The Tuamotu has been everything we could have imagined and more. I personally would love to spend 3-4 months exploring these amazing islands, with clear warm water, steady trade winds, an abundance of fish, seafood, deserted beaches, perfect waves, world class scuba diving, kite boarding, windsurfing, spear fishing and most of all friendly, welcoming people.
Whilst still in Fakarava, our newest crew member, Moji went ashore and befriended Sophie, a French girl who had had enough of the rat race in Paris and moved to this Atoll some 3 years ago. She built herself a little house and setup a vegetable stall out the front. It was her day off and she invited Moji for drinks with the local girls.
Sophie on the far right and the local femmes….
The next day we visited Sophie’s vege stall to get some fresh supplies. Gavin, Sophie and Hanne from Sequel.
that evening The Ashleys put on on a big dinner and we mixed it up with the whole crew from Khamzin and Squander creating a party of 15 aboard Backbeat.
Andy and Bettina.
Simon and Moji took an afternoon to hire some bikes and tour the island.
We left Fakarava Atoll with Sequel leading the charge and Backbeat and Squander following. We had a 20 Nautical mile sail in great conditions.
Backbeat setting the pace
Wind against tide creating choppy conditions in the North Fakarava Pass
On the way to Toau we were desperately trying to catch some fish when both lines went off…. we had hooked a male and female Mahi Mahi of a size that I have never seen.
Andy & Simon got the female onboard whilst I fought the Bull (male) for some 30 minutes.
the beautiful lady .
Someone (we won’t mention any names) turned their back on the 1m+ female and she jumped overboard… as soon as that happened the male (Bull) put on the biggest fight I have ever witnessed from a fish – far more then a marlin or sail fish.
getting pretty exhausted after a good fight
I got the male Mahi near Squander and we could not believe our eyes – it was a beautiful monster… but he just refused to give up and in the end managed to break the line…. it was poetic justice as we let the girl getaway and he rejoined his female companion!
as close as we got to landing the Bull
Rob and family on the almighty Sequel sail past as we fight with our fish
By the time the ordeal was over we were way behind Sequel and Backbeat who were approaching the anchorage in the distance.
We ended up anchoring in the dark in a deserted part of the Toau Atoll. A mid sized Atoll that has 40 human inhabitants, after 6 days we met 3 of them!
Luckily Rob didn’t let his fish getaway and I cooked up a big Fish soup for everyone that night!
We woke up the next day in Paradise. Khamzin arrived soon after.
Backbeat, Squander, Khamzin and Sequel in Toau.
With a perfect 20 knot breeze, we wasted no time to set up the kites and spent 2 days kiteboarding in crystal clear water, with massive sting rays and other fish darting underneath us.
Our trusty dinghy has been running overtime delivering us to kitebaording, scuba diving and surfing locations.
Andy powered up hunting for the next gust.
And finding it just in time for a photo!
then it was my turn….
Starting to get the gibes down.
The water was mind-blowingly clear…and shallow!
Trying to get some air.
Don Simon and Moji arrived soon after… wasting no time…
Simon got in the water…and
…nailed it! – yeehah!
Andy amused himself trying to practice climbing coconut trees.
Taking Rob’s windsurfer for a spin.
After a solid kitebaording session we made a big BBQ on the beach, followed by a bonfire.
Setting up camp on the deserted Motu
A fallen palm tree for a bench.
Hanne – the new lady of the house is happy!
… and before long all 19 crew from 4 boats join in the fun!
The last of Rob’s Mahi Mahi was a tasty treat!
Freya was still hungry and went Crab hunting up a tree
Poor fella didn’t stand a chance.
Hanne and Moji kicking back after lunch.
Rupert, Khamzin’s skipper, showing off his new Polynesian Tattoo.
Raffa getting coconuts for desert.
….and then making the mistake of teaching Freya to climb Coconut Trees… but not how to get down!
We started a small fire during the day….
…and as the sun set, Rob decided to rid the entire island of dead wood!
The following day was more kitebaording and snorkelling.
Andy Has been spear fishing a lot so we’re eating fresh fish often – Marbled grouper, parrot, and a few others.
Cleaning the day’s catch.
Chilling out, cracking coconuts, chasing crabs and throwing the frisbee around… it’s tempting to not leave!
A quiet dinner aboard Squander .
After a number of days in Paradise we decided to keep moving for fear of never leaving, Khmazin decided to sail direct to Tahiti, where as Sequel, Backbeat and us headed for the tiny bay at the north of Toau.
Arriving in Anse Amyot.- view from the mast
We caught an unidentified fish but had to let it go as the ever present Ciguatera threat has us a little freaked out if we don’t recognise a species.
Sailing into the pass at Anse Amyot, Toau, Tuamotu
From left to right a Swedish boat, Cool Cat from Cairns, Sequel from Newcastle and and Sabina from Alaska.
Backbeat on the left moored next to the small village where only three people live permanently.
We happened to have arrived on the day of the 19th wedding anniversary of Valentine and Gaston – a great couple who live on the Atoll alone with grandad… that day all the cousins and aunties were there swelling the population to 14 people.
View from Shore.
Gaston – Husband, fisherman, repairman and non stop machine – he is 1/3 of the permanent population of this Motu.
As soon as we came ashore, Valentine had us involved as if we were part of the family – moving tables, setting up, walking around with entrees. Sometimes you meet people that have a natural talent for forging relationships at lightning speed – Valentine has this and she effortlessly gets things done with a huge smile on her face, whilst having time to sit, chat, show us how to crack coconuts and drink rum the Polynesian way .
Valentine was the perfect host inviting us to come back to dinner the following night.
Gaston gets the party started as Valentine hides from the champagne cork.
We voted Hanne to be the “cruiser’s voice” and to make a small speech in French on our behalf.
We had a great party, eating, drinking and enjoying the Polynesian hospitality. The couple of the moment (no – not Andy and Simon) sang a couple of Polynesian songs with Valentine playing the Ukalele and all of the local folk joining and singing.
Gaston punching out a few hits.
Moji, as always a great ambassador and champion “wing woman” helping us meet the local ladies.
Hanne from Sequel and Grandad!
the lovely Vaea – Valentine’s niece.
Rob from Sequel with Vaea’s mum
Rob on fire!
The party getting started on the dancefloor
“Half your age plus seven” theory was getting stretched a little too far here
I love the fact that Squander seems to sniff out parties – even in a remote Atoll in the middle of the Pacific!
Introducing…. THE ASHLEYS!
Valentine and Don Simon all smiles!
The next day we did 2 dives in crystal clear water… and that evening Valentine and Garston invited us to dinner of freshly caught lobsters, Poisson Crue and Tuna sashimi… another fun night with 14 people from the anchorage all joining in… some oldies from Sweden and Germany, Sequel, us and Darren & Harruko from Cool cat.
Andy break dancing 20 metres underwater.
Messieur Moray eel looking angry!
Laughing underwater – Andy’s been using the compressor to fill our bottles with….??!
Plenty of these weird, spiky creatures crawling all over the sea bed.
The yellow trumpet fish…
Rob hanging out off the wall!
Before long the sunset was ringing the dinner bells and it was time to go ashore again for a local feast – it was full moon and Garson had been lobster collecting the night before coming home at 3:00am with 30 KGs of live lobsters after only 1 hour!!
BBQing a small portion of the catch.
Simon, Moji and Valentine.
The next day we spent the morning on land having morning tea with Valentine and Garson. by 11:00am Garson was off fishing for the day, and it was time for us to say goodbye to Toau and the great experiences we had here and motor to Apataki – our last Atoll in this amazing part of the world. We said our goodbyes, accepted parting gifts of freshly made coconut cream, fillets of parrot fish and live sea snails and pointed Squander at Apataki.
Despite Simon’s prayers on the bow, we had no wind and had to motor the whole way there.
Entering the pass at South West Apataki.
There’s a fairly established community here with almost as many people living on water (it seems) as there are on land.
Bullet proof seas side living – you can catch a seafood smorgasbord right out of your kitchen window!
The local dock only gets used once a week when the supply ship comes in which means the rest of the time it can be used by US!! it’s big enough for three yachts – we were the fourth yacht to arrive and missed out on a spot – lucky for us Rob from Sequel was kind enough to offer us a raft up…
Sequel and Squander rafted up in Apataki with a full moon in the background.
With everyone safely tied up we decided to celebrate with a dock party!
almost everyone accounted for – Che, Andy, Ben, old mate and Tony, Tristan, Trstan’s brother, Hanne, Rob, Simon, Darren and Haruko – Moji, Angus, Freya and Gavino taking the photo and art directing the shot.
Andy and the LA PELICANA boys from Brisbane
Early the next morning the spectacular sun rise awoke Squander….
she looked eager to keep exploring….
at 6:00 am the locals are out in force….
Hanging out, eating breakfast, talking, laughing
All eyes on Tony and the lads on Prinz Karl as they hooked another huge fish before the rest of us had even woken up.
We decided to leave the dock and set sail for a tiny island some 5 miles inside the Atoll… we dropped anchor and waited…. After not seeing MAD since Panama some 2.5 months earlier, they had finally caught up to us….
Rebecca waving to us or is it to her Soul mate Moji???
This was MAD’s first stop in the Tuamotu so we got up early and took them exploring – anchoring off a secret reef for some out of this world snorkeling in Crystal clear water..
Andy the human fish herder.
Spin that wheel – The school swims around Andy.
Our version of Peak hour traffic.
coming up for air.
The fish scatter….
As old mate sharky comes in for a closer look.
the puffer fish playing hide and seek
From one secret spot to another – we dropped Simon onto MAD and they went on to explore the local pearl farm – where as Andy and I arranged to meet up with the Pelicana boys at a secret spot that was reporting some world class waves. It was shallow and not as big as we had expected it… but it was ON!!!
Smiles all around – dinghing to the break
Where did he go???
Andy into it… with at least 20 cms of water between his board and the reef below.
Oh to be a goofy – Ben charging!
Ouch – every fall almost guarantees a reef scrape or two.
Andy waiting his turn in the small crowd,
The following day, I decided to bypass the surf as one too many close calls with the reef freaked me out a little… it paid off as the local outrigger crew were looking for an extra body to train with.
Slipping into the coveted number 5 position
Exhausted but stoked after a long non stop paddle for miles offshore in the rolling swells.
Obligatory team shot.
followed by a stretch with the lads.
With our water sport appetites truly sated, it was time to head for Tahiti… to make some repairs, provision, party and pick up new crew.
A satellite view of the tiny portion of the Tuamotu that we visited.
As always there’s lots happening onboard and the next blog from the Society islands is already looking Jam packed!!