We are still in Tahanea, but looking at weather windows to depart for Fakarava, our last stop in the Tuamotus. We've only been here about 5 days, but it has been an incredible atoll to visit. Tahanea is a national park, so there are no pearl farms to dodge, just the ever present coral bommies, which we've become fairly proficient at avoiding (knock on wood). Generally there aren't many villagers here, and there is no established village, but during the copra season about 50 islanders spread out on the multiple motus to harvest the coconuts. We haven't seen many of the islanders so it feels very remote. Once anchored we continued our favorite activity of snorkeling the passes. The first time we did it we were a bit disappointed. The pass was deep, the coral didn't seem that exciting and we didn't see many big fish. About half way through the pass we literally ran into a huge bait ball. We aren't sure what type of fish they were, but they were getting hammered by two large tuna that would race through the school and strike a few fish each pass. Once a few fish were hit, the sharks came in. Great big sleek reef sharks that cruised through the group as if on patrol, scattering the smaller fish in their wake. The reef sharks, although intimidating, really aren't that efficient as predators (at least that is what I tell myself). They often wait until a fish is hit by another predator and then come and take advantage of the stunned fish. The tuna were the really impressive feeders. We also had a huge manta ray come over and check us out. We made a few passes and tried to anchor the dingy near the bait ball, but the current was too strong to hold on to the anchor line. Later, we got some pointers from a fellow cruiser and snorkeled the edge of one the passes and found a back eddy or relatively still area of water of fantastic coral and reef fish. A dozen types of butterfly fish, angel fish, grouper, parrot fish and wrasses among many others. The coral was shallow, so the lighting was perfect and we didn't have to dive deep to see everything. We now take our gopro everywhere and are trying to burn the memories of the reefs into our minds. There really is nothing as beautiful as a healthy coral reef. You can always tell who is taking the pictures when we come back to the boat to see them. All of mine are frames of dainty little angel fish, a butterfly fish, colorful coral or at the most severe a stern looking Moorish Idol. When Zander has the cameras he is on the hunt for game fish and all his pictures reflect his interests; huge parrot fish or grouper. He also follows sharks around and sticks the gopro into the holes after big Moray Eels. Tahanea does not have Ciguatera, so we are eating our fill of fish before moving on. The boys always have a Hawaiian sling in their hands and they regularly have their heads in a crevice or whole in the coral, chasing an elusive dinner.
Besides the outer islands motus, Tahanea has several motus in the middle of the lagoon. We visited a bird island with nesting Frigate birds, but it wasn't a good anchorage so we had to take turns swimming ashore to visit. We saw soaring boobies and pairs of fairy terns dive around the island, but the Frigates were the only nesters. The Frigates are like pterodactyls in the sky, they look prehistoric, and we got to see multiple nests with single eggs laid precariously on pathetic looking stick platforms. We didn't see any broken eggs, so apparently the set up works for them, but every time a bird flew off the nest I expected to see an egg fall. The island smelled like guano and we didn't needs to stay long to "experience" it, so we moved on from there.
While in the lagoon we anchored in several places along the SE corner of the lagoon, protected from the fairly strong South-easterlies. We had several bonfires on the beach. One memorable barbecue with an Australian and French boat that have been in Polynesia for several years. We are just a few weeks ahead of the puddle jumpers, so all the boats we meet are resident boats or long term stay boats that are a wealth of information to us, not to mention just lovely company.
Along with catching our dinner on their Hawaiian slings, the boys have now perfected hunting coconut crabs. They are huge alien looking land crabs that have nippers that can open a coconut husk, so they learned quickly to stay away from the business end of the crab and hunt them with lobster nooses. Once the crab grabbed on to the pole/noose they could throw them in a bucket.
Tahanea has been a nice stop, but we are quickly running out of provisions. Never have our cabinets been so bare. Zander is constantly hungry and our meager stores are getting more meager by the day. Fortunately the fishing has been great, but I personally am beyond tired of fish for dinner! Dreaming about ice cream and steak and Frites in Fakarava!
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron