Kauehi, south east anchorage
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Distance run: 8nmiles
As the wind was due to clock round to the south east and to strengthen to 25-30 knots, we decided to up anchor and motor down to the anchorage in the south east corner of the lagoon, where we would be protected by the motus from the seas if not from the wind. This would have involved having a lookout on the bows to check for coral heads all the way there, but we were given waypoints by Phil and Danielle on ‘Sweet Surrender’ who had done the trip twice already. Getting the anchor up was not too much of a problem, though we had to weave our way round two coral heads the chain had snagged on.
We arrived in the SE anchorage mid-morning with the sun high in the sky and could easily see the coral heads in the shallower and clearer water. We actually dropped the anchor three times before we were happy with our position in relation to the ‘bommies’ (the name given by cruisers to the isolated coral heads – not sure of its origin!) We anchored right up behind the motu where the water was flat calm and the trees afforded some protection from the wind.
It was an idyllic spot. There was no need to go snorkelling as we could just look over the side of the boat to see down to the seabed and a variety of colourful fish. But when Jenny on ‘Full Monty’ announced on the VHF that they would be taking their catamaran over to the pass to do some drift snorkelling and anyone interested was welcome to join them, Steve jumped at the chance. He had a wonderful afternoon and saw many different varieties of fish, including black-tipped sharks. I started to get a little worried when they were not back in the anchorage as the light started to fade, but it turned out the wind had picked up and they were motoring into a headwind in lumpy seas towing two dinghies and carefully retracing their outward track to make sure they didn’t hit any coral heads! This made for slow progress, but they eventually arrived back safely and re-anchored in the dark.
A calm, sheltered spot behind the motu. A black-tipped shark seen near the pass.
We spent several days in the anchorage, swimming and snorkelling and exploring the motu. There were a couple of abandoned houses ashore, but it seemed nobody had lived at this end of the lagoon for some time. We walked across to the ocean side of the motu to see the waves crashing on the shore, and we were walking over piles of dead coral. It was a fascinating landscape, and interesting to see that plant life had managed to get a root-hold and establish itself. It was a fairly calm day and the waves were not so much crashing as rippling, but it was still easy to see the contrast between the ocean and the lagoon side of the atoll.
Steve considering some DIY? A possible retirement home?! Hermit crabs cluster around a fallen coconut.
The ocean side of the motu – quite a calm day. My mermaid pose – not very comfortable sitting on coral!
Steve added a piece of coral to this cairn. Land that has risen up in the middle of an ocean – awesome....
The motu is a coral reef that has been pushed up out of the sea. The ground is made up of dead coral.
The lagoon side of the motu – a striking contrast. Scott-Free at anchor in Kauehi atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia.
Late afternoon ashore, time for a beer. My attempt at an arty-farty shot of S-F.
This morning Steve and Rod went over in the dinghies to help two boats get their anchor chains untangled from some bommies. It took them a couple of hours and a diver down to get them free, making them late at the pass, which had become a little lively by then. We decided that we would lift our anchor and reset it in shallower water with minimum scope to avoid having this happen to us tomorrow when we leave for Tahiti. As we are the only two boats left in the anchorage now, we won’t have any help to call on!