Johno and Trevor arrived in Fakarava on July 3. Johno was on Aldabra last year from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus, along with Trevor’s twin sister, Dana. This was Trevor’s first time on the boat in the South Pacific. He had just graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was able to fit this trip in before some serious job hunting in mechanical engineering/robotics. They joined Pat and me on the boat and brought lots of goodies, such as a new wind generator, some new components for the refrigeration system and food treats.
On Tuesday, July 4, we picked up the anchor and went to the fuel dock.
Sitting on the boat at the Fakarava fuel dock with Trevor and Johno
We then sailed down to the Fakarava South Pass. We anchored at about 2:00 p.m. and snorkeled the pass before joining a Fourth of July picnic set up on shore by our friends Bruce and Alene on Migration. It was nice to see Bruce and Alene and to meet some new cruisers. On Wednesday, we sailed over to Hirifa in 25 knot winds and anchored in that more protected anchorage. I baked banana bread while Pat, Johno and Trevor installed the replacement wind generator. (We’d had so much wind since arriving in the Tuamotus that I was constantly aware of how much we were wasting it by not having a working wind generator to charge the batteries.)
Installing the new wind generator
The next day, Trevor and Johno took a really long walk across multiple motus and sand bars to explore a distant motu, three miles away. They did a lot of wading and were quite spent and sunburned when they finally returned.
Trevor on the long walk
While they were away, I was planning the itinerary for the coming weeks in the Tuamotus and measuring the watermaker output, which was way under capacity for no apparent reason. Bruce and Alene from Migration came over for dinner that night and it was great to see them again. We spent the next day cleaning the boat bottom. On Saturday night, we had a nice dinner on shore at Eliza’s, with a few other boats.
On Monday, July 10, we left Hirifa a few minutes before 7:00 a.m. and sailed back to Rotoava, arriving shortly after noon. It was a nice sail with 12-18 knots of wind. We went ashore to drop off a cooking gas tank to be refilled, and we bought some groceries. The next day we rented ebikes and toured around the atoll before having lunch at the snack that Pat, Bill and I had been to previously. After picking up the cooking gas tank, we went back to the boat to endure a windy, rolly night.
Exploring the outer beach of Fakarava during the bike ride
On Wednesday, July 12, we picked up the anchor at 5:00 a.m. and motored over to the north pass of Fakarava. We exited the pass at 6:15 a.m. at slack tide, with very mild current. Outside the reef, we put up the sails with two reefs in the main. We had a fast sail on a beam reach with winds in the high teens. We arrived outside the Aratika pass at noon, right behind Infinite Grace, a boat we hadn’t met yet. Once we were inside the pass, a squall came up and we had white-out conditions while trying to navigate across the lagoon to some mooring balls in front of the village. The visibility soon improved and we got ourselves across and attached to a mooring ball by 1:30 p.m. It was a rainy afternoon and we stayed on the boat.
On Thursday, July 13, we took the dinghy to shore and walked into the village. There we found the town clerk and paid a nominal fee for two night’s mooring. We were in Aratika at the suggestion of Bruce and Alene, who had done a lot of research to find a Tuamotu atoll that wouid be celebrating the annual Heiva festival. Many of the other atolls were sending their community members to Tahiti for the celebration, so they were not celebrating on their home turf. Aratika is a tiny community and we looked forward to meeting people and participating in the celebration. Infinite Grace was there for the same reason and Migration would be following the next day.
We walked around the windward side of the atoll to check out the beaches there, and we talked to Tea, who owned a restaurant that would be serving dinner during the celebration. He told us that the first event would be that night, a Mr. and Mrs. Aratika competition. After spending the rest of the afternoon on the boat, we returned to the town center in the evening, chatting with Jeff and Michelle on Infinite Grace, Bruce and Alene on Migration, and Yves and Marta on Breakaway. Then we watched the 3-hour competition before having a late-night dinner at the restaurant. The competition featured about five women and four men who modeled a variety of outfits, such as traditional, casual and evening wear. The two winners were announced after a rather lengthy and confused deliberation by the judges. It was fun to be there with all the members of the community and to see all the children running around and playing. We got back to the boat around midnight.
The women doing a final pose in their traditional outfits
The men in their final pose in their traditional outfits
The next day, we slept in and did not go into town for the scheduled parade. Instead we repaired a rip in the mainsail and Johno and Trevor snorkeled on the reef. We ate dinner on the boat and then went back to town that evening for the dancing competition, which included just women. Evidently the men were too shy for that. But we really enjoyed the women dancers and the evening was not a long one.
Actually there was one young man in the dancing competition
The singers and musicians
The cruisers visiting Aratika for the festival
The next morning, on Saturday, July 15, we left the mooring ball and exited the pass. We were a couple of hours before slack tide and the current was strong but manageable. It whooshed us out very rapidly.
The current as we left the pass
We sailed west across to the False Pass of Toau on a nice beam reach and were on a mooring ball shortly after 2:00 p.m. We talked to a very nice Dutch couple on Dina Helena. They were on their way to the Marquesas and had come from Patagonia and the Gambier. Johno and Trevor got out snorkeling on the reef near where we were anchored.
On Sunday, we all snorkeled near the southwest side of the anchorage, crossing the reef to look for mantas. It was a calm day and the snorkeling was great.
Johno up the mast in the False Pass
Johno’s view from the top of the mast in Toau
On Monday, we left the mooring ball at 5:30 a.m. and exited the pass, heading to Tikehau. During the day, the winds were in the low teens and we sailed with the spinnaker. We took it down before nightfall, but didn’t tie the sheet off properly. That night, with winds shifting, we needed to jibe to avoid hitting Rangiroa. Later, the winds picked up significantly and we needed to reef. As I pulled in on the furling line, I must have caught the spinnaker sheet, and the spinnaker ended up in the water, being dragged behind the boat and making it nearly impossible for Johno to steer. Trevor and I managed to get the spinnaker back up on the boat and we realized how lucky it was that we didn’t lose it altogether. We finished reefing the main just as the wind started calming down.
The next morning, as we approached the pass to enter the Tikehau atoll, we discovered that our old friends on Blue Beryl were anchored there. As we entered the pass around 11:00 a.m. they approached the anchorage near the pass and we met up in that anchorage. It was pretty windy but we had a nice dinner together that night and got caught up on their lives since we’d last seen them.
The next day, Blue Beryl exited the pass, heading over to Rangiora, and we sailed over to Motu Mauu to see the mantas that frequently hang out there. We anchored in pretty marginal conditions, high winds and very choppy. But we got the dinghy in the water and headed over to some mooring balls near the motu. After snorkeling for a bit, we followed a tour group and indeed got to see a giant manta. People would dive down and try to engage it and it would just hang out, unbothered by the attention. It was quite spectacular.
Trevor with the giant manta in Tikehau
Johno with the giant manta
After that splendid show of nature, we pulled up the anchor and headed over to the anchor near the village, where it was a little bit more protected from the wind and waves. We went ashore and walked around the village We found a pizza place on the other side of the motu and ordered a few pizzas. Then we walked to the airport just to see how far it was. After returning to eat our pizza, we went back to the boat.
Eating pizza in Tikehau
The next day, Thursday, July 20, Pat made omelettes and packed. It was a gloomy, windy day. We went ashore and walked with Pat to the airport, where he flew to Tahiti and then on to Los Angeles. On Friday morning, I went ashore to look for a bakery, but the woman had no baked goods because she had no flour. With the weather making it difficult to enjoy Tikehau, we decided to head over to the anchorage near the pass for a quick getaway the next morning. Once we got there, however, it was so choppy and windy that we decided to just leave that afternoon. We put the dinghy up, had lunch and headed out of the pass. The exit was smooth. We put the sails up and headed for Moorea in 14 knots of wind.
On Saturday morning we had light winds and sunshine for the first time in three days. The swells moderated a bit and we sailed most of the day on a close reach. The winds got even lighter as we approached Moorea. For the last twenty miles we used a motor assist, arriving at the entrance to Cooks Bay around 10:00 p.m. Because I had been in there so many times, I thought it would be easy enough to do at night. But everything is different at night and entering was a bit disorienting. We just followed the charts and the buoys into the bay and then started heading deeper into the bay. It was too dangerous to motor among the boats because we couldn’t really tell what was what among the anchor lights. We ended up dropping the anchor in deeper water, behind the fleet and then celebrating our arrival with a beer. I think we all slept well after our overnight sail.
On Sunday, July 23, we all slept in. I then started taking care of business I needed to attend to and Johno and Trevor went for a walk around the bay. The next morning, we picked up a rental car and drove around the island. We had lunch at the restaurant at the Timpanier Resort.
Enjoying the view in Moorea
The next day, we took the rental car up to the Belvedere and hiked the three coconuts trail.
Hiking in Moorea
Afterwards we had lunch at my favorite taco truck but she had run out of the good food so I was a bit disappointed with the cuisine. On Wednesday we took the car around to the other side of the island, looking for waterfall hikes and an illusive steep hike that Trevor and Johno wanted to do. We found the waterfall hikes but never found the steep hike.
Waterfall hike in Moorea
Afterward, we had lunch at the Polynesia hotel in Cooks Bay and then returned the rental car.
Johno and Trevor enjoying a soak and a beer in Moorea