26 May Manihi Atoll in the Tuomotus
We are finally feeling revived after the big ocean crossing from Mexico! After 3 weeks in the Marquesas we had a four day/night sail to Manihi in the Tuamotu archipelago. We were able to sail the whole trip as we had 10 – 20 knot winds, with rocky and rolly seas, threatening clouds, but no real rain. (It appears we are getting more used to the rocking and rolling, as we complained less and seemed to be able to accomplish a few more tasks.)
We enjoyed three CALM days and nights moored in Manihi. An “Atoll” is a coral island consisting of a reef surrounding a lagoon. It is super beautiful here, bright blue, green and turquoise water, with lots of coral, white sandy looking coral beaches. Palm trees are the tallest things on the island. There are “passes” to get in and out, so you have to pay attention to the tides and plan to enter and exit during “slack” (when there is the least amount of water flowing). These passes from the open ocean into the shallow lagoons can flow like a river and test class II whitewater skills in our 40′ boat we call home!
Figuring out when slack is, took a little effort. Our chart plotters only show tides for an island nearby. We graciously received a tide calculator from the cruising community. This told us the best time to enter was 10:20. However, we had also received an email address for a local on Manihi, so decided to contact him. The times he gave us was one hour later. We decided to go with the local knowledge. However, we arrived about an hour early and the pass looked calm, but we were waiting for “slack”. As we sat outside the entrance we noticed things looked like they were picking up, so we headed in about 10 minutes before the local knowledge slack time. We found the current running about 2-3 knots slowing us down, we did ok, but realized that our tide calculator might have had the correct time. On our second day in Manihi we “scouted” the pass at slack (according to our tide calculator) and found that we did have the correct time. Hooray! Now we know when a good time to leave will be. Running whitewater in Maia can be avoided if our timing is right!
On our way towards the anchorage we received a call on the radio from a boat that was already moored. They filled us in and said that the mooring balls were secure and recommended we attach to one of them. As we got closer they offered to help us out. They jumped into their dingy and threaded our line through the mooring ball. It was wonderful to meet Agnes and Boss, from Ti Sento. They filled us in on the other island information. The cruising community is really amazing. What was also awesome was that there were only 3 cruising boats at Manihi. It is always nice to get away from the crowds.
Manihi has a lovely little village with two small stores (“Magazin”), a couple snack bars, one with a bakery, and a post office. Yesterday, Hannah and I went in to try to use Internet. The mayors office gave us the password to the villages internet. Very generous!
As we struggled for online access, we were visited by three young girls (8 & 10). Luckily, Hannah speaks French so she was able to converse with them. They were cute and silly and asked lots of questions. They would look over our shoulders to see what we were doing with our devices. I ended up showing them some of my pictures and video, they really liked the dolphins!
We had a wonderful time snorkeling along a reef near Maia this morning. We saw dozens of different kinds of fish. A black tipped reef shark got within 5 feet of Dick! Once they saw him they turned quickly away. Hannah saw three octopuses yesterday. It appeared one was protecting another or its territory. She saw two and their color was blending into the coral. They swam and sat next to each other and touched tentacles. As a third came near the sparks flew and one of them spread itself out over the top of the other and snapped out it’s tentacles and turned colors. She saw white, red and purple!
We left this afternoon on an overnight trip to Rangiroa, another atoll in the Tuomotus. It is a beautiful calm night with an almost full moon. The swell has been mellow at 1-2 feet, although it has recently increased. The wind is behind us and has remained below 10 knots so our speed would be around 3-4 knots with a lot of flapping sails so… motor on! And, our batteries need the recharge. It seems really strange to not be sailing. This is the only leg of our South Pacific journey that we have moto-sailed extensively.
Looking forward to exploring Rangiroa!