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Date: 02 Jul 2012 17:15:00
Title: Northern Fakarava: Over the side


With a title like that I should probably preclude this by saying don't worry, no one has fallen overboard. At least not in a serious way!

We arrived into the northern pass of Fakarava, our final Tuamotu atoll on Saturday morning, The sail from Tahanea was without event but also without much wind, and we drifted through the night at a average speed of 3.5kts!

Prior to leaving Tahanea, Archie and Dad did one last dive, this time in the central pass (there are 3 passes into Tahanea). It was another drift dive, this time on an outgoing current, The current was raging out, meaning that they were moving pretty fast underwater, but we always have the dinghy for pick ups, as well as a bright orange inflatable tube so we can spot them, so the outgoing current isn't as dangerous as it sounds. After drifting along at about 18m, they reached the edge of the pass, and suddenly the ocean floor disappeared from under them. It is charted to drop to about 50m, but we didn't think they'd get that far! The sudden drop off meant that there was a bit of a down draft current, sucking them down deeper. There were suddenly "lots of BIG sharks", real ocean pelagics, cruising up and down the edge of the wall. Archie coped ok with the downwards current by putting a little more air into his BCD, but Dad, still a relatively novice diver and rather alarmed by the larger sharks, got drawn down to 27m, before inflating too much air into his BCD and shooting all the way to the surface like a balloon! Ooops. Not great diving practise but definitely a learning experience! Everyone was fine and full of adrenaline when I picked them up in the dinghy!

Now in Fakarava, we have found a larger town, although not as big as the village in Makemo, that is more along the tourist route, and consequently there are more facilities - 4 dive shops(!) but also everything is even more expensive than on other islands. It's been 3 weeks since we left the Marquesas so we are in need of some fresh fruit and veg, but $21 for a watermelon is a bit out of our reach! After getting our tanks filled at the dive shop, we went diving (again) in the northern pass yesterday morning. We saw more sharks, decending into a group of about 25 of them, then drifted down canyons between coral beds, and saw huge numbers of fish that swam very close to us as we occasionally grabbed onto a piece of coral to stay stationary and absorb the scenery around us. Very cool dive.

Yesterday was also a day for things falling into the water. First a few pairs of thongs (flip-flops for the English readers) fell off the swim platform into the water while we were sloshing about in the current picking up the divers, but we did recover them. Then I threw my mask into the dinghy, except the wind caught it and it bounced on the side of our inflatable dinghy and fell into the ocean where it still remains. And then when we were anchored back by the village, Archie, rushing into town to skype Harry, fell over in the dinghy, and also bounced off the side of it into the water! This would have been very funny, and we did laugh about it afterwards, except that in his rucksack on his back, he had both his laptop and his ipad, which we use as our main source of navigation! Both are currently "drying out" and we shall see what remains of them tomorrow. They appeared to be ok except the ipad won't turn off which Archie thinks will only mean that more things will start to go wrong with it as the salt corrodes the insides. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

Last night there was much excitement, as Ilana joined us on the boat. Jamie is a happy boy and I am very glad of the female company! Ilana is staying with us for the next 10 days before she and Jamie return to the UK from Tahiti. She very kindly brought a few goodies from home which was great, and is also making me feel very brown! We had beers and steak frites in a little bar last night to celebrate her arrival and saw some new friends on a boat called Saltbreaker that we had dinner with the night before.

Today we are off to the the south end of Fakarava for more shark diving - this is the big one, that people fly from all over the world to do, and is the reason for Fakarava's touristy status. We are expecting to be able to drift dive/snorkel the 1.5 mile long pass, through hundreds of sharks, and end up drifting right back to the yacht in the anchorage. We are stopping for another campfire evening half way down the atoll, and Saltbreaker is coming down with us, as well as a couple on another boat, Upudu (sp?).

After this we will stop banging on about sharks and all the mummies back home will be able to rest a little easier! These islands are the shark diving capital of the world, as you can probably tell!

Jamie and Ilana want to see Moorea before they depart so we are heading straight there from Fakarava at the end of the week, before Tahiti in about 10 days time.

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