Monday, 15 July 2013

making friends with stingrays

Cook's Bay, during the Friday races:
this is the first all-female team we have ever seen

Nyon, swarmed by paddlers:
front row seats!
Cook's Bay had us fooled. We scoffed at the weather forecast, what 20+ knot winds? It was so calm and comfy there, we figured they were mistaken. Then, we decided to leave with SV Cariba for the "next door" anchorage of Opunohu. Yeah, we found those 20+ knot winds. As soon as Nyon nosed her way through the pass, the wind made itself known. We unfurled half our genoa and headed west, and after a quick sail, we anchored just east of the pass, in crystal clear waters.

SV Cariba (trust us) on the way to Opunohu

Sailing dinghies from a nearby
school, lots of happy kids

After a quick lunch, we gathered our snorkeling gear and hopped in Gab and Isabelle's dinghy for the long ride to where the stingrays hang out. It was a wet and bumpy trip, but oh so worth it. 

By the time we were in the right area, there were no big tourists boats, and we only realized we'd arrived when we nearly ran over a stingray. (We didn't come close, but it surprised the hell out of us.)

No, Rick is not trying to pick a mini-ray as a pet, just a fun shot

Can you see Isabelle's (SV Cariba's) excitement?
This was a pretty unique experience

This one was dubbed Sally by Gabriel
(She was the friendliest of the bunch)

Rick and Sally sharing a moment
We wasted no time jumping in, and: "Oh wow." 6 or so stingrays, averaging 3 feet across, crowded around the dinghy to see if we had any food for them. They crawled on us or cruised by, one kept going up to Rick and he'd push him back, it was pretty funny. One bit me, just a nibble when it thought I had food in my hand. (See video below.) It was pretty surreal. Of course, we didn't have the right food (they don't like tuna), but they seemed curious (or hopeful) about us anyhow. Black tipped reef sharks were weaving among the rays and swimmers. A few more swimmers came over a little while later, but we didn't experience the cheesy touristy chaos that so many had described. The whole experience was very chill. It was fabulous.

Pretty evening, that's Nyon on the right

Gab and Isa
Seeing as it was Bastille Day, we joined SV Cariba on the beach that night over wine and dinner at one of the picnic tables scattered near shore. Lots of laughs and stories later, we finished the evening with Pastis aboard Cariba, a perfect ending to a very French day.

Today, we're headed for Huahine, 80 nautical miles away.

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