Astra Blog: Tuamotus (Part 4) 13.07.08 - 19.07.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Sun 3 Aug 2008 18:02

Astra Blog: Tuamotus (Part 4) 13.07.08 – 19.07.08




Monday 14.07.08


We arrived in Rangiroa after a pretty straightforward overnight sail punctuated by an excellent lasagne with garlic bread cooked by Charlie. At 1230 we arrived and anchored at Otetou, the main settlement on the capital of the Tuamotu Archipelago. There were plenty of other yachts at anchor that we recognized from along the way, including Adventure.


We started by going to see ‘The Six Passengers’ dive outfit. There happened to be a very pretty young instructress so Charlie booked a dive course and was in the water within the hour! Everybody else booked onto the drift dive through Tiputa Pass for the following morning.


Sally, Jeremy, Ash and George then went for a spot of lunch to wait for Charlie’s return and enjoyed some excellent French cuisine: les hamburgers à fromage avec les frites.


In the evening Ash, Charlie and George were dropped ashore to see if the locals were celebrating Bastille Day. They managed to hitch a lift to the ‘business end’ of the atoll, about 5 miles away with minimal difficulty (first car that passed down the one road) and made a much needed visit to the ATM. It appeared that the locals were not overly concerned with celebration but there was a bar with a few friendly people to chat to over a beer or two. We decided to stop at a hotel for a drink on the way back but were slightly disappointed to find it over priced and lacking in atmosphere. To complete our journey back to the dock we received yet another lift – three out of the four cars we saw stopped to give us a lift!


Tuesday 15.07.08


While Charlie continued his dive course, the others went to drift dive the pass. Sally, Ash and George did a deep drift dive, with Jeremy doing an even deeper dive (in the same location) on account of being better qualified. It was a fantastic dive: we dropped in just outside the pass next to an enormous manta ray and then as we moved round to the mouth of the pass we saw many napoleon fish, and hundreds of grey reef sharks which had gathered in the pass to breed.


In the afternoon Sally went to a pearl farm with Adventure. Ash and George dived at Motu Nuhi Nuhi a coral head next to the pass known as ‘The Aquarium’ where Charlie had been doing his ‘confined water dives’.  The visibility was very poor but it did allow them to practice some compass navigation, in amongst an astonishing amount of giant moray eels. 


Wednesday 16.07.08


Impressed at his quick progress, Charlie’s instructor was happy for him to do the deep drift dive through the Tiputa Pass. Hence Jeremy, Sally, Charlie, George and Ash all went to dive the pass together (with Jeremy, of course, in his extra deep group). It was another excellent dive: no manta ray this time but instead some dolphins frolicking around just by our drop off point. The current in the pass was also a lot stronger allowing for all sorts of somersaulting tomfoolery!


Sally and Jeremy went to dinner at the Kia Ora Hotel Resort in the evening leaving the boys to expertly combine some tinned food!


Thursday 17.07.08


To celebrate Charlie’s newly received diving qualification (CMAS 1 star) Ash, Charlie and George went for a dive in Passe D’Avatoru.  Once again most of the excitement was at the beginning of the dive: on this occasion we were met by some silver tip sharks. Whereas black tip reef sharks look a little too cuddly and white tips only slightly more intimidating, silver tips look decidedly more ferocious and I think that we were glad that we did not hold their attention for too long!


In the afternoon we left in convoy with Adventure for the Blue Lagoon. This meant another few hours on the spreaders for Ash but it was certainly worth it; the snorkeling on the reef enclosing the lagoon was top drawer! In the evening we went aboard Adventure for a wonderful dinner of fajitas. Kathy and Sean and their two girls, Tera and Kasey, were very hospitable and a good time was had by all.  


Friday 18.07.08


The weather was looking pretty squally on Friday morning so when there was a gap between two nasty looking clouds we made our way by dinghy over to one of the motus which encloses the Blue Lagoon – a lagoon within a lagoon. Ignoring the inevitable rain we pottered around on the island and waded in the lagoon before sitting down to a picnic lunch overlooking the lagoon where several small black tip reef sharks were milling around.

The sky looked rather foreboding so we decided to return to Astra. Jeremy and Sally stopped for a quick snorkel with Adventure while Charlie, Ash and George went back to put the tender on board and have a quick tidy up in preparation for leaving.


When all were back on board we left the Blue Lagoon and headed back to our previous anchorage at Otetou.


Saturday 19.07.08


On Saturday morning Jeremy and Sally’s elder son, Oli, arrived. Delighted to have him on board, we celebrated in the customary fashion. After a few welcome drinks with a very nice couple from Flame we decided to go and see if we could find Oli his first sharks. Success first time: a snorkel around ‘The Aquarium’ lead to us bumping into three white tip reef sharks.


Sally made a fantastic welcome-aboard dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese. The dinner was enjoyed by four of the crew members: on account of their jet-lag (or too many afternoon beers?) Charlie and Oli slept soundly throughout!