Day 207, Year 5: Learning from the Masters
Date: Friday, May 21, 2010
Weather: Beautiful Day, Cloudy Evening; SE Winds 8-10
Location: Ile Fouquet, Salomon Atoll, Chagos

Learning is a life time endeavor and today we spent some time with Kathy and Richard on Mr. Curley learning as much as we could about Chagos. I said in yesterday’s log that they first came here in 1985 and I think they have been here every year since sometime in the late 1990’s, but I know they have been here every year for the past decade. So they have a lot of knowledge and have gathered photos and information that just isn’t written anywhere. Kathy loaned me four booklets published by Friends of Chagos in the late 1990’s and Mark and I spent a better part of the afternoon scanning those into our computer and printing those pages that I will be using for identification of plants, birds, and fish. I was able to give back one little piece of information. While on Boddam a couple of weeks ago, I took a photo of a dragonfly that Kathy had heard about but never seen. One year there was an etymologist here and she told Kathy that this dragonfly mimics a particular butterfly that is endemic to these islands. So now Kathy has a photo of that little bugger. The one thing I learned that I am most fascinated about is that it is a pink algae and not coral that we are seeing when we walk on the reef flats. This pink algae is a plant that is rock hard and plays a very important part in protecting the reef flats from the pounding waves. So like a kid in a candy shop, I absorbed every little bit of information that I could and will continue to read the information in the booklets over and over. While we were on Mr. Curley we got a tour of their garden. Unbelievable! They designed and built their boat and the transom is big enough to hold their dinghy, or while in Chagos, accommodate a good-sized hydroponic garden of spinach, basil and lettuces of all kinds, silver fern (like Swiss chard), arugula, and on and on. And the plants are huge and healthy. I’m thankful for my little basil and arugula plants, but they are really tiny in comparison. Richard is also planning a full-moon party for the evening of the 27th and Kathy and I talked about having a book exchange at the Takamaka camp the day after tomorrow. So things are getting busy here.

We turned Windbird into a little jail house today. We bought aluminum strips in India to use as security bars in some of our hatches. Unfortunately, theft is a problem in Madagascar, South Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean, so we decided it was time to be proactive. It would be very difficult for anyone to enter the boat through a hatch with the bars in place, so now they are there. There are really only two places in Madagascar that are a problem-one we have to go to in order to check-in and the other we hope to avoid. So now we will feel a bit safer.

Tomorrow morning we hope to snorkel in the pass between Takamaka and Fouquet again, this time with a camera. I just have to get photos of the little Nemos that live there as well as all the other fish. We also plan to spend a great deal of the day on Takamaka, cleaning up the camp and exploring, so it should be a good day.

Today was not such a good day for Ed and Lynne on Constance. Their refrigerator compressor died and they have no back-up. We lost our freezer, but still have our refrigerator. Their refrigerator and freezer were all one unit so this means nothing cold on Constance for months to come. It is doubtful that they can get anything repaired or installed in Madagascar. They have thought about Mayotte in the Comoros as a possibility, so we’ll start checking that out. It is less than 200 miles from Madagascar to Mayotte and yachties sail between the two all the time, so we shall see. Otherwise, it will be South Africa in October before they will have cold anything again. After the loss of our freezer, I am now very grateful for each day that we have refrigeration, but it can go in a minute.