Friday, 5 June 2015

A Memorable Dolphin Encounter and the Tuamotus

Before I tell you about the Tuamotus we have to talk about ...The Melon Heads

Sounds like a the name of an 80‘s punk band but I am actually refering to  the huge dolphin pod we encountered on the East Coast of Nuku Hiva. On our Way to Anaho Bay, our last anchorage before the Tuamotus, we had a pleasant day sail where we first were greeted by a pod of small grey and white dolphins. They did their usual fly by, just enough to delight us, for about 10 minutes....but less than 30 minutes later we were surprised to see more dolphins appear at our bow, they were of a much larger variety, grey like Bottlenose dolphins but with very round heads, (that’s were they get their name : the MelonHeads!) These very social dolphins stayed with us for about 90 minutes !  This was a fantastic display that Meg and MC simply could not get enough of !  We abandoned school for the morning and sat with them at the bow of the boat. These guys were so much fun and they didn’t want to leave us !  At one point the wind died and so did our speed, the boat was almost stopped and we couldn’t believe it, but the usually speedy dolphins actually stopped too !  They slowed , turned around and came to hang out at the boat , swimming around and waited with us for the wind to come up again !  Making eye contact with the dolphins was a very special thing.....every once in a while, one of them would turn to his/her side and look right into my eyes !  Meg and I were beside ourselves, and we even belted out a few songs to show the dolphins our appreciation What song do you serenade a dolphin with you ask ? Well, since we were dealing with highly intelligent animals, we chose everyone’s favourite classical: “Ave Maria” followed by “Edelweiss”. I think they liked it !  We didn’t scare them away anyways !

An amazing underwater shot of the same dolphins we saw, taken by Owen (SV Seabbatical) 

MC and Meg conversing with the 'Melon Head's at the Bow of Amelie (Photo courtesy of SV Seabbatical)

While in Anaho we enjoyed a hike over the hill to the nearby village where we visited another ancient archeological site and saw an enormous tree ! We then headed off to the Tuamotus !

Our Anchorage at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva
The kids standing in front of a very LARGE tree , Nuku Hiva

More about the Tuamotus : 

As I mentioned in the last blog update, the three day crossing was not much fun,  but the destination was well worth it !  We were anchored in such still water that it felt like we were in a lake. We spent nearly a week, resting and cleaning the boat, doing school work and catching up on laundry, reading and sleep. We were again surrounded by many of our friends , all 'kids boats', so there were plenty of water sports for the kids to participate in !  Meg had a go at windsurfing, with Justin from SV Misbehaving, a former instructor, giving all the kids an afternoon lesson. Meanwhile, Matthew enjoyed being pulled around on the paddle board. 

We also had a chance to visit the nearby Pearl Farm. I was really neat to see how the process is done: They implant the adult clam with a natural fresh water pearl; (Harvested in the USA, Mississipi river and then processed in Japan) and then allow the pearls to grow over a few months (they put the clams back in the sea water, all attached to one another in a long chain) until they are ready to harvest. While snorkelling on the reef near the boat we found a clam, probably a stray from the farm which had come detached, when we brought it back to the boat,  Mark was able to open it, and we found a black pearl inside !

Another neat excursion for us was to go and see the site where the famous Kon Tiki expedition ended (where the raft crashed into the reef) in 1947. There was a small plaque with all of the names of the men who had been part of this legendary crossing. Lead by Thor Heyerdahl, their crossing proved to the world that a raft launched in South America could make the journey all the way to Polynesia. We had seen the movie a few years ago, but seeing this site inspired us to re-watch it that night. Meg enjoyed it very much.

We are now anchored just outside the town on Makemo, another atoll island in the Tuamotus. Not since Tobago Keys in the Grenadines last July had we seen water this crystal clear !  It is like we are anchored in a swimming pool !  At 60 feet, I could still see the bottom !  We look forward to some more great snorkelling.....already we have seen lots of  reef sharks, the usual multi-coloured fish ,some turtles as well as giant clam shells. 

Experimenting with cameras :

I will leave you with two different perspectives taken in the last week;

The first is a shot taken by Mark from the top of our mast (from 65 feet high):

and the second, of our first anchorage in the Tuamotus in Raroia, taken by mounting a camera to a kite !

Until next time, 

We are sending lots of love from the 4Ms


  1. I love hearing your stories. I hope you are planning on sharing your journey on the public speaking platform when you finally return home. Your stories are truly inspirational!!!

  2. I'm with Andrea. Only I need to add, "When you finally return home to visit" because whose blog are we going to follow if you return home for good? I can't see Mark's Conoco Phillips blog being quite this intense.