SailBlog

Toau Atoll, Snorkeling with Manta Ray (May 2016)

30 May 2016
One morning, I spotted a giant manta ray feeding just off the shoreline. I jumped into my swimsuit, grabbed my camera and dingied over there. I jumped in and snorkeled with the manta for about 20 minutes and got some great photos and videos (that I did not lose!). One time, the manta was soaring right towards me, wings spread, mouth open. Even though I know that mantas are harmless, it was so large, my heart was pounding and I continued to video, but it scared me to death! (See Manta Video)

We snorkeled all 5 days we were there. It was our favorite snorkeling in the Tuamotus. The number of fish and number of species was amazing and the coral was beautiful with so many colors. We have now identified 120+ fish in the French Poly. And, the water this year is so warm; I can snorkel without a wetsuit for over an hour without getting cold. (See Photos)

More Later - G&T

Toau Atoll, Varo & Coconut Crab Hunting (May 2016)

18 May 2016
Valentine and Gaston picked us up at 9:00 am one day to go Varo and Coconut Crab hunting. A varo is large, 2-foot long, whitish shrimp or lobster-like critter that lives in a hole in the sand and catch fish that swim by. Their claws are so sharp, they can cut a fish in half. Two varo, a male and a female, live in each hole. They only take the male varo, leaving the female to reproduce. Toau is the only place in the world with varo, and they are the only people living there, so hopefully the varo will survive.

We went about 5 miles into the lagoon to a large shallow sandy area about 3 feet deep. Gaston moved the boat around with his pole, looking for the "right" holes. After a while with no luck, Gaston and Tony started walking around looking for the varo holes. Sharks were hanging around sporadically, interested in the activity. Finally, Gaston found a varo hole. To catch the varo, Gaston had a stick wrapped with fish bait. He twirled the bait stick over the hole until the varo got its claws on it. He then carefully grabbed the claws and pulled it out. Wha lah! We ended up with a catch of 2 varo. (See Video of How to Catch a Varo)

Then Gaston took Tony ashore to the motu to hunt coconut crabs. Coconut crabs are very large, brown and blue crabs that live under the roots of a fallen coconut tree. After about a half hour, they came back with 2 coconut crabs. Enough for a feast!

And, what a feast we had! Gaston boiled the crab in half fresh water and half salt water. He sautéed the varo in onion and garlic. The crab was the tastiest crab we'd ever eaten. The varo was like the most tender, sweetest lobster we'd ever eaten. It was superb! (See Photos) Afterwards, we played with their 3-week old puppies and explored the motu a little. Before leaving, I asked Valentine if she needed any supplies (the supply boat doesn't stop there). She said she had run out of dish soap, laundry soap, toothpaste and toilet paper. I was delighted to help her with all these as we had plenty.

I could have stayed in Anse Amyot for weeks, but alas, there are just so many islands and so little time. So, after 5 wonderful days there, we had a good weather window and left the Tuamotus to sail back to Tahiti. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Tuamotus, DO IT! It is by far the best snorkeling! I can't imagine it can get any better than this!

More Later - G&T

Toau Atoll, Anse Amyot Lobster Feast (May 2016)

16 May 2016
We left Fakarava at 6:00 am to clear the pass at slack tide and sail to Toau (pronounced Toe-ah-oo). It was a beautiful day for sailing! Unfortunately, we noticed a small tear in our main sail, so we had to motorsail with just the jib. Pooh! At mid-day, we arrived at Anse Amyot, which is a false pass on the north side of Toau, and what a beautiful place! It is like a small cove between 2 motus, with a reef and the lagoon on one side and a small pass through the reef on the sea side. We again got a mooring ball in about 45 feet of water where you could see the fish swimming around the coral beneath us. (See Photos of Anse Amyot)

We went ashore to meet Valentine and Gaston who live on the motu and are famous amongst cruisers for their hospitality. They are delightful and entertaining! They have a pet frigate bird they raised from a chick and have continued to feed. It sits on their table or window sill and literally talks to them! (See Video) We discussed doing an excursion to the lagoon and they asked if we had any rum to sell. We went back to the boat and inventoried our supply of rum and took in 4 bottles, not knowing what quality to bring them. Valentine was delighted and wanted all four! So we made a deal to trade for dinners and excursions, which turned out very well on both sides of that bargain.

One night, Gaston went out at 2:00 am to catch lobster on the reef, and he brought back over a dozen spiny lobster. Valentine invited us and 8 people on a charter cat for a lobster feast that night. And, what a feast! We had happy hour with appetizers and drinks. Then we had poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk and spices) and white rice; all-you-could-eat lobster, grilled fish, fish cakes, yellow rice and salad. Valentine's coconut cake served on a leaf just topped it all off. The charter cat guests were from France and Switzerland and were tons of fun.

The charter cat then invited us over for lunch on their boat the next day. They began lunch by serving some blue and orange Pastis liquors, which were pretty strong. As people partook, we then had live entertainment with pole dancing and hat dancing. The lunch was delicious including pasta with left over lobster sauce, compliments of Valentine. (See Photos)


More Later - G&T
Vessel Name: Cetacea
Vessel Make/Model: Cheoy Lee 53' Motorsailor
Hailing Port: Houston, Texas, USA
Crew: Tony Wessendorff & Gail Corrigan
About:
After 25 fun filled years as an environmental consulting firm owner, Gail sold her company and she and her husband, Tony the CFO, retired to go sailing on their boat Cetacea (see photo gallery). Cetacea was in St. [...]
Extra: P.S. Cetacea is the higher order biological name for whales and dolphins. Whales and dolphins are cetaceans. And our boat is a big fat whale of a boat, hence the name Cetacea! Not to mention that Tony & Gail, like all sailors, love whales.
Cetacea's Photos - Main
28 Photos
Created 17 May 2016
26 Photos
Created 11 May 2016
9 Photos
Created 5 May 2016
2 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
11 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
11 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
15 Photos
Created 27 April 2016
10 Photos
Created 25 October 2015
30 Photos
Created 19 October 2015
16 Photos
Created 18 October 2015
13 Photos
Created 18 October 2015
10 Photos
Created 7 October 2015
12 Photos
Created 6 October 2015
20 Photos
Created 28 September 2015
7 Photos
Created 27 September 2015
15 Photos
Created 25 September 2015
15 Photos
Created 24 September 2015
20 Photos
Created 23 September 2015
22 Photos
Created 20 September 2015
25 Photos
Created 9 September 2015
15 Photos
Created 7 September 2015
13 Photos
Created 6 September 2015
20 Photos
Created 5 September 2015
14 Photos
Created 2 September 2015
14 Photos
Created 24 August 2015
22 Photos
Created 10 July 2015
17 Photos
Created 9 July 2015
19 Photos
Created 22 June 2015
17 Photos
Created 9 May 2015
12 Photos
Created 26 April 2015
20 Photos
Created 17 April 2015
17 Photos
Created 3 April 2015
15 Photos
Created 26 February 2015
20 Photos
Created 22 February 2015
14 Photos
Created 21 February 2015
15 Photos
Created 14 January 2015
18 Photos
Created 12 January 2015
15 Photos
Created 11 January 2015
8 Photos
Created 15 August 2014
7 Photos
Created 9 August 2014
14 Photos
Created 15 July 2014
25 Photos
Created 30 June 2014
15 Photos
Created 28 June 2014
8 Photos
Created 27 June 2014
28 Photos
Created 24 June 2014
21 Photos
Created 23 June 2014
8 Photos
Created 22 June 2014
29 Photos
Created 21 June 2014
15 Photos
Created 20 June 2014
23 Photos
Created 18 June 2014
15 Photos
Created 14 June 2014
14 Photos
Created 11 June 2014
15 Photos
Created 10 June 2014
16 Photos
Created 8 June 2014
28 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
18 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
10 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
18 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
28 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
24 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
25 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
14 Photos
Created 15 March 2014
9 Photos
Created 15 March 2014
23 Photos
Created 12 March 2014
In Shelter Bay Marina, preparing for the Panama Canal Transit.
22 Photos
Created 1 March 2014
Machu Picchu, Peru
29 Photos
Created 24 February 2014
Train ride and Aguas Caliente, Peru.
15 Photos
Created 24 February 2014
Cathedral and the city sights, Cusco, Peru
28 Photos
Created 22 February 2014
Sacsayhuaman Ruins, Peru
17 Photos
Created 22 February 2014
Qorikancha Temple
13 Photos
Created 22 February 2014
Pukara and Raqchi Inca Sites, on the drive from Puno to Cusco, Peru
25 Photos
Created 21 February 2014
Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca in Peru
15 Photos
Created 20 February 2014
Puno & Uros Floating Islands
26 Photos
Created 19 February 2014
Colca Canyon & Chivay, Peru
16 Photos
Created 18 February 2014
Drive from Arequipa to Colca Canyon
29 Photos
Created 18 February 2014
Alpaca Museum & Outlet
14 Photos
Created 3 February 2014
Santa Catalina Monastery
20 Photos
Created 3 February 2014
Photos of the market in Arequipa.
15 Photos
Created 3 February 2014
Arequipa - city, Plaza de Armas, Cathedral, and market.
15 Photos
Created 3 February 2014
Huaca Pucllana Archeological Site in Lima.
15 Photos
Created 2 February 2014
Larco Museum about pre-Colombian societies.
15 Photos
Created 2 February 2014
Historical squares and cathedrals
15 Photos
Created 2 February 2014
Water Fountain Park and Dance Show
15 Photos
Created 2 February 2014
Miraflores Area
13 Photos
Created 2 February 2014
19 Photos
Created 1 November 2013
15 Photos
Created 1 November 2013
15 Photos
Created 31 October 2013
22 Photos
Created 30 October 2013
10 Photos
Created 30 October 2013
14 Photos
Created 30 October 2013
11 Photos
Created 30 October 2013
13 Photos
Created 30 October 2013
20 Photos
Created 27 October 2013
11 Photos
Created 27 October 2013
15 Photos
Created 27 October 2013
15 Photos
Created 1 October 2013
15 Photos
Created 1 October 2013
15 Photos
Created 1 October 2013
7 Photos
Created 1 October 2013
15 Photos
Created 1 October 2013
16 Photos
Created 30 September 2013
11 Photos
Created 30 September 2013
Views of the marina, jungle, slouth, beach
10 Photos
Created 30 September 2013
Albuquerque Cays anchorage and snorkeling
19 Photos
Created 30 September 2013
14 Photos
Created 28 May 2013
Touring the east side of San Andres
14 Photos
Created 28 May 2013
San Andres Island
11 Photos
Created 28 May 2013
Sailing from Providencia to San Andres with the dolphins!
17 Photos
Created 27 May 2013
Last days in Providencia
8 Photos
Created 27 May 2013
15 Photos
Created 17 May 2013
May Day Festival and Cat Boat Races
20 Photos
Created 17 May 2013
27 Photos
Created 14 May 2013
20 Photos
Created 6 May 2013
9 Photos
Created 6 May 2013
20 Photos
Created 2 May 2013
Touring Curacao
17 Photos
Created 29 April 2013
Diving, Snorkeling, Golfing
13 Photos
Created 14 April 2013
Spanish Waters and Willemstad
12 Photos
Created 12 April 2013
Just hanging in Bonaire!
11 Photos
Created 11 April 2013
Cactus, iguanas and salt pans
24 Photos
Created 11 April 2013
Fish & Coral
17 Photos
Created 3 April 2013
Sailing to and arriving in Bonaire
15 Photos
Created 10 March 2013
Last projects done & last dinners with freinds
9 Photos
Created 26 February 2013
Valentines in Barbados
10 Photos
Created 25 February 2013
New Additions to Cetacea
8 Photos
Created 7 February 2013
Sailing with Friends & Family in the Eastern Caribbean
16 Photos
Created 6 February 2013
Photos of Cetacea
11 Photos
Created 5 February 2013