Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tahanae to Fakarava

We left Tahanae, with it's fabulously clear water and a calmness that frequently had me wondering if we were hard aground. No, I could clearly see the anchor in about 30' of water, the anchor chain lazily snaking between and over coral heads that clutter the bottom. Hell, I could see the anchor and chain in the moonlight! Even though the ebb tide had been flowing for about two hours already, we had no trouble negotiating the pass into the South Pacific Ocean and we were treated to one of those magnificent sunrises that only seem to occur in the tropics.

With almost no wind, we motored through the morning with the main up but just hanging there. I put a fishing pole out with a small yellow plastic-feather jig (connected with a heavy wire leader) and promptly forgot it was out. As we were about an hour out of Fakarava, a 25-pound tuna hit the lure. With four massive fillets quickly in the refrigerator, I had just got everything clean up in time to enter the pass on the south side of the atoll. There's a very imprecise science to calculating slack water at the passes. With so many atolls and even more variables, sometimes you just have to take pot luck and give it a shot. We did find in one of our cruising guides this formula: 5 hours after moonrise; 4 hours before moonset; 5 hours after moonset and 3 hours before moonrise should find slack water in the Tuamotus. However, we have found it to be wrong on numerous occasions. Regardless, our entrance into the pass was uneventful and we anchored in a pretty good spot with several other cruising boats around, all of whom we know.

On the cruiser's net we had heard that there's a fleet of vaca, reproductions of the 60' sailing canoes that the Polynesians had once used to sail between islands, anchored at the north entrance to Fakarava. They had left New Zealand and are on their way to California via Nuku Hiva and Hawaii. We heard stories of traditional food and dancing but unfortunately we missed seeing them. If they arrive in a port near you, I'd recommend you pay them a visit.

Fakarava doesn't have the same clarity of water nor the calmness in the anchorage that either Tahanae or Makemo had. Even though the wind is mostly easterly at this north/south-oriented atoll, we're still getting small waves from the north when the wind increases above 20 knots making it a little uncomfortable (I admit it: I've been spoiled). On the other hand, there is a small grocery store at the north end and we could really use some provisions. Perhaps tomorrow we'll head up that way. Our friends, Fred and Cinda on Song Line are coming over for cocktails tonight. We'll say a toast to all of you.
At 5/22/2011 9:43 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 16°30.39'S 145°27.33'W

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