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Walkabout - Day 4 - 15 miles to Fakarava, Tuamotu

S15:54 W145:37

Our final night at sea and the sun is about to rise above the horizon and we are all looking forward to anchoring off the town of Rotoava and having dinner ashore!

Fakarava is the second largest of the atolls that are the Tuamotu archipelago and along with 6 other atolls, forms part of the Nature Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. There are two main villages on Fakarava, Rotoava in the north and Tetamanu in the south where the first Catholic Church was built out of coral in 1874.
The island is surrounded by a crown of reed stretching 60 km long and 25 wide. The island is known for its emerald waters, luxurious fauna and flora and incredible diving and snorkelling due to the coral, fish and strong concentration of grey sharks! Sort of puts me off snorkelling and swimming to be honest! Lets hope they are all friendly sharks …

One of the many challenges with almost all the atolls is that they are surrounded and protected by a coral reef and entrance to the atolls themselves is via a narrow ‘pass’ or entrance to the inner bay for anchoring. Walkabout has sailed for 3/4 days and we have had to slow down to ensure we arrive when the ‘pass’ has slack water. If we were to navigate the ‘pass’ during an ingoing or outgoing tide, we would be met with 2m standing waves and rushing currents of up to 10 knots! We don’t much fancy that so we are currently sailing with a 2nd reef in the Genoa, 3rd reef in the mainsail and cruising along at 5.5 knots boat speed.

The last 24hrs has been one of squalls, sail changes and a fabulous tuna supper!

We have spent the last 24hrs letting the sails out, in and out and in again, setting the Hydrovane and then moving to auto-helm, opening then closing and opening the hatches while trying to hang on and keep dry.
The great thing about a squall is that Walkabout receives a much needed wash-down and washing away much of the heavy crystallised salt that is left after the sun quick dries the boat of sea water.

We purchased some fruit and vegetables from the market on Nuku Hiva before leaving including a bread fruit which grows on huge tall trees here in Polynesia and is used in a similar way to a potato. It is slightly porous and doesn’t have much flavour, so it needs lots of spices. We also purchased some plantain, cooking bananas, so with an onion and lots of spices we through together the chopped breadfruit and plantain and cooked it all up before gently pan-frying the freshly caught tuna fillets and served up it all up with some onion buttery rice. It was a meal for kings and truly delicious!

Our plan will be to arrive in a few hours, navigate the 'pass’, look for a decent place to anchor while trying to avoid the coral 'Bommies '- large circular coral heads that can be hidden just below the waters surface.
Once anchored and a tidy up of Walkabout, we will head ashore to explore the town of Rotoava, pick up some provisions, look for a place for dinner this evening and maybe book a trip or two to the south of the island. We hope to visit one of the black pearl farms, hire some bikes to explore the island further and of course a swim, a hull clean for Walkabout and a little R&R too, oh and a beer to celebrate our arrival!

Lots of love to everyone,
T,A&T xxx

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