Teti'aroa aerial view

Teti’aroa, aka Brando Island

Teti’aroa is an atoll (see last blog), which means there are islets or motus but no main island.  This particular atoll has no passe so we have no way of entering the lagoon.  But we were able to secure Sugar Shack to one of the five available moorings.  The five moorings are located just off the motu Rimatuu.  These are primarily used for charter boats who bring tourists here from Tahiti (33 miles south).  This is such a pretty spot that we decided to stay for a few days.  We had glorious sunrises over Rimatuu.

Sunrise over Teti'aroa

Sunrise over Teti’aroa

The tide exposes the plethora of rocks during low tide in the morning.  It still takes my breath away to see the surge breaking on the reef so close to our home.  The top photo shows the exposed reef as the tide goes out and the bottom shows the same spot with the incoming wave.

Surge and reef at Teti'aroa

Surge and reef at Teti’aroa

Charter Boat Hysteria

The charter boats come to Teti’aroa from Tahiti.  We had heard that the mooring balls were owned and operated by the charter boats but that cruisers could tie up to them if one was available.  We had tied up to the last one furthest away from the entrance.  Mainly because it was available and because it was not as close to the reef as the other available one.

At 0730 the next morning, the skipper from one of the charter boats came by and asked, “how long we planned on staying?”  We told him a few days and he mumbled something about “owning” the mooring.  He said that a lot of boats would be arriving later in the morning and he may have to tie up behind us.  We said, “no problem” and he went on his way.  We had heard that this might happen.  But what we were told was that we would have to give up the mooring and tie up behind the charter boat – which was not ideal.

By 0945, 6 charter boats had arrived.  Keep in mind there are only 5 moorings and we were on one and another charter boat was on another.  So, what happened you may ask?  The strangest thing we have ever seen.

The Game of Musical Chairs:

A Poe (name of charter) 40’ Lagoon tied up to a mooring.  Then a Poe 38’ Lagoon tied up to the first one’s stern (using their bridle and a line tied to one cleat on the stern of the first boat).  Then another Poe 40’ Lagoon tied up to the 2nd one’s stern.  What?  Yep, 3 boats tied on to one mooring.  Then a “Moorings” boat came in (that is a charter company called “Moorings”) and he tied up to a new mooring ball closest to the entrance.  And then a 70’ charter cat came in and tied to the 3rd Poe’s stern.  If you can believe it, then a Tahiti Tours Fountain Pajot came in and circled the group of boats.  It seemed to me a certain understanding was going on that we were not a part of.  The charter cat that was here the night before with the skipper who talked to us, left his mooring.  What?  Why would he do that?  He left the mooring for the Tahiti Tours boat and went behind the 70’ cat and tied up to him.  So, now 5 boats are tied bow to stern all using one mooring ball!

5 Charter boats on 1 mooring ball

5 Charter boats on 1 mooring ball

This is absolutely not advisable.  I am assuming they know their mooring and the strength of the lines, but still who would take this chance?  The captains spent the next 90 minutes ferrying their guests to the beach.  They only take 2 guest per dinghy ride in order to get up on plane to safely cross over the reef and surge.

Morning Swim?

We had lots of Teti’aroa friends protecting the boat throughout our stay at this atoll.  Several black tip sharks and lemon sharks swam around checking out our undercarriage.  The waters around Teti’aroa were brimming with sea life!

Protection from the sea

Protection from the sea

These sharks are relatively harmless.  They are not aggressive, but we still respected them and gave them their space.  No swimming or showering off the back of the boat for us.

We had hoped one of the boat captains would offer to bring us to shore since we did not want to risk damaging Sweetie.  However, they were very occupied with their 75+ guests so we stayed on board.

The next morning, we had swung around to have our stern pointing at the reef.  Now we were only 45-50 meters away from the breaking surge.  Still, nerve racking.

Surge over reef feeling really close

Surge over reef feeling really close

This was a truly gorgeous atoll.  We would have loved to explore the shore and sea of Teti’aroa a bit but the conditions were just not right.

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