Superted V

Blog & Photos - May 2012

2nd May - After a very pleasant stay on Apataki, our next atoll – Toau – 40 miles to the south east was - yes a beat – what's new? The good thing was that we could get into Anse Amiott at any state of the tide as it's a false pass – it is essentially a dent in the atoll's fringing reef about half a mile deep. A shallow reef continues across the lagoon side so forms a cul-de-sac which doesn't experience the roaring currents which normal lagoon passes typically have. The family (Gaston and Valentine) living on the motu run a fish farm and have laid some moorings which we were able to pick up. Actually we had to anchor for the first night since the once a fortnight delivery ship comes in and arrived shortly after us, and just about took up all the space in the mooring field. These ships are great fun. They very quickly and efficiently deploy barges and landing craft, then start to shuttle stuff back and forth to shore. We watched fascinated as about 6 large chest freezers and dozens of plastic chairs were unloaded from the ship and taken ashore. The freezers were subsequently filled with parrotfish which Gaston had just taken from the traps, then re-loaded back onto the ship for delivery to Tahiti . We had our first dive here – along a wall on the outside of the reef – a sheer drop off but we only went down as far as 60 feet – the blue beyond not for us that day! Valentine runs a small restaurant so once again we participated in a Polynesian feast – fish in coconut, grilled lobsters (the remains of which get fed to the pigs – for lobster flavoured pork!), poisson cru, coconut bread and lots of other side dishes. We found out what the plastic chairs were for – she had made a deal with some of the charter boats to bring their clients into the restaurant – she was expecting a party of around 20 the following week. Valentine also has a small pearl farm – before we left she gave us a demonstration of how the pearls are harvested and re-seeded – she did say that she is going to give it up next year as the price of pearls has fallen and there is so much work involved – so not worth her while. The set up is bizarre as she sets up her sterilised dental surgery looking equipment on a rickety wooden table next to two guys heaving bags of oysters. - it is fascinating to watch – see flotsam – Monique and I ended up with a few very nice pearls which Valentine made into necklaces for us and all for a couple of bottles of rum!

9th May - Our next atoll was Fakarava – another 60 miles to the south east. More like 90 miles but we set off early and arrived late afternoon. Our Dutch friends however discovered that their gear box wasn't working so had no engine – the pass into north Fakarava was quite easy and they got there just before dark so had no problems – we were in radio contact with them and were able to give them the details of the anchorage and waypoints to avoid the reefs in the dark so it all went well. There's a village in north Fakarava with a reasonably well stocked supermarket and once again the delivery ship came in whilst we were there – the locals drive up to the quay and fuel up their cars directly from the ship – no local esso station here! We had a couple of dives with one of the local dive outfits – Serge and his wife Carrine. The morning dive was on the outside of the reef – once again fabulous coral and as Carrine came along in the boat to pick us up she ‘brought' with her a pod of dolphins who played around us – what a treat! The afternoon dive was our first ‘pass' dive. From the outside of the atoll drifting in with the tide but not before settling down on the bottom and holding on whilst lots of sharks swam by! It's a bit scary at first but Serge had explained that the sharks are just curious and if they get too close you just blow bubbles at them and they go away – yeah right! Actually he was. Great experience and then the final drift was like flying – quite fast – just put your arms and legs and ‘go with the flow'. But our best diving experience was still to come.

15th May - Sailed down to the south pass and anchored in amongst the coral heads. To stop the anchor chain fouling the coral, we used a system of hanging fenders on the chain at 10 metre intervals thereby suspending the chain over the coral heads, Seemed to work fine. The first night we were invited to a beach BBQ with the 5 other boats – grilled unicorn fish! We were anchored just off the beach with a dive shop to re-fill our tanks but the real beauty of the place was the drift dive/snorkel in the pass. We could take a dinghy about a mile into the pass and either drift with it or leave it on a buoy. Once in the water the tide would take us through the pass and taking a right after the restaurant we would be carried right back to the boat! How cool is that. We did a snorkel of the pass the first day and saw quite a number of sharks and all sorts of other fish – especially hanging around outside the restaurant. The dive is called the ‘wall of sharks' and on our first dive we understood why! Going down to around 70 feet, you are met by hundreds of grey sharks – all just cruising around jostling for position and totally ignoring the fish and us (thank goodness). It is just such an amazing experience – we couldn't get enough – just to be so close to such beautiful creatures – but no we didn't get blasé – a feeding frenzy one day reminded us of just how dangerous these critters can be (don't know what the dinner was but we were glad we weren't too close!) Great little bar and restaurant to meet up with the other cruisers to swop stories and enjoy more delicious Polynesian food.

22nd May - Managed to drag ourselves away and do an overnight sail to our last atoll in the Tuamotus – Tahanea. This atoll is uninhabited –apart from a few small dwellings and a church which is kept in pristine condition, for the copra workers who come every so often to harvest the coconuts. The passes were not as good as Fakarava but the snorkelling was great. Here the fish all seemed bigger than normal – 5 foot groupers like nuclear submarines, huge napoleon wrasse hanging around in groups in the current just chilling! But it's not just the big fish which are great to watch – several times I hung about and watched as little 4” gobies made a home. One would stand on guard outside whilst the other went down into a hole in the sand and came out with a mouth full of sand which he spat out. They busied themselves with this whilst keeping a close eye on me – if I went down closer to try to get a photograph, they would both stay on the outside guarding the entrance and watching until I had gone – fascinating! Brilliant to have a peak into the daily routine of survival of the fish. And here's a thought for you - next time you're on that lovely white coral sandy beach - just remember it's probably mainly fish poo! (I'm in the process of putting together some photos of the fish we ahve seen here - for the next flotsam).

31 st May – So after 5 weeks in the Tuamotus we finally left at mid-day on a short 300 mile passage down to Tahiti . What fabulous places and people once again we have had the privilege of meeting. It's hard to drag ourselves away.


                                          Lat and Long   31 May

                                          S16.51.026 W144.41.56

      June 2012.......