Aye Aye!

I recall having a conversation with Alex just over three years ago, before the start of this voyage, basically pleading with him to add Madagascar to our destination list. It’s a country that has always fascinated me and somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, mainly due to its abundance of highly unusual wildlife.

In Mesozoic times, Madagascar was part of a gargantuan supercontinent called Gondwanaland, which included mainland Africa, Indian, Arabia, South America, Antarctica and Australia. The primates of this era evolved into the most dominant animals on the Earth today – us. Those same ancestral primates on Madagascar, however, followed a completely different evolutionary path and became what are now known as lemurs. Due to the lengthy separation from the rest of the world the wildlife here has evolved into a collection of truly weird and wonderful species that are found nowhere else. You can imagine why, as an ecologist, Madagascar is at the very top of my bucket list!

My first lemur sighting in Madagascar – the white fronted brown lemur (female).

To say it’s been a struggle to get here would be a massive understatement! We had to endure over 30 sea-days in the relentlessly lumpy Indian Ocean. My sea-sickness was like having a huge and chronic hangover, only without the initial fun of actually getting drunk. On top of that we had to divert to Rodrigues to avoid a 90-knot cyclone, which put us even more behind schedule. We’re now well into the cyclone season and are located in a particularly vulnerable part of Madagascar that could get completely battered at any moment should a cyclone decide to form. I should also mention that being one of the poorest countries in the world, Madagascar is known for its super high crime rates and boasts an intimidating list of horrendous infectious diseases. Cholera, tuberculosis, dengue fever, bubonic plague and the worst form of malaria in the world are just a few of the people-killers to be wary of. This is a hell of a lot to contend with all for the sake of some lemurs! At one point I was convinced that Madagascar would remain nothing but a pipe dream for me… but amazingly, we made it! Against all the odds, we’re actually here.

Our first glimpse of Madagascar.

Our priority destination was a town on the east coast called Manara-Nord, where just up the river from the bay is a small privately owned reserve called Aye Aye Island. The Aye Aye is a nocturnal species of endangered lemur and according to my research, this is the most likely place in the whole country to see them (in the wild at least). The island is owned by a hotel called Chez Roger and through them, you can hire a local guide to take you on an evening tour.

A truck arrived at the hotel a few hours before dusk to take us, by road, the first part of the journey. The word ‘road’ is used very loosely in Madagascar and what is considered a road here looks more like the surface of the moon. After about 30 minutes of bouncing and hitting our heads on the truck’s ceiling, we arrived at a small opening to a river, across from which we could see our destination – Aye Aye Island. Our guide, Romanha, hailed down a man passing by in his homemade dugout canoe and paid him to take us across. We boarded the large piece of floating drift wood, but our combined weight caused it to immediately start sinking! We frantically bailed out the rising river water as our guide paddled us to the other side and, thankfully, we made it with all camera equipment dry and intact.

I took this photo overlooking the river to Aye Aye Island while we we’re waiting for a passing canoe.

The island is not exactly an untouched wilderness. It’s a farmed property with cows, chickens, dogs and reams of planted fruit trees. Nevertheless, it’s extremely densely vegetated in places. We spent the hours after dark in a frenzied march, trying in vain to not step in cow pats (Alex racked up five strikes) while following our guide through the bush looking for signs of Aye Ayes.

As we waited for night to fall, we were entertained by a number of young bulls gently sparring with each other.

This is our guide fetching us a huge jack fruit to snack on.

After less than an hour of searching, there it was – just above our heads climbing along a coconut frond. Our reward for travelling all this way! A glimpse by torchlight of one of the world’s rarest lemurs staring inquisitively back at us.

Apologies for the quality of these photos. It’s very difficult to get good shots of these fast moving animals – in the canopy, at night, being illuminated by a super intense beam of light. These were the best I could do.

You can see they are well set up for a nocturnal life style with their large eyes and even larger ears.

You see that long middle finger that looks like it belongs to ET? It taps that finger up to 11 times a second on tree branches and listens for invertebrates living under the bark. It’s thought to be the only species of primate to use echolocation to find its food.

This is a creature that, for many years, has fascinated me far more than any other. I feel a truly dizzying thrill knowing that I am one of the lucky few to have witnessed this animal in the wild. Still, I must admit that an eerie sinister feeling came over me when I first saw it. A feeling I was not expecting. Perhaps it was due to the strange and dark environment, or perhaps because the torchlight made the Aye Aye’s eyes appear hot and fierce, but it’s like this creature really can see over your left shoulder and into the gates of hell. No wonder some of the locals think they are deathly omens.

As creepy as these animals are, this visit has reinforced my belief that they are one of the coolest, most interesting species on the planet! I mean, where else can you see a real-life gremlin?!

Not only have we managed to see one of the world’s weirdest and most remarkable animals, but Madagascar has turned out to be a truly beautiful place in itself. Moreover, our worries about crime have been so far unfounded and most people seem to be incredibly friendly.

This photo was taken on a small nature reserve off the southern coast of Ile Sainte-Marie. This is where we first arrived in Madagascar before heading to Manara-Nord. The young man in the background spent over half an hour doing backflips, just for fun 🙂

The coast of Ile Sainte-Marie.

One of my long-exposure shots taken during our hike to a nearby waterfall.

An evening view of the harbour as we ate our dinner at a local restaurant.

We’re now sailing south, working our way out of the (now non-existent) trade winds and away from the tropics, to Fort Dauphin in southern Madagascar. Hopefully there’ll be more wildlife adventures waiting for us there and, with even more luck, no terminal tropical diseases either!

Back on dry land

I should probably start by apologising for my recent silence. You may have been wondering if I had been lost overboard during our Indian Ocean crossing given the supreme amount of blogs written by Alex compared to the meagre amount (well, none) written by me. I’m sure you’ve been sick with worry about me! Please, worry no more – I am alive and well!

We arrived in Rodrigues a few days ago and never have I been happier to set foot on dry land. I’ve been walking around with a new and bountiful lease of life. The world seems better somehow – brighter, cleaner and generally more pleasant than I remember it. In all honesty, I had forgotten that it was possible to get this much enjoyment out of life. Of course escaping from a deathly cyclone probably has something to do with my enlightened feelings, but mainly my intense happiness comes from being away from the unforgiving high seas.

This recent passage was a very difficult one for me. It turns out that my initial excitement in Indonesia of “having gotten over my sea-sickness” was completely unfounded. The seas in Indonesia were so wonderfully calm and the stark contrast of the reputably-lumpy Indian Ocean meant that I spent most of the passage in a prostrate position feeling very sorry for myself. I had very little energy or motivation for blog writing and anything I would have posted would undoubtedly have been very negative. I must admit that I did, in fact, write a blog towards the end of our passage but it ended up turning into an outlet for venting my frustrations. It’s actually quite hilarious to read back as it clearly demonstrates the psychotic episode of a woman going completely insane. In the end I decided not to post it for risk of sounding too negatively opinionated about the sea. I hope you can forgive me.

The good news is that we are now safely in Rodrigues and refuelling our energy reserves. The island is charming. It has a relaxed Caribbean feel alongside tasty French desserts. We went for our first snorkel yesterday and today we hope to rent a scooter and do a spot of sight-seeing. Apparently there is a lot of interesting endemic wildlife here along with some impressive cave networks, which I’m very much looking forward to seeing.

Most of our boat jobs have been completed and we are ready to head back to sea once the time is right. We are keeping a close eye on the weather and assuming there are no major changes we hope to continue on to Madagascar on Wednesday morning. In the meantime, I am doing my best to repress the memories I have of the Indian Ocean so that I can bring myself to board Bob once again and head back to sea. It would be unfortunate for Rodrigues to acquire itself an illegal immigrant.

Setting anchor in Port Mathurin, Rodrigues.

A local fisherman on the edge of the reef outside of the main town.

Senses of Bali

Bali is definitely a destination for the sun-seeking tourist. Luxury spa hotels with cushioned deckchairs line the white sandy coastline and pink faces can been seen bobbing around in the turquoise waters. Tourists from far and wide are greeted with a big warm welcome and there’s plenty here to see and do.

Most of the locals are familiar with tourists arriving by plane and staying in a hotel. Our taxi driver the other day could not understand why on Earth we wanted to go to a supermarket to buy 5 cases of beer and then be dropped off on a beach, at night. Alex and I explained our whole voyage and life to him. Three times! After which his response was “No. I think you stay in hotel”. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

In other news, we met a wonderful couple (Brad and Claudia) who are sailing their bright pink 32 foot monohull around the world on a huge culinary mission. They are both trained chefs and Brad is currently in the process of setting up the next big online presence in the world of cheffing. He will soon be filming for an exciting new YouTube series uncovering stories behind strange and exotic foods in remote destinations all across the globe. He’s currently focusing on Indonesia. Indonesia is renowned for its delicious cuisine and although we were able to dine at some of the luxury resorts once or twice, we frequented the local street food stalls much more often. Brad was extremely keen to drag us down the dingy narrow streets, away from the resorts, to the local street food stalls and restaurants so that we could get a taste of ‘true’ Indonesia. It’s one thing to experience the smells and tastes of a local dish, but to be able to fully understand the history of the dish and the delicate cooking processes was even more amazing! This is what Brad is offering on his upcoming series – A Nomadic Chef. I know that some of our followers are keen ‘foodies’ and I would highly recommend subscribing to his website. It might be a little while before he publishes his first video but it will be worth the wait. Trust me! I’ve seen some short snippet previews 🙂

This is the gang chowing down on some delicious Balinese street food.


Babi Guling is a roast suckling pork dish where they spit roast a whole pig and turn it into a medley of delicious foods.

Babi guling – the pig is used to make crackling, pork scratchings, pulled pork, a ‘chorizo’ style sausage, roast pork slices, stripped pork with chilli and vegetables, crispy pork and pork soup, served with a plate of rice. This is a carnivores dream!

We also tried Kopi Luwak coffee, where the coffee beans are first eaten by an Asian palm civet and undergo fermentation in the animals intestines. Their faecal matter is then collected, processed and turned into coffee. Yes, it’s basically coffee that’s made of poo! But it actually tastes very very good. Plus the Asian palm civet is so incredibly cute and was waiting to meet us on the table at the cafe – how could I possibly resist!

Indonesian coffee marketing at its best!

The civet wasn’t the only creature to draw our attention, we also visited the Ubud Monkey Forest which is a sanctuary for the Asian long tailed monkey. Surrounded by forest and ancient temples the monkeys are fed and looked after by the locals. This site is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Bali. The local Hindu religion has a principal known as the Tri Hatta Karana which encourages three paths to reach spiritual and physical well-being. These three ways are to create a harmonious relationship with 1) other humans; 2) the environment and 3) with the Supreme God. Monkey Forest aims to achieve this by welcoming visitors from all over the world, promoting access to nature and encouraging prayer in their temples.

We’ve done a LOT of work on the boat since arriving in Bali which Alex will probably talk about in a later blog. The labour and material costs are just sooooo cheap here that it made sense to give Bob a few upgrades. Unfortunately it meant that we haven’t been able to do as much Bali sight-seeing as we might have liked. I couldn’t leave Bali, however, without spending an afternoon at a spa. So Alex treated me to an early birthday present and bought me an afternoon ‘ritual’ at the second-best spa in all of Bali (according to trip advisor). It was honestly the best spa experience I have EVER had! The ritual included a 60 min massage, foot spa, body exfoliation, body wrap, full facial and a rose petal bath! By the end I felt so beautiful in my skin that I think I honestly could have walked out into the street stark naked….. perhaps with some rose petals covering vital areas. The whole experience was amazing! Also, I’ve never had a facial before. They really work! The skin on my face has not felt so firm and soft since I was in my early 20s!

Our stay in Bali was short but sweet. Now we have upped anchor and are currently sailing to our next destination – across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar! This will be our longest passage yet and we expect to be at sea for about a month. We’ll keep you updated of our progress using the satellite phone to post the odd blog from time to time. See you on the other side!

The realm of dragons

The hairs on the back of my neck have been standing on end during every snorkel, dive and dinghy ride since arriving in Indonesia. Despite being surrounded by vibrant coral reef and fish aplenty, there was always something hidden in the distant blue that distracted me from the usual underwater wonders and made me very uneasy- the savage salt-water crocodile! Many Indonesian islands are home to this elusive species and I’ve heard horror stories about the brutal loss of life at the jaws of these reptiles. You’d think that my all-consuming fear of death would have stopped me from entering the water, but the ecologist inside just couldn’t help herself. I was desperate to experience the world-class diving that Indonesia has to offer and part of me would secretly love to see a ‘salty’ in the wild… at a safe distance of course. Fortunately (or unfortunately as my internal ecologist would say) we never came across one during our dives, and once we arrived in Flores the threat was completely negated as the crocodiles have been hunted to (local) extinction.

This is Bob anchored off the north coast of Flores.

This island has a healthy and vibrant coral reef with a plethora of fish.

Crocodiles are not the only large, intimidating reptiles to inhabit these Indonesian islands. There is another deadly creature which, over the course of history, has been responsible for many a human death. I’m sure that you have already guessed which creature I’m talking about – the infamous ‘Komodo dragon’. There’s only one small area of the world that houses the last 3000 of these dragons, and lucky for us, Alex and I happened to be sailing right past it.

Komodo Nature Reserve

Komodo Island and its surrounding waters are part of a world famous nature reserve where it’s possible to get up-close and personal with unusual and charismatic species. The marine life here is second-to-none and the terrestrial habitat is home to many plants and insects that support a whole host of larger species – the most famous being its exceptionally large reptilian inhabitants.

We wasted no time at all and hired a local guide for the afternoon to take us through the bush so that we might safely catch a glimpse of this renowned creature.

The infamous Komodo dragon – the creature we were attempting to track down.

The bush habitat is surprisingly well established for such a dry island and there were plenty of places for a Komodo dragon to hide. It’s scaly skin is perfectly coloured to blend in with its surroundings. All it has to do it wait. Wait to pounce on unsuspecting victims innocently passing by.

Alex and our guide, Rahman, scouting the bush for dragons.

Komodo dragons are carnivores and fierce hunters. They are capable of taking down very large prey. Deer are their main food source here but they also eat wild boar, buffalo, smaller Komodo dragons and even humans. The last time a tourist was attacked was in 2017. The man (in his 50’s) suffered very severe leg injuries as a result and was lucky to escape with his life. Others were not so fortunate.

The Timor deer make up the bulk of the dragon’s diets. We saw many deer on our trek. Lots of prey equals lots of DRAGONS!

A hungry dragon hides out and waits for unsuspecting prey to pass nearby. Often, it ambushes the ill-fated animal and attacks with its powerful jaws. It secretes venom in the form of toxic proteins which cause paralysing pain, excessive bleeding, extreme swelling and lowering of blood pressure. This ultimately leads to shock, loss of consciousness and death. Impressively, these reptiles often bring down prey much larger than themselves in less than 30 minutes.

Teeth are often lost during attacks and it’s possible to find this evidence of recent meals while wandering in the bush. Each dragon has almost 60 of these in its mouth.

Teeth weren’t the only evidence of nearby dragons. This pile of faeces is less than a day old. We know it’s from a dragon firstly by its size (unsurprisingly) and secondly, by the white colouration of uric acid produced with the usual pile of brown waste.

This is a track left by a Komodo dragon. You can clearly see the wavy line left in the dirt by the dragons tail scoring the earth as it waddled along. The guides are so skilled at tracking them they are able to tell which direction they were going.

Young Komodo dragons spend their first few months in the canopy of trees. Here they feed on invertebrates, birds and small reptiles while avoiding the cannibalistic nature of the adult dragons. When a juvenile braves the ground to eat the remains of a dead carcass, they have been known to roll in the faeces and intestines of the dead animal in an attempt to deter hungry adults. The young have a slightly more vibrant and metallic colour pattern, presumably for camouflage purposes.

We were exceptionally quiet during our trek and were fortunate enough to sneak up on a juvenile who had ventured to the ground. Our guide told us that it’s extremely rare to see a dragon so young in the wild as they remain so well hidden. We were the lucky few.

Finally, at the end of our trek was a watering hole that was surprisingly devoid of animals. This was the only watering hole for many miles and normally it would be bursting with life as the nearby animals came by for a drink. The reason for this eerie absence of life soon became apparent…

This huge male Komodo dragon was lurking just a few meters away. It might look like we were able to sneak up behind him without him noticing, but he has good eyesight, good hearing and an exceptional sense of smell. He is able to detect the scent of a carcass from over 5km away! Luckily he had recently had a meal (they feed only about once a month) so wasn’t interested in making a meal out of us. Surprisingly he wasn’t at all bothered by human presence. He knows who’s at the top of the food chain!

Pink Beach

There are wonders in this realm of dragons other than its scaly inhabitants. Any Bermudian reading this will not like what I’m about to say. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but we have achieved the impossible – we’ve actually found a beach that tops those in Bermuda. Even Alex admits that this beach is the best he has ever visited – and that’s coming from a person who has an unintelligible dislike of beaches.

This photo was taken on a cloudy day and I only wish I could have witnessed the sun beaming down on its turquoise waters and lustrous sand. Pink Beach in Komodo not only contains one of the best snorkel sites that I have ever experienced, it also has the comfortable warm waters of tropical climes and, of course, the sand is PINK 🙂

It’s not just that pink is one of the worlds greatest colours, there’s a lot that goes into the formation of a pink sand beach. Tiny marine creatures called foraminifera create a pink or red calcium carbonate structure as a protective case. This forms part of a more complex structure of shell or coral and once the animals die, natural forces break this up to form the thousands upon thousands of pieces that make up this pink beach.

Manta Point

Finally, I couldn’t finish up without showing you this short video of my time swimming at Manta Point. I swam with manta rays before in the Marquesas Islands over a year a ago now. It was one of my all-time favourite wildlife moments and I never thought I would be lucky enough to experience it twice. Manta Point provided beautiful clear waters to watch and swim with these magnificent rays. Alex doesn’t appear in the video because I left him on the boat driving around in circles in the pass, waiting for me. I might, possibly, have felt a twinge of guilt, but it didn’t last long.

Celebrity status in Indonesia

Would you believe that we’ve spent over a month at sea in total since leaving New Zealand back in July and we still aren’t even at the half way point of this voyage. In fact, the half way point is still another 500 miles away! After which we have just 9 months to navigate the other half of the world back to Bermuda. Are we crazy?… Most likely!

As many of you know I have battled with sea sickness for most of this voyage since moving onto Bob back in February 2016. The prospect of this final year and spending so long at sea has sent worrying chills down my spine. I’ve literally had nightmares that I’m living inside a washing machine only to wake up and find that my nightmare is a close approximation to reality. The good news is that I think I might, finally, be getting over it. We’ve had some bumpy passages since leaving New Zealand. During the first one to Vanuatu I felt the usual pukey twinges, but that was expected after 6 months on land. Since then though, I’ve felt ill only once and that was in the few days coming into Papua New Guinea. We were heading dead downwind in 30 knots with steep swells that made Bob violently roll back and forth through what felt like an angle of well over 90 degrees! Since leaving Papua New Guinea (about 15 sea-days ago) I haven’t felt a single twinge of sea sickness. Not even a little one! Yay, go me! I must admit, I haven’t taken into account that since arriving in Indonesian waters we’ve been blessed with super calm seas and never more than a zephyr. We’ve had just enough wind to keep us sailing, which has kept the seas lovely and flat, and while Alex has been disappointed with our less-than-speedy progress, I’ve actually been enjoying ocean sailing, finally! It only took two and a half years!

The photos above are a few shots of the sunrise I was enjoying during one of my watches on the sail to Indonesia. I don’t why, but in this part of the world the sunrises and sunsets are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen!

In other good news…. the Indonesian authorities let us into their country. Even though the whole procedure took 4 days to finalise, we managed it without any unforeseen problems and without paying too much money in fees or bribes. Checking out in Bali might be a different story, but certainly checking-in in Saumlaki appears to be one of the easier ports for cruisers to complete the immigration formalities.

We expected Indonesia to be very different from the other islands we’ve previously visited and our first impressions proved this to be correct, at least superficially. The town has a large bustling population; the buildings are ornate and colourful, as are the local long boats. One downside is the huge amount of single-use plastics, many of which have found their way to the ocean. In many ways this place reminds me a little of Thailand, for the good reasons as well as the bad.

Even 10 miles away from the nearest town I counted 6 pieces of plastic in the water in less than 3 minutes.

Almost everything is sold in single-use plastics, including the local moonshine. This is a drink called sopi. It tastes like rosé wine but is twice the alcoholic strength! And I bet you thought drinking boxed wine was un-classy!

Saumlaki is one of the busiest towns in Indonesia and even though there is a port here and the island has an airport, it is seldom visited by tourists. Alex and I stood out from the crowd like a glass of milk in a cola stand. Most people would stare as we walked past them, many would follow us down the street, some would talk to us and some would even ask for our photo to be taken with them. I suppose this is what it must feel like to be famous. If it is, I’m very happy that my childhood dream of becoming a famous singer never materialised. I don’t cope at all well with excessive attention and even if I did, you would rather listen to a dying cat than to my singing, trust me! That’s not to say that all this attention didn’t have its perks – a few locals who spoke a little English were happy to show us round the town and barter at the local market on our behalf. The market here is superb.  Full of locally grown fresh fruit and veg and piles of fish caught that very morning. They’re similar to the markets we’ve visited in other islands but with even more choice and at a fraction of the price!

Here are some of the local children having fun swimming by some colourful long boats in the town. The one on the left (which the children are standing on) has recently sunk.

We were lucky enough to meet 4 Aussie guys and one ‘sheila’ who had sailed from Darwin for a few weeks holiday. It was interesting to meet sailors who weren’t ‘live-aboard cruisers’. Although we had plenty in common from a sailing perspective, the conversation was able to divert away from the usual subject into something a little more refreshing. There were two groups – the first was a lovely couple who live in a house in Darwin but decided to sail their 34-foot boat the 250 miles to Saumlaki for a well deserved break from their respective jobs. The second was a group of 3 retired friends who sailed a 32-foot monohull across for a week away. Between them they have a collective age of about 225 years! But their energy levels were comparable to an age of at least half of that! It really goes to show that age is in the mind and really you are as young as you feel.  I was grateful to make friends with these wonderful people who knew the area well, this being their regular sailing-getaway spot. In a town as busy and overwhelming as Saumlaki, I was happy for them to take the lead and show us some of the sites.

Above are a few shots of an ancient stone ‘boat’, supposedly it signifies where their local ancestors first landed the island – but no one really knows for sure.

Steps from the stone boat lead down to the water beneath.

Our reward for climbing down all those steps… a stunning beach which appeared (thankfully) to be plastic-free.

We stayed in Saumlaki for almost a week before heading west with the intention of stopping at Flores and Komodo before ending our Indonesian visit in Bali. On the forth day at sea the winds died out completely so we decided to stop in at an island called Pantar, anchored outside the village of Kabir. Not because we’d heard great things about the tourist/cruising grounds here, but because it simply happened to be in a convenient position for us to spend a night or two. This island is visited even less frequently by tourists than Saumlaki and is much less built up. In fact, everything about this island is so similar to those islands of the Tropical Pacific that we could be back in Vanuatu or another such archipelago. Basic shelters made from woven bamboo or simple concrete blocks make up the bulk of the houses. Children can be seen fishing, canoeing and playing in the sea and the community in general help each other with various jobs from building works to growing and foraging food. As is typical of our adventures so far, the people here are enormously generous and friendly. Having spent just 5 minutes on shore the other day we got talking to a group of ladies who invited us to sit with them for a while. With the help of Google Translate and a poor cellular internet connection we were able to communicate that we were trying to find the local hot springs which we’d recently read about online. A few moments later the locals were whisking us away on their scooters, excited to show us the sights of their homeland. They expected nothing from us in return, they simply wanted to make us feel welcome and for us to enjoy their island. Despite knowing us for less than half an hour, one lady even offered us a bed in her house for the night. What a lovely offer.

This is the beautiful view of the sunset from our anchorage in Pantar. It’s not a bad life.

This is Alex at the local hot springs. A warm river runs into the sea and it’s the local hangout for the village kids. They loved posing for photos and enjoyed borrowing our mask and snorkel to see the interesting sea life.

The kids enjoyed fishing and paddling round in locally dug-out canoes.

Even on this remote island we were treated like celebrities. A man in this group asked if he could take a photo with us and half the village ended up getting in the shot! What a great photo 🙂

We’re now underway once more and motoring to a small island just off the northern coast of Pantar, to a spot which apparently has world-class snorkelling and diving. The locals tell us that salt water crocodiles are not a threat here – I hope they’re right!

Hopefully this will NOT be the last thing I see. I can’t image it would be a nice way to go. The photo of this salty was taken at the Nature Centre in PNG and well out of biting range.