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Tuamotus Islands

Tuamotus Islands

  • Date Posted: Aug 8, 2016

 

We had just purchased some last-minute items ashore, and said good-by to Cindy (our agent) in Tahiti.  As we were making our way back to INFINITY, at Taina Anchorage, we both noticed the weather had increased significantly.  By the time we had hoisted the dinghy onboard, it was time to get out of the anchorage,,,Pronto.  The flopper-stoppers were still deployed but I didn’t have the luxury of time to stow them;  the big Catamaran behind us was getting closer by the minute as their moorings were sttetching out with the blow.

Julie asked me when she should come up on the anchor?

“Now” I said, “right now”

I flashed up the main & wing engine’s, and started the hydraulics.  As Jay was hoisting the anchor, I lifted the flopper-stoppers just clear of the water, leaving the poles still deployed.  We’d be OK for a bit like that.  The last look I had at the wind instruments, we were showing 30 Kts, gusting higher.

We managed through the anchorage, and meandered around the Island reef.  With Julie at the Wing-Station-Helm, and I stowing the flopper-stoppers, diving equipment and the rest of the cruising ensemble.  By the time we were leaving the Tahiti Port entrance I was beginning to think that the journey ahead may turn out to be a pleasant one.

About 2 hours later, I went down below to use the head;  and that’s when I noticed 2 ports had been left open,,,

(I’m not even going to go into the circus which followed, but just imagine an 8” hole in the side of your ship which goes underwater periodically). Yep, Cruising in Paradise is punctuated with punishment from time-to-time.  It seems we are unintentional disciples of universal balance, the Ying-&-Yang at play once more.     Roll-on Rangiroa!!

 

 

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TAHITI    RANGIROA (Northern Tuamotus Island)

Total trip time;  27 hours

Total trip distance;  208 nm

Total fuel used:  158 gals.  /  1.31 nm/gal

 

 

 

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entering AVATORU Pass, NE corner of Rangiroa

 

 

Rangiroa is 45 miles long and 15 miles wide, and is the largest Tuamotu, and the second largest atoll in the world.  There are two passes into Rangiroa (Avatoru pass and Tiputa pass) but the anchorage that yachts favor is near the Tiputa pass and the KIA ORA Hotel.

Rangiroa means  Vast Sky in Tuamotuan, and houses about 2500 people on almost 80 km2.   The chief town is Avatoru, located in the northwestern part of the atoll.

 

 

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at our chosen rest stop, anchored out in front of the KIA ORA Hotel / Rangiroa

 

 

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KIA ORA Hotel grounds.  Not a bad spot, eh?      INFINITY in the distance

 

 

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,,,just something about seeing your own Nordhavn out in the anchorage from the Hotel Terrace.    Pinch me now       ; )

 

 

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Julie contemplating life,,, We spent a few evenings at the Hotel Bar, watching the sharks

 

 

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this has gotta-be my signature shot.   Azure waters, abundant sunshine, and your own Nordhavn faithfully waiting to carry you off to your next destination.                   I-AM-A-HAPPY-MAN!

 

 

ARANUI V    new ship in French Polynesia.    Passenger / Freighter

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ARANUI 5 anchored in Rangiroa

 

Aranui 5 is a new custom-built, dual-purpose passenger/freighter that sails from Tahiti to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands in French Polynesia on a 14 day all-inclusive cruise. Designed to offer all of the comforts of a cruise liner, while operating as a supply ship, Aranui 5 is classified as a small vessel, accommodating approximately 254 passengers and 103 cabins.

 

 

TE MAO  TAPAS BAR

The TA MAEO Tapas Bar Bar is owned and operated by Patrick & Sophie.  I phoned patrick on our Satellite phone, and he came and picked us up from the Hotel dock.  Thanks Patrick!!

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our view for the night

 

 

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this beer was lovingly brewed at 12%. It Belgian, rare in these parts, and needs to be sipped from it’s own glass

 

 

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Oh yeah,,, it IS gooood!

 

 

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Jay playing peek-a-boo.   Or I think she is because of those Belgian 12%ers.

 

 

Island life:  So, this morning (July 12th), we dived the Tiputa Pass in Rangiroa – which was a ‘drift’ dive.  We saw schools of Barracuda, 100’s Black-tip sharks and a Hammerhead Bull shark.  The Hammerhead was BIG, looked well-fed, and was totally freakin’ awesome.  Later, we took our bikes ashore to explore.  We ended up in a small Tavern, met an Australian couple (Aurelio & Gary), and shared a few beers & pizza.  Fun afternoon!

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our view from the local Tavern. We were ‘holed-up’ here while a squall passed overhead.

 

 

One day, a few months ago,,, Julie started picking up random coconuts and shaking them, to check for milk.  Every now & then, we get Lucky!  If we have room in the Sub Zero, we’ll keep them for happy -hour.  It takes a few days for them to completely cool, but once they reach refrigerator temperature, the thick coconut husk keeps them perfectly chilled at 38º for hours.  I drill a half-inch hole into them and Jay pours in the rum.  It’s fun and decadent at the same time.     :  )

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This morning we woke up to a 50’ Beneteau “GOA” anchoring in front of Infinity this morning.  Last week, (while in Tahiti Taina anchorage) we had our hook down in front of them.  Made me smile seeing a familiar boat sharing a Far-away anchorage together.

The only background noise in this anchorage was small boat craft and children’s laughter (jumping off the pier)

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THE BLUE LAGOON

Accessible only by boat, the Blue Lagoon resembles an immense natural swimming pool filled with marine life.   We spent a memorable afternoon of snorkeling and relaxing on the pristine beach.

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A quick side story to the Blue Lagoon,,, towards the end of the afternoon, the winds started picking up, and virtually changed the landscape and mood in minutes.  We knew the forecast wasn’t pretty, but having SO wanted to see the Blue Lagoon, we decided some time there was better than no time there.  However, right now it was becoming increasingly obvious our time was rapidly running out.

We jumped into the dinghy and very carefully threaded our way out of the shoal waters, 60HP engine partially lifted to avoid another EPO (Equipment Purchase Opportunity).  By the time we got back to INFINITY, the winds were over 30 knots and the seas were building rapidly.  I have never seen the bow raise & fall so much in the last 4 years of our ownership.  What-to-do?  I briefly considered towing it behind but in these conditions I could foresee it turtling, and that would have been an insurance job,,,in the Tuamotus???  I had to go back to Plan A.

Our vessel’s davit is more-or-less centrally positioned, so we decide to go for it – lift the dinghy back to deck.  Julie clambered back onboard and positioned the davit to the recovery position, as I motored up to the hook.  The hook was rising and falling at least 3 feet, and I quickly realised this was going to be a one-time event.  I was inwardly stressing about a shock-load, so the timing had to be ‘just-right’.  Fortunately, it all worked out fine, but I have discovered the limits to our equipment.  You live & learn.  Recovering the anchor was also a memorable event.  The wind was howling over our boat at such speed that it was shrieking, making the most horrible noise.  I had no choice but to simply tune it out.  I couldn’t hear Julie on the bow and had to follow hand signals.  The thrusters were way overpowered in this situation, and were useless.  Luckily, I had been practising using the main engine and rudder for close quarter positioning over the last few weeks, and this is what got us out of there.  There was the very real danger of being pushed into the surrounding coral, as the anchor left bottom.  That time I looked back at the waterline and saw Black Smoke out of the exhaust, rudder hard-to-Stbd, wind howling,,, smiling to myself & thinking  – I love this stuff and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

 

 

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watching the sharks and Rays at Avatoru Pass.     Notice the kid’s rope swing??

 

 

Our diving in the Tiputa Pass was awesome and just wet our appetite for more.  We heard Fakarava is the place to go for diving, so we planned our exit from Rangiroa.

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exiting Tiputa pass at slack water. You would not be mistaken thinking the weather was rough. 3-5′ seas, winds 35 kts, normal day.

 

 

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this wasn’t for the feint of heart.   Tide tables said  “Go-now”      : (

 

 

Although we knew the weather for the transit to Fakarava would be ‘on-the-nose’, it actually proved to be one of the 4 worst (rough) passages we’ve ever had in INFINITY.  At one point, I posed the question to Jay, if we should bug-out of there and head back to Tahiti direct.  Fortunately we both decided to dig deep, and soldier on.  After all, his is what INFINITY was made to do.

 

 

 

 

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Our move to Fakarava was all about the Diving.  There are North and South passes to dive and they both have great diving, although the sharks at the South Pass was one of the best dives of my life!

This was something that both of us really wanted to do, but I must admit to being a little apprehensive (sometimes I know too much!)  Turns out, coming here was one of the best cruising decisions we’ve made so far.

 

 

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Fakarava is the second biggest atoll of the Tuamotus archipelago and is considered the Mecca of scuba diving in French Polynesia.  The shape of Fakarava Atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 kilometres (37 miles) and its width 21 kilometres (13 miles).  This atoll was classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.  The diving at both passes is excellent.

Pass Garuae (north) is very wide and easy and is near the town of Rotaova, which has 855 inhabitants;

Pass Tumakohua (25nm further south) is a little more tricky to negotiate but well marked.

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La Paillote   Cafe · Rotoava – Fakarava North

We stopped off at this quaint cafe for some cold beer and wonderful French Panini’s for a few days running.  Their little pier was frequently busy with customers and fishermen.

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The walk back to our boat always brought a smile to my face.  I loved this Island.

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Another cool business we discovered in Fakarava North, was::  FAKARAVA YACHT SERVICES

Stephanie and Aldric have set up their Yacht Services business out of their home.  You are free to come & go during business hours, to lounge on their porch and surf the net.  They monitor  VHF 77.

We thought it was a cool idea, and a great resource for us; – our “go-to” couple for info on Fakarava.  They also offer laundry  /  internet access  /  airport pick-up  /  bike rental  /  and all services & requests.

 

 

FAKARAVA SOUTH

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our chosen anchorage in Fakatava South

 

 

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And now, what we came here for – Diving with the sharks!

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early morning, about 0600, sunlight just penetrating through the water, and yes, those are sharks above us.

 

 

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the only underwater camera we have is the Go-Pro, which has a huge field-of-vision. You have to get quite close for an image to be clear enough underwater. This was about as close as I wanted to get.

 

 

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,,, more sharks,,, there was actually hundreds of them!

 

 

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Julie in her element

 

 

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that Knobby was about 12′ away from Julie.

 

 

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back on INFINITY, after the dive. More sharks,,, they were everywhere, and I started to view them as just another fish.

 

 

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She looks like a natural at this.     :  )

 

 

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My parting memory of Fakarava.   Awesome.

 

 

All short videos can be viewed on INFINITY”s FaceBook page

 

 

What a wonderful journey back to Tahiti this was turning out to be.  The wind is a cooling 9.5 knots at our stern, assisting us along towards Tahiti.  The sky is clear and the stars are shining brilliantly.  It would be perfect, if not for a leaking Generator fuel pump which my mind is continually chewing over as we transit.  Always something negative going-on in the background, while you are immersed in blissful paradise.   I chuckle to myself at times contemplating the Grand-Scheme of things and how there’s an obvious sense-of-humor at play.  The Ying-&-Yang – God continues to keep me on my toes.

We’re on our way back to TAHITI, to close out our time in the Society Islands.  We need to:

  1. Officially check-out of French Polynesia
  2. Order a 20KW fuel pump from Hatton Marine, in Seattle.
  3. Top-up on diesel  &  Head to Rarotonga!

 

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