Managreva to Tahanea, Feb. 14, 2004 – Feb. 20, 2004, 664 nm
We left Mangareva on the afternoon of Valentines day and ran downwind towards the dangerous archipelago, the Tuomotos. The first four days of sailing the winds were in the high teens and low twenties but the last two days were in light winds. We waited offshore of Tahanea the morning of Feb 20 until it was light and then went through Teavatapu Pass at 0900h against a four knot ebb tide. We anchored in 57 feet just offshore on the inside of the reef and relaxed.
Tahanea is a lovely, large, uninhabited atoll that has recently been designated a nature reserve. It has been used in the past for copra harvesting, copra being the dried flesh from the insides of coconuts which is sold to make coconut oil. We took the dinghy over to another part of the atoll and explored an abandoned copra camp, church and cistern. The cistern was about one third full of rain water that had run off the corrugated steel roof of the church. The inside walls of the concrete cistern were coated with a healthy growth of green slime – we were not that badly in need of water that we would fill our tanks with that. There are three motus inside Tahanea Atoll, on one of which resides the endangered Tuomoto Sandpiper, which Graham had told us about.
Stephanie and I snorkeled a number of the large coral heads in shallow water in the lagoon, marveling at the variety of tropical fish, sponges, sea cucumbers and coral. I went scuba-diving as well but the deeper water was not as interesting as the shallow water. After a short two days it was time to continue on our way.
Tahanea to Fakarava, Feb. 22, 2004 – Feb. 23, 2004, 75 nm
A brief overnight trip to Fakarava put us through the pass and anchored off the main village a little after noon on the 23rd. Another quick stop on our headlong rush to Tahiti, we spent only two days at Fakarava. We had a nice lunch at a hotel for a change of pace and did a walking tour of the ruins of an old WW II observation tower.
Fakarava to Rangiroa, Feb. 25, 2004 – Feb. 26, 2004, 130 nm
Proceeding generally North West we made our way to Rangiroa, the largest atoll in the Tuomotos. We got there just as the sun was setting and wanted to make it through the pass and into the anchorage before dark. The current in the pass was against us but we managed to power through it and, taking a right turn after the motu that divides the south end of the pass, anchored in the picturesque tropical lagoon.
We stayed here for a week eating in restaurants, diving, exploring and resting. We met the friendly crew of a 75 foot Swan, Cygnus Montanus, who were delivering the yacht to Papeete for its owner, a wealthy Swedish businessman by the name of Svanberg - head of Ericsson. A tour of that boat revealed how the other half lived – what a palace! Everything was electric or hydraulic and the living accommodations can only be described as luxurious. We made fast friends with the people on board and took a trip to the Blue Lagoon with them in the rain. Sadly, our schedule demanded that we get to Papeete, so on a lovely sunny day we left Rangiroa, this time through the west pass.