As passages go it’s been easy-peazy as you go. Winds have been lighter than expected but threatening to clock around and become a “noserly”. Not good. The sea state has been good, for the Pacific, and with the new rig we can live with less than ten knots of wind over the beam. Slowly, but with a steady stately progress toward the Tuamotus. The problem is that timing the entrance into the lagoons is critical due to the incredible tidal currents that often run at over nine knots through the passes. On a good day Escape Velocity, with both engines gasping, may push her to seven knots which leaves Yours Truly going backwards with a two knot deficit, and it occurs to same, would it be sailorly to turn around and steer looking backwards over the stern, starting a whole new trend in yachting? Why not?
So with the breeze pinching toward “noserly” we dropped the slatting mainsail, cranked-up the iron genny in favor of a spot of motor-sailing and all those timing issues went away and EV looked good for our ten-o’clock morning appointment at the pass.
I opened one eye for a precautionary peek. It had been a chilly eighty-two degree midnight to morning watch for Yr. Humbl. Svt. so I was still covered with our “on watch blanket”. Yes, eighty-two is chilly to us. Just fifteen minutes ago I had set the watch timer to the endless grays of false dawn. In that short fifteen minute span our last morning at sea dawned with a spectacular 360 degree panorama of every shade of Excello Pastels in the box. Greenish turquoise butted-up against robin’s egg blue next to oranges, pinks, and purples of every shade and hue. Breathtaking, no matter which way I looked it was misty, filmy, Turneresque, Excello Pastels.
Soon eagle-eye Marce, fresh from six hours of off-watch sleep, spotted fringe on the horizon because just the tops of palm trees are about all you can see of these low lying Tuamotus. Gone are the days of spotting soaring mountain peaks forty miles away. For our first pass entrance we chose Passe Garuae, the Northern Pass at Fakarava, not known for giving stressed skippers much stress. At three quarters of a mile wide it features less current and fewer reefs and coral bommies to run into. In fact, the catamaran Full Circle, who are not circumnavigating, left the pass at the same time we entered.
Once inside the lagoon you are still not done because Fakarava lagoon is thirty miles long and ten miles wide, give or take, which means you can’t see the other side even when you’re inside. Six miles later we dropped the anchor right off the charming village of Rotoava. Quite a few yachts at anchor here with rumors of two boats with BBC and French film crews here to film the yearly grouper spawning, and, as you Escapees know, lacking that fishing gene, it still sounds impressive, but, well you know, I guess one man’s nature film is just another man’s fish porn.
The pass and lagoon are well marked in the French fashion and nobody does colonial islands better than the French. Charming village with black pearls in every shop, although M. says they just look like ball bearings without the stigma of low cost. Cheap date that M.
I give it an eight with a bullet.