The town of Tetumanu is at the Fakarava south pass. It is not really a town, but it does consist of a church, two small pensions (lodges) that each have an eatery, and two dive centers. That is it. No magasins (markets), nada, zilch. We came here to explore the many motus, dive the Tetumanu (south) pass, and hide from the weather system and it was worth it.
In our last blog we explored Santa Suzanna Island and its pretty pools of waters. It was time to take a dive. Our friends on Chasing Waterfalls organized a dive with another boat and we decided to join them. The problem was that we did not have time to rent tanks and BCDs for Josh and Sara. So, Matt and Josh used our equipment and Sara and I snorkeled. With amazing clarity we could see the divers 70+ below us with no problem.
Everyone thought it was “slack tide” but in reality, it was not. It is very difficult to calculate slack tide as every day has different winds, waves, moon, etc… We tied three dinghies to the mooring and all jumped in. The divers descended and immediately latched on to rocks and dead coral to prevent themselves from drifting away. They looked like spiders with all four limbs spread out! It was really a funny sight. Unfortunately, the photos I took did not come out as they were 20+ meters below us.
They hung out by the shark wall where they watched a shark get his teeth cleaned. Yep, a fish was stupid enough to swim in and out of the shark’s open mouth to clean his teeth (see top photo). There were dozens and dozens of sharks here.
We slowly drifted to the lagoon before hopping back in our dinghies. Sweet, but short drift. We swung by the Tetumanu Dive shop and they had different fittings for dive tanks. So, we could not fill ours. Then we stopped by Top Dive and they were never home. They did have a handy map showing the incoming and outgoing tides (see red and blue diagram)
The next day we decided to snorkel the pass closer to the reef. What a difference. Not nearly as many sharks. However, we did encounter several HUGE fish, some grouper, some with a bubble on their head. Lots of schools of fish and many, many coral species.
We took our time drifting from the pass opening to the lagoon. The current got much stronger as we entered the lagoon, but it did allow us enjoy the underwater sea life.
We organized a pizza dinner at Motu Aito Paradise earlier in the afternoon. Our friends on Rhapsody (John and Ada) and Chasing Waterfalls (Steve, Johanna, Mia, Eva, Layla) joined us. It was really nice hanging with our cruiser friends and swapping stories.
Full Sail Back to North Fakarava
It was nearing time to return back to the North side of the island. Josh and Sara had a flight to catch, despite our attempts to get them to stay longer. Surprisingly, after three visits to Sugar Shack (BVI, San Blas Islands, Fakarava), they had never seen our boat under full sail. We had hoisted each sail individually, but the winds were not right for a full sail. However, our passage to the north side of the island was perfect!
Up went the main and the jib! We had a lovely 10-12kts of wind on the beam which gave us a steady 6-7kts of boat speed. At one point we encountered a squall, so we reefed the jib, but within 30 minutes she was back out.
Even though they had to leave the next day, we celebrated like rock stars. We had an impromptu fiesta on our boat after our friends on Gizmo gave us fresh Wahoo. Mike from Easy, cut it up sashimi style, Janet and Darryl from Maple stopped by and Steve from Chasing Waterfalls made an appearance. It was a goofy night that led to Thing 1 and Thing 2 passed out on the bow.
We did a little shopping the next day, ordered some more bread and danishes and a wee bit of internetting. Matt picked us up at the little beach. Josh and Sara in front of Sugar Shack (background).
It was sad to bring them back to the airport, but they had a plane to catch.
That night we had a stupendous sunset that turned the sky red.