Back In the Tuamotus

After a few months back working, we are back onboard. The boat was safe and sound after it’s 4 month stay in the Papeete marina, and we spent nearly two weeks at anchor inside the reef in Tahiti, re-aclimatising to being back on board, cleaning the hull, re-provisioning and generally getting back into the liveaboard life.

By that time we were itching to move on, so after getting our duty free fuel from the marina we headed out, skirted around the island and headed towards the nearest of the Tuomotu atolls – Makeatea.  Large waves and a dreary sky were not an encouraging first sail.

Lesley soon felt the start of sea sickness and after putting a few things more securely, when to hibernate on the leeward settee below.

The boat seemed to love the conditions and with minimum sail we ploughed on through the night towards the atolls. As the wind backed, it became evident that we were not going to make our intended destination without an even more uncomfortable bash to windward so we decided on Tikehau instead – another 50 miles further but a much nicer sailing angle.

We arrived at lunchtime and took a look at the pass which seemed ok. A quick radio to see if any other boats could advise on the tidal stream and after a reassuring affirmation from another cruiser we went through. Perfect timing – a gentle outgoing current and flat water! We prefer to have slack water or current against us since its easier to slow down or even stop if the sight ahead looks unwelcoming, something that is very difficult is there is a current pushing you onward towards the dangers.

Once inside the atoll our world stopped pounding up and down and became more civilised. Lesley started to smile again and we followed the well marked Channel to the anchorage on the eastern side of the atoll, sheltered from the prevailing winds.

Days start quietly on Tikehau. From the sky, this graceful atoll looks like a crown of white and pink-sand beaches shimmering around the Tikehau Atoll lagoon making it almost too breathtaking to be true. Only about 500 Tahitians call this tranquil world home, generations of fishermen whose lives revolve around the sea. And, it’s a life of both peace and plenty. After a few days of just enjoying the peace and quiet, and continuing the never ending list of boat jobs, we took a dinghy ride with another boat to the Manta cleaning site – a place where Manta Rays congregate to be cleaned by remoras. We tied the dinghy to the buoy, donned the mask and flippers and jumped over to take a look. We were not disappointed – within minutes we were treated to a circling Manta ray, well over 2 metres across just metres below us. The water was not as clear as some places but it was an amazing sight and went on for about 30 minutes.

Manta Ray being cleaned by remoras

We had read about the ‘Eden Isle’, or ‘Garden of Eden’ where you could supposedly visit and obtain freshly grown vegetables so we up anchored and took a trip up the eastern side of the atoll. Once ashore we were welcomed by a taiwanese gentleman who gave us a tour of their island.

Drying Sea Salt

The ‘prophet’, Elijah Hong, from Taiwan and leader of a sect called the NTC (New Testament Church) traveled around to search for a place to start their Eden project. There are also similar settlements in South Africa and California. When he came to Tikehau he said that he felt that God meant that this was the place. They then purchased a motu in 1997 and have lived off the land using natures resources and ‘farming as they did in the beginning.’

Healthy piglets

We were given a tour with fascinating explanations and ate cherries, mulberries and a variety of different leaves, that we would not have been able to differentiate from weeds. We were given aubergine, chili peppers, lettuces and basil. They also had vanilla growing and made their own sea salt as well as keeping chickens and pigs. We also purchased a cute pearl necklace and some rough pearls.

Vanilla growing

After another tough day, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the bay we opted to head back down the atoll to the village, where we went ashore, had a wonder around, bought bread, onions and ice creams, grabbed a bit of wifi from the post office and stretched our legs.

Fresh cherries

We left Tikehau early the next morning, to head for the largest atoll in the Tuamotus, and the second largest atoll in the world; Rangiroa.

We were lucky that our timing on both passes worked out well – no waiting around and flat water. Once inside Rangiroa, we headed for the anchorage where we have been ever since. The weather has not been great – very wet and squally, so we have yet to go ashore. However it is set to dry up later today, so fingers crossed.