Day 217, Year 5: Countdown Begins
Date: Monday, May 31, 2010
Weather: Partly Sunny with Frequent Squalls, SE Winds 10-20
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

Our Chagos experience is coming to an end and it is going to be hard to let go. Arriving in these uninhabited atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean and spending two months living amongst the beauty is just a very special experience. Mark has become a fisherman and I have time to explore the islands and look at every plant and animal that lives here. Madagascar will be a very different but equally special experience and we feel so lucky to be able to be doing what we are doing. I write these logs every day to try and capture the day to day experiences, but summarizing our experience here is much harder. It is difficult to describe the peaceful existence here in words. I have been trying to write a May letter to family and friends summarizing our time here, but I’m afraid it is going to be a June letter as my May time has run out. Maybe tomorrow.

We have gotten more good news about traveling to Madagascar. John and Sue on Susan Margaret emailed a friend who works at the Madagascar Embassy in Dubai and got an all-clear message for tourist headed to the northwest part of the country. So we are feeling confident that we can proceed. Now it is just a matter of getting all of the things done that need to be done before a passage. We will leave on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on readiness and weather, so we are either in 32 or 56 hour countdown. Whichever, tomorrow will be another busy day. I spent my day today cleaning the dinghy, making granola, making chili to put in the fridge for the passage, and repotting and planting new pots of basil and arugula. Mark has filled leaky seams in the teak deck with epoxy, glued soles back on sandals that have fallen apart, took the mattress off our bed so he could work on a variety of tasks in that underworld. He worked on finding a better way to ground our high-frequency radio, aligned our wheel to the position of the rudder, and then repacked all the things that are stored under our bed. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a full day and we have more of the same for tomorrow. The weather was not good for fun activities today, but hopefully tomorrow the sun will come out and we can do one last snorkel and one last walk. Of course, if we do not leave on Wednesday, then we can do one more.

We have had the most unbelievable thing happening around our boat for the past two days. Small Bonito (a type of tuna) arrived here yesterday morning and they race around and under our boat all day long. They look like little rainbows flying through the water herding the thousands of tiny little fish that hang out here. The Bonito literally herd the little fish to the surface and that brings the Brown Noddy Terns who dive and catch the little fish. For the past month, we have had seven Brown Noddies living on our boat hook that we have tied to the front of the boat like a very long bowsprit. But now we have over twenty residents and they are once again roosting on our bow pulpit and leaving their nice little droppings on our deck. But until the tuna leave, the birds are not going to budge. And the whole experience is just too interesting to disrupt. So we’ll be cleaning the deck in route to Madagascar. For now, we will keep watching this fascinating fish and bird show.

Day 218, Year 5: Cue the Manta Rays
Day 216, Year 5: Good News About Madagascar