Thursday, May 31, 2012


Eight days flew by at this beautiful atoll. We motorsailed through the center pass against 3 knots of ebb current. It was easy to avoid the turbulence by favoring the eastern side of the pass, where there was plenty of depth. Once inside, we turned left and anchored just before the east pass in 20 feet of sand with widely spaced coral bommies. We dinghied over to the east pass and explored the church and other buildings there, unoccupied except during the copra harvest season. Tahanea is a "nature reserve" and has no permanent inhabitants. Unfortunately, someone had abandoned a very lonely kitty here, who was desperate for some human attention and followed us all around. Our principal mission here was collecting 40 liters of water to top off our tanks. By the time we had done this, the current had gone slack and we went out to snorkel the relatively small east pass. This was the 3rd pass we had snorkeled, and was my favorite so far - good coral, plenty of fish, and great viz with the fresh water streaming in from the open sea. When we got back to the boat, it was bouncing in a lively manner from the freshening easterly wind, so we decided to up anchor and motor 6 miles to the eastern fringe of the atoll, where there were about a dozen yachts already anchored. We found shelter next to a small motu, and dropped the hook into 15' of sand. Again we were lucky that the bommies were widely spaced, so we didn't need to buoy the chain to keep it out of coral. We spent 2 days here, beachwalking and exploring the foreshore of the outer reef. Gardenias and other flowering shrubs and trees wafted their pleasant scent over the boat. We collected enough blossoms to contruct a few leis, for even more perfume onboard. The snorkeling was not great here, so after 2 days we were ready to head back to the pass. This time we anchored west of the main pass, joining Skimmer (whom we had met in Raroia), Knotty Lady, Super Ted, and Victory. Here there was enough coral on the bottom to require us to buoy our chain. But the holding and shelter were excellent here, and combined with the nearby passes and a great atoll to explore on foot and by kayak, this quickly became our new "favorite anchorage" in the Tuamotus. Shortly after we arrived, the Swiss yacht Leysin showed up. We had first met Jacky and Catherine on Nuku Hiva, and had crossed paths twice since then. Despite the language barrier, we enjoyed hanging out with them. Over the next few days we snorkeled all 3 of the passes together. Eventually, two other Mexico boats arrived - Buena Vista, whom we knew fairly well, and Blue Rodeo, whom we had only met once before. Thanks to Mark and Anne for generously sharing their dinghy and compressor. Diving the passes instead of snorkeling them was a real highlight for us! After 6 days of great fun here, we decided we had to move along if we wanted to see any of the other atolls. It was time for another short overnight passage.

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