The departure to the Tuamotu archipelago had a good start, with the privilege of crossing paths with the visit of the Hawaiian traditional sailing vessel HOKULEA, in Nuku Hiva. The fleet had a touch of our counterparts from the past, whom populated the whole Pacific ocean in sailing vessels, guided by their knowledge of the stars and the sky, the movements of the sea and all the signs of nature around them.
500 miles to the South West, cap to the Tuamotu then. Previous to GPS technology, this chain of atolls was known as “the dangerous archipelago” due to its low lying reefs, and many currents. In modern times, they are now accessible, but remain relatively un-visited, and un-spoiled, boasting clear water, and some of the most diverse marine life in the world.
Taking a Southern route through the group, instead of the more common Northern route via Rangiroa, many of the boats headed to Fakarava. Arriving in these low atolls was an extreme change from the dramatic mountains of the Marquesas. The slow paced and friendly local environment began to take its effect at the dinghy dock where drinks were had and stories exchanged at the edge of the lagoon. Meals ashore were soon arranged, and even a number of football games – sailors vs. the barefoot locals – with smiles all around.
Swimming in the clear of the Tuamotus, the participants soon became accustomed with the another kind of local – the many inquisitive, (but relatively harmless) reef sharks!
Many boats anchored together near the South pass of Tetamanu, where they experienced some truly amazing snorkeling or diving. This area is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, and one of the best dive sites in the Pacific. Those who chose to scuba dive were able to swim through schools of grey reef sharks, too numerous to count. Others chose to simply snorkel, drifting through the pass with the incoming current, passing through a real life aquarium of multicolored reef fish.
Beyond Fakarava, most boats visited at least one or 2 other atolls. Those who had settled weather enjoyed the hospitality of Gaston and Vaneltine, the only permanent residents of an atoll, a friendly couple living off fishing, who put on the occasional dinner party, complete with local lobsters. Others could taste the uniqueness of being in this remote part of the world under rain and rainbows, always with a friend boat around up for a pot luck or an afternoon tea or beer!
With the SE trade winds filling in, the fleet began departing for Tahiti, with the bulk of the fleet arriving in Marina Taina on April 20th, and 21st. These arrivals culminated in a dock party to celebrate Howard’s from Misto’s birthday, and the much anticipated arrival in Tahiti.
Another free cruising period through the Society Islands will follow, before the next rendezvous in Bora Bora on May 11th.