Tag Archives: tahanea

Pleasant Passage: Tahanea to Tahiti

Matt and I got up early, picked up the hook and started our passage.  We were anchored in the SE corner of Tahanea which is about 10nm from the pass.  The first part of our journey was a beautiful sunrise sail with the jib across the lagoon.  We were not in a big hurry as slack tide was at 0830 {the best time to exit the lagoon}.  We managed to arrive to the pass around 0745 and it looked manageable.  So, we ventured on.  We had the fishing poles out and the jib flying as we exited.  With a 2kt outgoing current we made it out with no issues, always a relief.

We had hope to catch a grouper or something as we exited the pass, but no such luck.  After we went through the washing machine of waves caused by the pass, we changed out the sails and raised the parasail.  Our first day was incredible.  We had perfect winds at 15-18kts from the east.  A 2-meter following sea that pushed us along toward our destination. 

All the Excitement Packed into 15 Minutes

Around dusk we were contemplating swapping the sails. A storm was forming on the horizon and we did not want to get caught with our “new to us” parasail up in high winds.  As we are discussing this, a nibble hit one of the poles.  Hmmm…then nothing.  Another nibble, then nothing.  Then another.  Finally, on the 4th bite we caught him. 

We both turned at the same time to see a beautiful marlin dancing across the top of the water.  Unfortunately, we had to let him run with the hopes of tiring him out.  We scrambled to swap out the sails to slow the boat down.  No easy task with the parasail up.  By the time we got back to the marlin he was gone.  He did manage to take a Sugar Shack souvenir with him, Matt’s new lure.

Probably a good thing. Reeling in sailfish is long, hard work.  Then once you get it to the boat you have to be careful not to jab your fiberglass hull with his protruding hard nose.  Matt was disappointed though.

A few minutes later, our jib suddenly started flapping. I am stunned as the working sheet (line), holding the jib in place, was gone!  Yep, gone. How the heck does the working sheet, with a full load, fall off?  We tacked (moving the jib to the opposite side with a working sheet).  Evidently, the knot on the starboard working sheet came undone while under load.  Maybe when we surfed down a wave and the sail luffed, who knows.  This has never happened to us – ever.  Really strange.

Day 2

Our second day had us flying our parasail again but in lighter conditions.  We were losing the wind as it slowly came down to 10-12kts from the east.  It was really fun to watch the apparent wind and our boat speed.  As we surfed down a wave, our boat speed would exceed our wind speed (zoom in on the photo to see the Raymarine screen).

Matt finally crashed hard on the 2nd night.  I took the 1130-0330 shift.  As we neared Tahiti, we started to see some boat traffic.  Always a good sign.  But it was strange that they all popped up at once.  Nice to be in company on a dark and lonely night.  No moon, no stars, and no phosphorescence. 

Arriving Tahiti

Tahiti welcomed us with a fresh wash of the boat.  Rain and gloomy day.  It is always a good way to end a passage with a fresh rinse of the boat.  Even though we did not have a lot of salt water on her as it was a following sea.

We entered north pass just around 1000.  In Tahiti, you enter through a pass that gives you access to a passage between the shoreline and the reef.  All vessels entering the pass must call into port control.  Port Control monitors the traffic in the passage and ensures the boats do not interfere with commercial traffic or air traffic with the neighboring airport.

We travel about 2 miles down the passage toward our favorite anchoring spot in front of the Intercontinental Hotel.

Passage Details:

  • Total Miles Traveled: 285
  • Max Speed:  12.5kt
  • Average Speed 5.8kts
  • Total Time at sea: 48 hours

This post was written in July 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures.  Be sure to see previous posts on Tahiti, go to svsugarshack.com and click on “Society Archipelago/Tahiti”

Peaceful Paradise in Tahanea

Tahanea is peaceful, tranquil, and mesmerizing.  On most days, it called one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Untouched by civilization, rarely visited by man, and generally as God created it.  We’ve spent several weeks here last year and 3 weeks this year.  This an uninhabited island truly reflects the beauty of French Polynesia.

We spent most of our time in the SE corner of Tahanea.  This particular period of time of our visit was during maramu (storm) season.  The majority of the storms come from the SE so we were hiding behind the motus for protection.

As you might recall, the Tuamotus archipelago is made up of dozens of atolls (not islands).  These atolls have passes that lead into a lagoon.  The lagoon is surrounded by a reef and several motus (tiny islands) that separates the Pacific Ocean from the lagoon.  The navionics photo below shows the image of Tahanea.  The green indicates the reef.  The little yellow spots (within the green area) are motus or small islands.  The blue is the lagoon and the red arrow is Sugar Shack.

When you zoom into the chart you can see the difference more clearly.  In the SE corner there are several motus to explore (yellow areas in green section).

Rudderless

There are a few motus that are being harvested for copra (coconuts).  The locals come from other islands and stay for 10-14 days harvesting the coconuts and then go back to their main island.  They set up huts or shacks on the island that really consist of 3 walls and a roof.  The copra farm in front of our boat is a rather large one.

The locals collect the coconuts, husk them, crack open the center, then use a rapier to shred the coconut meat.  They will sell the coconut meat, use the coconut milk and water and dry the coconuts.  It is hard labor for very little reward.

One group of copra farmers had left a dog behind.  Not sure if the dog had wandered off when they left and they forgot or if it was intentional.  The FP population has a different mentality when it comes to animals.  When our friends on Jolly Dogs found this puppy, she had worms, mange and was starving.  They quickly rallied the cruisers to help her.  Mike on “Easy” brought worm medication for her.  Cruisers bathed her and covered her in oil daily.  The oil suffocates the mange.  And everyone has chipped in on the feeding rotations. 

Her name is Lassie and she has an incredibly sweet disposition. She doesn’t bark, but she loves to howl.  She will follow anyone down the beach and will swim out to you to go on a paddle board ride down island.  He mange is slowly disappearing (you can see her hind quarters and tail are hairless).

Mike on “Easy” was kind enough to take her to Fakarava where there is village, more people, and more opportunity for her.  It will give her a much better chance of survival.  Thank goodness.

Baby Boobies

We explored one of the far off motus while we were in the SE corner where we found several baby boobies.  The red foot boobies build their nests in the low hanging branches of the trees.  They are so darn cute and fuzzy.

Swimming with Manta Rays and Marlin

We sailed up to the pass when we had a break in the weather.  We needed a change of scenery and wanted to snorkel the pass.  Last year, we had an amazing opportunity to swim with the mantas and got an up close and personal opportunity. 

This year we swam the same pass, the north pass, and were blessed to swim with two very large mantas.  Unfortunately, they were 12-15 meters deep so I only saw them from the top.  However, our friend Mike on “Easy” is a free diver and was able to see them up close.

Mike was showing off and decided to swim down to a sleeping shark.  The poor shark was peaceful in his sleep and woke up to an intruder.

We had a sundowner / happy hour on Sugar Shack with great friends and libations!

PEACEFUL PARADISE

Matt flew the drone on one particularly calm day.  He captured the sunrise over this peaceful and majestic anchorage.  Mike on “Easy” followed us back to the SE corner to get a prime spot for hiding out from the upcoming storm.  By the end of the day, there were 16 boats anchored here.

Sunrise photos inside the lagoon of Tahanea. 

Kinda takes your breath away…right?

“Easy” and Sugar Shack resting in peace in Tahanea. 

Tahanea's SE Corner

Tahanea’s SE Corner

Bird’s eye view of Sugar Shack from the sky

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures. 

Did you miss our other post on Tahanea?  Check it out here.

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.