Tuesday, 23 August 2016

7-2016 More Fakarava, French Polynesia

Hi from Clare,                                            Monday 22nd August 2016

When last I wrote we were in the small settlement of Pakokota on the eastern shore of Fakarava and Matthew, the friendly owner of Pakokota Yacht Services, was preparing his limousine (a 1984 Jackaroo) to drive us to the main township of Rotoava for shopping. By preparing I mean derusting and painting the rims before putting on a new tyre and hopefully putting some seats in the car. So all aboard the limousine with doors that only shut from the outside, a rear door tied up with rope, seats that weren't fastened to the floor and rust holes in the car floor big enough to put your foot through. But as Matthew said with a cheeky smile “it's all part of the adventure”. A supply ship had come into Fakarava the day before so we gleefully stocked up with fresh produce plus baguettes and croissants from the French bakery.
The Limousine - a good thing it has a chassis 
We sailed back to the south pass and anchored in the south west corner of the atoll. A lovely spot with sparkling water shading from deep blue to aqua to lemon closer to shore.
We took the dinghy and travelled in and around the many little motus and swam in the warm shallows. We also did a few more drift snorkels through the pass and snorkelled some quiet outcrops of coral in the back eddies. A favourite spot in the warm calm water for many tropical fish and a few lazy sharks to just hang.
Between the Motus - looking out to the anchorage

Snorkeling the South pass

Unfortunately our Fakarava Flu hung around for the best part of two weeks and we were both fairly lethargic. We have been in company with four American boats and they too have the bug so no wild parties at the moment. On Andrew's birthday we were happy to just put up the hammock, listen to music and lie in the sun. However I hope you notice in the photo that Andrew dressed for the occasion with a bow tie bringing some class to our deserted tropical island. We will celebrate with a birthday dinner once we get to Tahiti.

Birthday Boy dressed for the occasion
Hammock Motu
A few days ago we sailed up to the main township at the north end of the atoll for internet and shopping. Matthew from Pakokota Yacht Services is away and so another adventure in his limousine wasn't available. I'm not sure if that is good or bad luck but I guess we will cope with the mundane.
Another lovely sunset from Hirifa
The weather has been very changeable with glorious sunny days, lots of rain and too much wind. We are ready to sail to Tahiti but as usual we are waiting for the right weather pattern. At this stage it looks like we will be here for another week or so. Tomorrow we will sail back to Hirifa on the south east corner as we are expecting strong south easterly winds and lots of rain in the next few days. Hirifa is well protected and one of the calmest and most spectacular anchorages we have been in. So we will just kick back and enjoy, enjoy.

Love Candy xx

Thursday, 11 August 2016

6-2016 Fakarava, French Polynesia

Hi from Clare,                                                      Wednesday 10th August 2016

We arrived in the atoll of Fakarava two weeks ago after a very smooth overnight downwind sail from Makemo. So smooth in fact that we even watched a DVD in the cockpit en route, a definite first for us.

Fakarava is thirty miles long and we haven't seen all of it yet. We entered the atoll through the south pass and fortunately for us one of our radio net buddies was in the pass in his dinghy waiting to do a drift snorkel. He gave us accurate information on the current strength and direction which took all the stress out of transiting the narrow and shallow pass

The south pass has two dive shops with guest accommodation and a small bar/restaurant and a pizza place. There are mooring balls for the yachts if you want to stay. Drift snorkelling and diving in the pass with many sharks, eagle rays, large Napoleon wrasse, tropical fish and hard coral is the attraction. The method is to start in slack water and then drift into the lagoon with the incoming tide. We have enjoyed six drift snorkels hanging on to our dinghy. By the end, when the tide is fully flowing, we are fairly flying, it's great fun. The sharks, which are mostly black tip reef sharks, either ignore us or swim away. For us the fish life is fascinating, however the plentiful hard coral lacks the colour and variation found with soft corals.

South Pass Village Resort
Underwater photo in the Pass
Bures at the pass resort

June, July and August are said to be the windy months in the Tuamotu so we seek out flat calm water and peaceful conditions behind a moto. However there is a catch, once having found these ideal conditions it is hard to leave. So after eleven years of being on the move we are now learning the joys of staying put for weeks on end. It's amazing how quickly the day passes when doing nothing. The good thing is we have plenty of company as there are six boats here that participate in the daily Polynesian Magellan Net and so doing nothing is very social.
PolyMagNet buddies aboard Maluhir in Hirifa
Andrew and Clare at Dinner at Lisas, Hirifa

Most of our time in Fakarava has been spent in the south east corner at the small settlement of Hirifa. It is picture post card perfect with sparkling aqua water, sandy beaches, coconut palms, shady trees and glorious sunsets. It is a favourite spot for kite surfers because they can take off from the sand spits where there is wave protection from the reef and yet plenty of wind to fill their kites. So we spend our days of doing nothing watching the kite surfers, walking the beaches, collecting a few shells, swimming and relaxing. We lit a fire on the beach one night and eight of us enjoyed a BBQ and some star gazing under a beautiful clear sky.

Beach and restaurant at Hirifa
Lemon shark teeth caught a Hirifa
There is a family restaurant here run by a large Polynesian lady, Liza who speaks good English and gives welcoming bear hugs that just about take your breath away. The restaurant is only opened when Lisa has supplies and has enough takers to make the night financially worth while. Fifteen cruisers from the anchorage had dinner a few nights back. Most of us not only had out breath taken away but also received Liza's head cold which has kept us all lying low for a few days.

Yesterday we departed Hirifa and had a good fifteen mile downwind sail to the north east side of the atol to the small settlement of Pakokota. The main attraction here is the Internet so as I am typing this I am hoping to send you some photos. There is a small Yacht Services business here and tomorrow he is driving us to the main town of Rotoava which is ten miles north of here. For a small charge he will take us to the supermarket, bakery and other shop, whatever that encompasses. We have been warned that that our mode of transport is old and we will be able to see the road through the corroded floor of the vehicle. I happens to be a Isuzu Trooper (Holden Jackaroo) just like ours at home but much rustier. If we are lucky enough to get some fruit and veg and I don't loose anything through the floor on the way back, I will be happy.

We will stay here in Pakokota for a few days and download our emails and hopefully enjoy the internet connection. By then the wind will pick up and so we will return to the safe haven of Hirifa. We think we will be in Fakarava for another two weeks before rejoining civilisation in Tahiti.

Until then stay safe and have fun.

Love Candy xx