Cruising The Tuamotus Atolls: Fakarava and Toau

Fakarava
After Tahanea Atoll we did an overnight sail to Fakarava Atoll, some 50 miles west. We had heard a lot of amazing things from other cruisers about Fakarava, we were looking forward to exploring it.

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Glenda at the helm driving the boat through the south pass which ended up being a piece of cake.. Glenda relieved!

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We went straight to the Hirifa anchorage to pick up Cyrille who was staying with a local Jean for a few days. At Jean’s place we enjoyed fresh fish and coconut bread for lunch cooked in the traditional way on a bonfire.

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Saying goodbye to Jean..  We had to leave for the south anchorage in Fakarava to get protection from a Mara’mu (frontal system) expected the next day.

100_1138 South Fakarava was amazing.. Tetamanu the town on the south pass was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

100_1274 The picturesque restaurant on the water, where we were invited to have lunch..

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The edge of the restaurant was like an aquarium.. Glenda saying hello to jaws1 and jaws2

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The pensions (hotels) were amazing as well.. This one was on a small island that you reached by crossing the bridge..

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We drift snorkeled in the pass towing the dinghy with the current coming in at 4 knots.. The coral was pristine and it was amazing to glide over it and the sea life at 4 knots.. it was like flying..

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Glenda free diving to get up close and personal..

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We did a couple of spectacular dives with the local dive shop (Tetamanu diving).. We dove to a depth of 90 feet to reach the sea floor and then drifted along with the current until we saw hundreds and hundreds and sharks soaring above us in about 60-70 feet of water.. Amazing sight. Definitely one of the most amazing dives I have ever done!! Pity my camera doesn’t go that deep 🙁

P6110899 We found out the hard way that the Butane we filled our tanks with in Marquesas lasts shorter than propane, so we decided to bake coconut bread on a bonfire on the beach for dinner..

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Glenda putting the coconut bread dough in between leaves..

P6110896 Baking the coconut bread on the bonfire..

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Viola! Delicious coconut bread made the traditional Polynesian way!!

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Approaching Fakarava north anchorage.. After a week in south Fakarava we headed to north Fakarava to provision after nearly 4 weeks!. We had a glorious 30 mile flat water sail inside the lagoon..

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Stops enjoying the sunset at anchor in south Fakarava..

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We visited the Havaiki pearl farm and pension.. Another beautiful place..

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The pension’s quiet contemplation area was pretty cool…

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We had dinner at the pension where they had a traditional Polynesian dance show.. Glenda was pulled by one of the boys..

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Still sleepy, we left early for the next atoll Toau, a day sail some 50 miles to the west..

Toau Atoll We went to Anse Amyot which is a false pass on the west side of the atoll..

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We picked up a mooring.. a welcome relief from anchoring in coral..

100_1486 Stops with Valentine and Gaston’s house in the background.. they cooked up a feast for us and 4 other boats.. Lobster, poisson crew, mahi mahi and coconut cake for dessert. Yum yum..

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The reef was only 30 feet from the boat, so we didn’t have to go far to snorkel.. We saw some rays

100_1418  Beautiful parrot fish.. We found tonnes of fish in a fish trap.. It was like an aquarium..

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A couple of sharks were also caught in the fish trap.

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We got up close and person to this black tip shark.. it wasn’t scared of us..

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Goodbyes from Valentine and Gaston. After a couple of wonderful days in Anse Amyot we set sail at sunset for Tahiti, some 200 miles to west..

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Tahiti ahoy!! Sighted land after 2 days at sea..

Cruising The Tuamotus Atolls: Kauehi and Tahanea

I had heard so many wonderful things about the Tuamotos atolls and their turquoise water lagoons, but they also had a fearsome reputation as the Dangerous Archipelago. The passes to enter the lagoons could be treacherous and once inside the lagoons one had to avoid hitting coral heads and reefs! Dangerous indeed.

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Seeing our first Atoll. The atolls are only visible about 8 miles from the reef..

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Approaching the big wide pass of Kauehi atoll at High slack.. This was the first time we were entering an atoll pass, we were definitely a little apprehensive!

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Cheated death again! Made it inside the lagoon, with the pass in the background. We had a glorious flat water sail in 12 knots of breeze across the lagoon to the village 5 miles north.

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Aerial view of Kauehi atoll. The village is on the north east side..

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Stops (center) at anchor at Kauehi Village. For the first couple of days we kept saying “Wow” every few minutes. These atolls are so beautiful with the turquoise water, sandy beaches, palm trees, pristine reefs, lots of fish and sun sun sun.. makes a change from the Marquesas!

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We had a blast exploring the village with Fred and Cinda from S/V Songline.

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As we were walking past his home, a local called Ririfatu invited to have coconuts! The hospitality and generosity of the people here is amazing and they don’t expect anything in return.

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Glenda and Cinda enjoying the favourite local drink..

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Boat storage Tuoamoto style..

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A local boy Mariano befriended us and showed us his homemade toy boats.. They kids were really friendly and we ended up playing with them a lot.

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We also hung out with Dennis and MaryLee on S/V Lardo who picked up some baguettes for us hot off the plane from Tahiti.

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Beautiful sunset in Kauehi Village..

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After Kauehi village we went south to S/V Lardo to explore the beautiful and untouched motus (mini coral islands) on the south side of the Kauehi atoll..

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The south side motus were magical… I was finally in the south pacific paradise I had been dreaming of all these years. We had a bonfire on this motu with S/V Lardo and a couple of the other world cruising boats from England and Austria.

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Most of the time we were anchoring in sand peppered with coral heads called Bommies. We had to use fenders to lift the chain above the coral heads to prevent wraps. Hard work!

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After Kauehi we did a 60 mile overnight passage to Tahanea (aerial view above), a national park atoll that is uninhabited and protected.

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Even the sign was rustic!

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Stops (center) at anchor in the lagoon near the middle pass. The ocean side can be see in the right. The motus are not very wide!

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We did a lot of snorkeling at the amazing reef at the pass

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Lots and lots of sealife.. 

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..and many sharks.. 

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..Moray Eels

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.. and beautiful clams that contract as soon as you get close. We ate some of the clams raw right off the reef in Kauehi.

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We had a great time snorkeling with Mark and Yuka from S/V Merkava. Yuka was chasing the sharks! Image00022
Mark with Glenda. We had a bonfire with them and Andy, Monica and Jake from S/V Savannah. 

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Next we dodged coral pinnacles to get to the south side of the lagoon.. It was amazingly beautiful.

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Pristine and untouched sand beaches..

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Sunny days in the Tuatomus allowed us to practice our celestial navigation..

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Glenda slightly happy after starting a bonfire at sunset on the nearby motu. Stops is in the background.

Next stop Fakarava and Toau Atolls.. Can’t wait !!