About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Au Revoir Marquesas.....and Bonjour Tuamotus

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 first atoll we stopped at was Kauehi, a midsized atoll (approximately 10 miles long), with one small village located at one end.  Our tide estimator program nailed the tide change, and slack water....exactly wrong.  We entered the pass at approximately maximum current, and had nearly 5 knots against us.  A few large standing waves, whirlpools and boils to negotiate, and we were in!  Now just need to navigate the coral infested waters of the lagoon to our selected anchorage, about 8 miles to the south east.  No worries, we motored gingerly, with a constant bow watch, passing only 2 coral heads en route.

And what an anchorage was waiting for us!!!  We were the only boat for miles around (we heard that there were 2 at the village at the other end of the lagoon, but of course we could not see them), and really had this piece of tropical paradise to ourselves.  Spectacular, it was almost a comical caricature of a perfect Robinson Crusoe hidey hole....palm trees waving in the steady cooling trade winds, clear turquoise waters, coral heads with hundreds of brightly colored fish, and of course the ever present "men in the grey suits" (sharks) keeping a wary eye on us (and us on them!!!)

The water was table top smooth....nestled against the SE shore, facing the SE breezes, there was absolutely no motion aboard.....we could have been on land it was so calm.  Heaven after the passage from the Marquesas.

We got into our regular routine of boat projects in the morning, and snorkeling in the afternoon.  Ahhhh, yes, boat projects.... Anyone who thinks "who are these schmucks, always playing, never working, in their damned tropical paradise....", please take a look at this picture.  Look closely, really closely.  Yup, that's poo, all the hell over everything and everybody.  Unclogging the hoses in the head is never pretty.  After quickly tearing the rubber gloves, my only goal was to keep the crap out of my mouth, and I mostly succeeded!!!  Ewwwwww.......A jump in the clear water after this morning project never felt so good!!!  And the toilet flushes again, oh, so sweetly!!!

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!
After a couple of days a few more boats joined us down at our end of the lagoon.  All good, the area for anchoring was huge, and we enjoyed a few days of snorkeling together with new friends.

One day we went for a hike to the only village on Kauehi, about an 8 or 9 mile walk.  The walk was beautiful, but unfortunately the little town was completely closed down.  It seems that the mayor had just been re-elected, and was in Papeete for a 2 week celebration.  Since he also owns the village grocery store, it was closed until he returned!!!  Ah, island living!

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
Finally, after a wonderful week at the Kauehi atoll, it was time to move on.  We set sail for Fakarava, a large (30 mile long) atoll about 25 miles away.  We of course hit both passes wrong, leaving Kauehi and arriving at Fakarava N. with 4-6 knots of current against us.  PERHAPS by the time we leave the Tuamotus in a couple of weeks we'll have this current thing worked out.....Nah, ain't gonna happen!

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!


  1. Hi Cindi and Adam, Love your pictures and story of your trip to new horizons! I've finished chemo and will start radiation the first week in June. Fortunately, I'll be able to go the NW Pharmacy Convention in Idaho at the end of the month. The link from Robin's 'miss you' is how I found you. Safe Travels! Jill Carrier

  2. Beautiful shots - even the 'poo' shot. :) People think RVing can be glamorous as well but we are also constantly working on the RV.

  3. Hi Cindi and Adam
    great photos Nancy and I just loved them
    I just got back from the leeward isles
    great sailing and as you are finding in your part of the world, wonderful people with not much wealth but happy, kind and humorous

  4. P.S.
    I always thought that Pooh was a delighful little bear
    Derek the Disillusioned

  5. So I'm sure you've answered this a hundred times, but what camera are you using??

    1. Several cameras in use, Erin....
      1. Nikon D300 SLR w/ 3 lenses: 12-24mm, 80-200mm and 28-200mm
      2. Canon S95 w/ Ikelite UW housing
      3. Olympus Tough waterproof point n shoot
      4. GoPro Hero2