Sharks and ants in Paradise!

72 hours nonstop sail

What a great sail! We only motored 2 hours of the three day passage, sailing from Ua Pau, an island in the middle of French Polynesia’s Marquesas archipelago, to Rarioa, our first island in the Tuamotus archipelago. And of course, we were greated by dozens of dophins again!

So, what’s the difference? The Marquesas Islands, created from volcanoes, are known for their high peaks, cascades, and darker, nutrient-rich waters. The islands have more people and thus more resources than the more remote Tuamotus. But people come to the Tuamotus for the amazing diving and snorkeling. These islands are atolls; coral circular low islands with only one or two ways in and out. Some of these islands are remote, for sure. We are making granola, yogurt, and bread out here. There are no 75-cent baguettes fresh from the bakery available like in Nuku Hiva.

Passage foods

We always make a bunch of yummy food for passages that are easy to heat up. Some of the home made meals that were at the ready:

Handy Dandy Tide Guestimator

On the topic of “Sailors helping Sailors”, SSCA and OCC members Sherry and Dave McCampbell on SV Soggy Paws developed a handy spreadsheet specifically for the Tuamotus currents that help estimate the timing of the currents for easier entrance and departure from the atolls. Combining this with weather charts, we plan trips from one atoll to another to best arrive during slack tide but also when the sun is high enough to see and avoid the coral bommies.

Oops, I led with sharks…

At this point, they’re bored with us and leave us alone, and we leave them alone! The dozen ramoas that swim under Enjoy to enjoy the sink water also leave us alone. Check out more information here about our shark neighbors.

So I’ve dove and snorkled with sharks before. But those times were always with professional dive masters feeding the sharks lionfish along the way, or snorkling with friends. Yes, once they threw out chum and that was NOT fun. But, I digress.

When we arrived in paradise here, we were the ONLY boat in the wholl atoll. The first thing I did was jump off ENJOY and snorkle by myself to a bommi (large growth of coral that reaches near the surface). As I looked at the pretty fishes, a black tip shark 1/2 my size circled me, it turns out with simple curiousity. But, that’s not how it felt. So, I swam back to the Enjoy and got out for the rest of the day.

But, my good friend Samantha Oler on SV Hinewai sent me a lovely string of “It’s OK to Swim With Sharks”, tailored to this island’s inhabitants:

  • Black tip: 100% harmless, curious and chicken if you turn towards them
  • Nurse: You could near kiss one and they won’t move from the bottom.
  • Grey reef: Larger, will keep their distane and if they come close, will give me a wider bearth.
  • Lemon: Rare, they keep their distance, and run away fast. If I’m windsurfing and fall, the sound would scare them and they’d run so fast I wouldnt’ have known they were there.

And, I didn’t forget ants!

We have been infested by ants, inside and out. We tried home remedies like powdered sugar/baking soda and spraying vinegar water through out the boat. For an infested teak grate, we tried soaking it in salt water, dousing it with bleach water, and then epoxying the wood. Nada, they’re impossible to kill!

Luckily, some friends we met before leaving Shelter Bay Marina in Panama, Dennis & Karen (SV Witwat) arrived a few days after us. They had ant poison and ant traps onboard and were kind enough to give us their stash.

We were very appreciative for the gift, and they didn’t turn down a loaf of Don’s freshly baked bread!

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