Friday, June 8, 2018

Fun & Fishing and Farewell Fakarava

26th May – 7th June 2018

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As the days roll on here in Fakarava we never tire of the scenery or the laid back pace of life. We’ve particularly enjoyed the gorgeous anchorage of Harifa, in the south east-corner of the atoll, which is a true south pacific postcard but in real life, not just on a piece of cardboard.

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Liam is now the proud owner of a new spear-gun made by Marco, a local chap with a business called  “Blue Water Killers”. Marco custom makes the guns to suit the owner’s needs.

So while we have been killing time during my slow recuperation, Liam has been honing his skills with his new weapon and the sea has been providing a very good bounty as reward for his efforts.


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DSCN3415I should mention that not all fish caught in the Tuamotus are safe to eat. Some species are ripe with the ciguatera toxin which will make you terribly sick and in some cases put you very near death’s door. So you really have to check with the locals before you take a bite. For us in the Fakarava lagoon the known safe species are the blue-green parrotfish, Unicorn fish, Surgeon fish, Dogtooth’s,  and in the south end of the lagoon Camouflage Grouper.

There is an excellent online guide, www.ciguatera-online.com which spells out reported cases and the species involved for the islands of French Polynesia. It is worth a look if you intend to fish in this part of the world or anywhere for that matter.

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He’s also tried his hand at night fishing from the back of GWTW with mixed results. A couple of grouper have been caught on a hand line but the prize trophy, which was within a bee’s dick of being dragged onboard, was taken by a shark at the crucial moment. Still we did end up with the head.

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Other than that we have had a few more catch-ups with old ( Daryl & Annie from No Rehearsal) and new cruising friends ( Peter & Sandra from Mazu11 & Douglas from Gillean) and we’re now waiting on my butt getting the all clear from the clinic nurse next week, for a toilet part to arrive via Fed Ex from the US (luckily we  have two toilets on board so we haven’t had to resort to using a bucket) and for the weekly supply ship to arrive so we can top up our diesel tanks. We haven’t taken on fuel since last September in the Marquesas and we’re getting rather low.

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We had yet another lovely dinner ashore last night here at Pakokota  Yacht Services compliments of Agnes’s superb culinary skills. The table was set for ten guests which included us. Pre dinner drinks were being held outdoors and when we arrived the other eight were already imbibing.

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There were three faces at the table who looked quite familiar, but one of those faces really had my mind searching the back room of my memory banks, I knew this face but was having trouble placing it. I said to him, “I know you don’t I, and the reply was yes”. I know you also said the rather handsome frenchman. But from where I asked. Well the answer knocked me for six. I was sitting across from the doctor who had very recently preformed surgery on my behind during my medical sojourn in Papette hospital three weeks ago !  The two other chaps were also doctors who I’d seen in the ER .Sure didn’t think I’d be seeing them all again so soon. They were all here to go kayaking and camping on the motus scattered around the lagoon for a few days R&R from the hospital. I never in my wildest dreams have  thought he’d be coming to dinner.

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Our last day in Fakarava was busy with a trip up to the village for one last visit to the clinic with my very good friend, nurse Christine. She gave me a clean bill of health and we both had a tear in our eyes as we hugged and said goodbye. She was a real Florence Nightingale that women, and I will miss her dearly. Next stop was a quick trip to the veggie stand  and supermarket, then it was back to the boat to pack away the groceries, top up the diesel fuel, put the awnings away and take a breath.


Come sunrise tomorrow if all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, including the weather, we will be finally leaving Fakarava after two months and  be on our way to the Society Islands at last. Well kind of on our way as we are going to squeeze in just one more atoll along the way. It’s really hard to tear ourselves away from these beautiful islands when we know we will never be coming back.

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Above and left are a few pics of street art in the village of Rotoava.

Zoom in to the one on the left and you will see the black pearls stuck on the branches and inside the shells,



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                      Goodbye Fakarava, we’ve had a ball !

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Firmly planted in Fakarava for a while.

20th April – 26th May 2018

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We've been in Fakarava for quite some time now, since April 10th to be exact, and we are definitely starting to wear a path from the north end to the south and back again. The tracks on our navigation programs are testament to that.

Leaving Pakakota we ventured a couple of miles further south to an anchorage named Tonae, a place we’d not stopped before. After threading our way in amongst the bommies we dropped the hook in a nice sandy patch. It was a delightful little spot with a long coral beach backed by palms, perfect for a walk ashore and a little shell collecting along the way.

The next day we headed back down to the south pass to catch up with Swiss friends on Kalea, so that Liam could buddy up with them for a few more scuba dives. Me, well, I preferred to just snorkel the pass. But no matter which water activity you choose it is always fabulous with an ever changing view of the remarkable underwater world. 

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While we were at the south pass Liam signed up with the local dive operator for a night dive with the sharks. After the event he said that the dive was one of the most amazing things he has ever done.

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Talk about up close and personal, he was even patting them as they whooshed past. During the predive briefing the instructor told the dive party that “happy hour” for the sharks is between 8.30 pm and midnight, so you definitely  don’t want to be in the water at that time. Their dive started at 5.30 and ended just after 7pm. The shark behaviour at this time of day is totally different to what we’ve seen during the daylight hours when they are quite laconic. Come sunset they start to rev up for the upcoming banquet and dart around in a pre-feeding frenzy  mode as they prepare to hunt down their prey.

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The following week became a bit of a blur as we socialized with friends we’d not seen for months. There were sundowners and dinners ashore, more snorkeling and diving with Liam even spotting a 15ft Hammerhead shark on a dive while we were back up at the North Pass again. Sadly he missed seeing the huge Tiger shark that other divers saw on the same trip.P5071378P5091380

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The waters here in Fakarava are prolific with life, both what you can actually see and some that is too small for the naked eye. Any type of scratch  has the potential to become infected and sadly that was the case for me.  After a few trips to the village clinic and a course of antibiotics the infection which started life as a tiny inflamed area on my bum morphed into a very ugly and painful sore.

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Crunch time came when clinic nurse examined it again, made a few phone calls and then said I needed to be treated in  the hospital in Tahiti. Within 30 minutes she had me booked on that afternoon’s plane, had organized an ambulance to meet the flight in Tahiti and had ticked all the boxes to have me admitted for surgery. My head was spinning. Luckily Liam was also able to travel on the same flight. So after a few days in hospital, surgery and then the remainder of the week in a hotel, we are now  back on GWTW minus a small chunk of my derriere.

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Nurse Liam is now very well acquainted with the procedure of sterile dressings as he has to attend to my butt daily for the next month. The bummer is that we are here in paradise and I can’t get in the water past my knees!!! There will be no photos on the blog of this event, it was a little too gruesome for general viewing I’m afraid. You’ll just have to be content with a myriad of other pics.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Fakarava : The second time around.

10th – 20th April 2018

Leaving Kauehi and our terrible experiences behind us we set our sights on the north pass of Fakarava. We’d spent some time at this renowned diving atoll towards the end of 2017 and Liam wanted to return to do a night dive with the rather populous shark community which inhabit the South Pass. I, on the other hand,  already have an appointment to wash my hair on which ever night he decides to play with the men in the grey suits.

It was a 40 mile drifter pretty much dead downwind from pass to pass, but we were in no great hurry. The north pass is very wide so even if we were late for the slack tide it wouldn’t present much of a problem.

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I must say our entry was a little sporty, The tide had already turned and there was quite an overflow effect happening. The water in the lagoon was trying it’s best to flow out while the pacific ocean was trying to muscle it’s way in. GWTW surfed down quiet a few  good sized waves but our trusty 75HP Yanmars held their own and made it look like a walk in the park. Pretty soon we were through the rough stuff and slipping across the flat, calm waters of the lagoon.

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We headed straight over to the main town of Rotoava and dropped the anchor just as the light was starting to fade. Not an ideal time to be putting the hook down but there was no choice as all the mooring balls were occupied.

Our four days in the town were busy. First up Liam had a visit to the health clinic for an infected sore on his arm which required some treatment and antibiotics. We also needed to buy outboard fuel for the dinghy and had an empty propane tank to refill. Fakarava Yacht Services (FYS) was able to help on both counts.

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DSCN3247The Cobia supply ship came in Wednesday morning and by 3pm, once the shelves had been restocked, the rush was on to beat the other cruisers who had appeared out of nowhere for fresh veggies and other delicacies not normally seen in these islands. I was in hot pursuit for plump red tomatoes. Every store I went to had some but they looked like they had done a few rounds with Mike Tyson. One shopkeeper told me that they were only fit for the rubbish bin.

Cruiser’s note: Diesel fuel can be bought from the Cobia if you call them up on the VHF radio and they have some to spare, if not place an order to come on next week’s delivery. You can either side-tie your boat to them and they pass down their fuel hose or take your jerry cans to the town dock and they will fill them there. The fuel is the regular price, not the duty free price

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The cruise ship Paul Gauguin also rocked into town spilling her human cargo onto the streets for the better part of the day.

The ship carries 1,000 passengers, a little overwhelming for the town of Rotoava.

The upside was that the jewelry shops and stalls were open for business and I was able to start procuring a new collection of artisan shell necklaces to replace some of my everyday necklaces that had been stolen.


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During our stay in the “Big Smoke” we had a couple of meals ashore with our Swiss friends Iris and Martin off  the cat Kalea.

One night was at a local cafĂ© named Palliotte and another at La Roulotte Vaiiti just a few mins  walk south on the main road from Havaki Pearl Resort, where we’d had lunch overlooking the lagoon the day before. It was a real treat to be in a place where you could actually go out for a meal.

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DSCN3221We had planned to move on to another anchorage the following morning, but  as we went to lift the anchor it had become snagged around several bommies. It took Liam at least six free- dives  in 32frt of water to sort out the cat’s cradle of chain. We then moved onto a vacant mooring ball. Kalea’s anchor had also become entangled in a coral bommie and no amount of coaxing would set it free. So we stayed to help them locate the anchor which had been unshackled from the chain, but sadly not marked with a buoy. They moved onto the town dock for the night  A day and a half later and after much scuba diving, the anchor was found. Moral of the story.. don’t unshackle your anchor from the chain without putting a marker buoy on it first.!

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With the anchor back on board both boats headed to Pakokota, which is around eleven miles to the south of Rotoava. We pulled out the jib and had a gentle sail down.

Pakokota is very popular with the cruisers as the owners of this small bungalow resort offer free mooring balls and wi-fi, so long as you go in and buy a beer or soft drink. For a small charge they will also run you back to town for supplies. I caught a ride with Agnes and had to snap this photo…of the child restraint seat. This arrangement probably wouldn’t cut it back in Oz!

DSCN3227Once you have the wi-fi code which is valid for 24hrs you can go back to your boat and surf the net until your heart’s content or your megabytes run out.

We caught up with friends Caro, Kurt, and their crew Diane on the USA-Maine flagged boat “Icebear” who we’d met up in Rotoava. They stayed here a couple of days and we enjoyed their company and having dinner both on their boat and on shore one night, when Agnes and Mathieu cooked a group dinner for GWTW, Kalea and Icebear.

DSCN3241Pakokota can be a very social spot to spend a few days as there is a regular stream of fresh faces with interesting stories stopping by. It’s also very hard to tear yourself away from the lure of the internet, but that’s not what cruising is all about. It’s about getting away from it all.

So today or maybe tomorrow we will head further south in search of another magic spot to stop for a while.

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