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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tahanea to Fakarava

We enjoyed another beach walk with Soggy Paws on Sunday. We landed our dinghies one more motu down from the one we had circumnavigated on foot the day before. This time the group foraged for coconuts while I scoped out the beach for shells. Interestingly, there were fewer shells to be found on this much sandier beach. Our shell book doesn't have the exact coloring, but what we're finding in abundance most closely resembles the "money" cowrie in shape. Rather than circumnavigating another motu again we donned our snorkel gear to explore a shallow "pass" to an even shallower lagoon on this motu. There wasn't a whole lot to see (and not a single shark) but I never tire of looking at the colorful baby-sized giant clams and it's always nice to putter around in the water.

Monday morning looked like Bliss, Day 1 of 3. According to a very smart weather guy, in the Tuamotus you get 1-3 days of bliss followed by stronger winds. So both boats decided to take advantage of the calmer weather to make a slow overnight trip to Fakarava. This allowed us to exit the Tahanea pass at nearly slack early in the afternoon, and enter the south pass of Fakarava at nearly slack just after dawn the next morning (today). Of course we had a nice breeze most of the night and it was hard to go slow for the relatively short (50 some miles) passage, but it was otherwise very pleasant. We were in the lee of Tahanea, and then Faaite (I mangled the spelling of this atoll in a previous post) for most of the trip which made for exceptionally smooth sailing with no swell whatsoever. What a difference that makes!

We arrived at the entrance to Fakarava just before dawn and waited for the sun to peek over the horizon before following Soggy Paws in through the pass. This was a bit trickier than the pass at Tahanea, requiring use of a range and then two buoys to navigate the channel. Once past the range markers we were a bit panicked by 14' of water and found we needed to move closer to the buoys on the right hand side, but that was the only scare we had. We couldn't have asked for calmer winds, but better light would have helped. We dropped anchor in 45' with short scope, enough to hold us while we had a pancake breakfast. John explored the anchorage in the dinghy and we reanchored in 35' for the night.


We are meeting up with SP and VofJ soon to snorkel a pass where they'll be doing a drift dive today. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful dive areas in the Toots so we're looking forward to lots of fish (and hopefully only baby sharks). Bliss, Day 2 of (hopefully) 3!