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Date: 07 May 2010 04:39:23
Title: Fakarava

Hello Friends                                    "16:06.6S 145:36.5W"
 
When we decided to have a look at the next atoll, there was just no wind at all other than a light waft, so unusually, we motored out of the Kauehi lagoon and across the 30 miles or so to Fakarava.
 
Fakarava is a little more developed than Kauehi, but not much. The village did have a moderate shop with some fresh produce available and a good supply of chocolate biscuits, even some tonic water for the G&T's: luxury!
 
There was also a boulangerie that achieved a passable attempt at a baguette and croissants etc., just off camera below, from our anchorage. A pleasant enough short dinghy ride to get the breakfast, just use a little care with the coral heads and tie up to a stone off the church.
 
 
After a couple of nights here we headed across the lagoon 25 miles to the other pass at the SE end. The central part of the lagoon is surveyed over a mile wide channel and due to the orientation of Fakarava to the winds, we had a great sail across in the protected flat water.
 
We were promised good snorkelling here in the pass and we were not disappointed. George nobly stayed in the dinghy while Simon & Michael drift snorkelled in the current in the pass.
 
This is the best snorkelling so far in 4 years sailing, true the coral was unexceptional, with no soft coral like the waving green and purple fronds in the Caribbean, but the fish were superb. Every colour imaginable and a few colours that you'd not imagined. And in great shoals that you swim through as the fish part a metre away from you.Plenty of parrot fish, mainly in bright turquoise but also some odd ones in gold and orange. Napoleon fish, like huge mutant parrot fish, wandering about slowly in small shoals, though putting on a surprising turn of speed if approached too enthusiastically.
 
Dark green moray eels, sliding into their coral head homes and glaring out at you, looking thoroughly dangerous and evil. Angel fish in various colours and small 'tropical fish tank' specimens in huge shoals in golds, purples and turquoises.
 
And around all this, circling sharks, cruising around like mob enforcers, not actually doing anything but just cruising through looking tough. The sharks are black tipped reef sharks and provided that you don't hassle them too much they leave you alone: handy really. Michael decided to swim after one and it turned round and gave what I thought was an incredulous look, as if to say "are you totally stupid? you do know I'm a shark, OK?".
 
Sadly our underwater camera is no longer waterproof so we cannot bring you our own pics of the Passe Tumakohua. We're trying to get another u/w camera, or a housing for the Lumix, so we could always come back here.
 
That evening, as the sun was gently lowering itself into the azure evening sea, a local pirogue came up and invited us for drinks ashore. we grabbed a few cans and a bottle and off we went to Motu Aito. Or to be specific "Motu Aito Paradise" as you can see on www.fakarava.org . This is the view of Motu Aito from the masthead...
 
 
...which shows the deep blue sea outside the reef and the shallow lagoon with dark coral heads inside. Motu Aito is the red roof and the main buildings are in the trees to the L.
 
We had a very convivial evening with Manihi, the proprietor and a couple of friends from the village in the pass. Manihi's wife was in LA on a short visit to their daughter. As we sat and talked, tropical fish swam in the shallow dock next to us and sharks flicked by in the shallows, just to keep the fish on edge. The sharks know that food scraps are often available, so if the light are on, you get a free show.
 
The following day George and Simon gave Manihi a hand with some roof works while Michael re-built his laptop... again.
 
Next day, a number of boats arrived and our solitude was broken by part of the Blue Water Rally fleet and a few other boats too. Undaunted, Manihi said "invite them all ! just tell them to bring something to drink". So we organised pretty much the whole fleet to come ashore with drinks and snacks and a grand evening was enjoyed by all.
 
This morning, the Rally fleet decided to head up to Fakarava village where we were planning to go anyway. There was a good free breeze (not too close to the direction we were going) and, being sporting, we let the other boats get a half hour head start.
 
We should have been more generous. With a great sailing breeze (well it did get up a bit at one point) we were making great speed and some of the Rally boats were even motoring and wasting the glorious wind !! We followed our track from the previous sail and cut through all the other boats and left them half an hour behind us.
But the Blue Skies do love sailing.
 
As I write, the election results are coming in, though of greater significance is the fact that we're celebrating 4 years at sea. The fridge has been stocked.
 
We'll leave you with another masthead pic of the southern anchorage:
 
 
Even the snorkelling amongst these coral heads was pretty good.
 
That's all for now.
 
Best Wishes,
 
George, Michael and Simon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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