Day 171, Year 5: D-O-N-K-E-Y and Much More
Date: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day; No Wind
Location: Ile du Coin, Peros Banhos Atoll, Chagos

What a full day we had today. In the morning we went with Ed and Lynne to the western end of Ile du Coin. This is the end of the island closest to where we are anchored and we wanted to walk around to the south side of the island to look for a FAD. The one we found the other day was filled with water and sand, but the hope was to find one that still has good batteries in it that we can use. So off we went on our little adventure. We almost immediately found a bamboo raft covered with netting that most definitely had been the home to a Fish Attraction Device (FAD) before being washed ashore. But we did not see the actual FAD. We walked on and started seeing fresh donkey tracks . . . and they were going our way. I became hopeful that we might actually see the lone donkey. While I was very busy taking photos of beautiful little snowy terns I heard Mark call, “Judy, hurry.” I ran down the beach and found Mark and the donkey. I was so excited and snapped photos like crazy. It was then time to turn around before the tide came up so high that we would have to swim back. The south side of the island has no beach at all at high tide and very little at low tide, so we walked quickly. Mark found a big, hard plastic round float that had washed ashore that we will use when anchoring over coral in Salomon Atoll. You put the floats on your anchor chain to keep it off the coral. We collected two on Ile Fouquet and now we have three. Ed and Lynne were way ahead of us because I stop every couple of minutes to take more pictures. When we got back to the bamboo raft that we had seen earlier, I looked up and there was the FAD not ten feet from the raft. I have no idea how we missed seeing it earlier, but Mark grabbed that and we headed back to the dinghy. When we got back to Windbird, Mark opened the FAD and found 48 Duracell Ultra D-cell batteries in almost new condition and an Inmarsat D transceiver. These things are not cheap but once they have washed ashore here the fishermen cannot come to retrieve them. So we will put those batteries to use.

In the afternoon, Ed, Mark, and I went back to shore. I wanted to retrace the explore we had the other day and shoot video of the trek. We went all the way to the back side of the island finding the same citrus and bilimbi trees that we saw the other day, but this time we were walking in a swamp. The rain we had on Sunday and again yesterday has made a mushy mess of the interior of the island. One of Ed’s sandals came apart during the walk and the rivet holding the straps on one of my Crocs also broke. It was a tough hike, but I had duct tape in my pack and that did a temporary fix on the sandals so we could continue walking. We got to one clearing and were looking around when I heard Ed say, “There’s our friend.” The donkey was right there. He startled us and we startled him and he started braying loudly telling us to get out of his territory. I had the video camera in my hand, so I was able to turn it on quickly and record some of his loud protest. That made the whole tough trek worth it for me. And when we made it to the back side of the island, we saw huge coconut crabs. I mean these guys have claws that you certainly don’t want to get near. I might go back to the island in the morning to do one more video shoot and then I’ll feel ready to leave here when the weather dictates. Ed and Lynne came over for dinner tonight and we are all exhausted by today’s treks. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a low key day.

100415 Day 171 Peros Banhos, Chagos–Terns, Donkey, FAD, & Coconut Crabs on Ile du Coin