Location When Written: Mooring Ball, Anse Amyot, Toau Atoll
Date When Written: 18 May 2012
Current Location: Internet Coconut Palm, Rotoava, Fakarava Atoll
Date: May 2012
Greetings again. After the drought there is flooding.
As mentioned last time, the owners of the mooring balls at Anse Amyot, Valentine and Gaston, have several small businesses in their piece of paradise. We have watched the fish and other critters in the fish traps over several visits.
About every two weeks, the fish traps are harvested, the bounty sorted, packed, and immediately sent off to Papeete on either the Cobia 3 or a smaller freighter. The Cobia 3 also brings supplies to the 3 or 4 families who live here. They (the families), also pop over to Fakarava Atoll, a scant 34nm away, for baguettes and other goodies. The sole school aged child, attends school over on Fakarava.
The Cobia 3 does a weekly run out from Papeete to the Tuomotus, one week going in a clockwise direction, the following week counter-clockwise.
Our visit coincided with the Cobia 3, and we were invited to watch the fish trap harvest: the traps are a series of converging wire and plastic mesh staked to rebar, that end in a pen.
As noted in previous photos, the fish are ‘herded’ into a ‘holding pen’ roughly 7m/23′ x 3m/10′. 2 blokes with masks (Gaston and his assistant Phillippe) speared the larger fish, such as the Napoleons. After that, a long chicken wire ‘sac’ ~4m/14′ x 1m/3′ was used to collect the fish.
Gaston, the owner of the fish trap enterprise, directed his mate in the dinghy where to toss the sac. The fish were somehow herded into the sac. In time, Gaston re-appeared with the sac. The mate, standing on the foredeck of the 5m/15′ wooden dinghy then hauled the sac aboard and emptied the contents onto the floor of the dinghy. This process was repeated a dozen or so times till the trap was empty. One fish managed to leap from the floor of the dinghy back into the water: truly, the fish that got away.
Eventually the dinghy was full of fish and the trap empty.
By the time the dinghy returned to the dock, most of the fish were dead. They were then shovelled out and onto the concrete floor and sorted according to species and size. They were constantly sluiced with salt water. After this, the larger fish were strung onto lengths of twine, 8 or 10 apiece, washed again several times, and loaded into the eskies. Some of the larger fish were immediately thrown back into the water, presumably these were know carriers of the ciguatera toxin. The smaller (tho’ still pan size) fish were loaded loosely into eskies. The eskies were taken out to the Cobia 3 and presumably immediately placed in the freezer.
The little fish were chucked back into the water, much to the delight of the local shark population, who had a veritable feeding frenzy. Although it was certainly distressing to see these cast off, dead, pretty little fish, the by catch was quite a small fraction of the overall catch.
The Cobia 3 arrived and took up a mooring ball next to us. In the evening, Valentine prepared her Famous Fish Feast for the officers of the Cobia 3, the 3 sail boats, and family members. Take away/out packages were prepared for the Cobia 3 crew. We once again trusted the local knowledge and enjoyed poisson cru, fish fried in a coconut batter, and BBQ lobster…mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm.
The following day it was rather nice to see some big live fish, swimming free…for this week anyways…
Anse Amyot: a most excellent place to see interesting things underwater.
Margaret and Moe
We have been at Rotoava for just under a week now. Long enough to be here for the return of our favourite inter island freighter (well, after Wadda that is), the Cobia 3. It arrived in the early hours of the morning and was gone again before midday.
From our observations, the busiest time of day here is at sunrise in the cool of the morning. The boulangerie (bread shop) is open for business at the crack of dawn, gardenia flowers are picked first thing in the morning for the pensiones and small hotels, the yards and roads swept or raked of leaves every day, the kids going off to school, the medical clinic and post office open around 7:30.
The town dock, as we have noted elsewhere, is a hive of activity when the supply ship is in town. Pick up trucks/utes, flat bed trucks, min-vans, cars…if it has wheels and an internal combustion engine, it’ll be at the dock. It seems the whole village turns up at some point in the morning’s proceedings to collect their freight or bring in their copra.
The Cobia 3 also sells diesel fuel and petrol/gasoline. Moe took along our jerry jugs and had them filled. He had a good chat with the Captain, who we met last week, and also with one of the Pearling Compliance Officers that we had met a few weeks ago back at Apataki Carenage.
One of the things we have enjoyed during our time in these small communities in the Tuomotus is seeing how resourceful people are with the materials they have at hand. The Cobia 3 has a portable fuel pump, mounted on an airport luggage trolley, which is brought onto the dock and ready to do business. 44 gallon drums are filled directly on the dock.
The main shop had its merchandise delivered by forklift right to the door…even at the busiest time of day, the traffic is still light here. It was good fun to see the loaded forklift make its way down the main drag, the driver greeting his friends along the way.
Here’s a few photos from the dock at Rotoava.
I think that about does it, our gabfest over for the moment. We’ll be heading out from here shortly to the famous south pass and from there to Papeete.
Margaret and Moe