Not so long ago, most boats/cruisers avoided the Tuamotu’s. They were called the dangerous islands (or something like that). All reefs, not very well charted and most of them you cannot see until you are just few miles away in the daylight, at night you would not see them at all. The charts of the area nowadays are a lot better and GPS makes it that much more easier. The passes into the atolls are not so easy. The majority of these passes are only safely traversed at or near slack water (that short period of time between low and high tide). Unfortunately there is not a good source (that we have found) for when slack water actually is in these passes, and even if there was, there are so many different variables for each atoll and the weather at the time that those would be inaccurate anyway. We have developed a technique however. And should you find yourself in the Tuamotu’s feel free to use it. The technique. We find the closest island on our charts with a tide table and use that time as a very rough guess. We then send an email to our land based shore operation headquarters/weather router (L.B.S.O.HQ/WR for short). He internets for us and replies to us with the times for slack water, which are just as inaccurate as what we come up with(Seriously though, thank you Eric). We take both of these times, average them and subtract a half hour. At the appointed time, we then wait another 20-25 minutes then slowly approach the atoll and watch the current in the pass. If it looks relatively safe we proceed. Otherwise we wait. Yep….it’s just that scientific. The first atoll we stopped at after leaving the Marquesas was Makemo. We arrived there late in the afternoon, about an hour after slack water, which meant we could not get in that night. We hove-to about 5 miles off the reef/atoll until sun up and for the next tide change. Heaving to in the open ocean is very mellow. Once the boat is setup and the sails are set correctly. Everything flattens out (relatively). We made dinner, watched a couple movies and chilled. All went well in the pass and once inside the atoll the water changes from open ocean conditions to almost flat calm, lake like conditions. We are currently at our second atoll, Fakarava. To use the term “Island paradise” would be a substantial understatement. I cannot really begin to describe it, and since I am posting this via Ham radio I cannot upload any pictures. So hit CTRL, T and google for a bit. That will have to tide you over till we get to Tahiti and get some solid internet. We have been anchored here in the south end of Fakarava for a little over a week now. We don’t really wanna leave but there are other places to see. We’ve spent most of our time snorkling, diving, kite boarding (trying) and exploring the motos. A few nights ago me and 3 other guys from a couple other boats decided to go lobstering. We waited till after sunset and dinghied out to the reef to catch some lobster. It’s not too hard once you spot one, which is hard. Once spotted, you blind him with your flashlight and grab him with your other hand from behind. You gotta be fast and they are crazy strong for their size. If you still happen to have that other tab open take a look at a picture of the southern tip of the atoll. Or better yet, go to Google Maps and drop these coordinates in there; Dinghy anchor spot 16 32’08.4 S 145 28’18.9 W Turn around 16 32’57.2 S 145 29’54.2 W Not that far apart. Straight line about 2 miles. Keep that in mind and let me paint you a picture. It’s 8pm. The Sun has been down for 2+ hours and the moon is about to set. It is dark. We anchor the dinghies and tie a small flash light to a palm tree so we can find our spot on the return. With headlamps and hand held flashlights we walked out to the edge of the reef in water that ranged from ankle to thigh deep. The terrain, a murderous combination of lava rock and coral reef. At the reef’s edge the swell and waves from the ocean are slamming into the reef about 20 feet away. It was low tide, so most of the waves would slam into the reef and die away after crashing into the reef. Every few minutes or so a big set of waves would roll through which would break over the reef and sweep toward us. Falling down is NOT an option. Remember that murderous terrain we are walking on? Falling down turns that into a human cheese grater. That two miles we walked took us 3.5 hours but we managed to catch 25 or so lobsters. We now had to get back, but the tide was rising so we could not safely………(excuse me, bahahahhahhaha…)..ahem…walk the outer reef so we went into slightly shallower water for the return. As an added bonus I was carrying a mesh bag with most of the lobsters in it. That basically made me a walking chum bucket. I had to turn around every so often and kick at the reef sharks that were following right behind me to keep them from going after the lobsters we had caught. I kept telling myself they were going after the lobsters…… “Self”, I would say. “They are only going after the lobsters.” The walk back only took 2 hours and at 2am I was safely tucked into my bunk, swearing to never do that shit again. The next day we had a beach bonfire and grilled up the catch making all the trouble of the night before worth it and of course talking about the next time we should go.
Weather where we are.
Miles sailedSince 11 May 13