Journeys of Aardvarc
Mon 21 Apr 2008 01:34
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Rangiroa 20 4 08

Just a quick update. We should be in Tahiti in 2 days and hopefully have
wireless internet access with the possibility of uploading lots of

Since leaving Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas we sailed about 500 miles to
Manihi, a small atoll at the top of the Tuamoto islands.

These atolls are left over from volcanic islands which have developed a
large coral reef around the outside. Then the island itself sinks back
into the sea bed leaving just the coral reef and a large lagoon in the
middle. There are about 78 of the in the archipelago. Some are not
navigable by sailboat because there is no way through the reef. Others
have "passes" through the reef to allow a boat access. There is one
difficulty..... the tides rise and fall and the water in the lagoon has
to fill and escape through these small passes. This can lead to very
strong currents, up to 10 knots ( 12 mph) in places and large waves and

Manihi was not to bad but the pass is very shallow on the inside ...2.5
metres only ( we need 2.3 metres for our keel to get through.) So we
probably scraped some weed off the coral as we went in and the depth
gauge showed 0.2metres!!

The lagoons are very peaceful, relatively calm compared to the outside
ocean with its currents and trade winds.

The locals survive mainly by pearl farming. For interest we visited a
pearl farm.
The process seemed very cruel to the oysters and I am not happy about
buying any and supporting this.

We then moved on to Ahe, slightly smaller with an easier pass. Here it
was that Bernard Moitessier set up home. Some of you will know him as
the Frenchman who could have beaten Robin Knox Johnson in the Golden
globe race round the world, but couldn't face returning home to Europe
so went round the world again on his own!

He built a home out of local materials on a small island in the lagoon
and imported plants from Tahiti to set up a small holding.
We anchored just off the island.
People there were very friendly and kind, offered us home-made

Next stop Rangiroa, which is where we are now.

This is the biggest and most developed of the atolls. Very large and
easily negotiated pass, calm clear turquoise waters inside, a few shops
a bank and a post office. Also a very nice hotel ( worth a visit for a
most exclusive holiday if you could stand the plane journeys).

We went on a day excursion to a lagoon within a lagoon on the other side
of the atoll.

It's called the blue lagoon and has the most beautiful colours we have
yet seen, so many shades of blue. Lots of photos will prove this.

There are sharks everywhere: White tip and black tipped reef sharks,
the occasional grey reef shark ( these are more dangerous).

Snorkelling was excellent and we were all encouraged to go in and swim
with the sharks while the boatmen fed them with fish!!!

We had lunch on the beach cooked over a BBQ: chicken and fish with local
marinade, delicious.

Sam has transformed from a water avoider to an enthusiastic snorkeler
and now wants me to teach him diving!
This evening we leave for Tahiti, shame to leave the atolls but newer
experiences await!

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