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Aug
03

Difficult paradise

This morning we are getting ready to leave Car o line Atoll. As hobby-ornithologists we enjoyed our stay here immensely–there are not many places left in the Pacific where such big colonies are still nesting. As going ashore is impossible unless the sea’s completely calm we didn’t spend as much time on the motus as we would have liked to, but of course the snorkeling was also interesting.

It was an exciting week, but of course we also worried a lot. Each time we ventured ashore we had to deal with the hassle of paddling the dinghy up on the shelf without getting caught by breakers. And of course during our time ashore the nagging worries at the back of our heads remained: What if the swell picked up and we wouldn’t be able to get off in time? What if the dinghy got flipped in a breaker and we’d be stranded miles from the boat without a working outboard engine? What if the wind shifted and Pitufa was swept against the reef before we could get to her? What if she broke free and was gone by the time we returned??

We take nothing but pictures and our impressions away from the island and of course we left nothing but footprints (as we always do). Car o line is a wildlife reserve and we hope that other cruisers respect it as we do. Even if somebody wanted to exploit the ressources of the island they would have a hard time: Anchoring on the steep shelf is a real challenge, lobstering would be quite difficult on the reef with breaking waves and even more so getting back to the boat unscathed in the dark, coconut crabs seem to live mainly on the southern and northern motu (where there are palm trees), but there’s no safe anchorage close to these motus. The ciguatera situation is also unclear.

All went well and we’re glad we came here. Now we hope that we’ll get our two anchors, chains and lines back aboard. The young brown boobies will miss their floating playground and we’ll miss them ;-)

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