Fakarava to Tahiti

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sat 21 Jul 2018 02:44
17:44.30S 149:09.24W

As we waited for wind, we noted, puzzled, that every day there were fewer yachts in the anchorage. Had we missed something? We checked the forecast again but no, there really was no wind, not a breath.

Amazing as it may seem, these yachts were setting off to motor all the way. Mikael had told us that he had helped Heinz fuel up at Easter Island, no mean feat, given the swell.

“Why hadn’t he fuelled up in Valdivia before leaving?” we’d asked. 

He had! He’d already used up 1500 litres of diesel.

At last the wind arrived, and so did yacht Amelie, so we bid farewell to Jackie and Juliette, and sailed together to the north pass where we anchored just inside the lagoon. Debbie invited us over for mushroom risotto, our last meal together for probably several years.

It was a rocky night, as the incoming tide raised a nasty chop in the anchorage, so we were up at the crack of dawn and weighed anchor soon afterwards. 

Although the north pass of Fakarava is wide, it is shallow (12 metres) and even though the conditions were perfect and our timing just right, the overfalls were impressive. We wouldn’t want to be there in ‘strong wind over tide’ conditions.

Caramor set off at full speed, loving the beam reach. It was a bumpy and wet ride. We’d planned to take 48 hours and arrive in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, at dawn but we were going too fast. We reefed and reefed some more but still we didn’t slow down. I joked that the only way to reduce speed would be to take all the sails down, we would still have been doing 3 knots!

At lunch time on the second day, we decided to make landfall on the north coast of Tahiti Iti, the peninsula to the south of the main island. Tautira Bay is wide and sheltered by a headland and there isn’t any coral, so we would be able to sail in even after dark. A night at anchor would be much more pleasant than drifting around outside Papeete Harbour entrance for six hours.

We took out all the reefs and made Tautira just as the sun went down. In the dark we didn’t dare go too close to shore so anchored in 10m. The next morning when we rowed in, we realised we were still a long way out.

Tautira Village was a friendly place and ‘going to the shop’ seemed to be the main attraction and what the locals did, so we joined in, but once we had done that there was little else to keep us busy. We wandered around for a couple of hours and were delighted to find, on our way back to the dinghy, a craft stall selling the largest coconuts we have enjoyed so far.

The next day we sailed round to Papeete.

Tautira Bay, Tahiti Iti

Tautira Village on a small peninsula which provides shelter from the waves