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

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.

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