Tag Archives: french polynesia

Tahanea's SE Corner

The Beauty of Tahanea

Our passage leaving Hao toward Tahanea was not ideal.  We left knowing it would not be good weather conditions as we were hoping to beat the maramu scheduled to pommel us.  The first day we had light winds and super confused seas.  The swell was only between 1-1.5 meters but they were coming from every direction.

We were able to fly the main and jib for most of the day, then motored for a few hours.  The trade winds and following seas arrived around 2000 at night.  Usually, I like following seas as the boat surfs down the waves.  But when you still have confused seas that are now 3 meters coming from multiple directions it is no fun.  One wave would hit our stern before the previous wave left our bow which created a serious rolling action of the boat.  I was not a happy camper.

Despite the bad weather and my infirmities, we had a gorgeous sunset the first night.

Day two brought strong winds coming from the SE a perfect direction. However, we had to drop the main and reef the jib because we were going too fast.  If we kept up that pace we would arrive at midnight.  So, we slowed the boat down to arrive at 0400.  Not much better.  The slack tide was 0430, but it was too dark to enter so we drifted for a few hours before entering at day break. 

Since we missed “slack tide” we entered with 3.5kts of outgoing current – pushing against us.  Almost like the atoll did not want us to come in.  But, we prevailed and arrived with no issues.

Passage Details

  • Passage Miles: 220nm
  • Total Miles Travelled: 249nm
  • Max Speed: 10.7kt
  • Average Speed: 5.1kt
  • Moving Time: 48.56

We anchored in the SE corner of Tahanea with 6 other boats in turquoise, calm waters. Life is good.

Hiding in Paradise

We ended up spending 11 days in the southeast corner of Tahanea hiding from the maramu (storms).  Most had a strong southeasterly wind so being behind a motu protected us from most of the winds and waves.  We still managed to see gusts up to 30-35kts.

Each motu received a 360-degree exploration.  Some even had us traipsing through the middle part of the island which was thick with foliage, palm fronts, coconuts, and critters.

Tahanea Scenery

Tahanea Scenery

Most days were rainy and cloudy, but we tried to get off the boat once a day to stretch our legs.  Despite the gloomy clouds and rainy weather, this atoll does not disappoint – it is still gorgeous.

Agape’s Legacy

Our friends, Josh and Rachel onboard Agape were quarantined here in Tahanea for 4 months.  Our friends had to find lots of ways to entertain themselves and keep their bellies full.  They harvested coconuts and used every possible part of the coconut (meat, milk, water, husk) along with fishing and spear fishing to keep everyone fed.  They also built this amazing raft.  When we first encountered it, the raft was buried in the sand. 

But several days later the tide and cleared the sand away and the boys had a little fun.

We left the raft on the beach, where we found it.  However, we must not have pulled it up far enough as it was gone the next morning.  We are in a full moon cycle which means the tides are higher and they must have claimed the raft back to the sea.

SE Corner Activities

It was great fun exploring all of the motus within the Tahanea atoll.  We must have walked around each of them 3 times and some more.  We walked all the way around and through most of them.  They are mostly broken pieces of coral and rock on the leeward side and larger boulders, lava rock, and coral chunks on the windward side.  The interior is full of coconut trees, and palms that have mean, pointy stickers that like to attach to your skin.

We found one motu that had a “sandy corner” sandwiched between the broken coral shores.  It was a gloomy day and we ended up exploring under the rain, but still an adventure.  Matt and I trying to determine if we should head back before the big storm.

It is really cool to see the pools of water between the spits of sand as you look across Tahanea’s lagoon.

View of Sugar Shack from one of the motus.

The winds were strong in the SE corner of Tahanea.  Several people took advantage of the weather and enjoyed kite surfing and kite boarding, which was fabulous to watch.

All the cruisers gathered for several bonfires on shore.  We would cook the fish or conch we caught earlier that day.

CRAB HUNTING

Several of the motus have splotches of areas covered in coconut crab grounds.  The coconut crabs don’t like sun or rain so they mostly come out at night or early in the morning.  One day we decided to go hunting.

Armed with buckets, string and machetes, we headed to the motu.  It was a rather large group which was not conducive for good hunting (too much chatter and foot stomping), but we managed to catch a dozen.

First, you walk into the interior of the island, under the shadow of the coconut trees and in a patch of sand.  You stumble across their large holes first.   You have to be careful because their underground tunnels make the ground weak and you end up sinking to your shins!

Mike, from “Easy” and Helen from “Wow” showed us how to catch them.  Using a string or very thin piece of line you make a lasso or noose.  As the crab comes out, you slip the noose around its big claw and quickly close it around its claw so it cannot get away down the hole. 

Once he is caught, you can either put him in a bucket or kill him (which is more humane).

Once we got our fill, we went to the water’s edge to clean the crabs before taking them to the boat.  We boiled them, then grilled them and had them for a tasty dinner.

A FEW PHOTOS THAT ARE EASY ON THE EYES

The sun rose and set over the motus providing stunning photos.

Sugar Shack at anchor with a spit of land behind her.  It looks like a sandy beach, but it really is covered in broken coral and rocks.  Still a pretty photo.

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures. 

Check out more on Tahanea here.

Sugar Shack in Puaumu

Parte in Puaumu with Polynesians

Puaumu is in the NE corner of the Gambiers. We had to cross over unchartered areas with a look out on the bow to keep the boat clear of coral bommies.  We arrived on a beautiful, calm day with no swell, light winds and perfect conditions.  Not many cruisers or locals visit this small, private, yet pristine island.

Puaumu in Gambiers

Puaumu in Gambiers

The first few days at this anchorage were just glorious.  We had the entire bay to ourselves and the water was like a glassy mirror of the sky.  The island of Puaumu is in the shape of a “C.”  The left side of the island or the north side is owned by my friend Stefan and his family.  The right side or the south is owned by another family.  Stefan and his family stayed here for 2 weeks during quarantine.  We had the pleasure of visiting them by dinghy and enjoyed a huge, delicious luncheon feast.

Playing in Puaumu

Smooth waters are just perfect for paddle boarding.  Typically, I paddle board on my knees or butt, but with these conditions I ventured on to my feet.  It was shaky at first, a little bob and weaving going on, but I finally got the hang of it.  Matt and I paddled around the anchorage, checked on the anchor, and admired the many fish around the coral heads.

There was one coral bommie directly under the boat.  Well, let’s be clear, it was not under the boat when we anchored.  When the wind changed, we shifted over the bommie.  As you can see, Matt is checking it out and we have clearance – even during low tide.

Matt broke out the drone and captured some amazing shots of Sugar Shack during sunset.  The dark splotchy marks in the water are coral bommies.

Sugar Shack at Puaumu -drone shot

Sugar Shack at Puaumu -drone shot

These are amazing shots too.  The top one shows the Pacific (lower portion of photo), Puaumu and the lagoon.  Sugar Shack at peace by herself and Mangareva in the background.  The center photo has Puaumu on the far right (off camera) and shows the furthest NE motu, Tepapuri in the background.  We can’t bring the big boat to that island, but we have explored it by dinghy.

THANKING WHO?

We had invited Stefan to stay onboard Sugar Shack for the weekend.  In part, as a thank you for hosting us for lunch a few weeks ago.  Stefan, his wife Manu and their friend Popo (or Nani) came by fishing boat Saturday afternoon and stayed until Sunday evening.  It truly was our intention to host them, to cook for them and to show them a marvelous time.  However, they came with boxes of food and drink to last well over a week!

For dinner, Stefan cooked 6 lbs of Mahi Mahi, chicken and sausage.  Plus, we had beet salad, fresh bread and salad.  For dessert I made avocado chocolate pudding which turned out divine.

Stefan Cooking up a storm

Stefan Cooking up a storm

Sunset was enjoyed at the bow of the boat.  Our guests had trepidations about the trampoline, but we eventually got them to walk on it.  Each square inch can hold up to 200lbs so there was no concern of breakage (no concern on our part). 

The next morning, I made blueberry pancakes, but Stefan insisted on cooking omelets for everyone as well.  In addition, we had cheesy bread, homemade guava preserves to go on more fresh bread, starfruit, and fresh squeezed juice.

We enjoyed a day of fun in the sun, swimming and playing cards.  Lunched was followed by more fresh fish on the grill, fresh bread, fruit, sushi which is actually called poison cru.

Stefan taking a giant leap

Stefan taking a giant leap

Super fun weekend turned out to be Stefan, Manu and Popo spoiling us with cooking, cleaning, and a few days of complete fun.

Coconut Hunting

On the small islands you have to make due with what you are given.  In some cases that is hunting for coconuts, but only on the islands or motus where there is no coconut harvesting of copra.  A coconut is handy for coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cake, and plain ole coconut.  I bet you didn’t know the little coconut could be so useful?  We scavenged for a long stick and started hunting.  Once we find a few green coconuts, we use our machete to hack into them and capture the yummy coconut water inside.

Coconut Hunting

Coconut Hunting

Beach BBQ on Puaumu

Several of our friends decided to join us in the anchorage.  After our Polynesian friends left, 4 boats joined us.  A little cruiser party in Puaumu.  One day we had a beach BBQ on the corner of the island.  It was Hoodoo (Yanell and Missy), Sea Jay (Chris and Fred), Kalea (Jaques and Elensie), and Storm Along (Lynette and Nils).

Beach BBQ

Beach BBQ

We had some gorgeous sunset shots.

After our tasty dinner, we sat around the fire chatting and enjoying the good company.

Puaumu is an absolutely pristine island with beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and perfect views of sunset. 

Cinco de Mateo: Matt’s Birthday

Valerie played several Polynesian birthday songs over the VHF radio first thing in the morning on Cinco de Mateo (5 May).  Waking up to the beautiful melodies of the islands was a perfect way to start Matt’s birthday.  Sugar Shack remained anchored in Taravai longer than anticipated just so we could celebrate with Valerie, Herve and their family again (we were here last year for Matt’s birthday too).

We invited our friends at anchor, planned a mid-day BBQ and enjoyed a great Tuesday.  We landed onshore first and were eagerly greeted by Valerie.  She had made a typical Polynesian crown and leigh for Matt.  It was not only beautiful but incredibly fragrant.  He looked a little silly but he wore it all day (bless his heart).

It was great fun celebrating with all of our friends!

Chris and Fred onboard Sea Jay (American) and Ivar and Floris onboard LuciPara 2 (Dutch)

And the rest of the party crew…

And of course, Matt and I

Taravai Sunday Funday for Matt’s Birthday

Herve BBQ’d some pork ribs, made a tasty pork stew, and poison cru (raw fish dish).  We had tons of side dishes and I made cheesecake bites (with my last cream cheese) and a butter pecan cake.  Super fun.

Matt did the social distancing thing perfectly by NOT blowing out his candles.  He merely lifted the board that was blocking the wind.  We had happy birthday sung to us in multiple languages: English, Spanish, Tahitian, Mangarevian, French, and Dutch.

One of the local families brought pearls for everyone to consider. Gabriel has a pearl farm and a pension (hotel) in Rikitea.  He was so kind!  He gave three of us a few loose pearls.

All in all a great celebration on Matt’s birthday!