Rangiroa 14:58:00S 147:38:00W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Tue 6 May 2008 20:02

We are currently stuck in Marina Taina, Papeete, Tahiti. We are awaiting the pleasure of Api Yachting to fix our main Sail and Running rigging. And needless to say Api Yachting are making us very UN happy, due to the fact that they will not commit to dates or ever do what they say they are going to do. Everyone who has had dealings with them has had nothing but grief.


Meanwhile, back to happier times. Rangiroa.  This has been our favourite place to date. We thought Manihi was fab’, but this was one notch up the wow scale! Rangiro is the largest and most populous of the Tuamotu’s. The lagoon is 45nm long and 18nm wide. There are two passes into the lagoon. The largest being Tiputa Pass, on the north east corner is also the one with the most dramatic currents. In fact the outflow can run at up to 8 knots, with massive standing waves that would flounder a small yacht, so great care needs to be exercised with the timing on this pass.


   Entering the Tiputo Pass. A lively experience


On our first attempt, we did not get the angle of entry right, and got a bit confused on the leading marks. As there were standing wave over 2 metres high we decided to abort the attempt and so stood off and had a cup of tea.. On our second attempt some 20 minutes later, the waves were only 1 to 1.5 metres but at one stage the boat was surfing down a rolling wave at just under 10 knots through the water, but we were only doing 3.3 knots over the ground. At this point good old Perkins was using all of his 135 horses!!


The highlight of our trip through the pass was the Dolphins. These are a local variety. About the size of Bottle Nose Dolphins, but a light brown colour with cream underside. At first, as I saw one next to the boat, I though it was a coral head……not a good moment.  They play in the surf and jump right out of the top of the waves. One of them jumped right across the bow of the boat some 3 metres above the water, narrowly missing our forestay!!


The show was soon over and we motored another mile to the anchorage opposite the Kia Ora hotel village.


    Kia Ora Hotel Village. Rooms on stilts over the water, with private ladder and bathing platform.


This is a Pearl Hotel. It is everyone’s dream of the perfect hotel in paradise! The food was good, but the prices are  eye watering. About £100 a head for evening meal with a bottle of wine. All presided over by the most camp waiter I have ever seen!!



This was a truly idyllic spot. The water was crystal clear and we could see the anchor chain some 17 metres below the boat. The water was teaming with fish. Every so often we would be treated to the Sooty Tern Show………..




There were rafts of hundreds of these birds. Then a shoal of small bait fish would appear at the surface, being chased and harried by the Sea Bass, Unicorn fish and the like. This forces the Bait fish to the surface where the Sooty Terns descend on them. Each feeding frenzy lasts no more than 10 minutes, and the noise is deafening whilst it goes on. Then the birds settle on the nearest yacht for a rest and to preen themselves. Very pretty they are too, with their white fluffy patch on the top of their heads, and long crossed beak.


On our first day there we went to an enchanting small restaurant that is on a deck, at the western side of the Tiputa Pass., together with the crews from Blue Raven and Heidenskip.  It was a lovely setting, with a Kaleidoscope of activity and colour in the pass to keep us entertained. After this we took a water taxi across to the other side of the pass for a wonder around the village. There were a couple of interesting churches here.




The second one, on the right above, was an enormous building given the size of the village and had the major advantage of being really cool inside due to the fact that it had a really high ceiling and plenty of ventilation.


The following day, Terri from Glendora, had booked a tour at the hotel for a group of us to do a Day trip to the famous “Blue Lagoon”.  This is a Muto across the other side of the main Lagoon, where they have a BarBQ. The high powered speed boats roared across the lagoon and in no time, charging passed Bird Island in the middle of the lagoon, where someone has a private residence and there is a colony of Lesser Frigate Birds.


  Bird Island


The boats arrived in the shallows on the Muto, and we waded ashore, through the crystal clear warm water (30°C), admiring the purple, green, and yellow corals. Oh and the dozens of black tip reef sharks……………..



As this picture clearly shows…..loads of Sharks. A couple of seconds after this picture was taken, the chap with his hand in the water grabbed a shark by the tail. He then threw it in the air!!! One of his mates tried the same thing a bit later and got his timing wrong. The shark bit off the top of one of his fingers…….frankly it served him right in my opinion.




The setting is well, it just doesn’t get any better, and as you can see from the picture, I was well and truly chilled out and a very happy chappie.


The boat boys lit the BarBQ, using drift wood and dried coconut shells. They laid on a veritable feast, whilst we went off snorkelling at the edge of the reef.


  How is that for a feast?                                        


There were loads of different fish dancing around the coral heads as the light shimmered through the indescribably beautiful water. There were Rays too, and the odd Reef shark to add to the excitement.


After lunch of fresh reef fish, marinated chicken, salad, washed down with coconut milk from freshly cut coconuts and the odd beer or three, one of the local chaps started drumming away on a log, and then another joined in with an instrument reminiscent of the skiffle bands in the 1960’s.




They then tried to teach Bradley from Hakuna Matata how to play it…….


At the end of the day it was back to the speed boats for one last piece of entertainment before we departed once more for the anchorage. This is the local form of waste disposal. The dustbins in this case being the local sharks.  This almost certainly explains why there are so many sharks here.


   Shark Bait?


These fellow Ralliers were (in my humble opinion) daft enough to get in the water whist the boat boys threw the leftovers in to the water in front of them.


  Well fed Sharks…….Really?


As this was going on, the boat boy in the water with the bucket full of food, suddenly threw the bucket and contents as far away from the folks in the water as he could and told everyone to get back on the boat as quickly as possible…..without splashing! The reason for this was that the Reef Sharks had been joined by a pair of very large Lemon Sharks. Now these chaps are VERY dangerous. In fact the Lemon Sharks started to attack the Reef sharks, so nobody got hurt. But it could have turned into a very ugly moment.


The next day I booked to do a couple of dives. The first of these in the morning on the outside of the main reef, near the entrance to the Tiputa Pass. This was a wonderful dive, where the Dolphins came up to us for a play and allowed us to stroke their tummies, and generally frolicked around us. There were Manta Rays and all manner of tropical fish in the pristine coral garden. In the afternoon we went for the really big boys dive. This is a drift dive through the pass. But before you take off through the pass, there was a visit to the largest colony of Grey sharks on the planet. They are here to feed on the masses of Sea Bass that are here. Not the type we get in Europe, these are tropical sea bass. We were trolling along at about 60 feet, when about 50 feet below us we spotted the sharks. Hundreds of them!! They are about 2.5 to 3 metres in length. Around six of them broke away from the shoal, and came up to us for a look. To say the adrenaline was running fast at this point would be an understatement. We then entered the pass. This was the most spectacular drift dive I have ever done. We were travelling along at over 4 knots at one point, just careening along, being swept over the coral ridges and into gullies. Where we hung on like limpets in the hope of seeing giant Manta Rays or the famous 6 metre Hammerhead Sharks. Neither made an appearance. But is was definitely one of the most memorable dives ever.




Then it was time to depart for Tahiti. This time we took the Avatoru Pass. Much more benign, with only a 4 to 5 knot current, but much narrower and at one point we only had 0.8 of a metre below the keel. The surf was rolling either side of the pass, and there were people surfing these…….right up to the coral beach…………Probably the local form of birth control.


Next Up. Papeete, Tahiti. The contrast could not have been more marked!




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