Little Green Boat

Spruce circled the Pacific between 2013-2019: South Pacific Islands, NZ, Australia, Asia, Japan, Alaska , Canada, USA, Mexico then back to French Polynesia in 2020. The plan is to go on to the Indian Ocean in 2021.

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
21 August 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
21 August 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
21 August 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
21 August 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
06 August 2020 | On Passage Gambiers to Hao
06 August 2020 | On Passage Gambiers to Hao
06 August 2020 | Hao - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
02 August 2020 | Kouaku - Gambiers - French Polynesia
02 August 2020 | Kouaku - Gambiers - French Polynesia
20 July 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
20 July 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
20 July 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
20 July 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
30 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
30 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia

Allurng Amanu

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Amanu is another atoll in the Tuamotus Archipelago of French Polynesia. This loose chain of atolls sprawl in a NW to SE direction, scattered across a broad band of the South Pacific Ocean: measuring some 750-miles long by 250-miles wide. The distances within Oceania are truly vast compared with a normal European scale; this is but one of five archipelagos that comprise French Polynesia. Many atolls boast a small village. Some have no human habitation at all. Very few have a larger village such as Hao with around 1,600 people. At the southern end of the Tuamotus is Mururoa Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing until fairly recently. There remains a large zone of exclusion where landing upon atolls is forbidden. Although few would volunteer to visit such places.
Hao and Amanu are classed as central Tuamotus, farther north lies Rangiroa and other atolls closer to Tahiti, they show more development and have more visitors. Yachting folks have the advantage of their own transport and accommodation, thus enabling them to visit more remote and less well served locations.
The formation of an atoll is a prolonged process. First a volcanic mountain has been lifted out of the ocean, rather like in the Marquises to the north. Over many millennia a coral reef forms around the edge of the mountainous isle. That peak slowly sinks as the earth's tectonic plate moves away from the site of creation. In this case the Pacific Plate moved south-east. While sinking, the coral reef continues to build upwards, and the rate of sinking is slow enough, the coral remains close to the surface of the ocean as it grows. Eventually, a band of coral encircles the descending peak, leaving a ring of lagoon enclosed within. Exactly as found in the Society Islands, like Tahiti, today. Over many more millennia, the peak sinks below the surface, the coral continues to grow. Sediment from coral and eroding rock maintains the lagoon's depth at a few tens of metres, Finally, the mountain peak is gone. All that remains is a ring of coral reef surrounding a shallow lagoon. Hence resulting in the Tuamotu atolls and a few other similar archipelagos in the major oceans of the world.
During the entire process a protected haven exists in the middle of an otherwise hostile ocean for varied life to form, arrive and evolve. The huge timescales involved are virtually impossible for we short lived humans to comprehend.
The photo above shows the relentless ocean swell crashing onto the outer reef of Amanu on a relatively calm day at close to low tide.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
A wide flattish expanse lies between the jagged outer reef, where the underwater precipice falls away into the oceanic abyss, and the motus (small islets atop the reef) are situated closer to the inner littoral edge where the lagoon is found. This outer reef plateau is constantly replenished with a layer of aerated bubbly sea water. Each larger train of thundering waves brings new water foaming across the undulating coral shelf. At high tide all is covered, with only a metre of tidal range. At low tide small black tip sharks skulk through the shallows, bellies against the limestone, dorsal fins ominously projected above surface. They snake their way across the semi-submerged plateau preying upon Parrot-fish and other denizens limited in their options for escape at low tide. Other predators include the serpentine Moray Eels, small specimens but still up to a metre in length. They sinuously move into hollows, under rocks and across wet zones out of water as they search for unwary morsels. Our approach elicits a fast retreat, but if backed against an obstruction they rapidly become aggressive, needle like teeth bared with mouth open wide.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Creatures defending themselves against predators include a variety of crabs. Some, like the Hermit Crabs, rely on a discarded shell for a protected home. This strange beast has its own strong carapace and a single large pincer. Each species specialises to occupy its own niche in this vibrant ecology. This fellow merely waved his vivid red claw in a threatening manner when accosted by a camera lens, maybe it deters most predators.
The patterns of light reflected from the water's surface interfere with brightly illuminated pale coral beneath. Focusing on objects submerged is difficult, but the colours and shimmering sparkling sunlight is an unquestioning pleasure to appreciate. The sensory assault is completed by a cacophony of sound from waves crashing ashore, seabirds floating aloft, Terns squeaking, Boobies cawing and croaking. Terns soar above the shallow edges of an intensely bright turquoise lagoon, their white under-feathers glow with reflected aquamarine. Ones eyes take a second look, a disbelieving stare to take in the eerie luminosity of the uncanny image presented by a blue-green bird.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Behind the wet plateau lies a tumbled region of broken coral. Normally this remains above sea level. No doubt thrown there by one of the more major storms, perhaps an occasional cyclone that wreaked havoc on these shores. The older deposits are dark grey. The more recently exposed are still an intensely off-white shade. When one walks across the coral rubble a brittle noise emanates from underfoot as shards clatter against each other. The sound is rather like the hollow clinking of china tea cups.
Inevitably, some pieces of plastic can also be seen. Fishing debris predominates, but also pieces of synthetic containers and bottles. Old net irradiated by solar-ultra-violet crumbles to dust when touched: a source of micro-plastics so castigated in scientific publications. We can no longer see the degraded material, but it remains in the environment, causing unknown harm to ecosystems, particularly to inhabitants at the top of food chains, where concentrations become intensified.
The photo shows Sue with a friend of old, Michelle, from s/y Theleme. We met her and husband Richard in Amanu after last sharing time together back in 2015 while in Tasmania, Southern Australia. After that encounter, we headed off towards Asia and they came back into the South Pacific. Behind the happily reunited pair, the waves continue to crash on the outer reef. Underfoot can be seen the wide expanse scattered with broken coral and a few embryonic shrubs struggling to gain hold in the arid, salty ground.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Care must be taken when walking ashore because Red Footed and Nazca Boobies nest at some of the Motus. The species with their remarkably red feet helpfully locate their messily constructed nests in shrubbery and trees. The Nazcas are far more cunning and lay their eggs in a shallow hollow within gravel. Usually these are beneath sparse shrubs, and were one to carelessly wander eggs would surely be destroyed. Sue unearthed her bird-scope and tripod from deep storage to enable a close up view without distressing the breeding avians. Behind Sue is a view looking into the lagoon. Amanu is a smaller atoll and a smudge of motus on the opposite side, a mere 6-miles distant, can be seen.
Outside the reef an infrequent enormous splash can be seen. Occasionally, the cause is witnessed. Hump-back whales descend deep into the ocean. The steep gradient of the ocean drop-off, permits this to be accomplished close by the reef. Sometimes they accelerate themselves rapidly from the depths, their huge bulk and momentum leaping from the ocean's surface into a spectacular breach. If one is fortunate enough to be looking seaward at the right moment, a large shape streaming with falling water suddenly appears. Ribbed flesh clearly visible, long pectoral fins extended, a white underside becomes visible as they roll sideways, descending, ready for landing with another extraordinary splash. Possibly a leap for joy, maybe another purpose. Yesterday we were fortunate enough to see an adult perform the manoeuvre, shortly followed by a much smaller offspring imitating the parent. Perhaps being taught a skill needed for a long life as an oceanic leviathan. Not a sight that will be forgotten in a hurry.

Hello Hao - Hello Amanu

21 August 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
The anchorage off the main village of d'Otepa is populated with a few bommies, coral outcrops on the sea bed. One must carefully place the anchor and chain to avoid entanglement. Providing the wind remains from a relatively constant direction and strength, the laid-out line of chain should avoid wrapping around an obstruction. If the wind dies to nothing, or markedly changed direction, the boat pirouettes around the anchor and chain will probably encircle a bommie. This effect shortens the scope and can put incredible stresses on the chain and bow fittings, particularly if waves were to build and the weight of the vessel then introduced snatch loading on the ground tackle. The secondary problem is then when one comes to haul anchor. If snagged it may be necessary to go into the water with a face-mask and give directions to the helms-person and/or windlass operator as to which way to move the boat. When the crew numbers only two, it becomes more difficult. In an extreme case it may require a scuba tank and a visit to the seabed. This can be dangerous as communication with the surface can become confused. Usually signals are via a rope. It needs a simple, pre-agreed, series of tugs and jerks to indicate whether to tighten the chain, slacken the chain or move left or right. Again, with only two people it becomes more complicated and often the help of crew from another boat is requested.
For the present time the weather is fairly stable. This photo shows Spruce at anchor in the middle. To the left is Yelo, a catamaran (Rolf & Daniela from Switzerland); to the right lays Maloya (Aurelian, Sarah, Mia & Nial) from S. Malo in Bretagne, 160-miles across the English Channel (La Manche) from our home port in Portsmouth.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges. Both aare working hard, harder than last time, at learning French while in French Polynesia again.
Extra:
During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the North pacific Rim. In 2019 we aim to cruised BC and then south to Mexico. In 2020 we headed back out into the Pacific with a 3,200M passage to Les Gambiers [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/littlegreenboat
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