Yesterday we were anchored in the north of Apataki atoll in clear blue water 60' deep, and after doing maintenance went snorkelling in on nearby coral heads. Turns out to be the best we've had so far. At last the coral seems alive and well with a huge variety of fish. Elsewhere it's been mostly dead. I even saw a reef shark and swam vigorously after it filming with the GoPro.
There are constant repair challenges on TinTin. Making do with the assortment of kit on board can feel quite like Scrapyard Challenge or Apollo Thirteen. Latest is that the anode on the prop has almost disintegrated since installation mid Feb in Panama. The last one was barely corroded when we changed it in Feb, having been installed in Sept. Luckily Justin spotted it was loose, and then discovered it had lost a bolt. Amazingly I found a substitute with same thread, but longer shank, but a couple of nuts allowed us to tighten it. Justin was very courageous at diving down and removing the old one and fitting the new one. We hung a bucket over the prop to catch any bits that fell off. I tried doing it, but felt claustrophobic pressed up under the hull, with my mask askew and filling with water.
More frustratingly the speed/ log goes off unexpectedly so we don't know how fast or far we travel. Dismantled that, but no sign of a problem. However not solved. When dead I need to tap it hard with three fingers on top and it reboots. Most frustrating!
Then the aft heads won't pump to the holding tank but go direct to sea, which is inappropriate in harbours. Disassembled entire toilet, found all pipes and valves thickly crusted with calcium deposits. Valve handle had been forced and cheesed off so it didn't turn the valve. Cleaned it all down one lovely hot sunny day while the girls sunbathed, and it now works again!
We have been having northeasterly winds till last night, when it's gone southeast and right on the nose to our next destinations - Fakarava atoll. Pouring with rain and blowing hard with a 2 metre swell breaking in great white spray over the coral reef, so unusually we are sat in port, tied up to a pearl farm wharf. Opposite us are twenty people working hard in an open building on stilts in the lagoon, hauling up strings of young oysters, cleaning them, drilling holes in the shells, restringing them and hanging them in fresh net bags to go back for fattening up before grafting black pearl material to generate oysters.
Anyway the challenges remain, but I only have to look outside to see that I am in the most fantastic place. In fact we have to keep reminding each other not to take it for granted!