We left Manihi Atoll yesterday afternoon after spending the morning doing a bit of a stock up and buying lots & lots of baguettes. We had to take this opportunity because it is sooo good, but we have now filled up the fridge and freezer. Fernand also gave us some fresh tuna & reef fish, so the freezer is over flowing. We will definitely not starve. While we were walking around the village yesterday we had a chat to Poema, a young local woman, who spoke English well, and she has asked that we put out the word for young men & women of marrying age to come to the atoll, as the locals have to travel far away to find partners. There are only about 500 people on Manihi. Her Aunt & Uncle are building a restaurant next to the main town oval in preparation for the Bastille Day festivities this weekend. It is a simple wood frame, tin roof and has woven coconut palm fronds for the walls. We watched an older women weaving these fronds to make the panels. Amazing process and the end result is really attractive. We had a few firsts in our diet while on Manihi - breadfruit, pearl meat (oyster) and pamplemousse (from the Marquesas, like a sweet grapefruit). All very much to our liking. Fernand escorted us out of the channel as the tide was running out fairly quickly. The trip out was a lot easier and quicker than the trip in. He then hung with us for about 10 mins before waving goodbye and heading back into the atoll lagoon. Fernand made our stay in Manihi really special, we will make sure we look him up when we bring Five Islands back home. As we headed out to sea the birds started working, initially in one area then in 3 so we put the lines out and chased after them, knowing that anything we caught would have to go back - absolutely no freezer space. Just after sunset we passed south of Ahe Atoll & we picked up another boat on our radar, and about an hour later as it was about 3.5 nm away it called us up - it was the gang from Ruby Soho who had just left Ahe and were on their way to Rangiroa. They eventually passed us during the night as they headed south towards the atoll.
We are currently sailing just north of Tikehau Atoll, which Fernand told us is the nicest of all of the Tuamotu Atolls. We will have to wait a couple of years to find out. Conditions since we left Manihi have been beautiful, lovely sailing conditions. We are averaging over 6.5 knots and reaching up to 8.5 at times, and the seas are quite comfortable. Fiji is about 1900 nm away, and Brisbane is about 3300 nm. Panama City is 4350 nm behind us.