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BRIZO - 11 April 2012

We had a very full day today! We went ashore at 07:30 to make it to the bakery before they ran out of baguettes, had a nice breakfast on board, and then started work. Corinne and the Girls worked on school work for three hours, they seem to have had a good session. Hubs and Diana went to scout-out good locations for snorkeling and got recommendations from the manager at the small resort nearby. They took a quick dive on the best recommendation and we plan to all go diving Wednesday morning.

By noon our tour guide for the black pearl farm, Fernan(do), came to pick us up in his boat. He is the owner of the farm, we were introduced to him by the young fellow who helped as our pilot yesterday morning, Fernan is his uncle! He spent the entire afternoon with us, showing and explaining the life cycle of his oysters and how the unique black pearls are grown. We brought our snorkeling gear and helped to harvest large oysters which were growing on lines suspended from floats in his "farm" located in the center of the atoll. He then took us to his small seaside work shed where he taught us how to open the oysters and look for the black pearls. Each of us had an allotment of oysters to open and whatever pearls we found were ours to keep!

After we finished with the oysters Fernan stopped at a nearby island and introduced us to a gentleman living there. It turns out that Xavier had recently retired as an Admiral of the French Navy responsible for their operations in the Pacific. He and his wife bought their own island in the atoll (which is very hard to do, even for a former French Admiral) and built a beautiful Polynesian style house over the past four years. They use a combination of wind/solar/tidal flow power generators for all of their power, with a very large bank of batteries used to power two inverters for AC current. In addition to all of the electrical power equipment housed in a separate outbuilding is an area with high frequency radio and computer equipment. He is the email operator in French Polynesia for the Sailmail system which we use to send email when at sea. All of our emails come through his equipment before being sent to the main server in California! He says it is mostly a volunteer job but he enjoys working with the radio and computer gear.

The crew from SAMSARA came over for dinner and the girls are having a sleepover tonight. After snorkeling in the morning we plan to have lunch ashore and then depart for the nearby island of Ahe. We have to plan our departure for slack tide tomorrow afternoon because of the strong tidal current in the atoll entrance.


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