Yesterday we were anchored off ‘smurf island’ in the middle of the lagoon. During the night a northwesterly wind set in (the forecast had nothing but easterlies predicted…) and we got dangerously close to the steep reef off the island. We brought out a second anchor at 1 o’clock in the morning and spent a rather restless night with fortunately not strong, but consistent winds from the north and even northwest. At dawn the wind picked up, we got the dinghy and the kayak up on the already precariously pitching deck, let the line of the stern anchor drift with a buoy attached and started the engine, worrying whether we’d be able to get up both anchors or if they’d be stuck under coral after the windshift. We had to manoeuvre close to the rocks, but fortunately both anchors put up no resistance and we could sail up to a protected anchorage next to the west-pass. All that happened before breakfast…

After lunch we took the dinghy to the pass for a drift snorkel and were amazed to see lots of little black fins sticking out of the water and splashing around–manta rays! A group of about a dozen of these big rays were swimming just under the surface with wide open mouths, filtering out the plankton and splashing the surface with the tips of their large, black wings. We swam with them for an hour, watching them gracefully ‘fly’ in and out of the strong current, while we tried to stay in the shallower water just out of the current. We’ve seen mantas a few times, but never that close and never for so long. An awe-inspiring experience!

Unfortunately we no longer saw the big dog-tooth tuna that had turned into old friends at the west-pass. When we arrived 8 boats were anchored here, maybe some of them had tuna steaks for dinner…

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