The smell of fresh homemade pancakes from a Betty Crocker cookbook recipe wafted through the galley of Nor’easter. I cooked while my dad and I discussed our plans for the day. Wanted to watch the OSU football game, but realized that I did the time zone math wrong and it had finished. I was dejected, but at least we were on an atoll paradise with 20 other sailboats, so it wasn’t all bad.
We beached the dinghy around 10am and did a few internet tasks, then, we went for a walk around the island, which has an interesting history. It used to be a telecommunications cable station, connecting Australia to the rest of the world. Additionally, In World War I there was a naval battle between a German Raider and Australian Cruiser. The vessels were the Emden and the Sydney. The Germans got destroyed, but not before they broke all of the communications equipment in the radio room. There were plaques along the trail describing the battle and the island’s history. My favorite plaque said life was boring on the island, but the workers kept themselves busy by fishing, playing tennis, racing sailboats, and playing cards. It sounded like my kind of place.
We returned to the boat after the walk and I put my snorkeling gear on to do “The Rip,” a popular snorkel spot on the south side of the island. Since my dad fell asleep, I left him the dinghy and swam to shore. From there, I walked along a dirt path to the end of the island where there was a viewing platform. I scrambled along the jagged, slippery rocks before jumping into the ocean, trying to avoid getting dashed on the coral by the waves. Eventually, I made it to the deeper water with minimal damage and caught the rip, a strong current running through the channel in a break of the reef. I took my time, looking at the beautiful pink and green corals with yellow and white striped angelfish darting around them, Bluefin Trevally hunting, three sleeping White Tip Sharks under a rocky ledge, and a big school of green Bumphead Parrotfish. Eventually, a dinghy passed me, so I waved them down, hitched a ride, and did it again. This time, I ended up swimming back to the beach.
The beach was crowded and I ran into Josie, who I met in Darwin and a guy named Josh, who is crewing on a catamaran called Charm. Josie, Josh, and the boys from the Spanish sailboat, Niobe wanted to do the rip too, so I went with them and did it two more times. I was in charge of towing the dinghy, a job I always seem to get stuck with, but a small price to pay for a ride to The Rip.
At the end of the day I set my hammock up on the beach, turned on my Bluetooth speaker, and relaxed knowing I was the only person on the island. My view included the harbor and 20 sailboats with their anchor lights on, palm trees, and a starry sky with a half moon. We found paradise at last.