01 July 2008 | The Tuamotu Atolls
We set out from Takapoto at 3AM to ensure that we would reach Toau in good light even if the wind was not up. It was a very dark night with no moon. The crew did a great job of raising the main in difficult conditions. We were in the lee of Takapoto but the wind was around 15 to 20 knots and with one engine it was impossible to keep the bow up for long before the wind blew it off to port. Driving to windward to keep steerage way was not an option with the reefy island there. We made three trips around in circles before the huge main was up.
We made pretty good time but the seas were again pretty lumpy once we were out of the lee of the island. It is an 80 mile trek to Toau from Takapoto and Swingin' on a Star was making 9 knots or more. The wind lightened up halfway through the sail and the seas came down for it, also because we were behind Aratika atoll, though it was 20 miles out.
Toau, unlike Takaroa and Takapoto, is not surrounded by motus. It is more a circular reef with a motu here and there. It is a beautiful atoll as well though. We dropped the sails as we approached the false pass that forms the anchorage and fired up the one engine. I had a little trepidation here because strong currents in passes are standard fair. Once cruising guide said there were strong currents here and one said no current at all. If there was strong current, skating around with one engine would not be optimal.
The closest tide station is Manihi, not forever away but not next door either. The atolls vary a fair amount in their flow times due to conditions. We didn't have any luck radioing for local advise so we crept up looking carefully for tidal rips or standing waves. The pass was well marked and flat. We entered and found no current at all. It was perfect.
Inside there are moorings which are preferred. The first one we approached had no pendant we could see so we anchored. We wanted to get out of the way because Szel, a Sun Deer 64, was coming in behind us and we didn't want to be a hazard. The bottom is 50 or 60 feet in the north part and the trades set you back nicely.
Twelve people live on the adjacent motu. Some of them came out to say hello. They were so kind and friendly. There is a restaurant here but it was closed tonight because the main lady was out doing some work with black pearls they are growing in the lagoon.
We all took a little snorkel and checked our anchor as well as Szel's mooring. All was well and we invited Karnen and Guy over for drinks. It was another lovely evening in paradise. We were sad to have to leave for Papeete tomorrow and promised ourselves to come back.
230 miles to Papeete!
Nobu says: "This anchorage is so calm and the temperature is perfect. I slept outside until 3:30AM. The people are so nice as well"
Hideko says: "The list of perfect anchorages is getting longer..."