Day 218, Year 5: Cue the Manta Rays
Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Weather: Squally Night, Cloudy Day, Variable SE Winds
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

Just last night as we sat on Constance having sundowners with Ed and Lynne and Wolfgang of Galateia, I was bemoaning the fact that I have not gotten to swim with manta rays in our voyage around the world. Wolfgang swam with three of them around his boat a couple of days ago and I have to admit I was a bit jealous. This morning it was just like in the movies. It was as if the director said, “Cue the mantas,” and they appeared around Windbird. We watched them from the boat as they glided gracefully through the water. They are huge and yet just a little rise and fall of the tip of their fins propels them. They move fast and at first we thought we’d never be able to get in the water quick enough to swim with them, but then they came back again. So we jumped in and got to swim with one big guy for a short time. It was incredible. The mouth of this manta was so huge that we felt that we could be sucked right in, so it was a bit intimidating at first. But we got used to each other quickly and enjoyed the special time. I guess my Chagos experience is now complete. I have gotten to swim with dolphins, eagle rays, manta rays, and turtles and some of the most beautiful reef fish in the world. What a wonderful life.

We have only 36 hours until departure. Due to the weather, we have decided to leave on Thursday morning instead of tomorrow. We are waiting for a front to pass and then for the seas to settle down. We are also waiting for everything to dry out after last night’s rains. You don’t want to take things down to store away when they are damp. This morning I used the buckets of rain water that collected in the dinghy to do laundry and I baked and cooked all day getting ready for passage. Tomorrow should be fairly relaxed and hopefully we will have time for one last snorkel.

Last night was windy and rainy and we had one boat drag anchor. Kate and Rob of Aires Tor had come up from Boddam yesterday and on the way their transmission started giving them problems. They had to sail into the anchorage and didn’t have the usual maneuverability that a motor affords. The spot where they put the anchor down was not perfect as it was on a slope and during the night the 35 knot winds caused them to drag. Rob had the anchor alarm on and was up immediately to deal with the situation, but it was a long, wet night doing watch on Aires Tor. Kate and Rob are the youngest sailors out here. In fact, they are the youngest couple we have met in our travels. Our hearts went out to them today as they came to the realization that their transmission is not going to work. They struggled with the decision of what to do-go back to Phuket to get things fixed or travel on to South Africa. They have made the decision to travel on to Madagascar and only enter easy in and out anchorages. From there they will head on south to Richards Bay in South Africa to start their repairs. We invited them over for dinner tonight and had a wonderful evening with them. Rob is such a thoughtful young man and both he and Kate have such positive attitudes. They are planning to leave around the same time as Windbird and Constance and we will stay in radio contact. Susan Margaret has stuck with their decision to head for Southeast Asia instead of Madagascar and South Africa, so it looks like Constance, Aires Tor, and Far Niente (already there) will be our ‘neighbors’ while we are in Madagascar.

100601 Day 218 Salomon, Chagos–Manta Ray and Batfish Visit Windbird
June 2, 2010 Letter to Family and Friends
Day 217, Year 5: Countdown Begins