Thursday, May 20, 2010

hello from Fakarava

16 30.4 S 145 27.4 W in beautiful Fakarava, Tuamotus

Having some drop dead gorgeous weather at last after 4-5 days of howling winds and quite a bit of rain. Apparently we were stuck under the South Pacific Convergence Zone with a couple of troughs and lows controlling the weather and making it pretty miserable. There is not much protection in the Tuamotus against high wind so we were stuck on lee shores when the wind was coming at us at 25-30 knots but it has gotten calm again and so we are happy in paradise once more!!!

Had an easy departure from Tahanea on Sat...timed it to leave one pass on the morning slack and make the 48 miles to Fakarava by the later tide slack. We are lucky to have a fast boat since everyone else we are traveling with had to do it as an overnight not being able to make the 8+ knots to get in between the tides. We motorsailed to keep our speed up and found some good protection behind the atolls we were passing as the sea was still quite stirred up from all the days of high winds. East entrance thru the Tetamanu Pass on the south end of Fakarava and into a very nice anchorage with a couple of other boats already here. Met a really nice couple from Scotland aboard a beautiful 67 ft. fancy boat. Most boats that are cruising are more in the 32-48 ft range so finding someone as big or bigger than us has been rare! Nice people tho' and we hung out with them for a few days before they moved on.

We did our first dive here on Mon. and went out with the dive shop to try to get some pointers we would be able to use later on our own. This pass is noted as being one of the best dives in the Tuamotus if not the South Pacific and it was in fact pretty awesome. The water clarity was not perfect because of all the swell from the last bunch of rough sea days but it was still an amazing dive. Started off going down to about 110 ft and then followed a wall to the "shark nursery" where you can hold onto some coral and sit and watch about 100 or more sharks swimming a little ways in front of you...close enough to see beautifully but not scary (which coming from me is remarkable!) Then drifted with the incoming current thru the pass and over some beautiful, LIVE coral with tons and tons of colorful fish right back to the beach in front of the dive shop. Since then we have gone twice more (Soggy Paws arrived on Tues and we are now diving with them and towing our two dinghys) . We have been staying down for longer and catching the really fast eddy at the end of the pass and drifting most of the way back to our big boats. The water clarity has improved daily since the waves outside the pass have really died down. Yesterday we must have been moving at 5-6 knots thru that eddy and it was a hold onto your swimsuits kind of feeling!!! In the late afternoon we went over to a 2nd little motu here and visited the most wonderful "pension" that a fellow named Manihi and his wife have set up. Beautifully designed in a Polynesian fashion this place is almost luxurious and so charming. Impeccably clean and very well set up it looks like a great place for a total chill dive vacation. Will gather a little more info if any of our friends or readers want to know more...Tonight we are hoping to gather all 4 of the boats here with us now and go to dinner there. Haven't eaten out since Easter so that would be a real treat for moi(the cook and chief bottle washer!).

We plan on staying here another nite or two and continuing to dive daily thru this pass...there may even be a day that we can do two dives if the slacks line up early and late. You need to dive between slack and an incoming tide to keep direction and speed safe! From here we will go to the village (Rotovai) at the north pass and spend a few days before heading to our last atoll in the Tuamotus (Toaa) for a night or two. Then an overnight to Tahiti with our plan being to get there a week ahead of the kids to reprovision and get some boat work done. All in all we are loving the Tuamotus and wish we had a little longer here...Soggy Paws and Nakia(the SF boat) are on different schedules than us so will stay here for another couple of months. I think it is Memorial Day weekend so happy 3 Day weekend to all of you.

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