Friday, February 28, 2014

Fakarava South, The Tuamotos - Feb 13 – Feb 22 2014


On Leaving Tahanea, we stopped on the island of Faaite to give us a better window for the tides which can be critical in these waters in making safe passage thru the reef.   The next morning, after a short 5 mile crossing we entered the island of Fakarava thru the south pass.  It was fairly wide and easily navigable in good light, with clear water and a white sandy bottom with clearly visible coral heads easily avoidable. 

Unlike Tahanea, there are people here.  We passed a small dive resort coming in the pass and turned north to find a reasonable anchorage beside another very quiet and isolated resort with thatched roofed huts on stilts out over the water’s edge.

One did not have to look hard to see the plentiful and colorful fish, and the sharks, they were everywhere. Oh Boy!  It was time to go hunting!

Guided by new friend Gilles (Sc Sugi), along with Francois (Sc Baies du Monde) we went hunting for Grouper.  Gilles, being a resident of the island knew exactly where to go. 

It didn’t take long and we were spearing some beautiful fish, there were so many to choose from.  I was patiently stalking a lovely 10lb. Camouflage Grouper, he stopped just outside a coral head.  I dove and took my shot.  It was almost a perfect kill.  Thru the gills, but missed the brain and he went into his death spiral and buried himself under the coral ledge. 

Now, I’m in 20 ft. of water with a 4ft gun carrying a 42in. spear and 8ft. of lanyard.  When you do the math, it all adds up to a little bit less than 20 ft.  And I’ve still got to breathe.  That was not my only problem.  With the grouper sending out distress vibrations the sharks came fast.  As long as he stayed under the ledge, I could not pull him out and he was safe from me and from the sharks. 

I was attached to this beauty by a rather expensive piece of artillery that I wasn’t yet prepared to relinquish, as it would likely be the last time I ever saw it, so I kept tugging on the line hoping the fish would just give up, and let me quickly pull in the lanyard and spear and get him out of the water.

I am running out of air and my legs were churning enough to create my own distress vibrations, which as Lloyd Bridges (SeaHunt) will attest is not good especially in shark filled waters.

It wasn’t the Black Tip or the White Tip or even the Reef sharks that I was concerned about.  But we had shot enough fish and the Greys were now resident in numbers.  FYI, the Greys are not a very happy fish, or at least they are not very social when it comes to sharing a meal.

I knew that I was either going to have to give up my gun, or be prepared to get physical with a big bad set of very sharp teeth.  Lucky for me, Mr. Grouper decided to cooperate and out he came.  I got one good look My maritime Meister as he slipped out from under the ledge.  My spear was cleanly thru and thru and I had him.  Well, I thought I had him.  The sharks moved in and then I felt something that I hope to never feel again.  As I am looking at my pretty Poisson and pulling him toward me, I felt the rasping skin of a large grey shark squeezing between my legs.  I could see his head and coal black eyes looking up at me as he emerged between my knees and, faster than I can say it, he had my lunch and my spear in his mouth, two quick shakes, he spit out my mangled spear and Mr. Grouper was gone.  Needless to say, I had had enough fun for the day and did my best imitation of a Jesus Lizard (yes there are such things and yes they do walk on water) making my way back to the safety of the dinghy.  And the really good news is…I’m still alive to share the story, kinda reminded me of that Kenny Rogers song…You Got To Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em, LOL, yup…there certainly is a time to fish or cut bait!

Kaija says it’s time to go hunting for Black Pearls, should be a lot safer!

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