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Monday, May 24, 2010

Fakarava to Kauehi

Saturday night we made a typical last minute decision to move to another atoll to take advantage of this period of fairly settled weather. We would leave on the late morning flood at Fakarava's south pass, have a slow overnight sail, and enter on the early morning ebb at Kauehi's wide, deep, and straightforward (no obstacles) pass. We arrived at both passes well before slack but experienced only up to two knots of flood current at the former and a max of about four knots of ebb current (with more bouncy chop and whirlpools) at the latter. We could have waited longer to enter Kauehi, but after drifting around on a flat lake all night, we were antsy to get in for a pancake breakfast. John had made our usual Sunday pancake breakfast before departing Fakarava, but for some mysterious reason the pancakes never bubbled or browned, and we threw the pale, doughy pancakes to the fish. It wasn't until hours later that I hit on the fact that I'd recently swapped storage places with the white flour and the pancake mix (stored in identical containers). Oops!

As we sailed away from Fakarava I was struck by how clearly Motu Aito Paradise stands out from all other motus. When they built their pension Manihi and Tila planted fast growing fir trees and no palms which makes it very shady and gives it a unique skyline. I forgot to mention that when we asked Manihi where most of his guests come from he told us he gets very few Americans as 80% of them go to Bora Bora. As Fakarava grew smaller I also noticed a few clouds above the motus which were colored green by the intense reflection from the shallow waters.

So we had a quiet, uneventful, slow night on completely flat seas. We covered the last five miles at dawn to enter the pass at 0630. Since this is very poor light for conning we decided to drop anchor just inside the pass in 50' of water on short scope long enough to eat breakfast and wait for the sun to get a little higher for better visibility.


We were underway again at 0900 in spite of the building rain clouds around us. Somehow they all managed to dump their precious fresh water everywhere but on us. The overcast skies actually helped keep direct sun out of my eyes and I only saw a couple of reefs we needed to avoid. The water was otherwise deep for the entire five mile trip. We picked a spot well to the south of five other boats and, on the second try, we anchored in 44' off a motu with an abandoned shack on it. We haven't anchored overnight in water this deep in ages, but it doesn't look like we'll run into any coral here.


This atoll already looks a little different to us in that there are very few breaks, or areas of reef, between motus. It's more like a few long continuous motus surrounding this end of the atoll. And the deep water almost to shore means we'll have a shorter dinghy ride, and we may even be able to swim to the beach from Nakia. We'll let you know after we've done some exploring.