South Pass, Fakarava Atoll…..

Dear F&F,
August 7-8, 2009

We had a fantastic week of diving with the parade of sharks in the south pass with Marc, Jill & Dan. We like them all & hope we stay in touch. Jill & Dan travel a lot, so maybe they will meet us somewhere else for diving in the future. They were so generous to us. They gave us fruit they didn\’t eat: a pineapple & some bananas anything fresh is a real treat. Some delicious snack bars: Mrs. Mays from Costco – just fruit, nuts & seeds – delicious, no added sugar. And some turkey jerky. They learned to bring a lot of extra food since the dining offered here is primarily fish & coconut. She also gave me her straw hat that I had complimented her on. And some facial sunscreen that she swears by. Real givers. Jill is tall & beautiful. She & Dan are a pleasure to behold. They ooze love & affection above & below the water. Always holding hands & exchanging tender looks. I found their happiness contagious. I kept smiling & thinking how lucky we all are. Wonderful.

The incoming tide is later every day. We had lunch at the restaurant between our 2 dives. It was barely edible, but we didn\’t starve. One offering was spam pizza & the other fish quiche. Yuck. I was consoled afterwards by coconut cookies & coffee. Later Jill brought out Trader Joes chocolate covered almonds & I gorged myself on them. What a treat, it was delightful.

The diving is so easy & the four of us basically go on our own. Marc, the dive master is busy with his other tourists. Currently there is a group of 14 French people. The French Polynesian Minister of Science & his family on holiday. Their fifth trip here. Only 6 of them are divers, but that is Marc\’s limit to supervise. He has seen our experience, so has the boat driver drop us in at the right spot & we get to do our own thing without being stuck in the big group. Terrific. Plenty of sharks, gorgeous fields of coral, every size & shape of tropical fish. Each dive is an hour or longer.

We will say our farewell to Dan & Jill tomorrow morning. They cannot dive on the day they fly. As we dinghied back to \”Beach House\” we saw another catamaran coming into the pass. It was \”Mariah\”, the owner & crew that had us onboard for dinner in the north part of this atoll. He has at least a new guest from Hawaii. They got anchored then came over in their dinghy for a friendly hello.

I cooked lamb chops, seasoned them with garlic & rosemary & some potatoes. We enjoyed a glass of red wine & watched today\’s video. Scott is making adjustments in exposure & technique, all the time getting better. His back is not perfect but improved after I worked on him yesterday & this morning. It is hard to avoid lifting but he is more aware of his body mechanics.

We learned from our agent that we are supposed to be in Papeete to renew our visas by August 14. We thought we could arrive a month later since the stamp in our passports is good through September 30. We wrote a request to delay & had the letter translated by our friend Alex (known from LA) who now lives in Papeete. We emailed it to our agent to see if he suggests any changes, then we will send it.

We enjoy the morning radio chat with David & Mary who are already in Tahiti. Jill & David have been good company since our boat friends sailed away. Once we find out the date we must report to Papeete, we will make a plan for our next several weeks. It would be easy to stay here longer, but I think we will be ready to move on pretty soon. The moon is full & I am full of gratitude.

August 8
When we saw Jill & Dan this morning, they gave us their last 2 bananas & I begged for more chocolate covered almonds, yum. What a gift to have Jill & Dan here to share this week with us! We exchanged email addresses & hope to keep in touch. They love to travel to remote places for diving, so may be ideal travel buddies. They are better sports than me. The facilities here are fairly like camping. But they like off the beaten path, funky places like this.

Scott & I had two great dives. Two people from the boat \”Mariah\” went with dive master Marc. The current was stronger which seemed to make the sharks swim more actively. The water clarity was better. Wait until you see the great video footage. We visited Marc at his bungalow late this afternoon. Scott & he swapped some photos, video footage & computer programs. He is a good guy. We settled up our bill with the owners of the operation & came to a fair price for the diving. The French Polynesian Minister of Science (Pierre) gave us his email & said to feel free to contact him when we got to Tahiti if we needed anything. Very nice. We met another French guy whose wife has a furniture business in Wallis which is an island beyond Fiji. It is fun to talk to people from all over the world.

Tomorrow morning we plan to tackle repair of our largest roller furling headsail, the gennaker. We may need it to sail to Tahiti. Our last patch held well. We are afraid the material is toast from UV damage, but we must try another patch in order to use it from here to there.

We sent our email request to delay arrival to the visa office in Tahiti. Our friend Alex in Papeete says he knows Mr. Harrison from his wife getting her visa. He offered to follow up for us Monday. This is helpful & much appreciated news because we are in limbo until we know how soon we must get to Papeete.

Scott\’s back is still delicate. Even though diving is hugely fun, it is a lot of work, schlepping the gear in & out of the dinghy, rinsing, hanging it, filling tanks, etc. Besides the sail repair & some general clean up, we could both benefit from some rest days.

A Kiwi monohull anchored in front of us this morning. We have not had a chance to say hello or hear their story. Maybe tomorrow.

Cindy & Scott