After a a three day sail from Nuku Hiva, we arrived at our first atoll in the Tuamotus, Kauehi. We anchored in 3 meters of crystal clear water, that is like gin and tonic. Super clear, with black tip reef sharks, beautiful bommies (coral heads), parrot fish and a plethora of other fish I have yet to see. The silence is serene, broken only by the passing squawks of see birds.
|drone shot of our anchorage|
|black tip reef sharks off our stern|
|the long beach|
|the "sand" is tiny white shells|
|Element from the beach|
|the bon fire|
|chilling in the Manado hammock|
|one of the many hermit crabs|
|adding to the fire|
|sunset at the beach during the bonfire|
|the coconut crab that Manuel caught|
|a view of some of the homes|
|Element at anchor|
|a pile of coconut husks|
|the town church|
|these are used for pearl farming - they are used to capture the oyster young and allow them to grow|
|a great way to reuse an engine cover|
|chilling in the heat|
Once we were finished, we went over and tied up to the restaurant dock so that we could talk to the dive shop about diving. Originally, I was not planning to dive because my last dive scared me. Mark, the dive instructor sold me though, and Naddia, Manuel and I were booked for the following day at 16:00. That is when slack tide would turn to a flood tide, the best time to see the sharks in the pass.
|black tips in the shallow pool waiting to be fed|
|black tips hanging out|
|black tips from above|
|a local pig munching on a coconut|
|a vine covered tree|
|ready to explore|
|can you spot the purple coral|
|a great way to use some extra coconut husks|
|a tree reclaiming an old hut|
After leaving the south pass, we headed north and arrived into Rotoava. Once we were anchored we headed to land and walked around. It was getting close to dinnertime. We were having trouble finding a place to eat. It seemed like everything was closed (we found out later that most places had run out of food to serve and were awaiting the supply ship that was scheduled the next day). We eventually stopped at a fancy hotel, Havaiki Lodge for a drink before locating a food truck that served French cuisine. The atmosphere was lovely, there were several tables (which were all full as this was the only place open).
|view at the end of the dock at the Havaiki Lodge|
|french cuisine out of a van|
- pearl farming started in Fakarava 1958.
- The first pearls were harvested 1960.
- It takes 2 years to grow a pearl.
- The nucleus of the pearls are from a mussel shell that is imported from the Mississippi River. It is shipped to Japan where they make the different nucleus sizes.
- The black plastic bunches are placed on the west side of the atoll to grab the plankton and start to grow the oysters.
- The new oysters are gathered and brought to grow for 2 years in plastic bins protecting them from turtles, Manta rays and a type of grouper.
- Every 3 months the shells are cleaned of eggs growing.
- To implant the nucleus they take 20 shells at a time. One ouster is sacrificed to make 19 pearls.
- The outer black lips are used for the graph. They put a piece of the lips with the nucleus and place it in the stomach to grow.
|shell cuts, naked nuclei, pearls, and a cut pearl|
|The pearls that Paige, Jordan, and I acquired.|
|These were the pearls after shining.|
|jewelry being sold|
|new pearl earrings|
This was such a lovely stop. It is a false pass that has been equipped with several mooring balls. Another recommended stop! Gaston and Valentine live here. They are a lovely couple that really enjoy interacting with cruisers.
|Napolean fish aka hump headed wrasse|
The following day we headed further down. We hit a big squall which required all adults on deck to navigate through pearl buoys and watch for coral heads. We managed to squeeze in a shower as well. That's how much water was falling from the sky.
Upon arrival to the anchorage, we were hailed by a fellow cruiser who directed us around some coral heads. Apataki has a haul out facility (Apataki Carenage). It looks like a precarious haul out area however, many boats were hauled here. It is pretty remote but if you have an emergency, this is a possible solution.
The atoll itself is beautiful. There are two nurse sharks that are residents. They are regularly fed by a local. One allows people to pet it. It was an awesome experience!
|Manuel (sv Anima) and Shaun|
|Paige in her Element|
|Jordan enjoying her creation|
Michel builds fish traps near his motu, and he then sells the fish to local restaurants and fish markets. We happened to visit when the traps were full. Michel took us out to see the many fish that would be sold. There were large Napoleon fish, Goat, Parrot, Bar Jack, Snapper, Mullet, Seabream and many others. We were lucky to be able to see them before the boat from the village arrived to empty the trap. In order to have a fish trap in the Tuamotus, you must ask permission, and pay an annual fee. Not everyone is allowed to build fish traps.
After seeing the fish, we were taken to the rock of Apataki. A sacred rock in the shape of a bird. The locals believe, if a lei is placed over the birds beak, it will bring luck for fishing. In past times they would perform this ritual, to have luck in turtle hunting. The practice of hunting for turtles is now forbidden.
|the rock of Apataki|
|a small watermelon growing in one of Michel's gardens|
|Element anchored near the motu Rua Vahine|
We anchored very close to a lovely resort called the Kia Ora. This was our view from the boat.
It was a wonderful time at our final atoll before making our way to the Society Islands.
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