Askari Cruise Page 3

Askari Cruise — As told to Diane M. Byrne — April 2003

The Time of Their Lives
Part 3: Pitcairn Island; Rangiroa

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Yesterday was Kate’s birthday, and we celebrated Askari style. We have had many “theme” nights—complete with decorations, costumes, appropriate food and drink, and even skits! It sounds corny, but it breaks up the monotony on sea crossings. So last night the crew hosted Miniature Night. Appropriate because Geri calls Kate her “mini me” ‘cause the two of them have been known to dress alike, wear their hair alike, and get in trouble together.

The dinner table was set with miniplacemats, small saucers for plates, and tiny shrimp forks and butter knives for utensils. We even had shotglasses to drink from. Kate triumphantly announced that she polished off six Dr. Peppers during dinner!

And Mark outdid himself with minifood—all of Kate’s favorites. We had tiny pizzas, tiny hamburgers, small baked potatoes, and tiny beef tacos. Then for dessert we had tiny chocolate cakes. Mark sliced each one and filled it with vanilla pudding before frosting it.

Finally, Don serenaded Kate with his original version of “Kate is so cool,” sung to the Friends theme (Kate’s favorite show!).

We had the coolest time in Rangiroa yesterday and this morning! Rangiroa is an atoll, a ring-shape coral reef with a ring of volcanic islands inside the reef and in the middle a calm and shallow lagoon. The lagoon is huge—so big you cannot see from one side to the other. So big that you can fit the whole island of Tahiti inside!

There’s only one way to get from the deep ocean outside the reef to the lagoon. It’s a natural pass through the coral reef called Tiputa Pass, about 1,000 feet wide and 30 feet deep. There are also fast and converging currents, so you get choppy, rough water. Underwater, you get a strong current that flows from the ocean to the lagoon as the tide comes in, and from the lagoon to the ocean as the tide goes out. The local dive guides know how to time a dive so that you can “ride” the current through the pass. And that’s what we did.

Our dive started outside the coral reef in the ocean. We dropped in to about 100 feet of water and immediately saw a 15-foot hammerhead shark. We swam from our entry point to a large cave in the coral. The cave was filled with squirrel fish and one scary-looking eel. We hung out in the cave for several minutes, then one by one we exited the cave into the current—about 5 knots—and we were flying. As we flew through the pass, we saw millions of fish—several white-tipped sharks, queen angelfish, a huge Napoleon wrasse, several large barracudas, and schools of about a dozen other Pacific reef fish. We ended up in the calm and shallow water (nine feet) of the lagoon. We spent another 20 minutes or so swimming around some coral heads, looking at blue-lipped clams, Moorish idols, butterfly fish, and one curious shark that came to check us out.

The guides worked for a local dive shop called Six Passengers. We thought it was an odd name, so we asked about its origin. They told us that a pod of six dolphins hang out near the pass and “lead” boats safely through. Apparently the same dolphins have been there for many, many years. So this morning we all stood on the deck waiting to see if we would encounter the “six passengers.” And, yes, almost as soon as we entered the pass, we had the company of six Pacific bottle-nosed dolphins just off the bow. They swam, almost in formation, with us until we were safely into the Pacific Ocean.

So now we are once again on the move—you can’t keep this group in one spot for long! We’re headed for Tahiti and should be there tomorrow morning. Can you believe it? I’m going to Tahiti!

This is a wonderful world we live in.

Special thanks to Fraser Yachts. To charter Askari, contact Debra Blackburn at Fraser Yachts: Phone: (954) 463-0600.

Next page > Askari Photo Gallery > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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