Day 184, Year 5: Exploring Ile Fouquet on Land and Water
Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; Few Storm Clouds in Evening
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

There’s a moon out tonight and it was full and beautiful as it rose over Ile Fouquet. And that was a fitting ending for the day we spent concentrating on that island. Yesterday when we were snorkeling between Windbird and the island, we were looking for a wrecked sailboat that went on the reef a few years ago. We found nothing yesterday, but this morning with the extra low tide we thought we saw a bow pulpit jutting up out of the water. So we hopped in the dinghy to check it out and sure enough, it was a wrecked sailboat. It sobers one to see just what going a reef can do to a sturdy sailboat. We came back to Windbird and got a plastic bottle and a piece of line to make a float to mark the wreck so we could find it later. We also took the spare GPS and noted the location so we can mark on it our CMap charts. While we were at it, we rode out behind Constance and marked the big bommie that is out there as well. We then spent a couple of hours working. I continued to work on the Madagascar anchorages spreadsheet and Mark changed the water and fuel filters on Windbird. Then we took the dinghy to the south end of Ile Fouquet and walked around the back side. We got almost to the end of the island before the incoming tide stopped us. We had also obviously come too close to nesting red-footed boobies and they flew up from the mangroves and soared right above us until we retreated. We walked half way back the way we came along the shore and then we cut through the middle of the island. This whole island was obviously a coconut plantation. There were probably camps here at one time, but I don’t think anyone lived here permanently. When we emerged from the coconut forest we were closer to the end of the island where we left the dinghy than we thought. We walked into the present day camp that has a BIOT sign and two recycling cans and we turned to walk back out to the beach. We got to watch two noddy terns fighting or mating, I think the latter. They would fly into the top of a coconut tree and then lock beaks and float together down to the ground. The tree they had chosen for this rite had little pieces of wood nailed into to make steps. When we looked around, we found another one with steps and in the top of that one we saw a red-footed booby scratching his chin with his little red foot. They are a white bird with black along the wings, a beautiful blue bill, and red feet. Mark tried and tried to get him to fly so I could get a photo, but the booby just looked down at his antics and shook his head.

After lunch, I worked MORE on the Madagascar anchorages spreadsheet and have now finished that task. Mid-afternoon, we called Constance to see if they would like to meet us at the wreck to dive on it. They joined us and we snorkeled over the wreck and dove down to look inside. What we found was the largest grouper any of us has ever seen. He has obviously taken up residency and was not about to move just because we were poking around. He did back up under something so all we could see was his huge head. We then snorkeled over the reef that caused the sailboat to sink. We saw lots of Parrotfish and Powderblue Surgeonfish and then we saw a completely red fish with very large pectoral fins. Lynne and I followed it around and then I spotted another. I dove down to see it more closely when all of a sudden it was no longer red. It still had vertical reddish-ink stripes but the rest of it was white. At first I thought the sun was playing light tricks through the water, but Lynne confirmed what I had seen. I have been trying to find out what kind of fish this is but so far I have only found one possibility. There is a black-tipped grouper that can turn its red vertical stripes off and on. This is not the fish we saw, but maybe it is related.

We had another 5-star fish dinner with yellowfin tuna seasoned with lavender pepper, a spice from a restaurant called the Silverwater Café in Port Townsend, Washington. It is by far the best seasoning for tuna in the entire world. With that we had green beans (ala a can) stir fried with freshly picked Thai basil. The fish and potatoes were grilled and it was a delicious meal.

Tomorrow we are going to focus on exploring Takamaka. We’ll start with an early morning low tide trip to the reef between Takamaka and Ile Fouquet. And then if we can, we hope to explore the outside of Takamaka.

100428 Day 184a Salomon, Chagos–Walk on Ile Fouquet
100428 Day 184b Salomon, Chagos–Snorkeling Wreck Off Ile Fouquet