Wednesday, June 8, 2016
It has been another long break in our blog entries. The reason is simple. In this part of the world, internet is VERY scarce. And when there is a source for connecting with the world, every cruiser for miles is trying to use it at the same time!
Fortunately, weather information and email is possible for us on our SSB long range radio on the boat so we are not completely cut off.
Since our stay in Hiva Oa we have travelled some 500 nautical miles and visited one more island in the French Marquesas and 3 atolls in the Tuamotus.
9 miles from Hiva Oa was a beautiful Island called Tahuata. While we only stayed one night, we were anchored in a beautiful bay surrounded by crystal clear blue water. Shelley and Christina went for a walk along the sand beach. We spent the night with our friends, Lanny & Ginger from s/v Swift Sure.
Early the next morning we set sail for the Tuamotus. The Tuamous made up of a series of archipelagos in the central Pacific Ocean. Some these were made famous in the 1950’s and 60’s when the USA and European counties were testing nuclear bombs. To this day there is a big portion of the Tuamotus “off limits” to anyone except the French Military....
That said, the atolls that are “safe” are still a challenge to enter through often narrow and always dangerous passes. There are only certain time of the day when the tidal currents are safe enough for a boat to make it through the pass. Finding out the correct time is essential. A few weeks before we arrived, a sailor ran his yacht aground in a pass and the whole boat was destroyed. Fortunately, the crew was rescued.
Before we were clear of Tahuana we caught a 10 pound Yellow Fin Tuna. What a treat! The trip from the French Marquesas to Raroia in the Tuamotus took 4 days and just before we arrived we caught the biggest Mahi Mahi we have ever landed on Blowin’ Bubbles
Raroia provided us with our first opportunity to enter an atoll. To say we were a little nervous was an understatement, but we arrived with another sailboat called Enchanter. A couple, Lisa & Rainard from South Africa and Australia, were just ahead of us and blazed the trail (so to speak).
We entered without any trouble after waiting a few hours for daylight. Just after we passed, Scott & Nikki from s/v Beach House arrived and we crossed the inside of the atoll to what can only be decribed as “PARADISE”
We anchored just off the island first landed on by the famous, KON TIKI expedition led by Thor Heyerdal back in the late 1940’s.
One afternoon we dinghied to a local pearl farm and were treated to a most interesting tour. Specialists are brought from China to carefully place the pearl “seed” into the oyster, which is then taken out to the “farm” in the atoll where after a year a pearl is harvested and replaced by another “seed” that will grow another, larger pearl. This goes on for three years until the oyster is harvested for the last time, then shucked to provide oyster meat in Tahiti markets.
While we were here our dingy engine (brand new before we left) decided to pack up. So until we get to Tahiti, we must row everywhere we need to go or bum rides from friends... This is very frustrating to say the least.
We stayed in Raroia for 5 nights then travelled overnight to Tahanea. The trip was uneventful as we were now “experts” at atoll passes.. (Just kidding about the “expert” thing).
Tahanea is an uninhabited atoll that was simply STUNNING! The crystal clear waters were filled with all kinds of colourful fish and sharks. We snorkelled and dove the reef and explored the deserted island and burned some trash with a bunch of other cruisers who we met while there.
On June 2nd we made a day sail to Fakarava. This was perhaps the best day of sailing we have ever had. We averaged over 7 knots for the trip. About an hour before we arrived we entered into a fairly big squall and went into the pilot house out of the rain. While we were below a big tuna hit the line we were trolling.
We came back out after the squall to find only about 10 yards of line left on the reel! After reeling for almost 20 minutes, we landed a 17lb Yellowfin Tuna! It was to be another Sushi/Sushimi dinner...
Since arriving here in Fakarava, we dove the most amazing pass so far on our trip. Here are some pictures from this amazing dive.
We got to know a man called Pascal from a carbon fiber catamaran in Tahanea and Fakarava. He and his crewmember, Tom have become fast friends. The reason I mention them is that their boat may be one of the most amazing sailboats I have ever seen. It is over 50’ and weighs less than 15000 lbs. It can go over 20 knots and AVERAGES 15! WOW!
I just want to end by saying a huge “THANK YOU” to all our friends who have been driving us everywhere in their dinghies... (Lanny & Ginger, Pascal & Tom) You folks have made this difficult time easy!
We want to say a special thank you to Scott and Nikki from s/v Beach House, who not only drive us around, but help us in so many ways as we make our way through so many new experiences.