26 February 2019
“It was Leslie's idea.”
I have been a parent long enough to know mischief is not limited to just one participant in an escapade. Lisa and Leslie quietly paddled their boards to Uproar. I was in the water, snorkeling to clean the bottom. Tied to their boards, hanging below were baskets of oysters......farmed pearl oysters!
Lisa says my look of shock was priceless. She and Leslie (boat name withheld by request) paddled over a reef and found the oyster baskets lying on the bottom. They are normally suspended by floats in deep water. These appeared to be abandoned. They fetched them with a paddle and tied them to their boards. I discretely tied them to the bottom of our swim ladder. Lisa said, “Let's pull them up after dark and see if we have any pearls. “ My reply was, “Hope deportation is the worst that happens if someone finds out!”
Several hours later, we heard a powerful outboard motor alongside. I came on deck to find a local panga with two Polynesian guys aboard. “Do you speak French?” “Mais oui.” They showed me some hunks of pork, wrapped in plastic from a pig they just butchered. I quickly bought some ribs and breathed a huge relief that they hadn't spotted the oyster baskets hanging off the back of Uproar.
Nightfall wasn't enough. Even though it was dark, we saw activity on the boat behind us. Lisa insisted on waiting until they dinghied off. I slipped into the dark water, untied the first basket and hauled it onto our swim platform. Lisa held a flashlight as I cut the plastic mesh and freed the oysters. She said, “We have to wait to open them with Leslie.” No problem, we just put the oysters in a bucket for later.
The empty baskets with wire frames would be a problem if caught on an anchor in the mooring area. I tied the baskets to our dinghy and motored slowly to a nearby reef to deposit them in a responsible manner. As I was returning to Uproar, another panga motored by and gave a friendly wave. Fortunately, I was rid of the incriminating evidence. Didn't mater to me or them that I was completely naked.
I slept well knowing the only sign of the ladies plunder was a bucket of oysters in our cockpit. Who would know? The next morning, Lisa fetched Leslie for the harvest. I'm sorry to say that not one of these sad looking oysters contained a famous black pearl. The whole stinking mess went over the side. We had a good laugh about the escapade. No more pearl harvesting on Uproar!