Tag Archives: Mantus Anchors

Diving with Sharks! Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Fakarava

June 7th, 2018:

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.

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

We spent a few days there, getting wifi, eating really good croissants, and doing a little SUP yoga and video with the ladies.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.

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Kauehi, Tuamotus – French Polynesia

Tuamotus: Kauehi 1st of 3 Atolls visited May 31 – June 6th, 2018

As we left Nuku Hiva, not even an hour out, we caught a huge Wahoo! We hand reeled it all of the way into the stern and it shook itself loose.

Our passage from the Marquesas to the Tuomotus took 5 days. We probably could have done it in 4 days if we had left earlier in the morning, but we didn’t. After the first night it was clear that if we kept up the good speeds we would arrive to Kauehi South Pass entrance way to early in the morning. We didn’t want to be anywhere too close to that atoll in the dark, so we actually had to slow ourselves down at one point to make sure we didn’t arrive to early in the morning.

Kauehi was out first atoll we’ve ever been to. We were told by many people that it was one of the best In the Tuamotus. Our friends on SV Summer and SV Dol Selene were there already, waiting for our arrival. We ended up timing it just right . We arrived at the pass entrance at 11am. It was low tide and turning , but current hadn’t switched yet. We were still able to sail in without any Hic-ups. We were prepared for the worst. I was on the bow looking for coral heads and the girls were up in the ratlines doing the same. We had about 3 kts current against us, but the water was flat and we were able to move through just fine under sail.

One of the draws to Kauehi, is its relatively easy pass entrance and a well charted zone to navigate in and through to both the south east anchorage and the village. When sailing through Atolls, you have to plan your timing through the passes, for the current can be very strong and standing waves can occur. You also have to watch out extremely carefully for coral heads. Some are charted in up to date navigation plotters, but not all. As we sailed through the pass we were surprised how clear the water was and how a coral head 20 feet down looked like it was 10 feet down. We were going to have to get use to that!

We sailed all the way into the south east anchorage and onto the hook successfully avoiding all coral heads. That was exiting! We were happy to make landfall, greeted by our neighbors, and go for our first crystal clear Tuamotus Atoll plunge.

Kauehi turned out to be one of our favorite places so far. Clear, warm water to snorkel in, easy to hop on our SUPs and go for a good paddle, our first close encounters with larger black tip reef sharks, good cruising friends and beach bar-b-ques. A few more of the boats we knew arrived with kids (SV La Cigale and SV Counting Stars), so our kids were extremely happy about that too!

Over a period of about 5 days, we made daily trips to the bommies (coral heads) to snorkel, morning SUP and swim exercise, morning boat schooling and boat to boat social hours. What more could you ask for?!

SV Counting Stars in the Sunrise. The boys heading off to freedive some Bommies (coral heads).Leo and Christian played while Laurel and Josie played. Adult play dates!Ellamae paddles the Xterraboard over to other kid boats many play dates over on La Cigale. Bonfires, hermit crab collecting and releasing, and potlucks on the beach .sourdough loafs and sourdough pancakes!

and many amazing sunsets 🌅.

Next stop, Fakarava Atoll!

Why Mantus Anchors are amazing

We are very proud to be ambassadors for Mantus Anchors. As long as we put the proper scope out, our anchor grabs so fast and holds strong. That is why we call it our sleeping pill. We are posting this video because is gives a good demonstration of that. We have a lot of experience with others and so far our Mantus is “THE ONE”!

 

 

Petaluma sail: part 2 (better late than never)

Well, it’s better late than never. I finally had enough time sitting in front of a computer with adequate wi-fi to post a semi-descent blog posting of our Sail/Motor up to Petaluma and back, May 14-18.  The trip up to Petaluma was planned with a departure and meeting with our friends, S/V Sierra and S/V Gone Tomorrow, just off of the Berkeley Pier at 7am. We planned the early morning departure with the flood, in order to make our motor up the river easier. Going with the current and with a high tide is key for this trip. Another key point about this trip is making sure you schedule for the D Street draw bridge opening.  This requires a minimum of 4 hour in advance notice during the week and a 24 notice over the weekend. We remember to call that morning at 9:30 am, but the bridge attendant was able to work with our schedule. Thankfully we arrived on time. The motor up was perfect; no wind and warm and sunny until mid way up, then it rained.  Times like this, we really enjoy our dodger.  The rain cleared once we arrived in Petaluma. There was a few old classic boats tied up when we arrived, shortly after, we learned that this was the “Salute to American Graffiti” weekend in Petaluma and that another 15 or more boats would be arriving in the next day or two. Sure glad we got there a day early!

No complaints for my 34th birthday. The weekend was filled with fun times; communal dinners, potlucks, festival activities, a birthday yoga class with Jen, more friends, walks to the park, more friends and one late night birthday celebration. I think this was the only time I felt my aging body. Late nights, although a great time had by all, can’t do those so much anymore.

On Sunday, we planned our departure for our return trip based on the tide again, but this time we also had to wait for most of the boats that were tied up behind us to leave first. We left just in time to catch the 1pm D Street bridge opening. A lovely motor down the river lead us to a lovely sail in San Pablo Bay. S/V Gone Tomorrow had to head back to their port, but S/V Sierra and our family afloat sailed in to China Camp for a night. We stayed anchored for  the night. It was quiet and calm. A very different feel from Petaluma. It was a good way to decompress from the busy weekend.

On Monday, after some boatschooling in the morning, we sailed off the hook and in to Sausalito.

What a fantastic little weekend sail. It’s amazing how little distance you can travel by boat and feel so far away.

Picture from Andy’s boat on our motor up to Petaluma.

A view of the boat crew looking down the river at the city dock and market center. S/V Sierra in front, S/V Shawnigan second from front and S/V Gone Tomorrow third from front. Photo credit: to Andy on S/V Sierra.

Birthday drink at NATIVE KOMBUCHA BAR. Highly recommended!

Petaluma City Dock potluck for the “american graffiti festival”.

Nina and Ellamae pretend to grab the fake food off of one of the “American Graffiti” cars on display.

Taj “hiding” behind his fork.

yummy Petaluma Meat Pie from the Petaluma Pie Co.

Hammock Time!

Ellamae’s Papa giving her a henna face tattoo.

Nina getting all sorts of henna tattoos from Papa Jason.

Great company with Jen and her tight little tribe.

D street draw bridge opening up for us to leave Petaluma.

Heading down the river with S/V Sierra by our side.

Nina relaxed and reading after a long weekend of fun.

Here are some Videos: