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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.!


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.

Follow us on our tracker at :



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Daylight Robbery in Kauehi.

1st - 10th April 2018


Once back onboard GWTW after Easter Sunday Mass (see previous post) it was time to change from our good clothes and get back into our usual garb of shorts and tee shirts. Yours truly went down into our cabin and immediately noticed a puddle of water on the floor. Strange, as all the hatches had been closed before we left the boat in case of rain. I reached down to taste it. It was salt water.




Distant sound of alarm bells started ringing in my head, but logic hadn’t quite kicked in and I figured that while I had been in the bathroom Liam had plodded downstairs without rinsing off his feet in fresh water first. So I dismissed the puddle,cleaned it up and got changed.


Our plan for the rest of the day was to move the boat to the south-east of the atoll and spent a few days enjoying gin clear water to snorkel in, sandy beaches and palm tree covered motus before heading over to the next atoll of Fakarava. So without further ado we raised the anchor, unfurled the jib and set sail drifting south at a leisurely pace. We arrived a few hours later, negotiated our way in through a few coral bommies and plopped the anchor down in a nice sandy patch. By now it was around 3pm and the sun had started it’s descent into the western sky.


A quick snorkel was on the agenda for me and Liam wanted to spear a fish for dinner. When he went to get his spear gun he couldn’t find it and that got us thinking.  Had we seen it in the cockpit when we returned from church? The answer was no and confusion reigned as Liam starting searching the deck lockers for it in case he put it away. In the meanwhile I returned to our cabin to take off my necklace before we ventured into the water and as I reached for my jewelry pouch, which wasn't were it should have been, the penny dropped. The saltwater on the floor, a missing spear gun and now my jewelry pouch. We had been robbed!


Further investigation revealed the bastards had taken it all. They had pulled all my clothes from the cupboard along side our bed, rooted around ‘till they found the rest of my precious things, stuffed the clothing back in and shut the door. We were both devastated, actually that word doesn’t even come close to how we felt. All my wedding rings were gone, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and even the everyday pieces that I had collected worldwide over the last 30 plus years…  all gone. The tears poured from me as if a dam had burst. The mood was not good on GWTW that evening. These guys certainly knew what they wanted. No cash was missing, no electronics taken just the easily transportable jewelry. The cheap stuff would have not liked being in salt water as  he or they swam back to shore but the good 18K gold would not have been affected at all.

P4030714The following morning we sailed back to the village and reported the theft to both the mayor and the police, who in turn reported it to the Gendarmes in Tahiti.

Within a few hours a villager came forward and reported he’d seen a man with a spear gun. As no one in the village apparently owns a spear gun, it stood out like doggies when the thief emerged from the water. The police questioned the suspect and within minutes the gun was returned, although the man in question was adamant he knew nothing of the jewelry and that he “found” the gun laying on the sea floor in 15 metres of water.  Yeah right!

The thing was that where we says he found the gun was nowhere near our boat and the water in that area is just not that clear that he would have been able to see the bottom. Also the gun does not float so how did it get to where he supposedly found it without human intervention?


The mayor & the police informed us that there had never been a boat robbed while anchored at Kauehi. Well it was a first for us too. They asked us to stay another few days while they investigated further but towards the end of the week nothing more had come to fruition. My rings etc were more than likely in a pawn shop in Tahiti or had been melted down for the gold and diamonds by now.


This experience has left a very stale taste in our mouths and has tainted our opinion of this beautiful island and it’s people. We felt there was no longer a reason to stay. So we left, brokenhearted.

We  spent a few more days down on the southeast side of the atoll and were joined by Bijou, a Swedish boat which was part of the world ARC rally whose participants rush around the planet in the space of 15 months. That’s something we could never do.


We did our best to forget about what had happened, but you know, it’s a really hard thing to do. Liam has promised that we will get new rings made but it will never be the same for me.


So we spent a few more days snorkeling and reading.  Liam speared a lovely grouper and a big parrot fish but then the sharks, six of them, got a little too close for comfort and he eventually gave up.



We strongly advise that those in our wake take heed of what happened to us.  I would advise NOT to anchor off the village if you are the only boat. There are brazen individuals in this cute little village who are game enough to swim out to your boat in broad daylight and relieve you of things that are dear to your heart.

Forewarned is Forearmed as they say.

Kauehi in the Tuamotus is a place we will never forget, Sadly for all the wrong reasons.

Follow us on our tracker at


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Kauehi : A south Pacific Paradise, almost.

27th - 30th May 2018

Tearavero Village


Having read and heard excellent reports about this quiet little atoll lying just 72 miles to the east of Apataki in the Tuamotus, we earmarked  it as our first cruising destination of 2018. A slow, steady and uneventful overnight passage, which was just what we needed to to get back in the saddle after a few months of being landlubbers, fitted the bill nicely. A couple of rain squalls  throughout the night kept us on our toes but other than that it was a piece of cake.

P3280490We arrived at the Kauehi pass and entered just after 10.30 am on May 28th. The pass sits on the western side of the atoll and from there it was an easy sail across the lagoon to the anchorage off the village of Tearavero eight miles to the east. On approach to the village the water colour changed from deep cobalt to amazing hues of pastel blues. Even after all the years we’ve spent cruising in tropical waters, the colours still blow us away.

P3290496 (2)_LIThere are three anchorages off the village. One in front of the town dock, one in the middle and one a smidge further to the north. All three are an easy dinghy ride to the village. After nosing around at #1 we skirted the edge of a smallish reef to the middle anchorage. There were five or six or mooring balls here and we were unsure if they were for visiting yachts or for the exclusive use of the locals. Erring on the side of caution we decided to drop our anchor. The water wasn’t deep and we found a spot just under half mile from the shore behind the mooring field. By now it was early afternoon and it was time to put our heads down for a snooze. Shore side explorations would  just have to wait until tomorrow.


It was Easter week and being Holy Thursday we figured that what shops were to be found would probably be closed over the coming days, so we hot footed it in to the main drag to see if we could find the grocery store. As it turned out there were three in the village but I only took a photo of two.

P3290500 P3290503

P3290505We sussed out the shelves of all of them and the winner with the most stock was Mr Yip’s, now known to us as the green store because of it’s outside colour The other two, the house store because it looked more like part of someone's house than a shop and the Coca-Cola store because of the bunting around the eaves each had their merits, but we chose to spend  most of our money at Yip’s.

The coca-cola store though did get massive brownie points for selling bags of fresh lettuce once the supply ship had come to town, and wonderful pastries after the plane from Tahiti had landed.

P3310546 P3310551

      P3310554 - CopyP3310555 - CopyP3310556 - CopyP3310557 - Copy

            Above are photos of the pretty shell light fittings in the church

P3310564Good Friday and Easter Saturday were pretty low key. With no other boats in the anchorage to socialise with we took walks ashore to the ocean side of the atoll, snorkeled the small reefs close by GWTW and Liam spent much of his time improving his spear-gun techniques hunting grouper and parrot fish, with limited success.

  P3310576  P3310580

   P4070770  P4070798

Easter Sunday Mass.

DSCN3166April Ist, Easter Sunday morning, we decided to go the 8am Mass as the church was right there at the end of the village dock. Now we are not devoted catholics by any means but if we happen to be in an anchorage and there is a church service of any denomination close by we will usually make the effort and attend. So far all of the services we’ve been to in French Polynesia are spoken in French, Tahitian or the island’s native dialect so we really don’t get much of an opportunity to join in. But the singing, no matter what language, is always fabulous.


The clanging of church bells began ringing out fifteen minutes before the service started just to remind those who might be running a tad late to get their act into gear. We arrived to a milling crowd outside the front porch doors while the choir inside were finishing off their last minute rehearsal.

Ladies in their Sunday best complete with hats adorned with flowers and men with tailored long pants and collared shirts shuffled into the pews.

DSCN3152We took up our seats towards the rear, breathing in the delicious sent of fresh frangipani the flowers of which decorated the alter, the statues and many necks of the faithful.

The service was lovely with a nice touch being that all the bible readings and some of the prayers were delivered by children who were part of the choir. In fact most of the choir were children with only a handful of adults thrown in for harmonizing and instrument playing.


Mass finished an hour later and outside the church many folks, including the mayor came up to greet us, after all we did kind of stand out in the crowd. Minutes later everyone including us were on their way home.


If only we new what was in store for us back on GWTW. More about that in our next post.

Follow us on our Tracker at :