Mischief - Mischief making Log 21 Further adventures of S/Y Mischief through the eyes and ears of Chas Baynes

Day 41 Monday 9 April 2018 - en route Rangiroa

Up early to go ashore with Wendy to visit the boulangerie and to go for a run, albeit Wendy not up for the run part. The bread shop was also a small supermarket so we thought we would top up on a few things especially fresh stuff but all they had in that department was literally three onions. They did have a load of baguettes so I grabbed a few and some tinned bits and pieces, then noticed fresh baked croissants sitting on the counter with our name on them. Unfortunately, the chap from Fakarava Yacht Services was there in front of us to pay and he snaffled all but one of them. I asked in my bestest French whether there were any more but alas not. Wendy suggested whether we should have it to share but I immediately thought of the difficulty of sharing it five ways until I realized what she was asking; half each! So we liberated said sole croissant and I ate my bit whilst jogging off for a couple of miles run and nearly choked to death - something somewhere was telling me something, my conscience maybe?

We set off at 0900 on schedule; a beautiful day with a decent breeze. It took an hour or so to reach the entrance to the lagoon and exited in two knots of tide against, again not quite as predicted but not too bad. We put up the sails once outside and set sail for Rangiroa about 140 nm to the north west although we do have to skirt around some of the smaller atolls on the way.

The route took us within two miles of the south side of Toau atoll which is mostly reef with few palm trees so quite difficult to see. But the sight and sound of breaking waves over the reefs so close is impressive and alarming at the same time. Fortunately, both wind and tide were taking us away from the shore but it does make you want to check your position and drift. At night we would be giving this a much wider berth methinks!

Our course threaded a way through the other atolls of the Groupe des Iles Pallisier leaving Kaukua to port - a lee shore, and both Apataki and Arutoa to starboard both being to windward all of which we would pass during the night. We therefore gave Kautua a wider clearance even though the wind was fairly light with a weak tide. We could see the loom of the lights both on Apataki particularly and Arutoa which is a bit eerie at night.

At 0445 in the morning I spotted a flashing light off the starboard bow where there shouldn't have been a flashing light so I rushed to the chart to check our position after dropping the course down 5 degrees just in case. Couldn't find a light on the chart but it soon became apparent that it was a steaming light from another vessel disappearing behind a regular wave pattern giving the illusion of a cardinal buoy marking a danger. Phew and immediately I was rewarded by a rain squall that had snuck up behind us and got a proper soaking, but at least the chart plotter was showing our position correctly!

Day 42 Tuesday 10 April 2018 - Rangiroa

0645 Blue Peter Badge for me! Spotted the distant palm trees of Rangiroa (albeit through binoculars which Dave reckoned was cheating and the only reason I had outstayed my watch). Having attained the prize I went down for a sleep only to be woken an hour later by Dave charging up and down the companionway stairs grabbing soap and swimmers as a large rain squall came in. Having got lathered up he stuck his head into the deluge that promptly stopped leaving him with soap in his eyes - serves him right for waking me up sufficiently to relate the story.

0930 Rangiroa atoll is now on our port side as we sail quickly north west towards the Passe de Tiputa and the village of the same name, the main entry into the lagoon. The book says that Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotu having a circumference of 100 miles and being 40 miles by 17 miles wide at its widest point, therefore being the second largest atoll in the world - I have no idea what the largest is so is an entirely useless piece of information I'm afraid. Pearl farming is the major industry in the lagoon and there is a luxury hotel here, the Kia Ora (better known as a brand of orange juice back home I recall) less than a mile from the entrance and is reportedly "a great place for a drink or a superb, but expensive dinner". Pre-warned. There is also extensive snorkeling and diving here including a drift snorkel so something to look forward to if Fakarava was anything to go by.

We arrived at the lagoon entrance at 1245 about an hour before high water slack so should have experienced a slight flood tide as it reached high water but were met with a fast moving inflow of 5 knots with the engine in idle! The channel was well marked, quite wide and deep so it wasn't too much of a problem but is alarming when you don't know the terrain. So we pumped up and launched the dinghy and went ashore but were very disappointed with the facilities we found having been promised a large town - there was a snack bar under repair, another one closed, a few dive companies and a shop. We had noted a bar on the edge of the channel so we made our way there for a very expensive small beer and looked out over the channel in full ebb - there is no way we would have brought the boat through there at that state of tide with big overfalls as wind met tide. There was however a tourist motor launch in the middle of it that looked interesting and we were wondering what on earth they were up to when a couple of large dolphins leapt clean out of the water and put on a bit of a display in the surf to the squeals of delight from the passengers. I tried to take photos but they only leapt when I put my camera down, as per Sod's Law!

We decided to try out the posh hotel so took the dinghy to their impressive and expensive looking dinghy dock. Wendy had a look in the pearl market shop to get an idea of prices whilst Dave went white and absented himself and his wallet just in case. But we stayed for a drink and dinner. Unfortunately, Wendy and I had to wait over an hour after the others had finished as the 'waitress' had cocked up our orders and tried to serve duck and lamb when we had clearly ordered steak. This took away from the experience rather as we were getting a bit hot and bothered by then and were going to cancel our order just as it arrived. The 'waitresses' were bigger than me (I stand 6 foot 2 and 90kg) and were clearly blokes in drag! They wore short shirts, make up, flowery shirts and flowers in their ears, not to mention the mincing and effeminate manner - apparently there is a culture in these parts that allows parents who have a boy but wanted a girl to raise said boy as a girl, and this is the result. We saw several other examples in Nuku Hiva too so they were not one offs - very odd!

So, for a couple of beers., fish soup and a steak it cost $70. So yes, as advertised the food was good and definitely expensive!

Tomorrow Wendy has decided we need to move the boat down towards the other entrance some six miles off as there seems to be a bit more going on down that end perhaps, certainly more pearl shops……..