Day 320, Year 5 Underwater Fantasia
Date: Saturday, September 11, 2010
Weather: Overcast Early, Clearing; Winds 10-12 NNW
Latitude: 13 18.079 S
Longitude: 048 10.715 E
Location: Nosy Sakatia, NW Madagascar

You just never know where you are going to end up at the end of a day of cruising. Somehow we gravitated back to Nosy Sakatia which is home base in Madagascar for us. We are here with Constance and Far Niente from the US, Kea and another catamaran from France, and Pioneer and Dream Catcher from South Africa. So it really is like being back home after a week’s vacation of snorkeling. We started our morning in Hell-ville by going to shore one more time. We decided that we should buy beer for our trip south, so we took in the empty plastic crates of HEAVY bottles to shore and traded them in for full cases of cans. Cans are twice as expensive, but they will be able to be recycled in South Africa. If we took bottles south we would have to Deep Six them and that is environmentally not a good thing to do. As soon as that deed was done, we upped anchor and headed for Tani Keli even though it was totally overcast. We were hoping for a miracle of blue skies and no wind so our snorkeling would be perfect. And we got what we hoped for. We had an incredible two hour snorkel under clear, sunny skies in crystal clear water. We saw a couple of fish we have never seen before. We swam with a school of hundreds of neon blue fusiliers. We swam with silvery white, round pompanos with glistening yellow fins. This was just amazing. There were hundreds of these fish and they just hovered at the surface as we swam through and around them. We didn’t see any turtles today but we did see a huge octopus that let us observe and photograph him for quite some time. I saw the octopus and went to get Mark so he could photograph it. I pointed to it and Mark could not see it. He was right above it, but it was so well camouflaged that he really could not find it. I kept pointed and then the octopus changed colors and Mark zoomed in. This guy was twice as big as the one we saw in Mitsio and it put on quite a show for us. Mark and I both wonder how the octopus senses the color of the coral around them. This particular octopus is a common one of the species Cyanea. It is a deep maroon color in the natural state and then totally transforms to look like the surroundings. Watching this has just been amazing for us.

After snorkeling we were supposed to be headed to Russian Bay and then to another small island that is supposed to have incredible snorkeling. But just before we left Tani Keli Mark asked if I would mind if we returned to Nosy Sakatia. We have had a number of boat repairs that we have had to attend to in the past few days such as replacing the impellor on salt water pump on the engine and turning the gypsy on the windlass around so we can pull up our anchor chain without having it slip terribly. And now our bilge pumps are not working quite right and the packing gland around our prop needs to be replaced as it is leaking badly. Mark said he would feel more secure working on these problems where there are other boats around to help out if we have problems, so off we went to Nosy Sakatia.

And here is one more amazing thing that happened today. We went up to Sakatia Towers for sundowners and I sat down beside a young woman I had not met before. She introduced herself as Carmen. She and her husband Olivier are on a catamaran from France that we have seen in Mitsio and Hell-ville over the past few days. The amazing thing was that she is an environmental engineer working on climate change with the UN and many nations from around the world. Our daughter has just launched a blog site in the US dealing with climate change and Carmen was quite excited to see the blog. Carmen and Olivier have a thirteen year-old son and a six year-old daughter onboard and will be rounding South Africa and arriving in Brazil about the time we do in March. Our daughter Heather and her family are planning to meet us in Brazil, so we might be able to get Carmen and Heather together. It is just such a small, small world.

100911 Day 320 Tani Keli, Madagascar–Underwater Tani Keli