August 16th after a spectacular morning paddle we were underway on course to Fakarava. We had great consistent winds the whole way moving 5-6kt. We caught a really nice dorado that dried beautifully in the sun.
With the nature of the Tuamotus islands being very old volcanos that have dropped under the water over a very long time period the result is coral sand atolls with coconut palm trees that create a nice protected lagoon on the inside. It is an absolute paradise on a nice day but the storms and winds can be mighty fierce. It is named the ‘dangerous archipelago’ because of their lack of elevation. It is not possible to see land until you are only a few miles away. These guys weren’t so lucky and had their boat hauled out for major repairs because they hit the reef.
So strict care needs to be taken while navigating.
We arrived early morning of the 21st of August and went through the north pass. There are over 75 of these atolls scattered across this region of the south pacific. Not all of them are passable by sailboat and those that are have a lot of tidal movement that can reach speeds of 15kts.
So for us there was quite the current here with nice standing waves but we had no problem motoring through. Once in the lagoon of the atoll the water was still and calm and we continued to find anchorage near the village of Rotoava.
There is a population of about 800 people here with 2 small stores containing limited supplies. It was so nice and peaceful.
I couldn’t believe the colour of the water it was stunningly beautiful to paddle around.
It is only a few hundred metres or even less to walk to the other side of the atoll where there is big reef break with a shallow pool as far as the eye can see.
Kim’s plane was to arrive around 3pm on August 23rd so we had a few days and spent a lot of time cleaning the boat. Most of the cleaning was taking all the floor boards out and cleaning the gunky food that we spilt on the long crossing. It made a big difference!
We also made a new BBQ out of an old steel propane tank since we lost our old one overboard on route between Tahuata and Ou Pou in the Marquesas about a month before.
Tom came up to me and Steve on the beach while we were enjoying a nice cold beer and he found the beautiful handle that he welded onto the BBQ and voila!
I went for a nice 16km paddle to the north pass before Kim arrived. I kayaked and stopped at some of the most idyllic beaches imaginable and saw maybe small black tip sharks and an array of fish lurking the waters below my kayak.
I also got to try paddling a traditional piroge (outrigger canoe) after paddling a few km with a local polynesian guy
we swapped paddling crafts but he wanted to switch back pretty quite because he thought my sea kayak was too slow.
These boats certainly can go fast. It took me some getting used to but it was sweet!
Kim arrived and we had a nice pizza night on the new BBQ.
We continued down towards the south pass stopping at a bunch of different places and enjoying them. We went to a pearl farm and got some nice pearls but didn’t bring my camera… just got this pic outside
Here are a series if pictures of some of our anchorages and paddling adventures
We ended up paddling past the pass and camped on a beach just as it was getting dark and two dingies came up to have fire right where we were camping! One of the them were some young folks from the US on a boat called Hartley whom we had met previously before we left Nuku Hiva and the other was a boat from France. Steve and i ended up cooking up crabs and eating coconut because we were running out of food.
The Hartley crew paddling their dingy to the pass
We drift snorkeled the pass by Tetamanu the next day and it was just incredible… 100s of sharks mostly grey reef sharks and a vast array of other life among the beautiful and colourful coral.
Tetamanu is a small village consisting of a few dive operations and small resorts
Steve and I ended up sleeping on Hartley that night and made our way back to Karaka the next day to move the boat over to where we had been. I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was paddling around the remote coconut palm filled islets just taking it all end.
Eventually it came time to leave and we went through the south pass on the morning of September 6th. We had about 5 large manta rays pass under our boat as we went out in the open blue once again. On route for Tahiti!