40 miles NE of Aitutaki, Cook Islands
We said goodbye to French Polynesia on Thursday morning (15th) with a 3 boat caravan departure from Mopelia. Besides Curious, a Cat we met the day before (Bubas) was leaving as well, so we started a small "net" to talk a few times a day. The passage has been uneventful, and reasonably pleasant. Sea state is a little rough, but wind has been steady and we are making very good time. For most of the trip we have been able to see Curious, which is very weird, but quite comforting really.
In Aitutaki we willl not be able to enter inside the lagoon (too shallow through the pass) so we are bit weather dependant there. Hopefully our weather window holds and we can spend 3-4 days there.
We really liked Mopelia and would hightly suggest it for any divers in our wake. The wall dives on either side of the pass are excellent, especially the southern wall. There is a bouy to pick up, tied to a long length of chain on the botom just south of the pass in about 25 feet of water. From there you decend down the wall anywhere from 60 to 100+ feet depending on how long you want to stay and travel south. We maxed out at about 90 feet, staying mostly around 70 feet till we got to about 1800 psi. In this area we saw lots of larger palagic fish, including tuna, jacks, & pompano, as well as nice reef fish in the healthy coral. Also, at this depth there is almost no current along the wall. From there you can turn up the wall onto the coral shelf in 40-25' where there is a nice gentle counter current to bring you back to the pass along the top. Here, lots of colorful coral, some sharks, and still lots of fish (palagic and reef). In just a few minutes you will be back at the mooring. From there we traveled all the way to the wall of the pass. Here the southern side is much better with pretty decent visability and a very cool overhanging wall. We held on here till be were down to 750psi and saw lots of large parrot fish, jacks, and many others swimming in the current or hanging out along the wall. The North side had way more current on the wall and not much to see, but the south was relavitely calm (at times could let go for a few minutes without going anywhere) and very cool coral formations to explore. Probably our best dive yet. Not quite as dramatic a wall as Toau, but better fish, and with the coral flat and pass, it has more interest overall. Viz was excellent everywhere other than in the pass itself. We dicided not to bother diving the pass as it is VERY fast and viz was quite limited. In more settled conditions, the pass might be great.
We were giving the compressor quite the workout, with two dives the first day and another on the second day for a total of 11 tank fills (mom skipped the first dive), so I had to change out the filter. Usually not a big deal, but the top fo the filter stack was being quite stuborn and my wrench slipped off it, causing my face to implant itself on the corner of the fan cage (OWWW!). Now I look like my dad at my college graduation (he closed the rear gate of his Explorer on his forehead).
All is well. We are on a bit of a schedule now to get to NUI for Mom & Trish's Birthdays (1st & 2nd of August) and then on the American Samoa for Mom's flight on the 15th. It means we only get about 3 days in each of the next 3 stops (Aitutaki, Palmerston Atol, and Beverage Reef). Thats all for now.