In the Tuamotus
06 January 2019 | Fakarava
Well here it is 2019 already! Since my last Blog entry way back in November we have been back to Moorea while we waited for my computer repair parts (and a new Computer). The motherboard fried on mine just 3 days before we were to leave for Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotus. No parts for English computers in Papeete so I sourced a new one and shipped it to Elaine as well as a new Dell. We usually have 2 computers but Laurie’s was already at Dell waiting on back ordered parts. So, everything got to Elaine’s and she consolidated the two packages and FedEx shipped them International “Priority”. Well, it took 13 days to get to Tahiti! The package sat for 3 days in Los Angeles, 3 days in Hawaii and then a further 3 days in Auckland New Zealand! Once I got it in my hands, I needed a few days to get the new one set up and it took a couple of days for the repair shop to replace my mother board on the old one. The kicker in all of this? FedEx charged $450 for shipping and then Customs in Tahiti charged another $475 for Tax and import since it was “not” a boat part. All for a $1000 computer. Lesson learned? I could have jumped on French Bee Airlines and flown to San Francisco, went to Costco near the airport, grab a new computer and fly back. French Bee return is only $500. One overnight in SFO and coming back in to Tahiti there would not have been any tax and we would not have been sitting around for 3 weeks...Oh well, thus ended my rant.
We left Papeete on December 18 and went around to the NW corner at Point Venus to wait for the winds to be able to go directly to Rangiroa. A few of our friends that left earlier (about that 3 weeks earlier) were unable to make it direct and in fact ended up motoring a good part of the way. On the 20th we departed at about 3 PM and the Wind Gods were in our favor. We knew we would be “tight to the wind” the whole trip and except for the last 40 miles, we were. We just set the autopilot up for 45 degrees apparent and off we went on varying heading as the winds changed. When we first left, we were heading towards Fakarava and then later in the night, American Samoa. But, as the forecast called for, the winds finally veered more easterly and our course settled down. We kept tight to the wind in case the wind backed but it didn’t so about 40 miles out of Rangiroa we were able to ease the sails and sailed on a close reach. We arrived at the northern Pass by 7 am on Saturday Dec 22 and waited for the tide to change entering at 1000 am with only about 2 kts of opposing current vs. the 6-7 kts it was when we first arrived complete with large standing waves as the current roared out of the lagoon into opposing easterly waves. Better to wait it out.
Rangiroa is the largest Atoll in French Polynesia and here they say the second largest in the world but a quick Google search rebuke that. The Great Chagos Bank in the Indian Ocean is the largest by far and there are others. Chagos is on our “to do” list crossing the Indian Ocean. Anyhow, Rangiroa is large, about 50 miles long so you need to plan your anchorage for wind considerations. We anchored neat the southern Pass near a few other boats for a quiet Christmas in Rangiroa. A few days later we headed south picking our way around coral “bombies” about 12 miles to a nice secluded spot and stayed a couple of days exploring and chilling out. I am not sure why they call them “bombies”, perhaps because they sound like a bomb going off when you hit one? Well, we came close, too close for me. We were standing lookout and sailing down the atoll with the genoa only and doing a screaming 3 kts, when suddenly, less than 1/2 a boat length BESIDE us was a bombie to maybe 7 feet. A quick glance at our depth sounder and we were in 58 feet of water! It was dark in color about 20 feet in area and even though the sun was high, it did not show up to well as it was a darker green or dark brown in color. I stayed on the bow for the rest of the trip.
Once we got to our anchorage it was nice to anchor in sand with NO coral heads. I am not a fan of “floating our chain” which seems to be the best method on not getting your anchor chain wrapped up in knots on coral heads. Most other anchorages in the Atolls, you attach fenders or floats to your chain to hold it up off the bottom so not to get tangled up. It is NOT an exact science and a bit of a pain in the…
We left Rangiroa at 5 am (timing for the tide in the pass) on December 29 and headed off to Fakarava, 28 hours away. Fakarava is the second largest atoll in FP but it does have the largest pass. We arrived at the pass at 1000 am, an hour early for tide but all looked good as the current was going into the pass and we could stay out of the mainstream along the side with only about kts of current.
So, here we are on a mooring ball, the first since Panama, by the community of Rotoava on the north east side. I went to into the small town and walking down the street I could smell fresh bread! I followed my nose and found a store with an attached bakery! I picked up a fresh and still hot Baguette and hurried back to the boat to surprise Laurie. It was a real treat to get one still fresh and hot.
We spent New Years on the boat on the mooring. Things were surprisingly quiet in town too.
I arranged to go diving with a local dive company. Fakarava is a diving destination for some and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Pass diving is well known to be some of the best, particularly the South Pass if you do not mind sharks for company. So, I have done 2 dives thus far, both at the north side. The first dive was outside the atoll on the reef and ocean wall. Lots of fish and a few sharks, maybe 20 or so. Yesterday I did my first Pass dive with the current flowing into the atoll. It was pretty amazing. They take you outside the pass at slack tide and you drop in and head down to about 90 feet depth. I have never seen so many fish and well, sharks. This was my therapy to lose any notions about being afraid to dive when there are sharks around. Check out the photos in the album to see. I cannot even guess how many sharks were there, but it was a lot! Some came and swam right by you, completely ignoring you or sizing you up for dinner? I think not.
I am planning on diving the South Pass when we get there. Apparently, there are many times more sharks there. Stay tuned!
We happen to have WIFI here, which I was not expecting so I have been able to update our Album and even upload a short Video. The Dropbox Link for the Video is: