Apataki

Ross

04 June 2010 | Tuomotus

Our first day on the north side of Apataki, we picked up the guys on Delos and went to the ocean side of motu (the little island that makes up the atoll). Most of the motus are pretty narrow, but this one was pretty wide and thick with vegetation. We didn’t have a compass, so I doubt we walked a straight line, but we had a bit of fun with the machetes and eventually made it through. We picked some pretty sweet shells and there were some huge waves that crashed onto the coral shelf. We headed back to the boats and decided to have lunch at a lagoon that the guys from Delos had found that was only a mile or so from the boats. It was an amazing spot, probably like 100 yards wide and a few hundred yards long of 3 ft deep crystal clear water. Just inland of the beach, there was a shallow pool of water. Diego took a few steps in to check it out and then his legs disappeared we had found quick sand. Thankfully, it was only about 3 feet deep, so we all took turns seeing how far in we could go. After relaxing there for awhile, the wind picked up and was right in our faces on the trip back to the boat. We had to cross the pass and ended up jumping some huge waves in the dinghy (probably like 5 ft waves). Since our dinghy can’t plane with more than a person in it, Diego and I volunteered to walk the mile or so back. The lagoon was flooding as we walked back and along the beach there were places where the water was flooding into a mini lagoon. Rather than walk the entire edge of that which would have added a lot of time onto out walk, it was possible to wade across the little sand bar that the water was flowing over to get back on the beach. The channels were only like a hundred feet wide and the water was no higher than thigh deep. As we were wading across one of the larger channels, I heard Diego scream. I thought he had lost his shirt in the water, but it turns out a shark had swam right by his leg. It was getting darker, but we were still far from the boat, so our only option was really to keep going. You could still see through the water pretty well, so we weren’t all that worried. As we were crossing the next channel, we noticed a bigger shark coming right towards us. Diego was already to the beach, so I started screaming, high stepping, and pretty much doing my best Deion Sanders Primetime impersonation to get to shore and I made it. The shark didn’t follow me all the way in, but at the same time it was attacking pretty aggressive and wasn’t far behind me. Not long after that, we saw a smaller shark that was probably only four feet long. I jumped in and gave it a good scare sweet revenge. There are some terrible little bugs they call no-nos which we call no-see-ums in Wisconsin. They were out in full affect and Diego and I had to sprint the rest of the way back to the boat. Later that night, we stopped by Delos to have some drinks and check out the movies that they make and post on their blog. We had a nice lightning show before we crashed. Diego and I woke up a few hours later and the wind was howling. I had some laundry out and was able to get it all in. The wind was gusting up to 35 knots and it was raining pretty hard. Before I went back to bed, I took a look in the water and noticed that one of our bench cushions had gotted blown away. Since the waves weren’t too bad, we went for the rescue. I jumped in the dinghy while Diego had the light on it and we were able to bring it in. The next day we heard from our friends in the boat next to us that they had gusts up to 43 knots the strongest that we’ve experienced since Panama. I decided to go for a snorkel the next morning while Diego and Alex walked the beach. The water was absolutely amazing and it was incredibly clear. Every dive it seemed like there was a different fish that swam by me and it’s easy to see why they call these islands ‘God’s Aquarium’. In the back of my mind, I still had the sharks from the evening before, but eventually I was diving pretty deep to check out the different fish and coral. On one dive, I was swimming pretty low and looking in a cave when I noticed a blacktip shark swim by me. It’s a little wild when you are the only one out there and quite a way from shore, but the shark didn’t seem to have any interest in me and although my heart was racing, I watched it swim away and continued snorkeling (albeit in much shallower water). Our friends in Delos were surfing behind their dinghy, so we decided to give it a shot. The dinghy didn’t quite have enough power to really get us going, but we were all able to get up for awhile. Diego was able to have a bit more fun than Alex and I as we were pretty much just plowing through the water. Delos had a 15 hp motor and gave us all a ride. It was pretty much just like wakeboarding and with absolutely no waves in the lagoon, you couldn’t find a better location. The guys from Delos gave us some movies and we watched our first movie on Bubbles. It was weird seeing a movie, and Raising Arizona may not have been the best one for bringing us back into the movie viewing world. Wednesday, we spent the morning working on the boat and then went for a good snorkel. The water clarity was great and we decided to do some spearfishing. We’ve heard that as soon as you shoot a fish the sharks will surround you and try to take it unless you either keep it close to your body or swim with it out of the water to your dinghy neither of which sound like that great of options. Alex was able to get a small fish and quickly brought it to water without any problem. I was going for a big parrotfish which hang out in a bit deeper water. I was having a tough time getting a good shot, but eventually got close enough to shoot. I bounced the spear off the back of the fish and knocked a few scales off. I swam to the top to reload and took another dive to try to get close. Just as I was within range, I looked to my left and saw a whitetip shark. It wasn’t all that far away and likely smelled the blood from the previous shot. It didn’t stick around for long, but since they are a bit more aggressive than the blacktip, I decided to go to the shallow water and shoot something smaller. I shot a little fish and was able to race it back to the boat out of the water without any seeing sharks. We used the fish that we shot as bait and attached it to a rope dangling from our boat. We got some great movies and pictures as two different sharks came in and attacked the bait. Later that night, Diego and Brady (from Delos) caught a few mud crabs on the beach for dinner. Brady from Delos decided to jump on Bubbles for the next few atolls, so we’ll have another crew member. He’s a dive master and we’re planning on a big dive in Rangiroa. The plan is to wake up early tomorrow and head for Aratua which is a few hour sail away and famous for it’s pearl farms.

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