Maupiti Dive Day 2 & 3…..

Dear F&F,

May 23, 2010

Last night it was fun to review Scott\’s photos du jour. He got more good
ones that he expected. I love his work and am so glad he has the patience
for it. I do not! I am happy to point out pretty things for him to take
pictures of. But actually dragging a camera around underwater and all that
underwater photography entails would ruin the experience for me. He loves
it. It is his art. And I love the results, so it works out great. As I
write, he is in his \”dark room\”. Thanks to digital photography, he only
needs his Macintosh, not a room full of chemicals.

We were happy to see Ronald alone pick us up this morning. We will likely be
his last clients as he is selling Maupiti Dive Center to another couple.
Ronald and Rochelle, with two kids, are buying a boat in Raiatea and plan to
go cruising themselves. Ronald discovered all the sites here, hopefully the
new owners will keep things going.

The wind shifted to the north overnight which really knocked down the swell
outside the reef. Hurray!!! It was a MUCH more comfortable ride to the
sites. We had two gorgeous dives. They were both shallower than yesterday so
we could stay down a long time. Scott got some awesome detailed shots of the
coral texture and patterns, colorful blue clams, and an outer space looking
jelly fish.

We came across a few of the hated Crown of Thorn starfish, the reef
destroyers. I could hear dive guide Ronald in a Bruce Willis or Clint
Eastwood voice saying, \”Not on my reef you don\’t!\” as he went after it with
a loose piece of sharp coral. Stabbing it, dismembering all its spiny legs
and strewing the remains with a certain amount of righteous indignation. If
Scott was focused on shooting something with his camera for a while, Ronald
would go ahead and destroy more of them as he saw them. It is amazing that
he has been able to single-handedly weed out this invasive reef destroyer.
Hopefully Lionel will keep up the practice to protect the reef. I am tempted
to bring my Hawaiian sling & spear a few myself.

We were so tired by the time we rinsed gear, showered and had lunch that it
was nap time. Scott looked at our fish books, identifying various ones we
saw today, but I was gonzo. Delicious. Wake up, almost time for happy hour &
writing! It\’s a tough life but somebody\’s got to do it….

Jerome & family on the other Switch 51 (s/v Na Maka) which is Polynesian for
“Spirt of the Ocean”, moved and are now anchored closer to us. We passed
them snorkeling this morning as we went out in the dive boat. There are also
two other charter catamarans and a trimaran. There have been clouds off and
on, no rain yet, but we did have a lovely rainbow before sunset. We are
going to dive again tomorrow, because the weather is predicted to get rough
on Tuesday and we don\’t know how long that will last. Besides the weather,
we think it is smart to take advantage of Ronald being here while we still
have him. I\’m sure Lionel will be fine too, but he is just learning the

May 24, 2010

Maupiti Dive Day #3

It started raining about 4:00 a.m. & at 7:15 was still steady. It probably
seems funny to think that a bit of rain might deter us from diving, when we
are wet anyway. It\’s partly psychological, even though the water is just as
warm and the air only slightly cooler. It is just not initially appealing to
zoom out in the rain. Donning \”gooey wet things\” is kind of yucky (our gear
hanging outside got wet in the rain). But I was really looking forward to
one more day of diving with Ronald. We called and he said he would happily
take us, he likes to dive in rainy weather. Sometimes it just isn\’t as
pretty without any sun. Everything underwater looks more monochrome. He was
at home and willing to “stand by” and let us see if the rain would break.

The weather forecast is for strong winds Tuesday through at least Friday so
we may have a few mandatory \”stay at home\” days ahead. Scott has a lot of
video editing he wants to catch up on. I have a harder time figuring out
what to do sometimes, but can always read. Although the rain cools it down
(76 at the coolest) it gets stuffy inside because we have to close all the
windows. One of the forward salon windows has a drip so we keep a container
under it.

By 8:30 a.m. the rain slowed to a drizzle so we decided not to be wimps and
called Ronald, Let’s go. The wind was not blowing hard, so the waves were
not whipped up and the ride to the sites outside the reef was pretty
comfortable. Just the three of us again – yippee!

The past two days Scott used the macro lens on his camera to take close ups
of fish, coral, etc. Today he used the wide angle lens which means that he
wants me in the photo for perspective. He is \”in his darkroom\” right now, as
I write. I forgot how small and far away I look, even though I feel very
close to the lens. I imagine I am the dominant feature in a picture, but
that\’s not the case.

I don\’t look as goofy as I used to in the early years of underwater
modeling, but it is still a challenge to not exhale, look relaxed & natural..

Between our two dives he gave me these tips:

*Look either at the camera or the subject that is in front of me

*Tilt my head up a bit and raise my chest

*Avoid flailing arms, especially the arm nearest the camera, keep at my side

*Avoid super bent knees or widely spread legs

I know how important good photos are to Scott so I try to cooperate as best
I can. We are both still learning and I\’m sure will improve over time. I
confess that when his strobe batteries died halfway through dive #2 I was
relieved to be \”off duty\”.

Highlights of today\’s dives: more neat jelly fish, an eagle ray seen in the
distance, but mostly lots and lots of gorgeous coral. Scott said he kept
hearing Sting\’s song \”Fields of Gold\” as he swam the beautiful reef. Perhaps
for a future slide show…

We didn\’t get back to the boat until 2:00 p.m., so had a late lunch. We had
our afternoon snack of oatmeal at 4:00 p.m. and wouldn\’t ya know, it\’s
almost happy hour! We\’ve certainly had 3 very happy days in a row. We feel
lucky that we got to dive our first few days here. It would have been a
bummer to come and immediately be stuck onboard due to weather. Now we can
be more patient to wait out whatever potential bad weather is coming. The
lagoon where we are anchored should stay comfortable, but it can be too wild
outside the reef to go out to the dive sites if the wind is blowing hard
(especially from the south) and the waves are big. We are still waiting for
our generator oil hoses to arrive in Papeete (by way of Wisconsin and
Redondo Beach, California – Yea Mike!) then be flown here, so we are in no
rush to leave.

Looking ahead, I found a dive center by Googling Aitutaki (a Cook Island).
Neil Mitchell has already responded to our inquiry and given us some info
about the island and entering the pass there. Between here and there is
Mopelia, which is an atoll, our last stop in French Polynesia. Apparently
only 10 people live there! That should be interesting…We discovered there
is a WW1 German “Raider” wreck right outside Mopelia Pass. We’ve Googled it
and hope to have lots of photos and the interesting story behind it and her
Captain. Scott believes the Captain and vessel were the inspiration for the
John Wayne film, “Sea Wolf”.

Ok sports fans, that\’s all the news that\’s fit to print! Please email us
about what is happening in your life. No fair just living vicariously, we
care about what is going on with you.

Cindy & Scott