds, then we gave him his shell back).

Thanks to this guy,this guy,
this guy,
this guy,
and, of course, this guy,
Sten spent lots of time repairing his fishing gear;
so he could land gorgeous fish like this yellowfin tuna.

Despite the sharks (or perhaps because of them), we spent loads of time in the water.
You know what they say about the length of a man's fins, don't you?
I was merrily swimming back from one snorkeling expedition when I noticed that Ron and Sten were messing about with our anchor and mooring.

The mooring chain had slipped almost all the way off of the bommie. The only thing keeping Mata'irea off the beach was the little piece of coral on which the chain had caught.
This is a bad thing.

Martha's pizza baking on the fire signals the start of yet another party.
Have you ever seen so many patterns in one place?

A verrrry serious discussion.

Martha, Kathy, George, and Colleen doing a musical tribute for the birthday boy.
Guess who's coming to dinner . . .
Hanging out with the birthday boy.

The end of another perfect day in Chagos.

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