25 May 2016 | 16 20.33'S:145 29.78'W, Central Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus
A couple of days ago we made the short day sail from Kauehi to Fakarava, another atoll in the Tuamotus. It was a boisterous 33 miles reach where we averaged about 8 knots from island to island! Very much fun!
Leaving Kauehi we had to get our timing just right so that we exited the pass close to slack tide, minimizing the current and waves. We managed to sneak through about an hour before slack, giving us extra time to make next slack tide at Fakarava. With the wind that we had, it turned out that we were way too early at Fakarava - about 2.5 hours before slack. Instead of waiting around, we decided to run the pass with about 3 knots of current with us. It wasn't much different than the passes back home with lots of bouncing around as the current swept us through. Once we were out of the boiling current, it was great to be safely back inside another atoll.
Fakarava has a much larger population than Kauehi, with about 1000 people here. The black pearl industry, although in decline, is still a major employer here. As well, there are small hotels that are more like B&B's. We've even seen other tourists here besides cruisers!
We spend a few days off of the main town of Rotoava in the NE corner of the atoll, although with the size of this large atoll there were some waves making the anchorage a bit rolly. However, with a couple of small stores on shore with fresh baguettes, and a restaurant where we could have a meal out, it was a welcome diversion. We also visited a pearl farm and learned more about that industry.
Yesterday, we started making our way to the south end of Fakarava, where there is another pass with, what we are told, the best snorkeling in the Tuamotus. From the reviews that we have heard from other cruisers, it is going to be great. The highlight will be drifting through the pass with hundreds of sharks. That is going to be scary but I hope we are up to it. Nobody has been eatenÉ lately.
Instead of heading all the way to the south pass yesterday, we stopped about 2/3 of the way and anchored off of a very nice coral beach with our buddies on Moonshadow. We enjoyed some great snorkeling, had more shark sightings, and made a great bonfire on the beach. Today, the weather is pretty snarky after a night of hard rain. It's heavily overcast and we need good light to "eyeball navigate" through the coral heads to the S end of the atoll. It looks like we may just stay here another day, have a few more drinks, and enjoy a good book.