Monday, April 30, 2012

Isla Tahuata snorkeling, beaches and plenty of coconuts.

April 30, 2012
Position: 09°54.5'S 139°06' W
Baie Hanamoena, Isla Tahuata, Marquesas, French Polynesia ,South Pacific Ocean.

After officially clearing Kelsey off our ship papers with the Gendarme at Atuona, Hiva Oa we sailed out of the muddy waters of Baie Tahauka and headed for Isla Tahuata about 10nm distant.

Baie Hanamoena was a welcome change with clear blue waters, a beautiful sandy beach and a lush green mountain backdrop. Shortly after dropping anchor we jumped in the water for a snorkel where we enjoyed quite a variety of corals and colorful reef fish and even a octopus. The octopus den was pretty easy to spot, you just keep a sharp lookout for a pile of shells and sooner or later you'll find an octopus lurking nearby. We made many dives to about twenty feet to observe the octopus dynamically change colors as he tucked back into his den.

We then swam to the beach to check out a small copra shed where coconut meat is dried in the shade in preparation for shipping to a facility where the coconut oil can be pressed out. It was great to spend some time ashore on the sandy beach where a few other cruisers also began to hangout. For the first time in months we felt like we were in cruising mode again.

Andrew is learning the art of coconuts. For the uninitiated there is a lot more to a coconut than first meets the eye. You have fresh young coconuts that are good for drinking, then you have coconuts that are mature from which you harvest the rich white meat and then you have coconuts that have just sprouted that have their center filled with a sort of spongy coco foam that is as close as one can come to ice cream in the tropics.

Gathering the coconuts from their lofty perch is also quite an initiation and either requires scaling the trunk or the use of a long stick to break the coconuts free. Then there is the machete, a formidable razor sharp tool that with one errant stroke can sever a finger or thumb.

This morning we are grating the firm white flesh from coconut halves then squeezing the grated coconut to extract thick rich coconut cream. It's labor intensive with a yield of about 1 cup of coconut cream per coconut, but the result is oh so good. The freshly squeezed cream is far richer than that found canned on the supermarket shelves and a delicious ingredient to a variety of tasty dishes.

That's it for now.

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