Friday, May 20, 2011

Diving in the Tuamotus

Diving in the Tuamotus is supposedly some of the best diving in the world...specifically, drift diving. Until today, I wasn't sure I would be able to participate in it at all and it was getting depressing.

I've already explained how you need to time the entrances into the pass when arriving in a new atoll (due to tides, amount of swell, wind, etc.). Well, as you can imagine, you need to time your dives as well. Andy went diving with our Danish friends in Roroia and they got into a bit of a hair raising fiasco getting back in the pass with our small motor on our dinghy. Had they not been able to get back, they would have had to wait 6 hours until another slack tide to get back to Savannah. Based on that experience, I had kind of resigned myself that I wouldn't be able to do a dive in any pass in the Tuamotus. Not because I was scared or nervous (I've been diving for 15 years), but because I wasn't willing to risk leaving Jake with someone and us not getting back as planned or sitting with one of us in the dinghy getting beat up by the waves while the other one dove.

Well, today turned out to be a good day. We arrived in Tahanea yesterday after motoring for about 15 hours. There was zero wind. We thought there was wind when we left only to be met with flat calm after getting out of Makemo. It was a good day for making water and electricity. The lack of wind made for an extremely simple crossing into the pass and a beautiful anchorage. Since it was still so calm, today we decided to plan a dive in the pass.

If you haven't pictured an atoll yet, picture a bunch of tiny islands made up of coral, making a circle/oval/some sort of shape (formerly the top of a volcano). The pass is one or more spaces between the islands that a boat can get through to explore the lagoon inside. Outside of the passes are lots of coral that eventually drop off into the ocean (making a nice wall - think "Finding Nemo" and the "drop off"). Today, we went to dive the wall. The way we dive is not the PADI recommended way, but it's the only way we can do it seeing as we both like to dive and we have a young child, not yet old enough to stay in the dinghy by himself, or dive with us. Andy goes down first. He has a rope tied to him that's attached to the dinghy. While he dives, Jake and I play games or do some school (spelling games or math problems) to pass the we ate Froot Loops while spelling out simple words like pig and dog and playing rock, paper, scissors. When Andy comes up, I jump in and do basically the same dive while he and Jake snorkel around. In this visability, they can actually see me while I dive. The dive today wasn't incredible, but it was VERY nice. I saw many fish I've never seen before. One even had a horn (Andy said he saw a big one of the same kind). There was a current, so I didn't have to kick or anything, just drift. It was kind of like standing on one of those moving sidewalks in an aquarium where the fish swim over top of you (only I was the one swimming on top today).

After I came up, we made our way to the beginning of the pass and the current was going into the lagoon. So we all put on our snorkeling gear and jumped in, holding onto the dinghy and we just snorkeled the pass while drifting. Again, nothing spectacular, but it was very nice to do our first drift "dive" as a family. Jake had a great time and was begging to do it again... and he saw two sharks!

We dove the small pass today. We're going to move to the larger pass tomorrow and see if we can't dive that one. We keep hearing about "tons of sharks" and "huge fish" in the passes of these atolls, but we have yet to see them. Andy did get some pictures today, but he had his wide angle lens and as it usually turns out, he needed his macro. It doesn't matter what kind of lens he takes, Murphy (is it Murphy?) always ensures he needs the opposite.

Overall, we're still doing great. I'm getting a bit tired (laundry, school, cooking, cleaning, mommy - another blog, another day) and rather homesick (missing my own mommy), but Andy is doing a great job of keeping me entertained and picking up my slack when I fall down.

While we can't read comments when we don't have internet, we do catch up when we pull into a larger port. Keep 'em coming... I love to hear from people. We're very isolated out here and any communication from friends is welcome. It's getting close to the weekend...I hope the weather is turning warm for you guys back home and you all have a great weekend bar-b-que-ing or doing whatever it is you do! Au revoir!

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1 comment:

papa mac said...

I've been saving my comments for e-mail since I knew you couldn't always read these, but be assured that I check, almost everyday, might be two days but not often, Love you guys, the stories, the photos, and the blog. Keep them coming. Papa

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