Monthly Archives: August 2021

Topaka Lighthouse

Oh Fakarava!

It was time for us to leave the beautiful atoll of Tahanea to make our way toward Fakarava.  Matt and I decided to sail the 9+ miles back to the pass.  It was a lovely morning, nice breeze, calm seas.  We hoisted our parasail and enjoyed the 2-hour sail.  It’s sailing like this that make me just love sailing! Of course, we are inside the lagoon and not in true “sea conditions” but none the less it was spectacular.

A mile out from the pass we doused the sail and prepared for anchoring.  We noticed dark, foreboding clouds in the distance so we got to anchoring rather quickly.  A torrential down pour and 25kt winds came upon us just as we dropped the hook and secured the sail.  Talk about good timing.

Conditions were rough.  The swell was 1.5 – 2 meters inside the anchorage.  It is a good thing we only stayed here for a few hours as we waited for slack tide to exit the pass.  It is only 59nm to Fakarava South Pass which would normally take us about 10 hours.  But we could not time our departure at slack tide with our arrival at slack tide properly so we just left early during daylight hours.

It was a chore to try to slow the boat down.  We had both the main and jib double reefed the entire way and we were still making 5kts.  So, we reefed some more and slowed down to 3-4kts.  We still arrived at the wee hours of the morning and had to bob around waiting for slack tide and the sun to wake up.  We entered with no problems as the sun welcomed us to Fakarava.

Fakarava Hirifa Anchorage

We have only been to the Hirifa Anchorage once and were not able to leave the boat due to poor sea conditions.  So, it was fabulous to explore the beaches with new and old friends.   At the end of the beach is an eatery called Hirifa Café which was closed.  But they did have a plethora of baby animals running around.  About 12-15 piglets, kittens and puppies.

Matt and I decided to head to N Fakarava to get some provisions and beer.  We were low on everything as we have not provisioned in over 6+ weeks (out of sugar, flour, eggs, fresh fruit and veg) and beer. Fakarava is a long atoll and N Faka is about 30nm from S Faka. 

Matt wanted to test out our newly repaired spinnaker.  He repaired the clew (lower right corner) and along the bottom.  If you look closely you will see another repair at the top.  She’s been a good sail, with lots of repairs, but what can you say when she is over 20 years old!

The sail is primarily used for light winds coming from behind the boat (downwind at 180°).  However our winds were wonky and came from 60°-180°). Technically we should not have been able to sail once the winds hit 90° but damned if we did not make it work.  Fakarava at


The last time we visited Faka N most everything was closed.  However, now everything is open and it is a wonderland!  We had our first dinner out in 9 months at a lovely, family owned place called Hirinaki Lounge and it was marvelous!  This place was so beautiful with drift wood art, sea shells and local wood floors.  Open air concept and super tasty food and drinks!

Topaka Lighthouse

The Phare de Topaka lighthouse is one of the oldest in Polynesia at nearly 100 years old.  It is built from giant slabs of coral limestone rock and stands on the ocean side of Fakarava atoll.  It stands 14 meters high (45’ tall) and is surrounded by beautiful palm trees.  You can see this immense structure from anywhere in the North Fakarava anchorage.  It is an incredibly unusual style with ten terraces made of stones, coral, and cement.  Built in 1957 under the direction of a woman, Mrs. Taui Degage.

Originally, the lighthouse served as a landmark for fishermen and pleasure boats day and night.  Today, it is no longer active or in use because other more modern models have replaced it.  It is likely to be demolished as it is in the protection zone of the airport.

Matt and I made haste and went to visit this monument that will most likely be torn down soon.  But we took the long way around. We crossed over to the windward side of the atoll to do some shelling and took a long leisurely walk to the lighthouse, 2.8miles away. 

Along the way we found a small monument which believe is a tombstone.  The lighthouse was immense and truly an oddity in its surroundings.

A Round of Celebrations

Our friends, Josh and Rachel met up with us in N. Faka.  They were entertaining Jack (Rachel’s dad).  We had two fabulous meals!  We took them back to Hirinaki Lounge.

Hirinaki Lounge

Hirinaki Lounge

The food was just as amazing as we remembered.  I got the mahi grill and Matt got poison cru (their version of ceviche).

The next day we headed to Havaiki Lodge for lunch and some water time!  They have several concrete tables in the shallows of the water where you can sit and enjoy a tasty drink while under the hatch roof.  It is a beautiful property with lots of art and funny statues.

Havaiki Pearl Lodge

Havaiki Pearl Lodge

We took full advantage of the lovely setting and cold drinks!  Josh, Rachel, Jack, Matt and I.

They had these fun red chairs at the end of the dock that were calling to us!

Fakarava always seems to surprise me.  Great internet, new, tasty eateries, decent provisioning, and great people.

Events from this blog post occurred during the end of May, 2021 – early June, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Underwater Adventures in Tahanea

Our adventures continue in Tahanea both on shore and underwater.  If you missed our last blog on Tahanea, click here.

The winds were shifting so we decided to move to one of our favorite anchorages called “7.”  It got its popular name from the reef that forms a “7” which can be seen from google earth (top photo) The lower photo shows the top of the “7” in the foreground.

Matt was able to fly the drone to capture this amazing photo of the reef with Sugar Shack in the lower edge.  Our battery was super low so we could not go higher to show you the entire reef, but you get the general idea from this shot.

Unfortunately for us the winds shifted rather quickly.  We only got to spend one night here before it was time to move to a new anchorage.

The Pass Anchorage

The exciting thing about being at the pass anchorage is snorkeling the pass with the manta rays.  A large group of us went to explore the reef outside the passes and then drifted in the north pass to play with the mantas.

These massive, gentle creatures are super curious and will come up to you if you remain calm and still.  They simply take your breath away as they glide through the water collecting plankton.  Truly majestic beauties.

A rather large spotted ray also came to pay us a visit but stayed pretty far below us.

We had many beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

One evening, we all enjoyed a beach BBQ and watched the sun set as the moon rose.  Nothing like great friends, tasty food, and beauty all around.

Matt broke out the drone for shots of the Tahanea anchorage.  We are super close to shore, even though it does not look like it in the photo.  Remember, we are only in 1.5m of water.  The little black things around Sugar Shack are coral heads which have to be avoided by the boat and our anchor chain.

These photos show the motus near the pass and the passes.  In the top photo you can see the middle pass (at the bottom) and the north pass (top).  The photo was taken at slack tide which is why it is so calm and “serene.”

A few more sunrise photos.

Diving Tahanea Reef

Matt went diving with our friends on Pico (Andreas and Sandra) while our other friends on Sea Rose and I followed them snorkeling.  One of our regulators is leaking so I could not go with Matt.  But we had a fantastic time checking out the underwater reef world between the two passes during slack tide.

Happy girl in Tahanea

Sugar Shack is happy in Tahanea (photo courtesy of Sandra on Pico)

And Matt captured this amazing photo with the sun rising and the moon setting.  The moon can be seen just off our bow and to the left of the monohulls.

NW Anchorage

Matt and I wanted to explore a new anchorage so we headed to the NW side of the atoll.  It is “unexplored” territory as there is nothing in the compendium, nothing on the charts and no tracks.  It is about 7.5nm away from the pass anchorage.  We encountered no problems even though we left at low tide (not smart for a new path).

The anchorage was littered with coral heads so we floated our chain in the largest sandy spot.  Super pretty, untouched motu with a bijillion palm trees.

We explored around the large motu which was difficult to walk on as it was covered in large rock and corals.  There were no sandy parts or small pebbly parts.  But we did find a little camp site created by a local for his copra work. 

Some people have a shoe fetish and others (who don’t wear shoes) have a different kind of fetish…

And this is not all of them

And this is not all of them

Check out this site for more underwater adventures in Tahanea.

Events from this blog post occurred during the end of May, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.


Tremendous Tahanea

We were ready to move on after spending a quiet and beautiful week at Amanu.  Our friends on Marie Alice, Richard and Natalie, wanted to follow us out of the pass as they were still lacking navigation.  Their passage took them to Fakarava whereas ours will take us to Tahanea.

We pulled the hook up at 0930 and took our time getting to the pass which was 4.58nm across the lagoon.  Slack tide was estimated to be at 1100.  We unfurled the jib and had a leisurely sail at 3-3.5 kts.

The pass was supposed to be slack but in reality, there was an outgoing current (again).  Lucky for us we were going out.  We experienced 5kts of outgoing current where our boat speed was 5kts but the SOG (speed over ground) was 10kts.  Marie Alice and Sugar Shack both made it out safely.

Passage to Tahanea

The forecast had light winds 12-15kts from the SE.  We decided to set the parasail.  This is a fairly “new to us” sail as we bought it off another boat in the Marquesas about 1.5 years ago.  We don’t get many opportunities to fly it, but when we do it is a true joy.  This sail gives us a little more wiggle room with shifting wind directions and speeds. 

We flew the parasail all night and into the next day.  Around mid-morning, a storm started brewing so we dropped her and unfurled the jib.  The “weather” did not last so we put the parasail back up. 

The clouds are funny to me.  During the day they are playful, light, and fluffy.  But at night, they become dark, foreboding, and ominous.  Lucky for us it was all good.  We even had some truly spectacular sunsets.

Overall, it was a really wonderful passage.  We had gentle winds, less than predicted.  The following seas were large at times, but they were in long intervals and very gentle.  We only had one or two small storms but there was no lightening or thunder and very little rain.

Entering the Tahanea pass was a breeze.  We entered at dawn and had 1-1.5 kts of incoming current.  No problems.  We quickly motored across the lagoon to the south end where we met our friends from Gambier, Bella Donna (Kate & Andrew their girls Anna and Florence), Sling shot (Jen and Gavin and their kids Nathan and Julia), and Due South (Wendy & Peryn and their 4 boys). 

Trip Details

  • Miles to Destination:      230nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:            231nm
  • Max Speed:                        10kts (out of the pass)
  • Average Speed:                5.3kts
  • Total Passage Time:        1 day 21 hours (includes crossing Amanu lagoon)

Tahanea SE Anchorage

There are several boats in the south anchorage when we arrived.  We know a few of them (Slingshot, Bella Donna, Due South) and have heard of a few others (Macushla).  They are hanging out here because it is perfect for kite boarding and they are all huge kite boarders.  Many of the boats have kids and it is amazing to see these young people do extraordinary kite tricks.  This is Nathan, he is 11 years old and is fearless!

Nathan (Sling Shot) kite boarding

Nathan (Sling Shot) kite boarding

A few more shots of Nathan with their boats in the background.

Nathan (Sling Shot) kite boarding

Nathan (Sling Shot) kite boarding

How many kits can you count in these photos?  Answer at bottom of post.

Matt and I anchor about 1.5nm away from the other boats where we have anchored before.  It is in front of Nico’s place.  Nico lives on another atoll called Faaite but comes here to process copra (coconuts) several months a year.  He has a simple, but comfortable home.  He only speaks French but is incredibly welcoming, friendly, and generous.  We asked him where we could find some lobsters and if he would take us hunting. He said yes, yes, but here are some you can have now.  He would not take any money.  So, we provided him with loads of fishing stuff and sweet treats.

Motu Exploration

We took this opportunity to explore lots of the motus on the southwest end of this atoll.  We took sweetie over 4nm away from the boat to the western motus. The bottom right anchor is where Sugar Shack is located and we went to where the red arrow is.  These motus were very different than the ones by the big boat. The windward side of the motu faced the Pacific.  However, there was a lagoon and a reef between the breaking waves and the motu which meant there was sand on the windward side as opposed to giant coral rocks.  Complete surprise.  Bottom left photo shows typical windward side and bottom right shows sandy, pebbly beach.

Another surprise was that we found three intact conch shells.  They had lots of corrosion on them so we did not keep them, but they were super pretty.

We walked across the water ways in between several motus.  It is absolutely beautiful.  Each direction you turn you see nothing but beauty.  Tahanea just takes your breath away.

To be Continued…

We had so much fun in Tahanea that you have to wait for our next blog release to finish the adventure.  Stay tuned as we snorkel with manta rays, swim with sharks, learn to foil, and enjoy more of the kiters.

Check out our previous posts on Tahanea such as this one.

There are 4 kites only because I had to cut two of them off to fit the photo.

Events from this blog post occurred during the second week May, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.  Tahanea on