Tuesday 17th October 2017
Having spent nearly two years boasting of how healthy our cruising life style is, we have been struck down by a second cold in as many months. Both of us have been completely floored, resembling damp dish rags we have spent the week, flopping about the boat, groaning, sneezing and coughing. And yesterday the weather joined in, the blustery wind blowing in rain clouds which look here to stay for a few days.
I, being incapable of doing nothing, have made pathetic attempts at cleaning, researched and filled forms badly for our arrival in Australia and spent hours trying to coax the sluggish internet service we have here into letting me send emails and check my Facebook page. Rick who can chill much more easily, has watched countless movies and having read almost every bit of literature on the boat, as a last resort, dived into a book on quantum physics. I’m not sure his furrowed brow and puzzled expression will help his lingering headache.
Outside the sick bubble of the boat, when we muster the energy to go ashore or at least look up, there has been quite a lot going on. We are actually in a rather lovely place, anchored in Baie de Kuto on the Ile des Pins which has a km long beach of the softest white sand, backed by a nice mix of trees, including the tall narrow straight pines that give the island its name, the view is lovely.
Beach at Kuto Bay
Just a hundred metres across an isthmus is another beautiful bay, here the sea having undermined the old concrete wharf is now encroaching on the beautiful trees that fill the area. Whole trees lay uprooted on the sand.
Unfortunately this normally quiet area is invaded every couple of days by hoards of visitors. The island is a cruise ship stop, we are not talking the small ships that we bumped into in Fiji, these are huge 1000ft liners that can hold over 3000 people. The liners anchor out in the bay and disgorge their passengers using their orange lifeboats as ferries, these run to and fro from the dock all day. Handicraft stalls spring up, tour buses arrive, boat trips leave, the small hotel bar fills up and the empty beach is transformed. Promptly at four o’clock the last ferry leaves, the stalls are packed away, rubbish is cleared up, its as if they’ve never been.
Giant cruise ship dwarfs the yachts in the anchorage
The water is shallow and turquoise, frequently a turtle pops up to say hello. We think they are green sea turtles eating off the sea grass that grows in the bay. One of them is huge, it’s shell must be nearly 5ft long and his head the size of a small football. Also visiting us are mermaids, out of the corner of our eye we saw a whale shaped tail disappear into the water. We are far too shallow and the fluke far too small for a whale, we racked our brains for what it might be, the only answer – a mermaid.
Finally we got a closer look and having search our sea mammals guide we identified it as a Dugong. Dugongs are a member of the Serenian family, as are Manatees, they are the only herbivorous sea mammals and apparently are distant relatives of elephants and aardvarks!
Dugong, not quite as pretty as a mermaid.
We might not welcome the rain but I’m sure the islanders do. As we walked the kilometre to the nearest small village to find some bread, we are in France now even the smallest corner store has fresh crusty bread, we spotted signs warning people about the fire risk. That afternoon I noticed black smoke building on the other side of the hill, soon a helicopter arrived, precariously amongst the trees it collected a large canvas bucket from the Gendarmerie and proceeded to dump water into the distant forest. It took well into the next day before the smoke disappeared hopefully the fire was in an unpopulated part of the island.
Colds and winds willing we aim to leave Kuto Bay on Friday and visit some of the small islands scattered throughout the lagoon.