Category Archives: Gambiers Islands

Including: Mangareva, Temoe, Maria, Marutea, Muru Roa, Fangataufa,

Beautiful Sunset behind the dock at Hao

A Putt Putt Passage to Hao

It’s like tearing a band right off – do it quickly so it stings less. After a leisure morning of boat yoga, we said “see ya again” to our friends and began our passage toward Hao.  It is only about 450 nm and should technically only take us 3.5 days if the winds were favorable.  However, the weather was predicted to be very light winds which would extend our passage another 1-1.5 days.

It started out as a really beautiful day, 7-8 knots of wind filling our full main and jib.  We don’t often fly with full sails so when we do it is a truly appreciated.  We put out the fishing rods and settled in at an easy 5 knots of boat speed.

However, we completely lost our wind the next day.  We had glass seas so calm we could see our reflection.  It was a true mirror image.  The photo below was taken while we were under way even though it looks like we are at anchor!

Passage to Hao - Calm Seas

Passage to Hao – Calm Seas

We enjoyed several beautiful sunsets and a full moon each night.  It was so fabulous to wake up for the night shift to a bright and beautiful sky.  You could still see all the stars, but Mr. Moon lit our way.

The next day the wind came back enough for us to raise a sail and shut down the engine for several hours.  Saving a little diesel.  Sweet.  But our last day we ended up motoring the entire day and night.  We did slow down on our last night to time our arrival at sunrise and at slack tide (will explain “slack” tide below).

Hao in the Tuamotus

The image below shows the entire atoll of Hao.  The green circle indicates the pass and the arrow indicates the village.  As you can see, the island is long and skinny with the airport being on the northern end.

The atoll of Hao in the Tuamotus

The atoll of Hao in the Tuamotus

Pass to Hao

The Tuamotus are famous for their “tricky” passes into the atolls and the many bombies (coral heads). All of the islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago are “atolls” and the atolls each have a pass to enter into their lagoons.  An atoll is a ring shaped reef with a lagoon in the middle. The pass to Hao is well marked and fairly wide.  However, you have to enter at slack tide.

“Slack” tide occurs when the ocean is the same level as the lagoon inside the atoll.  That can occur between 1-4 hours before or after high or low tide.  Each pass at each atoll is different. If you enter at the wrong time you can have up to a 20kt current pushing out the wrong way.  If you time it right it will either be 0 or it will be a gentle 3kts pushing you in the direction you want to go.  We thought slack tide was between high and low tide (we had no internet to look it up).  We were lucky though.  When we entered at sunrise, there was only a 3kt current against us.

This is a photo of outgoing tide against a 4 meter marker.  This was probably a 3kt current.

Marker at the Hao Pass with a "slight" current

Marker at the Hao Pass with a “slight” current

With both engines running at 1800 RPM we were traveling about 4.5 kts as we approached the entrance.  When we hit the current, we dropped down to 1 kt of forward motion.  Most boats can only travel between 5-7 kts (on average) so if your current going against you is stronger than that, you will never make the entrance.  We got lucky.  There was a smaller monohulls that had to wait 3 days to get into the lagoon as she could not go faster than the tide.

Entering the Hao Passage at Sunrise

Entering the Hao Passage at Sunrise

The Anchorage at Hao

There is an abandoned marina (previously used by the French Navy) that is often used as a free mooring for cruisers.  When we arrived, three monohulls were tied up to the concrete wall.  We decided the concrete wouldn’t do us any favors so we anchored out in the lagoon (all by ourselves).  The top photo shows the main doc and the bottom image is the abandoned marina.

Dock and Marina at Hao

Dock and Marina at Hao

We’ve enjoyed some gorgeous sunsets in our private lagoon.  The top photo is from land looking out of the lagoon and the bottom is a sunset photo taken from Sugar Shack.

Sunsets at Hao

Sunsets at Hao

Passage Details

Departed Taravai in the Gambiers Archipelago Saturday, 18 May at 1030am

Arrived Hao in the Tuamotus Archipelago on Wednesday, 22 May at 0530am

Miles Traveled 460nm

Max speed 8.7

Average speed 5.0

We had two days of no wind and had to motor, but then we had two days of light wind and were actually able to pull up full sails.

Baie Onemea Anchorage off Taravai

What a Bay: Baie Onemea

We found a true paradise on the northern tip just off of Totegegie.  A consistent, soft, cool breeze, crystal clear blue waters, abundant fish, and deserted islands.  But it was time to leave.  Matt and I needed to position the boat for a “jump off” point to Hao which meant we had to leave.  We could have gone to a number of bays, but we decided to go to a very isolated bay called Baie Onemea located on the western side of Taravai.

Lucky for us, this was a bay that everyone wanted to see so our friends on Agape and Halcyon followed us over.  It was an easy journey as we followed our old tracks from Totegegie to Mangareva.  From there, we followed the Navionics chart and tracks from a boat called Pitufa which were remarkably accurate.

A beautiful manta ray swam by Sugar Shack as if to say “come, I’ll lead the way.” I wish the photos came out better.

Manta Rays swimming by Sugar Shack

Manta Rays swimming by Sugar Shack

Baie Onemea Anchorage

This is an exquisite bay!  It has two beautiful beaches with golden and reddish sand, a shallow reef with ample fish to entertain the curious human, and lush, green hillsides.

Baie Onemea Anchorage off Taravai

Baie Onemea Anchorage off Taravai

We spent several lazy days exploring what Mother Nature created here in Baie Onemea.  Lots of snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, coconut hunting, and boat yoga.

One day, Matt, Wilky, and I took our dinghy to the other side of the island to find Valerie and Herve.  We had hoped to get some fresh fruits and veggies for our upcoming passage.  However, they were not on island so we visited Marcel whose house sits down island.

We were able to procure 24 pomplemouse, a dozen oranges, a stalk of bananas, and two handfuls of lemons.  Not a bad score.  I found this beautiful, out of commission glass buoy (mooring).   They used to wrap them with line and use them to mark traps and pearl farms.  They’ve resorted to plastic now which is unfortunate.

Marcel's old fashion mooring

Baie Onemea Anchorage off Taravai

On The way back, we passed by Agakauitai which is guarded by a giant gorrilla MOAI.  It is said that he also guards the remains of several kings.  As you can see from the photos below, the coral reef is very shallow but it creates a breathtaking view from the dinghy.

Angakauitai with a large Gorilla MOAI

Angakauitai with a large Gorilla MOAI

Such a magical place.  It made it all the much sweeter sharing it with good friends.

Baie Onemea anchorage in all its beauty

Baie Onemea anchorage in all its beauty

Sugar Shack “See you Soon” Party

Parting is always difficult, but we are positive we will see our friends on Agape and Halcyon in a few months.  Whether it be in the Society or Tuamotu islands we don’t know.  I look forward to that day!

We had our “see you soon” dinner on Sugar Shack where John and Rachel captured some fun photos.  Top: me, Becca, Rianna (Rachel’s sister who was visiting, and Rachel.  Middle right: Josh, Rachel, Wilky, Rianna.  Bottom right: Andrew, Becca, John.

Sugar Shack's Going Away Celebration with Agape and Halcyon

Sugar Shack’s Going Away Celebration with Agape and Halcyon

Me and my sweetie!

Sugar Shack’s Going Away Celebration with Agape and Halcyon

The boys (Josh and Wilky) being silly

Love the wimsical side of these guys!

Love the wimsical side of these guys!

Sugar Shack Gambiers French Polynesia

Totegegie: A Small Piece of Paradise

As much as we hated to leave Taravai and our new friends, we decided it was time to move on to Totegegie island.  Matt and I wanted to explore this small island that hosts the only airport in the Gambier Archipelago.  We visited for a few days before, but did not have a chance to truly explore above, below and around the island.

It was a funny caravan with Halcyon leading Sugar Shack and Triple Shot (trimaran) and Agape following behind.  We all headed to Rikitea (Mangareva) to meet the supply ship, provision, get fuel, and do a little internetting.  We did not stay long as we needed the sun to guide us into the new anchorage.

There are lots of bombies (coral heads) in route to this new anchorage, so we went slow, watched 3 charts and ran between the cockpit and the bow.  We had tracks to this anchorage, but one can never be too careful.

The water is crystal clear and a bright blue.  We wasted no time and hopped in to explore the underwater wonders.  It is an incredibly beautiful spot.  However, we were itching to move further north into the un-chartered area just behind the reefs.  We found what we fondly named “Three-Palm Island”, dropped the hook and enjoyed the sunset.

Sunrise at Three Palm Island

Sunrise at Three Palm Island

Halycon followed us the two miles further north while Agape remained at the old anchorage.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it does!  The water is literally multiple shades of blue starting with a purplish blue, dark blue, blue, light blue then turquoise and it is crystal clear!

Sugar Shack Gambiers French Polynesia

Sugar Shack Gambiers French Polynesia

On one of our paddle board excursions I came across an island that had a bunch of the sea urchin puffy shells.  Love them!

A Collection of Sea Urchins

A Collection of Sea Urchins

Sugar Shack and Halcyon enjoying the isolated anchorage.  Check out the blue variations.

Sugar Shack & Halcyon at Totegegie (Upper Right Corner)

Sugar Shack & Halcyon at Totegegie (Upper Right Corner)

John on Halcyon Wandering captured breathtaking shots with his DJI Maverick Air drone.  Thanx John!

Three Palm Island in Totegegie

Three Palm Island in Totegegie

Sugar Shack at Sunset

Sugar Shack at Sunset

We enjoyed a few lazy days of snorkeling and paddle boarding.  What s piece of paradise.