Island Life, South Pass Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotu Islands…..

Dear F&F,
July 30, 2009

We had a nice time last night at the beach happy hour. The \”E.T.G.\” kids enjoyed stoking the bon fire. I managed to stay out of the path of the smoke. Gloria, the 6 year old showed me shells she had collected. I had to focus hard on staying present with her & not letting my thoughts drift back to Skye at that age & getting pangs of missing our little girl (now 24!). We talked with Graham about their time cruising up the Red Sea & land touring in Israel. It was nice for us to hear a non-Jewish New Zealander speak very pro-Israel. We also learned more about his work with Outward Bound. And what led up to his open heart surgery. His father & brother each died of heart attacks in their 50s. Graham never smoked & was really into running, hiking, mountain climbing & bicycling. He had arm/chest pains when doing a big uphill bike ride, got tested & 2 coronary arteries were completely blocked & a 3rd 80% closed. The surgeon said they caught him just in time. Ya just never know…

A 3rd crew member has flown in to help with the kids on \”E.T.G.\” & give Captain Josh & chef/nanny Claire some help. The 7 of them have been together non-stop for 5 months with only 2 days off. They are staying off-boat in a bungalow tonight to have their first privacy from the family since the Galapagos. They are in their mid 20s, British & plan to work as captain/crew on boats for about 3 years. I am so glad we are posh enough not to have to work while doing this life. And independently functioning enough to not require crew. I cannot fathom being around someone else on a boat as either employee or employer for any length of time.

This morning Josh & Claire went diving with the Marc the dive master. We followed their group towing our own dinghy above us. Scott thinks he could handle both the dinghy plus the video camera (but not the huge still camera set up). The current can be too strong for me to hold onto the dinghy & not be swept out of control. So we plan to begin diving with Marc tomorrow so Scott can do photo & video. Marc is very funny & thrilled to discuss gear & techniques with a fellow underwater photographer. He seems much more like an American than a Frenchman and he did live in Florida for a number of years.

The wind has shifted so we will likely move to the anchorage closer to the dive area once \”Giselle\” leaves for Tahiti. Right now it is about a 20 minute dinghy ride & quite rough pounding into the swell. We were up before 6:00 a.m. because the incoming tide today was at 7:00 a.m. so that\’s when we must go. It was overcast plus early, so not as pretty below without any light. It was still nice, lots of fish & healthy coral, but we have not hit it at the ideal time for the sharks yet. Every day now the tide will be half an hour or so later, hence the sun will be higher in the sky. It is funny here; it can be blue sky & sunshine, then 10 minutes later completely dark gray clouds & pouring rain. The rain usually does not last a long time, but this morning after the dive it did stay quite a while.

We went to the little dock & had a coffee with Mark, Josh & Claire after the dive. Repeat clients of Marc\’s are arriving by airplane today & bringing him the newest version of the underwater video housing that Scott uses. He asked Scott a lot of questions. It will be nice to have the friendship of Marc to console us when Mary & David sail away. I think it will be nice for Marc to have some serious divers that are here for awhile, not just a 1 week vacation. The couple flying in today are from San Diego so we should have a fun week of diving & camaraderie with them.

We may dive under the boat this afternoon to clean her. I will switch to my new thicker wetsuit as I have been getting chilly after nearly an hour in the 81 degree water. Diving really helps you stay cool all day. It is 87 outside but feels absolutely comfortable to me with a nice breeze. I am happy that I seem to be preventing an ear infection with rinsing drops & the little ear dryer. Mary asked me if I had to plug up my opposite ear so the air wouldn\’t blow out the other side – that rascal!

There are about 10 other islands we could visit in the Tuamotu group, but we are inclined to just stay put as long as we are enjoying ourselves. We\’ve heard so much about this being one of the premiere dive sites, that we want to give it a chance to be here when the conditions are peak. Taking it one day at a time & enjoying this moment.

Cindy & Scott