Fabled Islands of the Indian Ocean 7

Fabled Islands 7

April 13, 2009

Today was our last day in the Seychelles, arriving shortly after breakfast at Farquhar Atoll. This atoll is about 500 miles from our starting port in Mahe, and is the most southerly of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles.

It is a low-lying atoll with a small permanent settlement here, all that remains of a once thriving copra industry, that is fully dependent now on a few tourists and government payments. Our local guide, Guy (“Ghee”), made it quite clear how he feels about the Marxist government using his tax money to subsidize a failed business venture.

I intentionally left my camera on board ship today so as to “concentrate” on just enjoying the experience. It felt strange! I did miss several photo ops, at least two of which I clearly saw in my minds eye as I walked past each scene, both of which were beautifully captured by our National Geographic photographer, Bob Krist. He later showed these at an evening presentation. Shoot! I should have taken the camera! Well, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing I “saw” the same images as he.

After a leisurely walk around the settlement, and a taste of some of the foods prepared by the local women, we returned to the beach to loll about in the cool, clear waters of the lagoon.

Around noon we had a sandwich lunch on the beach, more rest, then the dive team returned to the ship for our afternoon dive. The scouting team noted a fairly brisk current but felt we were capable of handling it ok. We proceeded to go about 2 miles up-current along the reef edge.

As soon as we dropped in it was clear that this was going to be a challenge, despite our experience level. Remaining stationary in one spot was impossible by mere muscle power alone, and clinging onto the reef was out of the question. So, away we went!

I took a few photos as interesting coral or fish “flashed by,” then switched to video mode with my little point & shoot. I wanted to capture the feeling of us being whisked along at a good 2 knots down current.

All of us had difficulties staying close to our dive buddies. At one point we had a bit of a traffic jam as we were all pushed together by the flow. I have some good video, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to upload it. You’ll to just take my word on it!

I expended more air than most trying not only to video the scenes in the brisk current, but also trying to remain with my dive buddy, Natalia. Eventually I got below the air pressure threshold for exiting and had to surface. The rest of the divers came up within a few minutes and we headed back to the ship.

Not the best of dives, but it was interesting!

And as they say, the worst day on vacation is better than the best day at work.

Ed

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