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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Anse Amyot, Toau

We sailed dead downwind (DDW) to get from Kauehi to Toau, and two opposing wave trains made it next to impossible to get any decent sleep but we don't mind so much when it's only a one night passage. We arrived at 0700 Monday morning and Soggy Paws helped tie us to a mooring buoy. The family here has really turned their little cove into a business with up to 10-12 moorings and an informal restaurant. I say "cove" because the entrance is what they call a blind pass where you can't actually cross into the lagoon because of an interior reef blocking the way. Gaston and Valentine charge a fee to stay on a mooring, or you can buy a couple of dinners instead. So this is a bit unusual for the Tuamotus, which are otherwise free of charge, but the family has a very good reputation for their hospitality and friendliness towards cruisers. And I think more boats can be fit into the cove by using a mooring system, which is useful since it's such a popular place. There are no hassles with tides/currents to get in and out, and the entrance is short and easy with both sides of the reef marked and a lighted range on which to line up for your entry.

{GMST}15|48.222|S|146|09.110|W|Anse Amyot Toau|Toau{GEND}

Our first night was crazy with tons of lightning and thunder in the distance and wind gusting to 40 knots. Makes us kind of uneasy to be in severe weather on a mooring we know nothing about (John didn't have a chance to thoroughly check it out our first day here), but all five boats held just fine. And on Tuesday morning's net we learned that a few boats in both the village and the SE Kauehi anchorages dragged, so we feel pretty good about things here. It had rained off and on all night but was too windy to put the rain catcher up. While we were having our coffee on deck in the morning, enjoying a break in the rain, we watched a big black cloud mass coming towards us. John quickly put the rain catcher up, plugged the scuppers on the side decks, and we got out all the jugs and buckets to do some laundry after we filled our tanks. I threw all the wrung out laundry in the shower until the sky lightened enough to hang it out to drip dry. You can't imagine how great it feels to know we have more water than we could probably use before we have to leave the Toots for Papeete!

We are now on two informal HF radio nets, one at 0800 and one at 1800 (6 PM) to talk to other boats. We used to listen only to one for boats in the Tuamotus, but now we're starting to listen to one which was created by the Puddle Jumpers (the boats coming down from Mexico). It's a good way to track how many boats are in each place, and trade info on weather, good anchorages, tide info for pass entry/exit, etc.

Soggy Paws made a reservation for us to join the other boats for dinner Tuesday night at the restaurant. We were a party of nine with people from Argentina, Finland, Italy (Milan), and Australia. Fortunately for us Americans everyone spoke excellent English and had traveled extensively in the U.S. The little restaurant is charmingly decorated with shells and signs of cruiser memorabilia. Valentine and Gaston had been working hard all day preparing the meal. After a short happy hour (BYOB) we sat down to a meal of foccacia topped with garlic and wahoo as a starter, coconut bread, rice, wahoo sashimi on a bed of shredded cabbage accompanied by a delicious sauce, breaded and fried mahi mahi, parrot fish poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk), lobster au gratin, topped off with a rich slice of coconut cake for dessert. Our arteries are probably choking to death, but it was all delicious and there was plenty of it. We'll just have to spend lots of time snorkeling to pay for it!

Except for an absence of colorful clams the snorkeling here is some of the best we've seen because there are many different kinds of fish, an occasional small black-tip shark, coral, and huge green moray eels. And this is all right from the boat - we don't even have to get in our dinghy. We did do one outer reef snorkel after the weather had calmed down on Wednesday. This was interesting from the standpoint of being able to see the steep drop off that our friends were diving, but there are loads more fish to see (and at a closer vantage point) right here in the cove. Visibility is best on an incoming tide so we did a morning snorkel today, but we were in the water after high tide and the visibility dropped significantly by the time we got out again. The only negative we can find is that the boat rolls in the small amount of swell that makes its way into the cove, but not enough for John to get out the rocker stopper yet. Usually there's enough breeze to keep us pointed into the wind which lessons the effect.

We are enjoying our stay here and are in no hurry to leave yet!