O’ Fakarava what a gem

Fakarava is the 2nd largest atoll in the Tuamotus, 2nd to Rangiroa.  Fakarava means “beautiful” or “making things superb.”  Dozens of cruisers told us of the beauty of this atoll.  It was an imperative stop to participate in the exquisite scenery above and below the water.

The land and underwater wildlife are remarkable as indicated by its UNESCO biosphere reserve classification.  The purpose of the reserve is to combine conservation of natural resources and human development in a harmonious way.  Including research, surveillance, training and education of locals.  The atoll features such an untouched environment that includes rare, endemic protected species. 

It’s easy not to miss the small, lovely islets that form a ring around the lagoon of Fakarava. After all, it’s the lagoon that draws your attention, its beauty pulling at you like a magnet. There is a purity in the lagoon, and in the quiet elegance of the marine life that live out their lives in the shallows near shore.

The famous French painter Henri Matisse claimed that colors were for setting oneself free. The artist spent three months in Tahiti in 1930 exploring as far as Fakarava, where he was enthralled by the infinite variety and shades of blue of the lagoon. This discovery was such that it triggered a new creative artistic move for Matisse. Think of Fakarava as visual therapy for the soul.

A little About Fakarava

The population is said to be around 850 residents.  Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen was the first recorded European to arrive in Fakarava in 1820.  The inhabitants were “evangelized in 1849 and the first local church was dedicated in 1850.  In 1995, the domestic airfield was inaugurated.

We left Apataki SE corner at 0945, took 10nm to get to the north pass, exited at slack tide 1100.

The first 3 hours we had one reef, full jib and averaged a remarkable 7.9kt with 15kt wind beam reach – truly awesome. If we maintained this speed we could have made it to the Fakarava pass by dusk.  However, we lost the wind half way there.  We had no choice but to slow theboat down, drop the main and make a slow passage.  Why you ask?  We could not make it before dark and had to wait for dawn – so we had 9-10 hours to kill.  We arrived at the pass at 2000, went right by it and motored 17nm out of our way at 3-4 kts.  Then turned around and returned back to the pass just before dawn.

Passage to Fakarava

Passage to Fakarava

At 0545 we arrived at the pass which was almost 2 hours after “slack tide”.  The sun was rising and we had 3-4 kts of incoming tide.  We picked up a mooring (private) to wait for sun.  We could not see where the  bommies were to avoid when anchoring.

Sunrise at Fakarava

Sunrise at Fakarava

Passage Details

  • Distance as the Crow Flies:  53nm
  • Actual Miles Traveled: 96.7nm
  • Max Speed: 10kt
  • Average Speed: 4.9kt (avg. 7.9kt for first 3 hours, then slowed boat down.  Ultimately spent 9 hours circling at 4.3kt)
  • Moving Time: 19.40

We met some new friends on “Chasing Waterfalls” and enjoyed sun downers on their beautiful 52’ Itsara (Steve, Johana, Mia, Layla and Eva).  The next day Matt and I got busy with lots of boat projects.

Boat Projects

  • Cleaned and repair port fresh water tank (Matt)
  • Pressure Washed exterior boat (bimini, solar panels, deck, etc…)
  • Oiled and stained all exterior teak
  • Washed down all hatches/windows
  • Cleaned Mater bath
  • Scoured the waterline
  • Scrubbed the stove and oven
  • Set up guest suite (for Josh and Sara)
  • Ospho all stainless

We try to clean our stainless every 3 months or when needed.  The salt water does a horrible number on it.  Before and after photos below.

Ospho the Stainless Steel

Ospho the Stainless Steel

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