Tuamotus 2014

Toau Atoll….Anse Amyot is on the northwestern side after a day sail of 35miles from Fakarava. It is a slot in the reef which appears to be a pass but is actually a cul-de-sac blocked by a coral bank across the inner side. There are 8 moorings here which is a nice change from having to worry about coral heads. We sailed here with Eleutheria and The Beguine. After securing to our mooring, Alyssa paddled over and Lewis dived on our mooring to make sure it was in good condition.

Lewis from S/V Eleutheria checked our mooring. It's called SANF. Sleep at Night Factor. All good, thanks Lewis.

We met Valentine & Gustav who live here permanently. They used to have a pearl farm but it was too labour intensive. Now they have moorings for cruisers, do dinner parties for cruisers and trade pearls with cruisers. We did not wish to buy pearls but when we heard they really wanted a DVD player which is something we have on board but have not ever used, we decided to do a trade. I have no idea of the value of pearls but Valentine seemed to know the value of a DVD player. Here is a pic of my newly acquired pearls.

I love the colours and shapes of pearls. I think I will have fun making them into jewellry and they will make great presents for Christmas.

Inside Fakarava Atoll….

A great sailing day inside Fakarava, travelling 30miles from south to north inside the atoll. Headsail only, travelling at 6-7knots all day. The channel markers make it easy although you still have to keep an eye out for coral heads. It's a great way of seeing the atoll as we were only 100-500 metres off the shoreline all day.

Bob and Joyce from Chara were also at Fakarava and Celeste and Paul from The Beguine had just arrived. We found a cool little snack shack at a local resort and stayed for a long lunch. It was so good that we did it again the next day with 16 of us.

Enjoying Fakarava.

Wrapped up with coral heads…….We moved to the northwest pass of Makemo and after a couple of hours of looking for a suitable anchorage we dropped anchor at a location recommended by another cruiser. It was close to the pass and convenient for a pass dive/snorkle. In hindsight, we knew as soon as we dropped anchor that it wasn't good. We were in 45-50 feet depth with possible coral heads under the boat. Craig told me the tide was an incoming tide but it didn't seem right as I watched water rushing past us at 4knots to get out of the pass. There were also back flows and eddies and to top it off winds to 35knots with daylight fading. We held fast all night as our chain wrapped around and around 2 coral heads below. It was a sleepless, worrying night as we knew we would have to sort it all out in the morning.

In this photo Craig in using the Airline Hookah system to clean the bottom of our boat and change zinc anodes. The 60 feet of Airline hose made it possible to recover our chain and anchor when it wrapped around coral heads 50 feet below.

At near slack tide Craig dived down with our Airline Hookah system and started to unravel the mess whilst I stayed on the boat controlling the anchor winch and engine. We eventually retrieved our chain and anchor and decided to exit the pass whilst the going was good. Fakarava was a 80 mile overnight trip and became the obvious choice based on tides and winds. Fakarava, here we come!

Makemo Atoll…….Time to move on so we sailed an overnight passage to Makemo arriving just in time for slack tide. We went through the pass and motored 16miles to the best anchorage in Makemo. We were pleased to have a white sandy beach and a long reef to snorkel, all to ourselves.

Inside Makemo Atoll.

Raroia Atoll, Kon-Tiki……….In search of the Kon-Tiki monument. We needed our handheld GPS & Soggy Paw's co-ordinates to find it. On a wee little coconut grove with nesting birds, the monument sits hidden in the middle with weeds growing over it. This is where Thor Heyerdahl's voyage ended in 1947 after its epic 4,300 mile, 3 1/2 month voyage from Peru. His raft was grounded on the eastern side of Raroia.

Here's cheers to pioneers….Thor Heyerdahl and his crew on board Kon-Tiki.

Pearl Farm Visit….17th May Thanks to Paul for organising a tour of the local Pearl Farm at 8am. They made us feel very welcome and it was a great insight into what they do. Craig got some GoPro and I got some photos so I will put together a mini-movie on our visit to the Pearl Farm. Farming black pearls is very labour intensive. They seed the oysters and hang them for 14 months at different depths. Different depths produce different colour/lustre of pearls. If the oyster produces an irregular pearl they discard it but if it produces a nice round pearl they reseed it with perfect round shells and continue farming it. The seed gets coated with the black pearl lining which is highly prized by the pearl farmer and consumer.

The prized farmed Black Pearl. The look on her face says it all….every girl loves a perfect black pearl!

Conning…….After our visit to the Pearl Farm we decided to move to another anchorage. We pulled the headsail out and had fun sailing the 4miles south with Craig on the "granny bars" conning (keeping an eye out for coral heads) and yelling directions such as "10 degrees to Starboard."

Craig keeping an eye out for coral heads

Coral heads come in all shapes and sizes. When the sun is high in the sky, or behind you, they are easy to see like the one pictured. When the sun is in your face, reflecting on the water, it is overcast, or the sea is covered by wind waves, then coral heads disappear and become very dangerous to us yachties.

Manta Rays!…….On the way we spotted more than 30 large manta rays swimming in the water. This was on our must-do list and Craig was so excited he grabbed the GoPro and dived in. I stayed at the helm but was thrilled to see at least 6 manta rays playing at the anchorage when we arrived. After anchoring I grabbed the GoPro and also dived in. It was wonderful and between the 2 of us we got some awesome footage which we can't wait to share with you in our Manta Ray movie.

Pearl Meat and Natural Pearls…...16th May We went snorkelling on one of the coral bommies today. It was great. Apart from fish we also saw a couple of black tip reef sharks and spotted a few pearl oysters growing wild. Craig and Paul from S/V The Beguine collected a few and we ate pearl meat and billfish for dinner. It was also a nice surprise to find some of the oysters had natural irregular pearls inside them.

Craig and Paul cleaning pearl oysters and saving the pearl meat for dinner.

South Pacific style…..A fallen coconut tree becomes the work bench.

An Oasis…..15th May Inside Raroia Atoll at anchor

Craig's got a lovely bunch of coconuts…..Coconuts galore! The coconuts fall to the ground and then sprout and grow into coconut trees.

These are floats that were once used for pearl farming. They are easy to find on the windward side of the atoll. We will use them to keep our anchor chain from wrapping around coral heads.

14th May Raroia, Archipel Des Tuamotu…...Tuamotus arrived…...Paradise found.

Raroia Pass…...The passes into the atolls can be a scarey ride with wind, tide, current and built up weather conditions all affecting the pass. Throw in a few reefs and coral heads and stress levels accelerate to new levels. For example, our tide research showed that slack low tide was at 10.00am on the 14th May and at that time we would have 0.01 knots of tidal flow out of the atoll. Reality was totally different. Lady Carolina went first and 1/3 of the way through the pass she looked like a rocking horse stuck in time and surrounded by white water waves. At 2700rpm on the engine, we were travelling at 1.0 knot of boat speed against a roaring outgoing tide. We decided to pass behind Lady Carolina and head to smoother waters before overtaking Lady Carolina and proceeding through the pass. Eleutheria were next and were already committed to a southern approach. They travelled through at 1/2 knot boat speed. Luckily, depth was good in this wide pass and we all inched forward and managed to laugh about it over a few drinks later that day.

Marquesas to Tuamotus……The Passage…….We expected winds of 12-16knots and worked on a 4 day passage plan averaging 5 knots boat speed from Marquesas to the Tuamotus. We actually had double the wind speed and multiple rain squalls. We could have done the passage in 3 days however it was very important to arrive at slack tide so rather than trying to speed up we were trying to slow down.

Did someone say beer?…..Steve announced on the radio that he would have a cold Pacifico beer waiting for the first boat to catch and land a billfish. We thought Steve would be pretty safe with that bet but never offer Craig a challenge and a cold beer reward at the same time.

The challenge winning billfish which we believe is a King Wahoo. Now he just has to clean it, cut it up and find room in the freezer. He can already taste that cold Pacifico. Thanks Steve. Wahoooo!

True Blue V 2016