Our time in the remote Tuamotu atolls in the South Pacific was totally unforgettable. In Faaite we had dropped the hook in the middle of the crazy reef pass, so this time we were going into the lagoon’s more placid waters to anchor. We made another memorable arrival when we finally sailed into Kaitu. After trusting Charlies Charts for guidance through the sketchy reef pass, we dragged our skeg and rudder across the coral to mark our arrival. Local’s welcomed us with BBQ and warm Polynesian charm. While in Panama, we had stocked up on “rare provisions” to trade in the Tuamotus. So we went to work with them to harvest the treasures of the lagoon. We started bright and early when Tikhei and Hao came to pick us up. With our local liaison’s navigating our way to the secret buoy laced with blackened gems, we suited up for the dive. They told us that a good 13mm black pearl will grow in about 5-6 years. So, with morning eye-boogers still clogging my vision through “foggy goggles” we plucked our ripened booty from the pristine waters of the lagoon. At first, I figured these oysters would be on the sea floor 30 meters below us and the dive would be brutal especially for Hao who had polished off most of the bottle of Rum from last night’s BBQ. The harvest was smooth and went surprisingly well. We hooked our anchor around the buoy and pulled the oyster bags up to a good level to dive so that we could get them in the boat before asphyxiation set in. A near tragedy occurred when Dizzy attempted to untie the oyster bag but sent it hurling towards to sea floor. Luckily Kyber was there to make the save. The entire process ended up being streamlined with help from the experts who taught us a few tricks of the trade. By 11am we were back in town and ready to rock.
We brought a boatload back to the farm where we scraped off the crusted shells, extracted the black pearls then seeded them again w/ white pearls so they could grow for another several years.
” keep yur scurvy-crusted lil’ hands off my pearls ya scalawag”