We left the Marquesas with mixed emotions....we felt like we had just begun to explore these beautiful islands, but the Tuamotus, with their world famous snorkeling and diving beckoned, and our 90 day visa clock for French Polynesia was ticking. So as soon as our weather window opened, we sailed away from Nuku Hiva on a 500 mile 4 day passage. It was a terrific crossing, with 15-20 knot winds on the beam for nearly the entire way (save a few quick rainy, windy squalls that blew through, nearly always in the middle of the night of course). The biggest problem was slowing Bravo down for the last day or so, in order to arrive in daylight, and also at slack tide at the pass into the lagoon.
The Tuamotus are very different from the rugged, mountainous Marquesas. Instead of a series of obvious volcanoes, visible from 30 miles at sea, the Tuamotus (commonly known as "The Dangerous Isles" for their reputation for eating unwary ships) are atolls surrounding internal lagoons. Some have entrance passes large enough for yachts like Bravo, others don't. All are very low, with the motus (land areas) typically not over 2 meters or so above sea level. Naturally all are worried about rising sea levels due to global warming, which threatens the lowest in the next several years.
|Atolls don't show up until you are nearly upon them!!!|
The snorkeling was fantastic on Kauehi, with each bommie, or coral head, hosting its own communities of fish. Many new species for us, very different from those in Mexico and Central America. Here are a few shots from our snorkel cams......
|Shy black tip reef sharks kept a nice safe distance|
|Marine biologist friend Susan, from 'Honu' holds up a cushion star...a beauty!|
|All fresh water for the people living on the atolls is captured rainwaters, into these large cisterns.|
|Rough entrance into Fakarava N. pass with large standing waves|
Fakarava is very different from Kauehi. We're anchored off the village of Rotoava, one of the larger villages in the Tuamotus. Winds and a steep chop have been the norm here since we arrived 2 days ago, and we already greatly miss the sweet night sleeps at Kauehi! We went to find fresh veggies today at the 3 small markets, but there were none to be found. Or eggs, or lots of other stuff....possibly on Friday, if it is on the supply ship (none was aboard yesterday's ship) But Fakarava is known for its terrific diving, especially at the south end, so tomorrow we will weigh anchor and move down lagoon, where we hope to spend the next week or so, diving, snorkeling, and exploring the area around the south pass. Oh, and new boat project opportunities will no doubt present themselves!!! Cheers!