Day 317, Year 5 Decision To Go South
Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Weather: Sunny Day; Winds 0-2 Knots NE Turning 10 Knots NW
Latitude: 13 24.802 S
Longitude: 048 20.285 E
Location: Lokobe National Park, NW Madagascar

After three magical days of snorkeling off Nosy Ankarea we headed out this morning hoping the wind would make the ‘go north’ or ‘go south’ decision for us. But there was no wind. We motored out of Nosy Mitsio’s Maribe Bay and I couldn’t enter Miles To Go in the Captain’s Log as we still didn’t know where we were going. I really wanted to go north to try and see the mother and baby whales, but with no wind we would be motoring all morning and then would probably be fighting a strong north wind in the afternoon. That plus the fact that the Dominiques on KEA just came from up north and saw no whales probably helped to make the decision to head south. Since there was no wind we decided to motor the twelve miles to Tsara Banjina and stop there for a snorkel before heading on to Lokobe National Park on the southeast corner of Nosy Be. We have a whole page of things we need to do once we have cell and internet service again, so we will hang out between Lokobe, Nosy Komba, and Hell-ville for two or three days and try to get some of those things done. We left Nosy Sakatia the morning after Mark returned from Hell-ville with a virus-free computer, but we really haven’t had a chance to be online to see if everything is working properly. When they did the last fix, they had to take Microsoft Office off the computer and reinstall it-in French. So now our anti-virus program and Microsoft Office are all in French. While we have been gone the computer shop was going to get the English versions and will install them when we return. So we’ll spend a day or so playing around with the computer online, hope we don’t get another virus, and then go back to the computer place in Hell-ville for the replacement programs.

Tsara Banjina is a beautiful little island. Coming from the north it is hidden by larger Nosy Toloho until you are almost there. Then this incredibly white sand beach surrounded by turquoise water starts emerging from behind Toloho. It really is breathtaking. The only thing on the island is the Constance Lodge and it is mostly hidden behind the casuarina trees that sway in the wind and serve as the backdrop to that beautiful beach. We were in the dinghy on our way to snorkel by 9 am. Just as when we were there before, we headed out to the rocky islands to snorkel, but the tide was so low that much of the coral was exposed. And we saw no fish. So we carefully motored around to the south side of the island to a rocky point. On the way there we saw literally hundreds of small jellyfish, all about five inches across. They were clear but outlined in an electric blue. They all seemed to be headed across our path and back to where Windbird was anchored. When we got to the snorkeling area we saw no jellies, so in we went. It was not as clear as Mitsio and the bommies were either too deep or too shallow, but we still managed to have a good snorkel. I saw an incredibly big and ugly grouper and a school of about twenty-five Moorish Idols. There are photos of schools of Moorish Idols in our fish identification books, but we have never seen more than two at a time. I always wondered where the photographers go to get such photos. Now I know, except my photographer did not even see them, so we don’t have that photo yet. We also saw a new fish. It looks like a Humbug Dascyllus which is white with three vertical black stripes, but this one has only two stripes. We actually saw one tiny one like this back at Nosy Sakatia and thought it was just an anomaly. Evidently that is not the case since we saw many of them today. After our snorkel, we pulled up anchor at 10:30 am and started motoring through an absolute maze of those electric blue jellies. If anyone knows why there would be so many of them in one place, please email and let me know. We saw a few clear jellies while snorkeling off Nosy Ankarea, but only a few, and then yesterday when Mark and I got in one last time to explore underwater off the east side of Ankarea, rather than the south where we had concentrated our time, I did get into a nest of the same jellies. They looked just like the ones I saw today but they were translucent-no blue. And since we are always suited head to toe when snorkeling, I was able to fend off any that headed toward my face, so I didn’t get stung and Mark didn’t even see any. I sure hope these guys stay up north and don’t come down to Nosy Be as I really want to do more snorkeling at Nosy Sakatia and back at Tani Keli. No jellies allowed!

We had a wonderful sail, sometimes with a motor assist, from Tsara Banjina to Lokobe. Mark caught an enormous fish but it took the hook, line, and sinker and off it went. At least it left the pole behind. Just as we approached the anchorage here, the wind piped up to the 20’s, so we are having a bit of a blow this evening. Pioneer is here but will leave early tomorrow for a snorkel at Tani Keli. We will probably go to Nosy Komba for the day to see the lemurs and buy more recelet. Constance called on the radio this afternoon and said they might be coming this way tomorrow. And that’s the news from Madagascar.

100908 Day 317 Tsara Banjina, Madagascar–Underwater Tsara Banjina