We reached Fakarava South Pass in the morning. The crossing was no problem and the entrance between the reef banks was not too much of a challenge either: We had a good timing and so we were just heaved to for a few minutes to watch the pass before we set the sails again and sailed into the atoll. The water was dead calm andno current disturbed us.
The anchorage was only 10 minutes away from the pass. We looked for a patch of sand and finally dropped the anchor in 13 meters depth between the many small coral heads. With reverse throttle, we drove the anchor in tightly to make sure that it was sitting bombproof and had not become tangled in coral.
Then we carefully brought some of the chain back on board and hooked two fenders into the chain after every 15 and 25 meters. Without load, the chain now floated above the coral; on the pull, the fenders were simply pulled underwater and the chain worked as usual.
A simple principle to protect its material and the underwater world! We prevent that corals are destroyed unnecessarily when the boat swings, and also the risk of the chain wrapping around large blocks and getting stuck is minimized.
On shore there were several dive schools and a small cottage complex with a bar. Over a beer we met Sophie and Rob, chatted until sunset, and arranged to dive together the next day.
We drove to the outside of the atoll by motorboat to be able to dive through the pass with incoming current. Everybody pressed themselves into their wetsuits and then we helped each other to strap the tanks on our backs. After a short „buddy check“ we went down to a depth of 20 meters. Once we gathered on a small sandbar we began to float over small corals, past colorful fish into the pass.
It was great! I could just let myself drift, close my eyes and fly. The current alone took over the propulsion and through my breathing I could regulate the flights altitude. After a while we turned right, glided over a small hill and hid behind some rocks.
The dive spot lived up to its name! „The wall of sharks“
Hundreds of sharks swam around us. Most of them were blacktip sharks, easy recognized by their black colored dorsal fins, but there were also a few whitetips and grey sharks among them. They were everywhere: in front of us, above us and below us! The calmer we stayed, the closer they came.
During one study, over 700 sharks were counted in the pass at one time!
Among the sharks were huge napoleon fish with stunning patterns, groupers, parrotfish, perch, eels and moray eels.
G and I were so excited that we wanted to do the same dive again! But this time the pass was empty! The instructors suspected a much bigger one, a hammerhead or tiger shark in the pass. The smaller reef sharks in any case had moved to the inside of the lagoon and circled around nervously.
This journey is my dream! If you want to support me and keep the journey going, please feel free to invite me for a symbolic dinner!
Thank you so much!
That something was different, I got to feel one day during spear fishing: As always, I drove with the dinghy close to the reef and anchored there at shallow depth. After jumping in, it took me quite a while to find a suitable fish.
I caught it and immediately made my way back to get the fish out of the water and into the dinghy. The fish stuck on my spear, but I had to let it go again when I looked around halfway and could just pull my legs away: A shark tried to bite my fins! – He had probably picked up the scent and thought my plastic fins were a pleasant snack.
Back at the dinghy, recovering from the shock, there was not a single shark to be seen anymore and so I tried my luck another time. This time I had not even managed to ascend when a shark rushed up and stole the fish right from my spear!
„That’s it!”, “Enough for today! „, “No fish!”. There was no need to test my luck another time and I drove back to WASA.
It was time to get moving again.
On the way to Rotoava, the largest town on Fakarava, we made two stops: The first in the southeastern corner of Atol near Hirifa and the second halfway somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
In Hirifa, Emma and G took their first kite lesson. A young Frenchman settled there seven years ago with his 27 feet small boat and started giving kite lessons. Meanwhile he runs a kind of kite camp on two catamarans, gives lessons for half year and sails the other half with his family through French Polynesia.
When the others took their lessons, I joined the motorboat to take some pictures. For their first lesson, Emma and G made a pretty good impression! – After a short introduction and some exercises without board, finally both managed to ride a few meters standing!
At our second stop we stayed for two days! We explored the surroundings, harvested coconuts and caught fish. In the evening we made a small fire and conjured up a feast: We prepared our own coconut milk and cooked rice and fish in it over the fire. We drank fresh coconut drinks with it and for dessert we had shredded coconut with honey – It amazing!
The rest of the way to the village was easy. The wind was good and the map accurate. We followed a marked channel and made it just in time to watch an elementary school dance performance in the evening. G and I played Bool with the locals, we sent postcards and did some shopping.
Rotoava meant the coming end of our time in the Tuamotus. We had only one more stop before we had to make our way to Tahiti:
The wrong pass in Toau. As the name suggests, this bay almost became a reef entrance – but now there is a reef in the middle of the way blocking the passage. What remains is an insanely beautiful bay with an incredible number of fish, clear water and nice people.
Valentine and Gaston run a small restaurant ashore. They are very warm and sailor friendly. We sat together a few times in the evening, laughed, drank beer, and learned to weave headbands from palm leaves.
On 03.07. we cast off and set course for Papeete, the final destination of our journey. Emma met with her aunt to spend a few weeks together and G is looking for a new boat to sail towards New Zealand.
We parked WASA right in the center of town in a marina. – The first one since Panama! Divided by three the price was okay and after such a long time it has been incredibly convenient! We could go to the city independently without a dinghy, had real showers and it was only a stone’s throw to the next bar, supermarket or sail store.
Emma has been on board a little more than five months! We have argued and partied, had rain as well as sunshine, but most of all a super good time! Together we have sailed 5900 (five thousand nine hundred!!) nautical miles and have covered the longest of my passages (Panama – Nuku Hiva) in 34 days.
„Good job team!“
I used my two days alone to do little things on the boat and to meet old friends. Since the beginning of the week Maelle and Keren are on board. We met in Fakarava during a music show. Maelle is from Belgium, studied in Papeete and wants to learn to sail on the way to Fiji. Keren is from Israel, knows Maelle a week longer than me, knows a bit about sailing and was currently backpacking in FP. Both dive and hike, are crazy about whales and super fun.