October 5, 2014 Makogai

October 5, 2014
17 26′ S
178 57′ E
At Anchor: Makogai

We are resting up on Makogai Island, making putting Privateer into tip-top shape for her upcoming voyage to New Zealand.  I’ve been studying the weather fax bulletins and familiarizing myself with the various weather and position-reporting nets.  Privateer has never looked so good, after all her ocean voyaging.

Today we went snorkeling among the largest giant clams we’ve ever seen!  Curled into a fetal position, one could easily fit inside these clams.  I stuck my arm into one of them and the force of the water shooting out of its valve as it closed itself blew my arm right back out of the clam!  The meat inside the clams is an iridescent rainbow of colors and patterns, each one a different hue of purple, turquoise, red, and electric blue, and lime green.  They pulse as the water pumps through their massive valves.

There are also many turtles in the lagoon, and the islanders here maintain a turtle-breeding pond before releasing them into the lagoon.  Makogai is a pretty unique place.  Until 1969, the island was a giant leper colony.  We got a tour of the leprosarium–vast ruins in the jungle.  We saw the concrete remains of a movie theater, jail cells (the lepers were known to “misbehave badly”) and a massive graveyard up the side of the mountain with thousands of concrete crosses.  It reminded me of the big gold mine ruins in Alaska, but with a different twist.

Kelsey and I are enjoying our last few days in tropical paradise before the change to the temperate latitudes!  Climbing coconut trees, watching the giant bats fly overhead at sunset, jumping off the boat into the beautiful crystal clear waters…

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