The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron






Monday, May 29, 2017

Gaining daylight, May 29th

We are definitely in the trades now. The wind is strong, consistently over 20 knots and the seas are big. We are cruising along at over a 7 knot average, which is pretty fast for us considering we don't have a current assist. The boat is holding up well, it will be the humans on board that will tire out and require a slow down if this continues. The winds and seas are on the beam, which makes it fast, but also very bumpy. We have a little less than 600 miles to go and the GPS reports we will be there in 3 days. We want to get there, but we also want to be able to sleep at some point in those three days.

Otherwise, life is much the same as it has been for the last 12 days. We haven't pulled in any fish since we left Nuka Hiva. Something took our last cedar plug lures a few days out of the Marquesas, which were our lucky lures, and we are hoping the fishing is good enough near Hawaii that the fish will try our "lesser" lures. The mid ocean fish aren't liking them. The excitement of line fishing has lost its appeal for Zander since he mastered spear fishing. He's a teenager though, he sleeps all the time and amazingly can sleep through the motion of the ocean as it currently is. Porter is in the midst of a good book series and only comes up for air when he needs to sit and tell us every detail about the book. Ana is very content and extremely creative aboard. She builds (paper radios, cardboard cars, anything and everything) all she needs for a particular imaginative play set up. She's our little McGiver. She's constantly singing and fluttering around the cabin as if she is completely oblivious to the fact that we live in a washing machine. She is definitely the best sailor aboard and while we love that she loves the boat, we often feel guilty that we can't match her enthusiam for whatever project she is working on. Yesterday the TV died. We don't use it a lot, but it is a nice break for the kids to watch a disc movie together or an episode of one of the many series we purchased before the trip. After three years of use, we can't complain about the convenience of when it decided to kick the bucket. Maybe it was the wave it took on the Marquesan crossing, or simply the life span of electronics in a very humid, marine environment.

We are gaining a tremendous amount of daylight each day. My best guess is about 7 minutes a day. Daylight doesn't change much at low latitudes with the change of the seasons, but the little bit it does change combined with the latitude gain we make daily makes a noticeable difference in our daylight hours. Since we have very little moon, the extra daylight is appreciated.

position at 9am
N 12 30
W 147 58

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 10, May 28

Well our dreams of a May arrival have been scrapped, but we are close enough to the big island of Hawaii to start estimating when we will be there. We should be there by the second of June. The wind is consistent and it is only predicted to strengthen in the next few days.

There is absolutely nothing of interest to report today. Every morning is like Groundhog Day and nothing different really happens. We watch the antics of the several sea birds we see throughout the day, we follow flying fish with our eyes as they detour away from the boat and we star gaze in the late evenings. It is interesting to watch the constellations change course as we move further north. The big dipper is higher above the horizon, we still can't see the north star, but every night the southern cross dips a little further south. Once we reach the northern latitudes we won't see the friends we've come to count on for company during our night watches; the Scorpion and it's lovely mars like Antares, the Ship and its brightest star Canopus (second only to Sirius in brightness), The small separate galaxies from our own that we see as Magellanic Clouds, and the centaur and its two 1st order stars that are beacons in the night sky much like Orion is in the north. We've followed their movements across the southern skies for almost 6 months and it will be hard to say goodbye.

Position at 10am

N 10 37
W 146 05

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Half way there, May 26

We are officially half way to Hawaii and actually pointing in the direction of the islands. Finally, after taking a northerly heading for so long. We've just gotten into the trades and we can now start making westward progress towards Kona. We are hoping with the consistent trades we can make up a little ground and this will be a faster half than the first half of the trip.

As a celebration of our progress we slowed the boat down, hove to for a few hours, and had a lovely swim call. The kids dove under the keel and swam all around the boat while I didn't get more than about 5 feet away, all the while holding on with a death grip to the rope we trailed behind. Yeah, I'm not brave in the open ocean, 1000 miles from the nearest land. Pretty sad when your 7 year old is prodding you along saying "Mom, there is nothing to be afraid of out here."

Anyway, things are good, we expect a few more comfortable days and then a few lumpy ones at the end. Winds build on the 29th, but all in the right direction. No complains on board.

975 miles to Kona

position:
N 07 37
W 143 12

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 7, May 25, radio nets

This passage is different from our other passages in that we are checking into two radio nets while we sail north. On previous passages we'd occasionally check into one of the ham nets, but not regularly and they certainly weren't keeping tabs on us, it was simply a diversion for us from the normal tedium of sea. This time we check into the Polynesian Magellan net in the morning. This is an informal net including anyone traveling within Polynesia. We've met several of the boats and have been talking to others on and off for the past three months, so we feel like we know them as well. They ask us about our fishing, the kids and we hear news of their travels and it makes us feel a little closer to civilization. The second net is an official Ham net, Pacific Seafarers net, and only ham licenses can participate. This one keeps tabs on us, posts our position daily on their website and if we fail to check in, they would do some investigating into whether we were actually in trouble or not. On several occasions, while we were in the islands, we heard boats on the poly mag net asking about a particular boat that may have neglected to check in and the Seafarers net wanted to make sure they made land fall. Often another boat has seen the particular boat in a bay and they simply forgot to check in. In an extreme case, say if you turned on your EPIRB, they would work with the coast guard in trying to help you. They have your course, your wind and sea state conditions and know if you were having any prior problems at all. In any case its kind of nice to know someone is looking out for us.

Otherwise we are all well. We may have just poked our nose into the doldrums as the wind seems to be dying. We are at almost 6 degrees north, so we thought we may have been lucky enough to miss it, but alas I think those infamously calm conditions have just found us. It isn't so bad. We will motor a little, get our batteries nice and charged up and then hopefully the winds will fill in soon.

N 05 37
W 142 20

Last bonfire, departing the Tuamotus, May 25 scheduled post





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fruit frenzy aboard Pelagic, Day 6, May 24

We are really happy with our progress thus far. The winds have been consistently from the East and Southeast between 10-15 knots. That kind of wind doesn't kick the seas up much and we've have fairly smooth sailing. I hesitate to even write that, but so far so good. We sped over the equator at 7 knots, quite different from out last passing of the equator where the weather was so calm the kids swam over the line separating the hemispheres. We still have over 1200 miles to go, but we are clicking the miles off nicely and everyone is content on board.

Our only complaint is all of the beautiful fruit we traded for in the Marquesas is starting to ripen all at the same time, so it is fruit every meal of the day. Canning aboard a rocking boat is not ideal, but we are managing to make a dent in our seemingly endless supply of bananas, passion fruit and pomplemousse and mangoes.

Current position:
N 02 34
W 142 01

Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 4, May 22

Position:

S 01 39
W 141 37

Our spot will not start working until we get to Hawaii, so completely useless on this leg of the trip. That said, we are checking in with the Pacific Seafarers Net at 5pm every day (Hawaii time). Apparently they post our position on their website. I can't attach the link, but if you are interested, our daily position should be there if you search their site.

Wind continues to be steady from the east. Seas are relatively flat and while we aren't flying, we are making a good consistent 5 plus knots. We expect to move a little faster when we hit the trades in the Northern Hemisphere.

We've made the transition to passage life finally and life aboard is simple, a bit boring, but manageable enough. We've been baking, reading and dreaming of what we want to do when we get home first.

Last night, while on watch, I went through 8 AIS signals, all transmitting from a few miles away, surrounding us, and yet I only saw one light on one small ship. Possibly a Chinese fishing vessel with smaller boats? The mother ship was the only one that showed up on the radar and the info on the AIS screen was minimal for the other 7 and they weren't moving fast, but they weren't just drifting either. Not sure what we went through, but that was my excitement for the night.

1550 miles to go.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 3, 325 miles in, 1625 to go

We are on Day 3 of our trip to Hawaii. Usually 3 is the magic number when we finally get accustomed to life at sea again. The sleep deprivation isn't a factor because we figure out how to doze a little on watch, but also take a short naps during the day to compensate for any loss of sleep. Meals get a little more elaborate, the kids pull out some of their crafts rather than relying on electronic entertainment.

The wind still has just a little northerly to it (mostly it is from the east), but we are still expecting that to change and when it does it will be that much easier. In fact, looking at the weather forecast we should have some really consistent winds for most of the trip. The equator could have some loss of winds, but we can motor through that if necessary. All in all, we are really hopeful for a good trip.

Just before we arrived into Nuka Hiva we caught a huge Dorado, so we haven't been fishing since. One more meal of fish and we can get the lines back in the water hoping to catch a yellow fin. Life is pretty simple out here and we are trying to make the most of it. When we return home we may one day yearn for these simple days of life afloat.

S 04 17
W 141 25

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20, scheduled post

Frigate Bird Chick
This is the view I often see when Mike and the boys are snorkeling. They always have their heads in a hole checking something out.
Wonder if I'm still looking this happy after a week at sea. 
This was taken right under the boat while we were on a buoy. It isn't surprising that they don't want anchors to go down in the coral beds. 

Shark Dive
Diver in training

May 20, Day 2, Eiao Island, Marquesas





Day 2, I am on watch, it is 2am and the winds are light. We aren't moving that fast, but we aren't bashing into big seas, hard on the wind, so I am very content. The wind still has a little more northern component than I would prefer, but it is supposed to come around sometime today.
Yesterday we stopped at the northern most island of the Marquesas, Eiao. It is uninhabited, has incredibly steep walls, and only one place to anchor. We anchored after just one night at sea, lowered the dingy and planned to stop briefly on the steep beach for an hour or so. There was a small makeshift tent/hut on some rocks that looked like it might be used by fisherman from time to time, but no one had been there for awhile. The walls of the valley looked so steep we didn't think we'd get very far following the small creek, but we managed to find a trail, or at least a string of cairns to lead us up the side. In the distance you could hear feral goats calling and the occasional cry of a rooster. Surprisingly we broke out of the small trees and brush after about an hour of climbing and bouldering to find a summit of red clay and sand. It looked like we had landed on Mars. The top was windswept and devoid of many trees. The spine of the island was right in front of us. Unfortunately we didn't bring enough water to explore the whole top of the island, which would have been easy walking and a great hike, but we did stay on top for an hour and we had fun walking barefoot on the cool, silky clay. We descended down the from the 500 meter summit, eating ripe custard fruit as we passed them and eventually ran back into the muddy creek. Because of the outflow, the bay wasn't clear, but just beyond the breakers we could see a dozen fins in the water and caudal tails clearly identifying the visitors as sharks. No distinguishing tips on their fins, so they didn't necessarily look like reef sharks. We watched them for a while and then remembered we had to swim to the anchored dingy. Fortunately the wind had blown the dingy close to some rocks and Mike only had to swim about 15 meters to the boat. From there he nosed up to the rocks and we could pile in without touching the murky water.
After lunch we pulled up the anchor and resumed our passage to Hawaii. We were escorted away from the island by a huge pod of dolphins, jumping totally out of the water and swimming along side the boat for about an hour. They were nice final moments in Polynesia.

We are now about 1900 miles from Hawaii.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sailing with the Southern Cross on our stern, May 17

Well, we are finally off and for the first time since January we will be seeing the Southern Cross on our stern instead of the bow. It is a bit sad to be leaving Polynesia behind, but we've had a fantastic experience here and at the moment we have no regrets about sailing so far out of our way to get here. Ask me in a week when I am mid way to Hawaii, or better yet, midway to Oregon and we will see if I am singing the same tune.

The sail back to Nuka Hiva, in the Marquesas was brutal, but we are happy we made the slog (especially now that it is behind us). To date it was the worst passage of our trip, and hopefully I don't need to pen those words ever again. We went through about 40-50 gallons of fuel in the first 2 days powering into the northern winds and waves (had we gone straight to Hawaii we would have used up the same fuel) and then we sailed hard on the wind for three full days and nights. In fact we were heeling over so much the last three days and had so much of our hull exposed that our refrigerator didn't work (the compressor is water cooled and the intake, which is usually in the water was high and dry on the high side of the boat). We were all pretty bruised and battered from trying to keep our balance on a home perpetually at a 25 degree angle and getting tossed around like a cork in the big seas. It was a tough sail, but the kids did really well and I think they secretly liked the schedule; no homework and watch as many movies and use electronics as much as you want. We also got to test the boat out in ways that we haven't done in quite some time. We were plowing into big waves, the top side was often awash with water and the ports were continuously under water and yet the boat was dry as a bone. We were certainly uncomfortable with the wind angle, but the boat pointed high and sailed beautifully at about 45 degrees to the wind, and it was nice to know we could do it. We would have liked to have had the forecasted easterlies (and even a little southerly component which was also forecasted), but we mostly had wind from the Northeast and it never really came around to the east. It was an uphill ride and fortunately we haven't had many of those and we expect it to be our last. It should be downhill sailing from here on out. Yipee!

In Nuka Hiva we quickly provisioned and topped off with fuel and it was almost worth battling the heavy seas just for the fresh fruit we loaded up with. We have hammocks of fresh star fruit; passion fruit, limes and burlap bags of pommplemousse. We ate a last steak and frite and gorged ourselves on ice cream. The best news about traveling so far east and out of our way is that it gives us a better angle to Hawaii. We got beat up for three days to ensure our next two weeks are more enjoyable (at least we sure hope so). We were also able to check a few other weather sites with access to the internet while we were on land. I've mentioned we do get grib files, weather forecasts, but we don't have the ability to check multiple sites and more importantly check hurricane forecasting sites. Hurricane season officially starts in the northern hemisphere June 1st. We originally wanted to be arriving in Hawaii just before that, but the pesky winds did not cooperate and we will be at least a week into the season. That said, we were able to look at the hurricane predictions and there are no predictions for an early hurricane forming. Yahoo! The June date is pretty conservative, historically there are very few hurricanes that have formed in June (many insurance companies even use a July 1st date for the start of the season), but we've learned, on this trip, the hurricanes are not paying as much attention to historic trends lately and we are anxious to get north as soon as possible.

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, scheduled post




Clawing our way to the Marquesas, May 14

We are heading to the Marquesas, sailing about 45 degrees to the wind in 20 knots of wind, a current against us and about 2 meter waves....yeah, it basically sucks to be us! When the north winds are more prevalent we head east, when it blows more from the east we sail north, we are tacking our way to the islands, which we never do. We are cruisers, if it isn't downwind we don't go there! So why are we headed this direction, so clearly not in the direction of Hawaii? We are asking ourselves that as well. We'd like to provision there. Yes, we did provision in Fakarava, but our fresh produce included droopy carrots and potatoes (half of which are rotten from the inside) and onions. Try keeping 3 kids happy on that! Sure we got staples, but nothing else. Nuka Hiva had a bit more selection and fresh produce grown on the island, it didn't sit in the bottom of a ship's hold for 3 weeks before then sitting on the shelf of a local market. It seems crazy to go through this much agony to get some food, but passages are tough in nature, you need good food to sustain you. You can sit on a beautiful atoll and eat rice and beans and fish, but out at sea you need more. Our second reason for this pilgrimage is, we have to go almost this far east anyway, so why not stop and get a short break. Lastly, we weren't able to top off our fuel tanks in the Tuamotus. Normally on an ocean crossing we never go through much fuel, but the trip between the Galapagos and the Marquesas has made us rethink leaving with less than fully topped off tanks. Just in case!

While we claw our way Northeast, the port side of the boat is almost perpetually underwater up to the rails. Green water races by the portholes as if we were a submarine. The seas are big, but fortunately not huge. We've had some gusting winds in the high twenties, but mostly it stays around the 20 knot range. Sailing to windward is not fun!

At this point we are less than 150 miles from the Marquesas and it seems to make sense to go the full distance and get at least one day of rest, refuel and load up with some more exciting grocery items.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A few underwater pictures, scheduled post, May 10





Looking for a weather window, May 9

While we sit at anchor at the atoll we are keeping an eye on the weather, consulting the weather charts daily to determine when we should move north. At the moment the northerns look to dissipate on the 11th or 12th. That appears to be our window, so unless things change in the next few days, we will enjoy our last moments in Polynesia, but slowly prep the boat for the 2200 nautical miles to Hawaii. That is the plan anyway, but as sailors say "a plan is written in sand at the high tide mark".

Enjoying our last few days in Polynesia has not been a problem. Today we hiked across the motu to the ocean side and at low tide waded in past the small breakers to the outer reef. The Geology of the Tuamotus is incredible. The motus are all surrounded by reef, but anywhere between 50 and 200 feet from shore the reef drops away dramatically. We swam suspended over an abyss thousands of feet deep. It was a bit eerie near the drop off, but the water clarity was fantastic and we estimated that we had about 150 visibility. In the shallows we had triggerfish, unicorn fish, and surgeon fish swim up to greet us, seemingly unafraid. We followed large Napoleon Wrasses through the large cavernous coral beds. Back above water level we hiked the reef checking out all the smaller reef dwellers. Giant clams with their iridescent, velvet like mantles, sea urchins that have made their homes in the small nooks and cranny's of the reef and encrusting coral that live in the inter tidal zone where waves continue to wash nutrient rich water over them even though they are partially exposed at the low tide. This is not the small bommies of the lagoon, this is a reef that surrounds each and every atoll, hundreds of miles of practically undisturbed reef. In a world where coral reefs are disappearing, the Tuamotus appear untouched. It is certainly refreshing to observe.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Stuck in paradise, May 7

We have left Fakarava and are now waiting on a weather window to sail to Hawaii. We had hoped to stop in the Marquesas one last time, but we've been delayed with some north winds and will most likely have to sail past the Marquesas as we sail back to the Northern Hemisphere. It would be easy to forget our former lives and stay here in paradise a little longer, but we do need to get to Hawaii before the hurricane season starts in the North Pacific. Those pesky hurricanes really hamper the cruising schedule. We thought we would be half way to the Marquesas by now, but instead we've moved to Taou, just 15 miles north west.

The South pass of Fakarava was a divers paradise and we thoroughly took advantage of it. From the South pass we re-transited the lagoon, stopping at the North pass just long enough to provision for 3-4 weeks; a week of waiting and up to three weeks at sea (although we are hoping it will be faster). While buying a banana stalk from a local family Ana looked down and noticed their yard was littered with black pearls. They literally had thousands of pearls strewn all over amongst the small rocks. We asked if we could buy a handful as souvenirs and the man sadly declined. Apparently they have a small pearl farm and any low quality pearls are supposed to be destroyed so they don't make it on the market. Tahiti is very strict with the pearl farms and they can lose their farm if they sell the low quality pearls. We bought pearls in Raroia, but we really wanted to buy souvenir quality pearls (lower end) in Fakarava and we just couldn't find any. So sad, we were actually trodding on the thing we so desperately wanted to find. The streets are not paved in Gold in Fakarava, but there are some that are paved in pearls.

From Fakarava we wanted to find a quiet atoll to wait and enjoy some last snorkeling, beach combing, beach bonfires, and lazy beach days. We moved to Taou. After the first day of snorkeling we quickly noticed the sharks were more aggressive on this atoll. They are still small reef sharks, but they bluff charge and have actually hit the kids while there were swimming. We are checking in daily on the Polynesian Magellan net and several other cruisers have noticed the same thing. We've changed anchorages once, and that seemed to help, but I don't think we will be doing much spear fishing here. Pity, we could actually use the fish now and save provisions for our time at sea. A dive ship came in the atoll yesterday so Mike and Zander were able to dive the outer wall (taking advantage of the low winds and calm ocean conditions) and get their tanks refilled by the dive boat. That was a luxury we were not expecting. We now have 4 full tanks and hopefully we will find a place to do one last dive before we leave. Otherwise we are enjoying the snorkeling from a bommie just 100 meters from the Pelagic.

We are currently sharing an anchorage with a solo sailor we met back in Nuka Hiva. He's young, loves free diving and spearing fish and the kids have had a good time hanging out with him on and off the last month. While we were at the South Pass Mike and Zander were doing a night dive under the boat when Josh swam over from his boat, dove down and tapped Z on the shoulder. I think Zander almost crawled out of his skin. We haven't met many other boats with kids in Polynesia, but we have met plenty of lovely adults that go out of their way to invite the kids to do things or include them in activities. It is going to be hard to quit this life!

While we wait the winds are almost non existent here in the Tuamotus, the north winds we are avoiding are a day or two north of us and it is blissfully calm here. There isn't a ripple on the water and while it may not be good for sailing, it is fantastic for lounging and swimming. We'll take advantage of our delay and soak up as much of the south pacific as we can and hopefully be ready to leave when the winds pick up again. We need those predominant winds to return to point us home.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sharknado, South Pass, Fakarava, May 3

Cheater shot. I had just thrown some table scraps in the water.

Shark dive.
Fakarava is similar to all the other atolls, with one exception, the South pass is extremely sharky! Fakarava has the same white coral beaches, swaying palm trees and snorkel friendly bommies that all the other atolls have had. We still enjoy snorkeling the pass, as we've enjoyed all the passes, drifting over the corals at several knots as large fish; barracuda, Napoleon Wrasse's and a dozen species of grouper and shark swim underneath us. We enjoy throwing bits of food overboard at the anchorage to watch the surgeon fish and sharks congregate under the boat. We still love snorkeling the bommies and watching the antics of a hundred different species of fish, invertebrate and coral interact. What sets the South Pass of Fakarava apart from the other atolls is the shark diving. There is small resort that brings divers in, but the diving is so easy we have simply filled up at the shop and dove on our own (our compressor died in Cuba two years ago). A couple of times I have followed bubbles in the dingy and Mike and Zander have dove, but mostly we attach a 100 feet of line to our dingy and tow it as we drift dive through the pass. We are anchored about a mile from the pass and yet with a good incoming tide we can navigate the pass and the current takes us right past the boat. We probably wouldn't even need the dingy, but its a comfort to have in case we make a wrong turn and it also warns other boaters that there are divers lurking somewhere below.
In earlier posts I mentioned that I am just getting back into diving. I doubt I'll ever do deep or cold water diving again, but I'm content in the tropics doing rather shallow dives in crystal clear warm water. Yeah, I know it is a rough life! The first time back I dove with Mike. I should have known better. "Amy, it is a really shallow, easy dive". Shallow my ass, we descended down to 100 feet right off the bat and saw numerous sharks lurking. But the reef was so captivating that my anxiety instantly disappeared. We swam, towing the dingy, watching unicorn fish come up and meet us, we cruised by the butterfly and angel fish while they darted in and out of the beautiful corals. At that depth you lose the red colors and the reef is not as colorful, but even in shades of blues it is incredible. At almost one hundred feet we could see snorkelers on the surface, at the top of the wall, swimming amongst the corals and fish, as clear as if they were 20 feet away. About half way through the pass the sharks appear in mass. At first they appear in the distance, swimming in and out of view, but eventually they are all around you. While the image of a shark is a streamlined menace in the water, when you get down in the water with them you can't help but admire their grace, their agility as they glide through the depths. The sharks are all around you when you dive and if you look up and see the silhouette of a shark between you and the surface it is a strangely beautiful sight.

Just a few more sharks from our dives.



Anakena's report on swimming with sharks:

Shrcs haf to find crint to slep. Shrks haf to kic thar fets ol day. Sharks in the Tuwamotus are frenle and you can swem weth them. Shrks hav gels. I hav sen a blak tip ref shrk. Ref shrks are nis. Shrks are vare col. The Tuwamotu shrks are ol ref shrks and thay are ol frenle becus thay swem weth me by my bot plagic.
Pretty soon we will have 5 divers on board.



Porter's "Sharks":

What do you think of when someone says "shark"? Well, most people think of a man eating terror machine, but after my last dive that thought was wiped from my mind forever.
Two days ago my Dad and I set out in the dingy with our dive gear. We got to the mouth of the pass on the ocean side at about 1:30 pm, just as the tide was coming in. We tied up to a little buoy in the pass and put on our gear. I wasn't really ready for how clear the water would be when I jumped in. It felt like I could see almost a mile it was so clear and there were sharks everywhere. My Dad untied the dingy and took a long line to hold it. Once we got to the bottom of the pass we let the current slowly take us through. I saw coral and fish, but the highlight of the dive was the three types of reef sharks we saw; Black tip, White tip and Gray reef sharks. Towards the end of the dive I saw a shark open his mouth and bare his teeth and let a little fish clean his teeth. A cleaning station on a reef is pretty common. It is a symbiotic relationship between a shark or big fish that gets its teeth cleaned and a small fish that gets a meal.
One of the reasons the sharks are in the current is that they can rest. Here is a little fact about sharks. They cannot stay still, they have to keep moving at all times, or at least move water past them. Sharks have gills like all other fish, a gill is kind of like a lung, as the water moves through the gills, the oxygen passes into the blood stream. A gill is how a fish breathes and all fish can pump water through their gills except sharks. That is why they are constantly moving. you might be wondering how a shark sleeps? Well, they sleep in the current and let the water move through their gills without having to move.
In the end, I swam with probably hundreds of sharks and none of them tried to hurt me. If you don't bother them they won't bother you. That is my advice, but I'm not sure I would trust that with a White Shark!

Shark Encounters, by Zander:
Z not paying attention to his surroundings.

Most people are a little nervous about going in water swarming with sharks around. If I was intimidated by swimming with sharks I would never be able to leave the boat in the Tuamotus. There are constantly a couple of sharks swimming around the boat day and night. Sometimes there are more than a dozen sharks patrolling the waters. If we throw food over board, within a few seconds there are at least five sharks at the stern fighting over the scraps.
Yesterday we did a drift dive in the pass and we saw at least a hundred sharks. In fact we've done about 4 dives in the pass and if the water is slack, there are few sharks, but when the tide is flooding the sharks appear out of nowhere. We also did a night dive below the boat in about 30 feet of water. The sharks swim in and out of the coral heads. They were attracted to our dive lights and were blinded when we shined the light directly in their eyes. They lose their orientation and can get pretty close. My Dad had to bump one away with his light when it got a little too close for comfort.
Yesterday I also went spear fishing around the boat with my Hawaiian spear. Basically it is a rod with a big rubber band and a spear head at the end. You have to get pretty close to the fish to spear it, but we've had a lot of success fishing in the atolls. I knew the sharks get curious when there is blood in the water, but normally we just get the flailing fish out of the water as soon as possible and it the past it has not been a problem. But this time I missed a fish completely and the fish darted away unhurt. One shark followed the startled fish and three followed me! I kicked my fins like crazy at the sharks while I pulled my spear back in. By the time I got the spear between me and the sharks, the sharks had calmed down. It probably only lasted a couple of seconds, but those were long seconds! I learned my lesson and I will no longer spear fish if there are sharks nearby. I still think the sharks are mostly non aggressive, but if there is blood in the water, their instincts kick in and they get interested very fast.

Amy towing the dingy.

Reef wall in the South Pass, 100 feet. Pictures don't do it justice.