5th of February, day 5
Early start this morning! At 5 am the Young Explorers woke up as Pangaea's anchor was lifted up. We left our sheltered place to turn south of Chiriyatapu point before heading north for our next destination, Neill Island. A picturesque island where with stunning white sand beaches and pristine forest. The real work was now going to start for our Young Explorers – their first reef check.
Our YEP's divided themselves into four teams and studied the fish and coral in the educative booklets onboard Pangaea. Mark, Manu and Elena decided to count different types of corals, Lucie and Paridhi the sea cucumbers while Florence, Valentina, Catherine and Reuben concentrated on different types of fish.
The spot chosen for this first reef check was around 10 meters deep. The Young Explorers had to concentrate their observation on an area of 30 meters by 4 meters. It was quite quickly done. Unfortunately not many fish were observed and the coral cover was estimated to be 50%. Even if the results were not as impressive as expected, this first reef check became a good underwater exercise for our 9 Young Explorers.
While the Young Explorers were busy diving, Pangaea's crew decided to throw in a line and lure and see if they could catch some fish for dinner. After a few days with only small catches (or even nothing), Simon got lucky. A huge barracuda caught his line. After a 10 minute fight and realizing the size and strength of this fish the crew decided to go out onto the dingy and haul it in from the sea rather than from the boat.
Simon finally managed to bring it on board the dingy. Nature had been kind. The fish was massive – 120cm long and three very tasty meals. As soon as everyone was back on the boat, we set sail to reach Havelock
Island and stopped midway at "Golug Ma". A very nice, sheltered place with a view on amazing beaches.
Our nine Young Explorers got some free time to relax, play and swim around the boat while Jacek got his flying machine ready to bring on shore. This paramotor will allow the camera crew to take great shots from the air. With daylight quickly diminishing it was decided that the landing would have become hazardous so Jacek contented himself by doing a few tests of the motor and the buggy. He inflated the glider two times and all seemed to be working perfectly.
We all went back to the boat for some grilled barracuda cooked on the barbeque by Mike along with some fresh salads prepared by Cathy. The day was not yet finished – a night dive was still on the program!
Once all the underwater torches were distributed, a dive plan and buddy pair confirmed, everyone got into the water and the battle of the fins began! The visibility was quite poor and as the goal was not to spread up the group, everyone was diving one on top of the other. The dive lasted only 20 minutes. We went back to the boat hysterical, the group bursting out on laughter with each new story that was told about who kicked who and where!
After such a long and full day, the Young Explorers quickly got their mattresses ready and fell asleep once again on Pangaea's deck – once again under a beautiful starry sky.