sv Lil' Explorers showed up.
There have been sightings of Carolyne since, but the teenage girl, when befriended by another of her species and gender, becomes recluse and aloof – coming back to her herd only when hungry or in need of chocolate. We took the opportunity to have Courage and Shannon over for grown-up dinner while Cassidy and Carolyne babysat Cassidy's 5 younger siblings, ages 1 year to 8 years.
Totoro is a calm anchorage, well protected. There is a haul out facility there. Prices are pretty steep and Jim wondered whether or not he would leave Hotspur there during hurricane season if he had to. Tony runs the business with his family and offered to cook us dinner. We read that the prices are very high for dinner and the food is mediocre so we declined. However, we did visit his grandparents and bought fresh brown eggs! We were still baking with our Mexican eggs (I had about a dozen and a half left) and after 2 ½ months unrefrigerated they finally became questionable. I threw them away. We purchased large, brown, lovely eggs – 600 FP francs equates to almost $7 US for a dozen... the most I have ever paid for eggs in my life and I paid that gladly and with a big greedy smile on my face! We had eggs over easy, bacon and homemade toast with butter for the first time for breakfast in 6 weeks ... what a treat!
We sailed about 5 nautical miles north, unable to dodge an enormous pearl mooring field that caused us quite a bit of anxiety, as it spread out for miles and miles. The pearl mooring field is littered with hundreds and hundreds of buoys – it is dodgy territory and those cruisers with sail drives are asking for trouble – not that we have sail drives – but our friends do. We sailed across the field but it was an anxious time for us and lines were spider webbed just below the surface. At one point, Hotspur raced across one right below the waterline, pulling the row of poly balls on either side of her down into the water as the rope slid beneath Hotspur's keel. They popped back up once we sailed over - nothing tangled down below and it seems the buoys were disturbed but not destroyed. Sv Lil' Explorers was behind us and had more trouble, as they have only a single sail drive – yes only one – the other was taken out on a reef at Toau. With the strong wind they had more difficulty with agility. But we all managed through it and anchored together just around the point.
The upside to this pearl farm is that it is a serious operation, not listed in any of the other cruising guides we have, and might be the perfect place for a tour. That is definitely on my list for the Tuamotus.
Jim has become quite adept at climbing coconut trees using his sailing harness and tether. There are hundreds of trees bursting with coconuts. The ones that drop to the ground are quickly claimed by the large red hermit crabs (about the size of Jim's fist) – we have seen 5 or 6 of them at a time hungrily devouring the insides after painstakingly pinching off pieces of the outside until they've reached the middle. Jim likes the sweet milk out from the green coconuts. Carolyne and I prefer the older brown nuts – the flesh is firmer and thicker – and it makes a healthy, tasty snack. With the Vitamix we brought on board we can easily make fresh coconut cream.
Beachcombing is less exciting – the coral reefs batter the shells before they are laid to rest amongst the coral bits. Occasionally you might find one that still has its natural shine, but mostly the shells are trashed. If you do find a keeper, it is usually inhabited by a mollusk or crab. That was the case with the most amazing shell we have ever found in our travels – ever! Carolyne discovered a very large leopard cowrie – as big as my hand! We were snorkeling in a lagoon that hosts a variety of sea life and creatures – including lion fish! Our snorkeling experience has been the best here, I believe. And, we are enjoying the company of another kid boat in this beautiful oasis!!
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