July 26th, 2018: After Mo’orea we did an overnight sail to Huahine, in order to arrive there with good lighting to navigate through the pass and shallow areas. La Cigale joined us for the fun.
The Societies offer a combination of “atoll” and mountainous landscape. They are surrounded by a perimeter of reef, channels that are mostly navigable by boat are access through a pass, and there is where you take your boat to known anchorages off the volcanic islands. Huahine offered great views, clear water, great surf, paddle boarding and culture.
The overnight passage along with S/V La Cigale was great. The pass into the island’s reef was also seamless, as we spectated local surfers doing what they’re natural at. We motored our boats down to the south tip, where it’s less inhabited with ancient sites to see. We spent the next few days, unwinding more from busy Tahiti life, paddle boarding around, swimming and walking to the Marae Anini (cultural site).
sunset SUP with La Cigale
Hammock time under La Cigale.
felt the need for inversions at this Marae.
Marae Anini : At the southern tip of Huahine is Marae Anini: an ancient meeting ground for worshiping gods and making human sacrifices. For a brief cultural background click here.
While I was away with Ellamae in the USA, Christian, Nina and Taj made their way over to Mo’orea, the beautiful island about 10 miles west of Tahiti. It was a great break from the busy Tahiti experience. They met a few new boats and few more great people. S/V Today was there with a active Kiwi family visiting that quickly became great friends. S/V Green Coconut Run from Santa Barbara was there and Tusi 2, with their teen grand kids visiting. Nina was in heaven with older kids around.
After about ten days there, Christian came back to pick me up from my return flight into Tahiti. We spent a few more days in the Marina Taina are, provisioning and exploring Heiva events.
We then returned to Mo’orea so that I can see the beauty for myself as well as meet with our friends on La Cigale, Kea, Bajka, Heritage and Tranquilo. With only a few day allotted for Mo’orea, we packed our “tourist” experience in before heading northwest to Huahine.
Coming into our anchorage in Mo’orea.
NIna and the Tahitian Stingray
SUP Yoga off the back of La Cigale with El (SV Tranquilo), Josie (Shawnigan) & Lucy (La Cigale).
Southwest of Kauehi is the atoll of Fakarava. Fakarava South is well known in the diving world for one of the most amazing shark drift dives. We were super excited to be heading there to freedive it and snorkel. We entered through the south pass with La Cigale directly behind us. Looking back, I’m unsure why, but we decide to take the east channel through to get to the anchorage/mooring area. It was only 3 meters at one point, which is plenty deep, but no room for error. As we motored against a strong 4 kt current, it looked like the reef was going to reach our keel at any second and we weren’t moving past it very fast. We made it, though on pins and needles the whole time.
We arrived on Tuesday to find that the anchorage was “empty”. There were only 4 other boats there and 2 free moorings were available. We grabbed one, but unfortunately the other one was too close to the other boat for La Cigale to grab, so they braved the anchoring within all of the coral littered bottom. This normally very crowded anchorage had emptied out due to the supply ship that arrives in North Fakarava on Wednesdays. Most of the cruisers all head up there on Tuesday to be there first thing in the morning on Wednesday for fresh produce. I wish I could say that we couldn’t have planned it better, but we didn’t plan it that way at all.
As we settled in, it didn’t take long to realize that this place was chalk full of reef sharks. Just looking off of our boat down 35 ft to the bottom, we could see sharks circling around. For the first time, they weren’t just black tip reef sharks either. We could see Grey reef sharks and White Tip reef sharks as well. We slowly lowered ourselves into the water for a closer look. Yep, they were all over and “friendly”. At one point I was able to attract a total of 9 sharks near the boat by splashing around on the surface. They were curious, but that’s as far as it went. We quickly realized we weren’t on their menu.
White tip reef shark
Bumphead Wrasse / Napoleon Wrasse
Vacation rental on the water.
Over the next few days, we snorkeled/free-dived the south pass. You do this by taking the dingy to the outside of the pass, and timed with the incoming tide/current, you drift back into the atoll, watching all of the sharks, Grouper, and other sea creatures along the way. There is a section called “the wall of sharks” , in which the sharks tend to congregate in huge masses. Over the course of 5 days I think we did the drift dive 8 times! Christian put a little video together of it. See it here on our YouTube Channel.
A week zoomed by. A portion of the kid boats we met in the Galapagos arrived here around the same time as well. We met up with SV Alondra, another kid boat from Canada, and a few other kid boats we hadn’t met yet. Edith on SV Alondra is a Marine Biologist and was very generous to put together a few boat school biology classes. She pulled out a few of her props for a lesson on Marine Mammals and again, on another day, her microscopes for a lesson on Plankton.
As our time in South Fakarava neared its end we had been out for nearly 3 weeks without reprovisioning. It was time to head up to “town”, Rotoava, in North Fakarava for a re-supply.
We had a great sail off the hook and back on again in the north end after dodging pearl farm buoys. See our swinging video here.
We anchored off of the town along with other cruiser friends. We first went to find some groceries. We were lucky to find that there were eggs available at the Fakarava Yacht Services facility. They also had wifi and coffee, both were not great , but did the trick. a coconut crab Ellamae and Megan off of SV Raftkin.Haley (Raftkin) and Nina
Pearl Lottery – pick out a shell and hope you get a beautiful pearl…
We spent a few days there, getting wifi, eating really good croissants, and doing a little SUP yoga and video with the ladies.
yes, that’s a shark… Nurse Shark
The crew off of SV Today stopping over to say hello. They have a ocean plastic awareness program called “eat less plastic” in which they are promoting through their sailing voyage.
saying “fair winds” to Alondra.
We finally were ready to head out to the next atoll, Toau. There was just one issue, the wind switched to the north, the direction we wanted to head in. Video and photos to be posted on our Toau post, up next.