What a day. We awoke to very calm waters around the boat and visibility
25 feet to the bottom. There are dead trees all over the sea floor under
the boat. Remnants of some storm. We were visited again by Kalami
the local guy and he came bearing coconuts. He insisted on giving
us 2 each even though we said 1 was enough. Soon after, Susan and Steve
went off on his dive hookah and I went snorkeling. It was excellent. Not
exactly crystal clear, but pretty wonderful. I saw lots of fish I didn’t
know and back on the boat I couldn’t remember them all to lookup in the
books. A bright yellow pufferfish was a highlight as was the lined
surgeonfish. The water was teeming.

I came back to the boat and soon Susan traded positions with me and I
got to use the dive hookah. It’s like diving but without the tank on
your back. A compressor is up at the surface in the dinghy and two
people can dive to a depth of about 25 feet. A line comes down and into
a regulator just like a dive regulator. We stayed down most of an hour
and by then I was completely a prune. We saw many neat things and it’s
fun to get up close to things that you can’t when snorkeling. Cleaner
wrasses normally clean other fish but kept checking us out, especially
Steve’s calves. One actually tugged on his rear pocket a little.

The day after the storm a catamaran showed up as we were going off to
walk in the water with the sharks. Today, Michelline, an Aussie woman
from the boat came over for a chat and invited us over for drinks. I
baked some lemon bars to take over and put some fresh coconut in,
courtesy of Kalami. Susan and lazed around under the
Bimini (canvas cockpit cover) putting together our new drogue. It’s a
device that slows down the boat in big storms. We have to attach a
series of cones to the long line (rope to non sailors). They have to
weaved into the line and then tied off. It’s tedious, but gives us
something to do while we talk. We can’t get into too deep of
conversations or some of us (Susan) starts putting them on wrong.

Susan shuttled Steve ashore so he could explore. We promised to pick him
up for our date with Michelline & David. All afternoon loud singing and
laughte were coming from their boat. We we arived we found out why. Two
more of the locals had come aboard for some rum. Victor & Hina were
there and Kalami arrived just before us. Karaoke was being sung, mostly
to rock bands like Bon Jovi. In the pot on the stove was (Alex stop
reading. No really, turn your head) a coconut crab fully cooked. These
guys are the giants of the crab world and love to eat coconuts. They
take many, many years to mature and grow really large. This one was
probably 3 to 4 pounds, maybe 15 – 20 years old? They get upward
of 25 pounds. They’re land crabs but start their lives in the ocean.
They have one very strong claw and in a day’s time can get a coconut
open. The party was a little too wild for our tastes, but we had no easy
escape. Steve negotiated with Kalami through David to go out
lobstering tonight. Finally, the locals were drunk enough and Kalami
usered them out.

I helped David get the meat out of the crab, we added a little mayo and
salt and pepper. My hands are still oily. I guess all the coconut oil
they ingest stays in them. It made them incredibly rich, and very tasty.
(Sorry, Alex, but it was dead already.) David also had traded a bottle
of rum for a basket of spiny lobsters. I talked him into throwing some
of the very small ones back. They really were too small to bother with.
Better to let them reproduce.

So, Susan is polishing the coconut crab carapice to keep as a Mopelia
souvenir and Steve is off lobstering.

We’re all set with the weather stuff and looking to move on tomorrow if
everything looks good. It’s way more difficult to do this at sea, so, it
may be a couple of days before the next entry.

Good night and good luck.