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Cabot's Log

Off to the Tuamotus

Posted: May 25, 2001

May 25, 2001

Off to the Tuamotus with clear skies and light winds that picked up for good sailing right into a frontal area. Squalls all night with some gusty winds, but we made good time to an atoll called Katiu. LAZY JACK whom we have just met sailed a few miles behind us all the way and we tied up together on the quay. Ron and Anna are a great British couple, but Ron had too much Brit in him so he was upset to not be able to catch the 50,000-lbs. American boat just ahead of him. Everyone underestimates the sailing qualities of a Hood "Whale" bottom design. The harbor is in the pass which is very tiny with no room, so we tied up in the middle of the town. By being in the pass, we had incredibly clear water and could see all the fish going back and forth from the lagoon. We hiked for two hours to see where all the workers who disappeared from town every morning were going. . In the middle of nowhere, we found a pearl farm with 70 workers, dormitories, Chinese girls imported to do the culturing, generators, and generally a bustling operation. The manager was extremely nice and very funny possibly quite glad to have some company in this isolated spot. His brother has a similar, but smaller farm in Kauehi.


June 4, 2001

 With freighters arriving we had to leave the dock so we bounced out overnight for Kauehi. Being forced to leave earlier than planned we hove to in the lee of the atoll of Raraka for the night. The full moon allowed us to stay pretty close to the reef. What a shame to give up such a great sailing breeze. Radar still "rules"!


June 6, 2001

 Learned from a Frenchman to forget about waiting for a favorable current in the pass and instead hug the sides and avoid the fierce current in the middle. It works! Kauehi has perhaps the best anchorage of the Tuamotus but we decided to anchor off the village for convenience. It was a surprise to be the only ones there. We made contact ashore with our friends from 14 years ago. The schoolteachers remembered Alex and Drew when they attended school here. Some of the people did not remember us as well as we remember them, but this is still a great village. Pearl farming has changed the prosperity of the villagers. They now bring in laborers from Tahiti and many pearl farms are scattered around the lagoon. The chance for employment and industry in these atolls is really positive. An airport has been built here with one flight a week; this will also change the isolation of these people. The French have done a good job in these atolls creating infrastructure to support employment.


June 14, 2001

 We sailed across to Fakarava from Kauehi; a beautiful day that disintegrated through the afternoon and night. The pass into this atoll is over a mile wide and deep so not much of a problem negotiating it except for the tremendous outflow from inside the atoll, the second largest in the Tuamotus (Rangiroa is the biggest.). These large lagoons can get very rough so the next day we sailed down inside the atoll with 30 knots of wind on our bow to the south end -- a much better anchorage and close to the south pass and some great diving. There are two small resorts (Resorts out here mean one to four cabins!) -- one with a compressor for filling tanks and the other run and owned by a man called Manihi. He turned out to be one of the most interesting people we met in the Pacific. He is directly descended from the old royal family of Tahiti, educated in New Zealand, and has an incredible sense of style.His house is wide open, traditionally built with local woods and palm fronds for aesthetics and practicality decorated in a unique way that makes your mouth drop. One quickly realizes that although he has lived in this isolated spot for most of his life, he is a sophisticated man. Great stories every night as we congregated in his chairs with a bottle of wine. Over the next two weeks we did a lot of diving in the pass, searching for lobsters on the reef at 3:00 AM (Actually Manihi gathered most of them.), helping Manihi move rocks to make a wall, and hunkering down as the wind blew hard for several days. Morgan (my nephew) and his girl friend, Angie, showed up on a small boat from the airport on the northern side of the atoll having made connections in Papeete from California -- something of a miracle making connections all the way through and then thirty miles down an atoll in a strange outboard without a hitch. Alex & Drew TOLD me there was nothing to worry about!!!


June 27, 2001

 Alex and Drew took the plane to Papeete and then on to LA, but first a day's stopover for Polynesian tattoos. Tattooing is an integral part of Polynesian culture and a real art.


June 30, 2001

 We arrived at Otugi Pass on the south end of an atoll called Toau, easily the prettiest anchorage we have seen in the Tuamotus, picture perfect with beaches and palm trees and only three or four families in the entire atoll. After a couple of days here we were joined by two boats from Australia, another one from New Zealand and BLUE YONDER. The energy level notched up a few degrees as we all did several drift dives in the pass as well as playing Boules ashore every day. The Kiwis and Aussies tend to be experienced sailors with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. It is always fun to be in an anchorage with them. July 5 We left the small harbor of Amyot on the north side of Toau after visiting with two families whom we had known on our first trip. The weather was good for jumping the 200 miles over to Tahiti so we only stayed in the anchorage two days.

Where to now?

Previous Log Entry: Two Months in the Marquesas
Next Log Entry: Teuila Festival in Western Samoa

Have questions or want to share experiences?

If you have questions about their voyaging, or would like to share similar experiences, email Cabot.

What is Cabot's Log?

The following log and pictures are from Cabot and Heidi aboard CHEWINK, their Lyman-Morse Seguin 49 which Cabot built in 1987 and has sailed more than 62,000 miles. The log follows them as they began their second circumnavigation in 2000 through their current adventures in the Caribbean.

Part VIII: Off Again!

Part VII: Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Key West, Bahamas, Bermuda, Home

Maine or Bust!
Belize and the Keys

Part VI: New Zealand, Dockwise, Golfito and Rio Dulce

Back in New Zealand

Part V: New Zealand

New Zealand

Part III: Society Islands, Western Samoa, Tonga & Fiji

9/11 in Tonga

Part IV: Through the South Pacific to New Zealand

Part II: Marquesas and Tuamotus

Off to the Tuamotus

Part I: San Blas Islands to Galapagos

Perlas Islands

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