We did not yet know this, so one night we kayaked into the lagoon through the broken light of moon on the water; through the waves that had kept Misty pitching on anchor all day. Noddies croaked and terns sounded their high note of alarm as we pulled our kayaks up on the edge of the motu and organized ourselves for the trek. Perhaps they knew the joke.
We trekked out through a strange world of crunchy dead reef and shallow pools of water. Henrick armed himself with a 4-pronged spear that he made with his angle grinder. I carried a net I’d constructed that afternoon on the motu of black netting, cordage, and palm frond. Of course we saw neither claw nor tail of a lobster, but we did observe several small eels.
The eels prowl shallow pools. They are light grey with a darker pattern, as if somebody decorated them with a miniature sponge. One slithered its way from one pool over the sharp crags, and into another pool. It poked its streamlined head into tiny hiding places, sometimes with an open-mouthed lunge. Terrified little fish darted away. Some of them wiggled over land as well, coiling and springing themselves like frogs. A strange world indeed.
Way out, where the relentless ocean swells trip over the reef and pours itself through fissures that become channels that fill the lagoon, I netted a small grouper in my palm frond net, and we killed and gutted it on one of the few patches of ground that was not under water.
On our way back to the kayaks, I spied some strange creature and clomped the net over it. “What is it?” I asked Henrick.
“I think it’s a coconut crab,” he said.
It did fit the description. Something like a giant hermit crab without the shell. We plopped it into Henrick’s bucket, which was barely big enough to contain it. It rode in his front hatch back to the sailboat, and we had it for lunch the next day. The meat was good, tender, almost sweet. A layer of “crab butter” lined its shell and was soft enough to spread on bread.