3 mois de rêve en Polynésie sur un voilier  !

Menno et Esther rêvaient de découvrir la Polynésie mais leurs carrières actives ne leur permettait pas de partir plus de 3 mois… Grâce à un catamaran en location longue durée Sail Tahiti ils ont exploré 6 des îles de la Société et 5 atolls des Tuamotus. Suivez leur périple au jour le jour.

Carte interactive du voyage d’Esther et Menno, clicquez sur les points rouges pour découvrir les îles oû ils sont allés.

Le programme de location longue durée Sail Tahiti vous offre le temps d’explorer la Polynésie sans les complications de l’achat d’un voilier.

Tahiti & Moorea

26°

We have been in Tahiti for almost a week and almost used to the enormous heat here, but we are used to the relaxed life and beautiful island! The first nights we slept in a chill guesthouse and thought we would quietly explore Papeete, but with New Year’s Eve everything was closed here, so we rented a car on New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Eve drove around the west side of Tahiti, swam on all the beautiful beaches and bought a flower wreath (without flowers in your hair you don’t belong here and on holidays all women have a flower wreath :)). New Year’s Eve in town celebrated in a bar, with never so little fireworks but dancing to tropical live music and at 00:00 all firefighters drove through the city with sirens … With New Year just like the Tahitians swam at the visited river, waterfalls and beaches, everywhere it was very nice with many locals with BBQ and very loud music and very large pickups. Super nice here! In the evening delicious poisson Cru (raw tuna in coconut sauce, everything with raw fish is popular here) eaten at a roulotte. These cozy type of food trucks are everywhere and are really great! January 2 we boarded our floating palace called Daisho. The owners are still in France, but we can stay with them. So for the past few days we have enjoyed a hotel room with a 360 * view, a lovely bed (4 bedrooms to choose from) and a 5 minute boat trip with a reef with the most beautiful fish and even dolphins and a turtle on the way!

The first evening Menno went to buy fish at the fish auction nearby but it turned out to be closed, then he got a yellow fin tuna from a local fisherman for free and we filleted it together! We have to get used to a boat on a moring, 100 new sounds and the past few nights we had to get out of bed to close windows, to fasten dinghy better or to bring in laundry … We already have the boat and cleaned the waterline, tried the water maker, practiced yogurt and bread (yogurt great success, practice bread for a while) pulled out all the cupboards and went shopping for 3 months yesterday. In short, we are almost ready to let go, tomorrow the owners will come and we will receive more information about the boat and a new chartplotter. then depending on the weather we will leave for Moorea sometime in the coming days

Menno steered smoothly away from the tank jetty and between all the training optimists and catamarans. With beautiful weather we left with the tailwind to Moorea 20 km away.

There was a long shower with a lot of wind, so we took off halfway the mainsail but the boat did very relaxed in the high waves and strong wind. Just before the pass (entrance to the reef) we checked the engines as advised (we have 2, 1 in each hull) we had received this tip last minute from David. But oddly enough, the port propeller did nothing, after looking 4x (Menno also underwater) the propeller was no longer there! Very bizarre and very annoying. After consultation with Nikki and David we returned on 1 motor and some sail against the wind to Tahiti. Just before dark we were back after a long journey (because slowly on 1 engine and against the wind) where we came from. Fortunately, Nikki and David were very relaxed and with a beer at the Coconut Station (gas station in the harbor) we recovered from our first adventure. The propeller had to be ordered in France and it will take a week to arrive. Big disappointment of course, but we have long been happy that we discovered it in a safe situation and could sail back smoothly to the main island.

As mentioned earlier, we were eager to leave 2 weeks ago, to be short, we are still / already in Tahiti and still eager to leave. To make a virtue of necessity we took the ferry the day after to Moorea (where we were almost with the sailboat) and had a wonderful week in a bungalow. Fare Tokohau from local Tea and Frenchman Alex was a very relaxed mini holiday park with 5 houses right by the sea, 2 lovely children, dogs, cats, chickens and free bicycles and kayaks. We spent the entire week lounging on our veranda, hiking to the magic mountain and the tree coconuts pass with beautiful views over the reef, marveling at all the blue colors of the sea here and making long kayak trips. While kayaking we were able to snorkel with the current adrift and between rays and blacktip reef sharks. The rays are fed and stroked by the locals who come to the islands (motus) for a picnic. That is why the rays come very close and sometimes almost crawl against you. It is nice to see how they chill here on Sunday. The whole family in a boat or in a super large pick-up with a boombox with very loud music, women with wreaths of flowers and good food and then eat and drink under the party tent all day. Without a pick-up and boombox you really don’t belong here! Because the island is quite small, we were able to cycle around the entire island, including the quiet south side.

We had plenty of time to bake pancakes for breakfast and share them with our neighbors or cook with Danish friends who were going to sail in the Marquesas. Food (basically everything) is very expensive here (2-3x as expensive as at home) but French baguette is subsidized and only 53 ct and mangoes and passion fruit can sometimes be picked up from the ground during a walk. A few times we went out to eat at local restaurants or roulottes where they serve delicious (raw) tuna, grilled mahi mahi with vanilla sauce or octopus! We can get used to that! Tea taught us all kinds of things about the island, for example about drum trees in the forest that the inhabitants used to use for communication, the sound of stone blows on the hollow trunk can still be heard kilometers away. She also taught us all kinds of coconut ripeness and how to eat them. Finally, in a week we saw the island completely, by bike, by scooter, in the local bus with the kayak, snorkeling and on foot and having a drink in all the fancy hotels. Saturday we went back to Tahiti. By bus from Fare Tokohau. Again we were waiting for a bus that may and may not come until it raced past, luckily Tea called the bus driver and turned around to pick us up and take us to the ferry. The past few days we have snorkeled and kayaked here and yesterday we made a nice bike ride along super busy surf beaches full of locals to the valley of Papenoo. Now we have to wait for the screw that hopefully goes through customs today and we can finally leave! (Thumbs up?) By the way, it should be clear that even without much sailing it is wonderfully tropical here to enjoy!

At the end of the morning we are back in Arue on Tahiti! It feels like coming home because we already know our way around here. We are still sleeping because both have just not slept enough. Then it is time to do some chores. You can’t go here much on Sunday and we want to be ready to leave on Monday. We wash at the yacht club, shower under a real shower and shop at Carrefour. Fortunately, on the way back we can eat delicious sushi at a roulotte on the corner!

Today is a bit of a rule and job day, because: good preparation is half the battle. We wanted to go to the fruit market this morning but had forgotten that it is open on Sundays from 3am to 9am … That’s quite bizarre early as we also have to sleep normally and hitchhike into town … So call I enjoy the whole family and we buy vegetables at Carrefour. We polish the boat, make yogurt for a week and cook for 3 days ahead. Menno assembles the new shower hose that the owner has found, readjusts the rudders and installs the new AIS that is finally inside (kind of radar with which you can see other boats and she you). Menno is really handy and is now an electrician, motor mechanic, plumber, handyman and captain in one. I am now a professional sailor who does all the heavy lifting; hoist sails, turn winches, raise anchors and moorings and cook something new every time with everything that is here and is not there. On request also some pictures of our living room, kitchen, bedroom and toilet. Fortunately, we already bought a cake yesterday at the supermarket and a turtle is swimming by, so we will not forget that we are on vacation!

And the last photo: they have about no vegetables and fruit on the Tuamotus, only for the main prize we have heard, 11 euros for a cucumber or something. Enough vitamins on board!

Last night we set an alarm to view the latest weather forecast for the crossing at 2230h, and decided not to go yet. It is now windless (good motor weather but sailing is not possible) but in a few days good wind seems to arrive. So we will stay here for a while. Resting a little extra can not hurt either, although it does really itch to go to the Tuamotus. We still have some small jobs that are nice to do but not necessary, so that is now possible. First of all we have a cable for the AIS and a special battery for a kind of remote control. Welcome to the Pacific, there is no bol.com here so this is a day of work. Despite the fact that Papeete is the capital of a country the size of Europe, the next big city is Aukland New Zealand or Hunululu in Hawaii so everything comes from far away and there is often not much in stock (because few customers). Calling the stores to see who’s got what didn’t really work, so we decide to take the adventure and take the dinghy into town. We moor the boat in the industrial harbor with some fishermen. In the first water sports shop they immediately have the cable we need, 3x as expensive as at home. Then walk 20 minutes over the fish auction to a kind of range where they do not have the battery. They refer us to a battery store in the center that promises to have the battery on the phone. We enter the center and see Papeete as vivid as never before. 2 cruise ships have been moored around the world in 40 days! The city is overrun with tourists and all restaurants and shops are open, some shopping streets are decorated with palm leaves and flowers. Every garbage collector has also put on his Hawaii shirt and unpacked his ukulele to make music on the street. Very cozy, but also suddenly touristy. When we arrive at the battery shop after a 30 min walk they say, uhm yes sorry we don’t have it in stock anyway, in 4 days there will be a ship with new stock otherwise you will come back …. Uhm shit. We decide not to leave until they have searched the entire store and with the shame on their jaws because they promised us something else on the phone they eventually find a used but not empty battery of the kind we are looking for. Well mission accomplished! We walk along the market and have a delicious lunch with quiche and sandwiches. We tear back in the dinghy and chill out on the boat, looking out at the training Vaa’aa canoes with 6 strong men, hard they go!

This morning we woke up to a scraping sound. And when we looked out our bedroom window there was: a turtle nibbling for breakfast the general of our boat! Of course he was a bit shocked by those two blond heads with small eyes above him, but when we went outside to look outside he came back and we could see him for a long time while he was eating well. Super beautiful! When we had breakfast ourselves and read nice books, we went kayaking for a round. Actually for the purpose of looking up the dolphins in the bay but the local paddlers said they were not there today. So we went snorkeling at the raft and snorkeled almost all the way back to the boat along the coral reefs with our kayak behind us. You are different here than in the shallow water of the other islands. Tired of this workout we hang out on the boat in the evening and watch the Vaa’aa training again at a spectacular sunset.

Huahine

Last night we crossed from Moorea to Huahine! Quite exciting for the first time sailing in the dark on a still unknown boat and high waves. With triple reef and a small jib, we went through the waves nice and hard. Both slept a little on the living room couch while the other one could count shooting stars for 4 hours. Early in the morning I woke Menno up because there were a few short finned pilot whales playing in our stern wave. Very cool! A little later we saw a group of dolphins near Huahine! Unfortunately no fish caught on the way. We are anchored in Fare (the capital of this island = mini village) where we have a drink at the Yacht club while we see the sun sink behind our boat into the sea. Cheers!

When we wake up we see Huahine beautifully green in front of us. I understand exactly what they mean by the nickname the pregnant woman: if you look from the side it is exactly a woman with a round belly lying on the back in the water. At the beach children receive swimming lessons and a little later a small boat comes to us from the reef, if we want to buy lobster … uhm yes! In the morning we go ashore, we get tasty cakes in a shop and delicious fruit on the market. Near the market, local men are playing cozy ukulele and we chat with a local fisherman who has caught 2x 150 kg of tuna today, with a plastic glittering octupus as bait … we should try that too.

We walk through the heat to a collector’s shell museum, nice to see and now at least we know which shells are dangerous (some are more toxic than a python) and which we can take home. When we are back on the boat we are visited by the water police, who come on board on socks and want to know everything, it seems more like a tourist survey than a serious check, nice job those men have;). In the afternoon we snorkel from the boat; it is teeming with brightly colored fish, we see an octupus and a white tip reef shark. Menno has brought his speargun but is not so good at shooting something, and we already have lobster for dinner. And it was tasty !!!. Menno checks whether everything in the mast is neat (super neat) while I enjoy the spectacular Sunset.

Today we went to explore the west coast of the island. In the bright blue lagoon within the reef with still exciting narrow stretches and shallows. Fortunately we have a good map and GPS and you can see the shallows with the sun. We anchored the boat between coral heads at a motu (small island) and from there we drove the dinghy to the next bay on the other side of the island through a small channel under the bridge, funny! At the motu you could snorkel very well, beautiful coral and a lot of fish. At the end of the day we anchored in baie de Avea, a beautiful crescent-shaped bay on the south side of the island. It is wonderfully quiet here, with 3 other boats and some houses on the side and a beautiful beach on the doorstep. We swim a few laps to cool the boat and when we go snorkeling we see hundreds of sea cucumbers but also 3 leopard rays in the reef. We’ll keep it out for a while!

Oh yes, menno can already freedive up to 12 meters (= to the anchor)

After the early rain showers in the morning we took the dinghy to moor at the village nearby, this is not so easy so we moor at the closed hotel nearby and we walk on. Every half hour we shelter from a tropical downpour (man it can rain hard here!) But in the meantime it is very hot. We see a kind of circus tent with some old people which turns out to be a small cafe where we drink a drink. Fortunately, our French is getting better and we can also understand the funny French accent of the locals. We look at a Marae (temple) on the waterfront and see the people in the village just come out of the church with white dresses and wreaths of flowers. Because they all go home in the car, there is no place for us if we want to hitchhike back because of the rain. For lunch we have reserved at Chez Tara, a must according to all travel guides. The restaurant is directly opposite our anchorage and there is a nice mix of locals with wreaths of flowers and tourists and a band is playing. The buffet is huge with fish, meat, vegetables and some indefinable things, all made in an underground oven according to polynesian tradition which gives a special flavor to the food. The fish is best, the rest quite powerful but fun to taste. In the restaurant we make friends with Chris and Renee, Oyster farmers from Jersey (channel islands) who have just anchored their boat next to ours. At sunset we have a drink together on our boat. Fortunately, our bread finally worked out well, so we eat it with tasty French cheese and sausage with the wine. Wonderful holiday!

Raiatea & Tahaa

This morning we sailed back together with Chris and Renee north through the lagoon and then crossed to Tahaa. Fortunately, the predicted showers are not too bad and we sail smoothly with 25 buys of wind to the next island. We planned to anchor at a Motu but because the wind is blowing hard we sail into the bay of Haamene where there is more shelter. There we are wonderfully sheltered in the mud anchored near a quiet village. When the small ferry arrives there are suddenly a SUPper and canoe waiting for the ferry to leave and to surf the wave, pros! We are tired after the crossing and it rains a lot again so we swim around the boat and relax the rest of the day, feeling as if you are on a lake in a completely different country.

Last night we endlessly screeched around our anchor, and we often woke up from huge downpours. Today it looks like Scotland here, we are deep in a beautifully sheltered bay with muddy water from the river and today it rained almost non-stop, we did not see any sun. We use the relative coolness to exercise and read on deck. If we decide to go into the village we are unlucky, the restaurant is still closed and the Vanille farm no longer does tours. Fortunately we get a super spontaneous lift uphill and the walk on the side is very beautiful with bright green hills full of fruit trees and flowers.

Strong wind today and little sun, not really the time to go snorkeling or explore uninhabited motus. So we go sailing! In the Lagoon you can sail beautifully between the shallows. We hoist the sail (again 3 reefs because hard gusts) and with a little engine we cross between the motus. The bright blue water in the shallow areas is very beautiful turquoise. Sometimes it is just as exciting when the depth meter rises, but the buoys and map have been quite good so far. We actually wanted to anchor at a motu but due to stormy weather we are looking for more shelter and we take a Mooring at Apu Bay. In the super cute family restaurant le Ficus we drink a cocktail and as a present we get a delicious dessert of pickled pumpkin and vanilla ice cream! (Menno is of course delighted with this!)

After a relaxed breakfast (homemade yogurt) and when the bread is in the oven (tasty!) We have thrown loose in Apu Bay. We test all courses and sailing positions with a varying wind as we sail to the east of Raiatea. This is again within the Lagoon and occasionally pay close attention to narrow areas but we are becoming more and more handy. We stop along the way (pay attention to Scrabble) marae Taputapuatea, a very famous temple where people from Hawaii and New Zealand used to paddle all the way for ceremonies. Interesting to know more about that Polynesian maritime culture and super-smart navigation back then, but unfortunately the folder is written in Polynesian (see the picture, good luck!) Nowadays canoes are still a very popular means of transport that we see every day. Some clearly do it for the sport but often enough they go fishing all day in these mini canoes. And hard they go! When we sail 5 knots we do not keep track of them! Unfortunately, in addition to these super fit men, there are also far too fat people here, they say because of the Western influences of soft drinks and meat etc and less exercise because the car is very popular here. Nevertheless, most people, especially the young people, are very beautiful to see, often with very artful tattoos and the girls with a flower in their hair. At the end of the day we look for a suitable anchorage because the showers remain heavy and there are few bays where you can anchor properly. It feels like we are sailing to the end of the world, but around 1600 hrs we arrive at motu NaoNao where a beautiful bay with rugged mountains is opposite with sheltered moorings. We toast with a local beer on the roof of our floating house while the sun sets behind the mountain. We’ll stick around here for a while!

After many miles of sailing, today we just hang on our mooring here. The bay is wonderfully quiet and we do not see anyone except a car in the mini village on the side. We do take the kayak to the motu NaoNao, a private island behind which there is a bright blue bay where we snorkel with the current. We cook and do some boat chores and sleep long (we sleep really long here compared to home, very nice). Tomorrow we will explore Raiatea further.

We planned to sail quietly 2 hours to the north and anchor for the first time in the shallow water at a motu. The place has been described as ‘one of the nicest and safest anchorages of the island’. But if you arrive there on a rainy day with gusts up to 30 knots, there are 0 boats and as soon as you enter the light blue water it is only 2 meters deep in no time, we thought it was a bit too exciting. We make a nice sailing trip and continue to Uturoa, the capital of Raiatea. Since there are moorings on the motu side, we are in any case well secured if we do not have wind protection. We call to reserve a mooring from the rental company and the payment is: a six pack of beer. Yeah right. Once there, we visit the men and indeed they expect some beers to make their Saturday evening more pleasant. We have to go shopping anyway so go into town. And like everywhere here it is really quiet on Saturday afternoon / evening. Everything is closed, no cafes or restaurants open and no market and even the petrol station closes already. Sunday morning 0600 h is a better time for towns. We eat an ice cream from the supermarket, watch a local jeux de boules tournament and pay the beers to the men. We will come back another time for fun … How different from Utrecht on Saturday afternoon. But meanwhile we lie on bright blue water and we swim around the boat.

Bora Bora

We have decided to continue to the westernmost islands now that the wind is good for that. From the west we come back to everything we’ve been to so we don’t have to discover everything at once. So we skip the Sunday market and throw our way to Bora Bora! The weather is beautiful and we first sail for 2 hours in the wind through the lagoon of Raiatea, after which we go out through an exciting pass with surfers in the breakers next to the pass. For the first time we are sailing with full gear and we like it. In the gusts, the boat will accelerate immediately, so that will improve. Menno throws out the blue octopus fishing line and we enjoy a relaxed sailing trip. As Bora Bora gets closer all of a sudden the fishing line rattles, we got a bite! And how! A 12kg snap jack Tuna hangs behind our boat. Quickly take off some sail to slow down and then the big job of bringing in fish begins, killing fish (: o), filleting fish on a sailing boat (just attach yourself to the boat and luckily there were few waves) and then all divide cut pieces (approx. 4 kg) into portions and put in the refrigerator. Let’s say we were happy that it was another 2 hours sailing to Bora Bora and that I was very happy to wash off the fishy smell in the blue water. But oh what we have tasty tuna the coming week! Bora Bora is spectacularly beautiful, just like a super blue lagoon where we anchor in 5 meters of water and see the bottom. Menno swims to the only boat nearby and swaps some tuna for a drink with rum in the evening. The French family (Veronique, Stephan, Cloe and Lia) has been sailing around the world for 4 years! We have a nice drink with this special family and enjoy a spectacular Sunset behind our boat!

When we wake up we can see the seabed from our bed, it is so clear and shallow here. We swim, take the kayaks to the reef to spot rays and see the neighboring children wakeboarding behind Dad’s dinghy. We need some vegetables for the tuna so we sail to Vaitape. We fill up the dinghy, find the jetty next to the supermarket and have lunch in the town between cruise ship guests. It is quite touristy here compared to previous places, more shops etc but also here everyone is very friendly. At the fruit stalls we load our bag full of avocado mango banana and passion fruit and at the supermarket we have to make do with a few carrots and a cucumber. Vegetable range remains limited in this country, then only a week of avocado: p. Menno spends a lot of time trying to figure it out again but we are going to tie the knot, tomorrow we are going to Maupiti!

The best time for the pass is around lunch, so we go up and down to the mantas early in the morning, and yes they are back. We have Mazzel because the tour guide said that they are only occasionally in this season. Then we throw loose and wave one last time to Maupiti, we would have liked to stay on this relaxed island. The pass is again exciting, you have the idea that you have to steer straight at the breakers to stay on the safe line and the hard currents turn you in all directions. But we arrive safely at sea and hoist the sails to sail back to Bora Bora in the wind. Unfortunately, that is not very good with a catamaran, so motor sailing is only the last part with the motor out. We anchor next to the airport (if you come by we can pick you up by boat) and have a nice dinner at the Yacht club. We get the most beautiful table where we see a shark and many fish swim and eat delicious luxury at the sunset. Planing with the dinghy, we will be back home for a good night’s sleep.

This morning was wonderfully idle, called home, baked bread and cookies and watched planes. Around lunch we felt like sailing for a while, so we sailed south on the breeding jib. The tour was a bit tricky because there is no buoyancy here and it is <5 meters deep (and therefore also light blue) everywhere with the occasional stray coral ball. Close to the luxury hotels with overwater bungalows and celebrities and with me as a lookout for coral bulbs on the forefront, it was a relaxed trip. Now we are on our own over water bungalow in a beautiful bay of 3 meters deep. This time I was able to check the anchor because I get snorkeling 3 meters deep! We relax the rest of the afternoon and read another book …

We had a fun and busy day today! We stood up wonderfully relaxed and stared at the beautiful blue and now clear water around our boat. Menno had read that Manta rays are swimming around here too, so we put on our swimsuit (UV and waterproof long pants and long sleeve shirt) and ripped to the spot in our dinghy. We now know exactly where to sit to get him to plan and then we can go somewhere hard. We tie our boat to a mooring on the reef (you don’t even have to put your head under water to see fish and coral!). The snorkeling is already very beautiful and different from other places where we were. There is a wall underwater and in the deep channel we indeed see another manta floating by. Larger and with more white stripes than the one on Maupiti. Very nice! We snorkel along with a man who is catching / cutting something with his canoe on the reef, he has very few teeth and is also not very French. We chat with hands and feet and poor French. He appears to have fished large shells (which have the most beautiful colors underwater, such as blue with glitter) and cleans them. They are a kind of oysters and he offers them to us to taste. The flesh still has blue glitters. We experience it only because it tastes like tough oysters and I have become allergic to it, I spit it out in the sea. Menno eats a bite but also does not dare to eat the whole animal. We thank the man and go back to the boat.

At the end of the day we went to Matira point, the south side of Bora Bora. We do some shopping and eat at a simple restaurant on a cozy local beach. We’re here for a Polynesian dance show that’s in a fancy hotel tonight. Traditional dance and music was forbidden by the missionaries and French for a time and all traditions such as tattoos and art etc were almost extinct. But since a few years it is hip again and almost every teenager has a traditional tattoo and they are very competitive with dancing and making music between the different villages. Everything comes to a head during the annual Heiva festival with competitions chopping coconuts, javelin throwing, dancing, climbing coconut trees etc but unfortunately that is only in June. So to get a taste of this, we go to la Moana resort between the chic Americans. We are a bit skeptical whether it is not stupid and touristy, but it turns out that it is not, we have a great night. We are received relaxed and can enjoy the show when we have a drink in the bar where the partners of some dancers are. The spectacle begins with a lot of drum roll and real hula hula skirts. You can see that the dancers really enjoy it and how can they shake their buttocks hard, wiggle their knees and jump. One dance is very exciting and almost warrior-like, the other sensual and sweet. At the end a few guests are invited to dance, many women refuse, but if the most beautiful dancer asks me to dance, I can of course not say no. It’s a lot of fun and now I immediately know some Polynesian dance steps! A beautiful show and fun to see this cultural part of Polynesia!

This morning Menno had already made / lured friends at the dishes. A large porcupine fish and several large sharksuckers come over and over again and we look at them! Despite the fact that we were lovely here, the sailing started to itch again when we saw that there was a nice breeze today. So we threw loose again and sailed to a place on the other side of Matira point, but … The super short route along the south is about 1 meter deep so we have to go all the way around the island to get there. That is not a punishment! Menno jumps overboard at the Manta rays for a little drift snorkel while I send the boat through the channel but unfortunately no mantas today. Around the next corner we wave to 2 boys in canoes passing by, they wave back and get closer. We had just started our homemade chocolate chip cookies so offer them one too, but they politely decline. They are brothers aged 16 and 14 and can speak a few words of English. They hang under our boat between the 2 hulls and hitch a ride while we sail. We chat a bit in poor French and English and meanwhile hoist the code zero (large headsail). When they discover where we are going, they decide to take a tour around the island and go all the way with us. So for 2 or more hours we have hitchhikers. Then they paddle a bit, then hang under our boat or get out of their canoe to rest on board. Menno does a round in the canoe, the boats go very fast but are difficult to steer and very wobbly, but Menno does not capsize! Now that they are tired and warm they like a homemade sandwich and a glass of cola, and they ask all kinds of questions about the boat, have fun with them and we are sailing in the right direction. We anchor at another beautiful spot next to another boat and of course we eat tuna again!

We slept peacefully here on shallow water behind a large reef and with little wind. But during the day little wind is really hot! Fortunately, we can make some shade with cloths and splash any time in the beautiful light blue water. Early in the morning we take the kayak to go to the reef nearby, there are already 3 boats with divers so it must be good, and indeed we see a lot of beautiful fish and coral and also a group of eagle rays in the deep water. Later we discover at the boat that at least as many rays swim here. Every now and then we see a stingray or an eagle ray or sharksuckers, and once close to the boat even 30 eagle rays! Until now we only had a sweet gecko and now and then a dirty cockroach (long live insect spray) as a pet, but now a bit more! In the late afternoon we went to the capital Vaitape where we visited some tourist shops and bought some fruit and vegetables. Later we went to a famous restaurant Bloody Mary’s with a sunset, they have a wall full of names of celebrities who have been there, Paris Hilton etc .. quite funny and tasty Bloody Mary but the Sunset is more beautiful from our own terrace 😉

Maupiti

At 0630 we pick up the anchor at the first rays of the sun and wave goodbye to Bora Bora. Maupiti is a destination with a manual: there is a very narrow pass with a lot of current that you can only safely pass with little wind and few waves, but only around lunchtime when there is less current. But of course you need wind to get there and the weather forecast here is not very extensive (3 lines for 24 hours and an area as big as half of Europe) .. but the conditions are good now and the coming days so we are going! To accelerate we hoist the spinaker (first tried the code zero but the wind came too much from behind for that). With the spinaker we go nice and fast and we manage to be at the pass around half past one. The breakers look fierce from afar and when we look at the pass you see a small winding entrance with a lot of current and very high breakers next to it. Fortunately, there are good markings of which line you have to follow to sail safely, so we follow that exactly. The waves break right next to us and we go very slowly against the current, but Menno sends perfectly towards the beacons and after a few minutes we are in the safe bay. That was exciting (so we don’t have any pictures of it) but it went smoothly! We look around and see how beautiful Maupiti is, all the colors blue in the bay, cute houses on the motus, a green hill and beautiful beaches and no big hotels or busy tourist boats but children who are brought to school by boat . We go to The anchorage: in front of the church (with an anchor on the facade) and lie there wonderfully with 1 other boat and a turtle swimming by. we swim and chill and now eat our delicious homemade bread. Because we may only stay here for a short time (or much longer than we like), we decide to explore the island for a while. We rent bicycles in the village and cycle around the whole island (10 km). After a cold cola at a small shop, we look for the pteroglyphs (rock paintings in a river bed) of turtles, among others, walked past it but found it! Then we cycle on the only road that runs along the coast.

Each house has a scaffolding in the water to hoist the boat into the shallow water and in front of each house is a family tomb with flowers and wreaths of wreaths decorated under a jackfruit tree. Unfortunately, there is nowhere a restaurant open for a drink or snacks because we are starving after such a long day. Fortunately, the owner of a guest house does want to sell us a drink. (It’s nice that we are quite self-sufficient with the boat in this country where restaurants and shops are closed or empty every now and then. We cycle back to the ‘main village via a viewpoint) and eat tasty tuna with previously made curry.

Oh how nice and beautiful it is here! Menno had heard that there are often Manta rays here so first thing in the morning we sailed with the dinghy towards the south side of the island and splashed into the water. The dinghy well tied to a buoy and we swim until we indeed (exactly where it is indicated on the map) swim 3 Manta rays, after all float what they do. I had never seen them before and was impressed. Menno thought she was small but very cool. A little later 2 tourist boats came to watch but luckily the mantas stayed and a spotted Ray came along. Then we sailed past our Austrian neighbors, but they were already snorkeling in the north. There is very beautiful coral so we went there too. Our dinghy laid down on a paradise beach of a motu and back into the water. It was very shallow and full of beautiful coral and a lot of fish. Certainly the most beautiful so far. Closer to the reef we see 3 more sharks, it is almost normal here! Around lunchtime we are tired but very happy back at our boat. We take a nap and make pancakes, and if we receive a weather report with very sparse internet, it turns out that we should leave tomorrow anyway, otherwise we will probably not get away here for the time being. All we really wanted to do is go up the mountain … The view seems to be fantastic. So we do that at the end of the afternoon. It is a tough steep walk over rough terrain with sometimes scrambling parts. Downstairs we hear the church choirs singing, a kind of beautiful Polynesian gospel and on the way we stumble on the (often rotten) mangos. It is really hot but the view along the way and certainly at the top is absolutely worth it. We see our boat down in the bright blue water and in all directions it is spectacularly beautiful. Very tired, satisfied and just before sunset we arrive downstairs. The restaurant where we would like to eat when we return appears to be closed (children’s party), but luckily we still have tuna;). During dinner, the local drum band near us exercises on the side, which swings and sounds very professional!

The best time for the pass is around lunch, so we go up and down to the mantas early in the morning, and yes they are back. We have Mazzel because the tour guide said that they are only occasionally in this season. Then we throw loose and wave one last time to Maupiti, we would have liked to stay on this relaxed island. The pass is again exciting, you have the idea that you have to steer straight at the breakers to stay on the safe line and the hard currents turn you in all directions. But we arrive safely at sea and hoist the sails to sail back to Bora Bora in the wind. Unfortunately, that is not very good with a catamaran, so motor sailing is only the last part with the motor out. We anchor next to the airport (if you come by we can pick you up by boat) and have a nice dinner at the Yacht club. We get the most beautiful table where we see a shark and many fish swim and eat delicious luxury at the sunset. Planing with the dinghy, we will be back home for a good night’s sleep.

Makatea

We broke our sail to Rangiroa with a short stop in Makatea, a raised coral atoll and site for phosphate mines 10 or 20 years ago.

Rangiroa

We are in Rangiroa! We had a very relaxed crossing, we even went so fast that we made a half day stop in Makatea. An island where only 80 people live (who are never all at home at the same time), a supply ship comes once a month and so occasionally a sailing boat like us. We had a personal welcome from the mayor Julien and his son Tapu and cycled for a great view over the cliffs. It is full of birds here and we see the green pigeon, a bird that was once said to us when you see that you are a local;). Hot from the bike ride, we ate ice cream at the Tapu mini shop and got papayas and lemons from the garden. We go back to our boat through high breakers in a spooky abandoned industrial dock from the time that phosphate mines were here. We are moored at 50 meters deep and can see the bottom! Makatea was a very nice stop!

We slept in Makatea rather than arrive that same day at sunset to Rangiroa. We are still going too fast, because we have to pass through the pass of Rangiroa with dead tide because of dangerous currents. So we reef the sail and roll into the jib and cross a bit to arrive at exactly the right time for neap tide. We have read a lot about the passes and the atolls, but only when you get there all the information falls into place. We call the diving school km to check whether our calculation of dead tide is correct and are still a little too early with outgoing current and strange waves on shallow water. After this exciting step we are finally there, our first atoll! And it is beautiful! After anchoring, despite precautions with buoys under water, our anchor chain is immediately wrapped around coral again. An hour later we are loose and try again, now it looks good under water !! We chill in the water and make friends with our neighbor boat from Chile. At sunset we watched the sharks on a lovely terrace. Unfortunately no dolphins today. Now we go to sleep! Nana = bye in Polynesia

How beautiful it is here! We are in an atoll so big that all of Tahiti would fit in it. You have to imagine that someone has put a 100 meter wide coral border with palm trees on it around the Ijselmeer and then takes the whole of the Netherlands away. You put that floating ring in the middle of the ocean, and you saw 2 holes in it, those are the steps. We don’t even see the other side of the atoll from the anchorage. Due to ebb and flow, it flows in step. But also all the water that blows over the coral reefs through wind and waves and all rain has to go out through that pass. There can be very strong currents here, just like a swirling river with sometimes breaking waves. And that attracts a lot of sea animals! We were of course still tired from the sailing trip so wanted to relax today. But when you read that you are on one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world, you still want to take a look underwater. First we repaired the water maker, the filter had to be replaced. Still handy to make your own water on an island where they depend on rainwater and a supply boat for all drinking water. Then we calculated when the incoming current was and went with the dinghy to the ocean. And then hop into the water, hold the boat well and drift in with 4 knots of power while the sharks, 1 meter large parrotfishes, rays and other beautiful fish swim under you. And … another round! Inside the lagoon we snorkeled in the ‘aquarium’ a beautiful piece of coral where they set out a kind of treasure hunt with signs explaining underwater. Again the most beautiful fish and no current. After a tip from a diving instructor (no one else was there) we sailed out of the pass once more, but now further out to sea to see the dolphins! We saw many and also snorkeled with these cool animals nearby, and then suddenly there were 15 sharks and a school of barracudas among us … You get it this is an underwater zoo! Then we exhausted from 3 hours of snorkeling read nice books on the boat. At sunset we crossed the whole island again (5 min walk) to Dolphin viewpoint. At the sunset, a beer and swirling outgoing current, the jumping dolphins came today! Very cool!

Today we have another day with sun and clear blue sky. Delicious! After we made bread dough again for 3 days this morning it started to itch again to go back to the pass when we saw the submarines passing by. So snorkel package on and in the dinghy. Once in time we saw that it was still a bit of outgoing flow, even despite our calculation program with the tide table and all factors that you can take into account, it was not quite right. So we went to play in the aquarium. I practiced my freediving and holding my breath among the hundreds of fish. Menno meanwhile was chasing a moray eel and black tip reefshark. Attempt 2 in the pass was good, the submarine said that the current was now coming in, and we had best go see the dolphins for another 10 minutes. So we went there and a few times with about 10 dolphins in the water! They quickly went down again but we could see them very well! In the meantime we realized where the divers were underwater. We followed them and saw more dolphins and of course sharks and other large fish. Despite the fact that we were already quite tired, we went out again and went into the water with the dolphins 2x, such graceful animals! Then drifted in again and then eaten a pomelo, a pineapple, 2 apples, biscuits and a whole bread aboard Daisho: o. At the end of the afternoon we looked for shells and coral on the rough beach at the pass. And looked up wifi at a cafe. Now see if the dolphins are back!

Tikehau

After a lot of puzzling last night, with some uncertainty about the current, we already started this morning at half past six on the way to neighboring island Tikehau. We have a kind of calculation model in Excel from other sailors where you can calculate the current in the passes. But that is not as precise as the tide table of the Wadden Sea, it is therefore called a ‘guestimator’. Fortunately our anchor was not tangled with the coral and there was little wind which also makes the pass less exciting = less waves. Once at the exit of Rangiroa we still had 4.6 knots of electricity but no waves in the pass, but a wave surfing competition next to the pass … When we had reached the range we called the local diving school to check whether we Tikehau’s tide had worked out well, it knocked at 45 minutes. We had to make the crossing in 8 hours to get the tide but unfortunately there was little wind so sailing with auxiliary engine became enough to go fast. With the (gentle) wind in the back it was very hot and we were busy trying out all the shadow spots on the boat while enjoying a good book and a brownie baked on the way. The Tikehau pass was nice and quiet and right behind the pass was already the cozy anchorage with about 8 boats including our Chilean friends from Rangiroa. Finally we can cool down in the water! Ryan from the Chilean boat comes by with his catch today that he shot with his harpoon. After filleting, two blacktip reef sharks come to eat the leftovers under our boat. The Chileans have too much so we get a delicious fish gift and give them back some fresh vegetables that they haven’t eaten in weeks. We have a delicious meal and enough fish in the fridge for 2 more days!

What a nice life here in the atoll! This morning we paddled with the kayaks to the mini motu. There Janique lives in a hut of corrugated iron on a super beautiful island of sand and palm trees, 100×60 meters large, surrounded by shallow light blue water. We have a nice stroll around the island and on the big motu full of palm trees next to it. Rough landscape here, barren coral soil on which I think only palm trees and a handful of other plants grow. Back at Janique’s motu we had a chat with Alex and Julia who have been hanging out here for a few months on their little sailboat they bought in Raiatea, they dropped the original plan to travel in New Zealand. They invite us for a BBQ that afternoon on the motu with all sailors, nice! On the way back to the boat we meet Ryan who caught a lot of fish with his friends with the speargun for the BBQ. Menno is a bit disappointed that he did not go with them this morning because he would also like to learn spear fishing. So back at the boat Menno is going to try, and with 3x shooting he has 2 fish on his harpoon! A unicornfish and a colorful parrotfish. After some hesitation, the fish is also dead, the curious sharks have left and we take them to the BBQ with bread. The local experts say that these fish are fine to eat. Many fish here have a bacterium ciguatera that can make you sick if you get a lot of them, nowhere can be found what is and what is not safe because it is different per island and per bay and there is no test for the bacteria. It is thought that it may be a result of the French nuclear tests in Polynesia, but even after a hurricane there is more ciguatera. Our fish are approved and cleaned. The BBQ is full of so much fish that we never finish it, there is also puffed breadfruit (kind of potato flavor but grows in a tree) and poisson cru of course. We braid bowls of palm leaves and coconuts are distributed and of course there is rum punch. The varied company of young and old people who have all been living on a boat for years seems a bit hippy but it is very nice. The natural pool at the door provides cooling and the palm trees provide some shade. Everyone brought something tasty, such as salad, drinks or crepes, and of course we eat a lot of delicious fish! The host even eats the fish eyes … And we think we should taste everything but we skip the eyes. Back at the boat we chill on the foredeck at sunset. We bake a pizza for dinner, but unfortunately the oven no longer works well, thumbs up that we can fix it quickly.

We had an unexpectedly busy day today. We wanted to go to a snorkel spot and use the internet near the village so we threw in the morning and headed for the south of the island. Enjoyed the breeding there sailed through a well-indicated channel. At the village we have dropped our anchor again next to 2 other boats that we now know. We immediately jumped into the dinghy and planned a long way to go to motu Mauu, a tiny island in the middle of the atoll where mantas often swim and an old pearl farm ruin. A tourist boat arrived that said they weren’t there today, but pointed out the spot, a little later we spotted a Manta. This was great! We went into the water alternately because 1 also had to control the dinghy in the waves. As a super Mario kart we tore with waves and wind back to our boat and have lunch in the village. The peace itself, 2 shops, many churches, a policewoman, a note on the door of the town hall that the teacher is sick and a post office that is only open a few hours a day. Fortunately, there was also a snack with delicious lunch of tuna carpaccio and steak chips where we could cool down. We couldn’t get internet or wifi on the phone, but luckily Menno was allowed to use the policewoman’s computer and the dive school to check the weather forecast. Because the anchorage at the village with the current east wind is a bit bumpy, we leave east. Past a hotel where we pick up Wi-Fi, we sail out the channel and down the water map, there is no map of the rest of the atoll so we have to do it with our eyes and depth gauge. I climb on the boom to spot shallows (coral heads which are also called bommies) but fortunately they are few. Then we find a perfect anchorage that was recommended by others well protected from the waves on beautiful shallow water. We are behind some motus and can also see the sea because some are just a bit of sand. Of course a tropical rain comes over during anchoring, but after that we quickly lie like a house. A turtle comes to say hello and we enjoy the dark starry sky.

After a heavy thunderstorm last night with a lot of wind, we still slept well, fortunately there are few waves here due to a bowl-shaped reef. This morning we saw another turtle and also a whole flock of birds fishing nearby. Here except the hotel on the horizon and an abandoned house on the motu, there is nothing but nature. Because the atoll is so flat, we see the high waves of the sea breaking further on. Twice today a boat passed by, probably from people who live further away, who come and wave goodbye. First we did some chores, checked the electronics of the windlass and secured some wires better because it was causing malfunction more and more. And pasted a windshield that had been blown to pieces recently. Then Menno sailed back to the mantas to be impressed by a very large Manta that came swimming straight up. This afternoon we loaded the dinghy full of tasty things and sailed to a desert island for a picnic! We have found a beautiful island a little further west with an abandoned hut and some remains of a copra plantation, and a lot of hermits scrambling in the most beautiful shells. It was really an island as you imagine an uninhabited tropical island, beautiful yellow but also very pink sand, palm trees, fallen coconuts, a crab in the surf and dead coral along the high tide. However, if you look further, these islands are also a very hard rugged world, almost nothing can grow on dead coral, it is hot and unsheltered and on the sea side of the island it was a large rugged plain with stones and reef. I wouldn’t like to wash up there anyway. But we had a top afternoon there! We made a barbecue by building a fire pit out of coral stones and making fire out of coconut husks. We grill sausages, pop a sweet potato and eat our last fish, and of course banana with chocolate for dessert. After the barbecue we walk around the island and look for beautiful shells and pieces of dead coral, on every beach we find other shells. The pink sand is really very special and beautiful! We swim in our private pool in shallow water in front of the door but leave for the boat in the late afternoon before the mosquitoes and nonos (sand flies) come.

This morning Menno ‘secretly’ took the dinghy to the hotel and ‘searched for turtles’, but in the meantime retrieved a lot of weather reports. We are looking at whether we can cross over to Fakarava more to the east in the coming week. As always, we have to wait for good wind, this time from the northeast. With the new weather reports we have puzzled and it may seem to be a good crossing again on Tuesday. Then we felt like exploring this atoll a bit further! With the sun in our backs in the afternoon we throw loose and continue to the east, where no one really lives anymore, except for a community of Taiwanese

Early this morning we went to the most idyllic beach yet. Unfortunately no pictures because we went in the kayak and cameras and phones cannot withstand salt water … At our anchorage there is a motu where we are washed ashore after 10 min. The sand was again a beautiful pink with yellow and there was not much to be seen besides 10 sharks, lots of hermits and lots of fish and palm trees. Seen from the beach, Daisho was very paradisiacal on light blue water surrounded by beautiful beaches and otherwise only blue. From here you can also look around the entire atoll, 360 degrees island. We have endlessly searched for shells and took 4 coconut husks full of shells back to the boat. When it got too hot we went back to the boat, otherwise we could have stayed there for a while. To be able to use the good light in our back, we were immediately thrown loose towards the pass again. I climb into the mast again like a monkey and sailing beautifully on only the jib we slalom between bommies. We make a pit stop in front of the hotel for a new weather forecast and hoist the mainsail when we ‘sail up the water map’ again. Nice to be able to make a sandwich again and not have to pay constant attention for two, but it was very nice. Although we are now back in the fairway, we are the only boat and we can say with certainty that we are the only sailing boat in the atoll. We sail all the way back to the pass with a nice light breeze from the side, very beautiful! At the new anchorage we greet our old Chilean friends and Menno tries to shoot another fish for dinner. That does not work this time but luckily the Chileans are left and we can still eat poisson cru! What a beautiful day!

Toau

The last part of our 34-hour journey continues to be hard work. In the night thunderstorms come over and because you cannot see where the clouds are in the dark it is exciting every time. But in the morning the wind finally shifts in the right direction and we get a lift (favorable wind shift) towards Toau. For the first time this trip we see a few sailing boats, which appear to be going to Apataki. Two Brown boobies with a beautiful blue head are curious and after having flown 6 daredevil laps around our boat they land on the guard rail. Wobbling on their flippers, they look at our boat and sit quietly for half an hour. If we roll out code zero, it will become too exciting for them and we will wave them off. Finally we are in Toau at Anse Amyot. A number of people have recommended this special place to us and we are very curious. Anse Amyot is a false pass, it is the entrance to a pass but you cannot go through it to the inside of the atoll because the entrance is too shallow. There is a beautiful sheltered bay with very sweet residents. We take a mooring and go ashore with the only inhabitants of all of Toau, Gaston and Valentina. Unimaginable on an island of 30 x 10 km. It’s hard to describe, but a sweet idea with potential for a fairytale or Disney movie setting comes closest. Gaston is a somewhat quiet but funny wiry Polynesian and Valentina a woman who grew up here spearfishing with her father. Now they have a frigate bird as a pet, which fell from the nest 10 years ago. And since 1970, Valentina’s family has been welcoming sailors from all over the world here. We are welcomed like old friends and have a lemonade with them, then we go to our retired American neighbors Mike and Kelly for a beer. And then of course we enjoy our fresh tuna.

After our crossing last night we didn’t feel like making bread dough anymore, so today we eat pancakes! The water around our boat is crystal clear and there are many large fish such as sharks, jacks and groupers. Menno shoots a goatfish under the boat with the harpoon, but before he has brought in the fish, he has disappeared into the mouth of a shark. In the afternoon we take a walk on the beach and collect many beautiful shells on the reef. Then we bring a piece of tuna to Valentina as promised. When we show some pictures of the Netherlands, Valentina gets scared, a strong westerly wind is approaching. West wind here often means storm and the hurricanes always come from there. And she is right, an imposing thunderstorm is coming over us. We move in and wait for better weather to get back to our boat. As it gets dark, Valentina tells about the hurricanes she has experienced and the concrete shelter they have. She is also happy and proud to talk about how she came to believe in Jesus and what miracles she experienced. Her father was the first to come to live on this island, fled from grandpa because Valentina wanted to keep Valentina to herself because she looks a lot like deceased grandmother. As the first and only family of this island, they lived from fishing and ate coconuts and fish. When her father died when she was 17, they had hard times and Valentina started selling the fish herself on the surrounding islands. They now have fish traps, grow pearl oysters, have a fantastic vegetable garden and make copra from coconut, and in high season they also have a restaurant for sailors and in between they are always helpful for the sailors who come by. Menno discovers jars full of pearls that are left over from their former pearl farm. She promises to show me more pearls with light tomorrow. Valentina and Gaston are very sweet and we feel right at home. The guestbooks they show us from 1970 until now are full of praise for this place and we add a few lines. They think it is special that we come from the Netherlands, the last Dutch boat was here 30 years ago! And we have not encountered a single Dutch person in Polynesia in the almost 3 months … quite bizarre. Fortunately, after many early prayers from Valentina, the thunderstorm stops and we can find our boat again with a flashlight.

Today was a very special day full of highlights! In the morning we stopped by Valentina to report that we will stay a few more days given the wind forecast and we are immediately invited for lunch if we bring something ourselves. So we went spear fishing in the shallow water near the pass together with the French couple, which is also here with their boat. They show us how to keep the sharks from pecking your fish and we get to work. It is teeming with parrotfishes and Menno has 3 of them. Then it’s my turn and after shooting three times I have a nice sized parrotfish on the spear and it safely in the boat without the sharks pecking it. With enough fish for lunch and our fridge we go snorkeling outside the pass where there is a beautiful wall of coral. When we sail back while cleaning the parrotfishes, I see some fins in the distance … And then: thirty dolphins! The bottlenoses tumble through the water towards our boat and we are all alone with these beautiful animals snorkeling above and below water. So cool! We later learn that the sharks are afraid of dolphins because dolphins sometimes attack and eat them … but we still love to see them. Quickly we are going to take the fish to the barbecue and bake an olive roll to take with us to lunch. Everyone in the bay is there, us and the French and Gaston and Valentina and later also the Americans who had been elsewhere for the night. The pastis and olive bread goes around and the fish cooks on the BBQ while Umou Umou begs the frigate bird for some snacks and kisses. We are enjoying a drink in the shade on the beach and when we finally get to the table there is a lot of fish (including ours), rice and salad from Valentina’s vegetable garden. For dessert there is a pump mousse from the Marquis, deliciously sweet! It will be a very pleasant and extremely relaxed afternoon with hip music from the boombox and fanatical games of petanque and of course we will not be back on our boat until sunset.

Yesterday we were invited (after a few beers) to go on an ‘excursion’ today. Frigate bird droppings had to be collected from a motu nearby as fertilizer for the garden and certain crabs were sought. Then we could immediately see this beautiful island and then look for coconut crabs and have a picnic on a beach. But this morning showers came over (from the west) and when we were ready with our bags they decided not to go because the weather was too bad. Then the weather was beautiful all day, but threatening showers from the west are reason enough for them not to go out on the water (and maybe the beers played a role too ..). Meanwhile, we have a great time chatting with Valentina in which she, like an old grandmother, gives us all kinds of life lessons and wise advice, picking out pearls and snorkelling in the lagoon. We bake a brownie and do some boat jobs because hopefully tomorrow there will be just enough wind to sail to Fakarava. That will already be the last island of this trip!

Fakarava

What a big fat luck we had today! We hoped for just enough wind to just sail to Fakarava in a long day and to be able to pass through the pass around 1800 at neap tide. We left Anse Amyot on a very beautiful sunrise and I sent out the pass while Menno hoists the sail for a change. The American boat leaves just behind us and we keep in touch via VHF and take pictures of each other along the way. There are all the time angry clouds with good wind making us go twice as fast as expected. Especially with the code zero added the miles away on the chartplotter. We have to slow down for a moment because we have a fat fish on the line, a wahoo / tazard that seems to be very tasty upon inquiry. While we continue to race, Menno cleans the fish and the big American boat disappears from view. It is also neap tide at 12.15 and we gamble on being able to enter with the first outgoing current around 1300. Fakarava has a very wide north pass and with a little bit of current against we sail smoothly in at 1300 hours. 5 hours earlier than expected and looking for a place to sleep in the light. In the atoll we sail for another hour on beautiful flat water to the village of Rotoava. We dock at a mooring and swim to say hello to our Norwegian neighbors. Suddenly we have time to do some shopping today and that is a good thing because tomorrow it will be Sunday and everything will be closed. We hear that we may be able to get some diesel at the bakery, otherwise we will have to wait for the supply ship to arrive once a week on Wednesday. Fortunately we still have the tanks full because we sailed everything today and only want some spare diesel for the way back, because the diesel at the bakery is sold out. Fortunately they do have eggs, flour, apples and syrup for the main prize and we don’t need much for the last week. At the store we see a self-drawn poster of a performance by the local dance school tonight. So we quickly eat on the boat and then go to the sports hall where the spectacle has already started. It is a nice relaxed atmosphere with young and old who fetch food and drink and chat during the show, but also shout loudly and clap at the dancers. Young girls in hula skirts, beautiful Polynesian women with their sweet smiles and the old dance teacher in a beautiful dress, supported by a band with hip ukulele music. We have a fun unexpected night out!

To be honest, we find it a bit busy in the village with 10 boats and don’t really feel the need for a terrace or eating out. So we plan to move south. First we visit the Americans to exchange photos and give them a piece of fish. They are not at the boat but we find them at the yacht club (nice and well-arranged such a small village). Then we release without using the motor and hoist code zero again. It is hard work to stay in the channel while sailing with this big sail (the rest of the island has not been mapped) and meanwhile bake bread and brownie and make water. But it will be a beautiful sailing day. We choose an anchorage far away from everything and everyone, we estimate that within a radius of 18 km there is no one. So we swim naked and turn the music nice and loud. Nearby is a beautiful palm beach and white birds contrast nicely with the green palms. In the evening we watch a documentary about the south pass where we are going tomorrow, and also to the stars of course!

After a wonderfully quiet night we want to go to the sea side of the atoll for a while. Where we lie, the motu is very dense and we never get to the other side without a machete. But on satellite photos from Google Maps we had seen that a bit further the motu is very narrow, so we speed there with the dinghy. It is still a long walk over the moonscape of dead coral to the surf. Along the way we find the most beautiful shells so far, beautifully shiny cones. Crabs run in the shallow waters of the pools and flatfish and baby sharks dart from under our feet. We quickly turn around because the tide is rising and it is very hot without shade here. Then we hoist the sail and have a very relaxed trip to the south pass. Menno is figuring out how to operate the autopilot with the iPad. So with lunch in the shade of the jib, he steers the boat from the trampoline through the channel while I read a book. At the south pass we take a mooring next to 3 other boats. Our 9-year-old French girl next door Violet is snorkeling by the boat and enthusiastically calls out that there are a hundred sharks swimming under the boat! This pass is also famous for that, the many sharks. On one side of our boat we look over an endless atoll and on the other side over the reef right out to sea. We check the mooring underwater and snorkel between beautiful rock formations with coral and full of fish that stick up like pillars. And after sunset and a meal of self-caught wahoo we are naturally tired after this day and go to bed early.

This morning the water around our boat was crystal clear and because it was also still windless we could see all 30 sharks swimming under the boat. Throwing away some pump mousse peels and rinsing the board is suddenly exciting. First the unicorn and surgeonfishes come for a taste and after that usually about 5 sharks. Everyone says they are not dangerous but they are big and not afraid of me so we take care anyway. We puzzle out the current and have a drink at the diving school before the incoming tide. On the side here was once the largest city of the tuamotus, but it was completely destroyed by a hurricane. Now there is a church, a few houses, many ruins and a diving school with a small guest house. We chat at the dive school with the handyman and as with any local we are friends as soon as we tell about the fish we have caught. Then we plunge into the water on the outside of the pass. At first it is very deep with countless sharks in the depth. On the shallower parts of the steep slopes, the coral is very varied and we see a lot of fish of all shapes and sizes. At the end of the pass we turn the corner towards our boat and the current gets even stronger. In water of a few meters deep with unimaginably beautifully colored and super-dense coral with fish everywhere, it is like a wet Efteling attraction. We do somersaults and other capers in the current and go for another round along the other side of the pass. In the evening we are invited for a drink with 2 neighboring boats, 2 French families with children who have been hanging around here for a long time in the tuamotus. Very nice and they can even speak English!

Today the weather was perhaps even better than yesterday and we noticed that especially underwater. In the morning we lazed endlessly and Menno finally got bored today. But with the view from our boat and cold water in the fridge, that’s no punishment. Today we snorkeled several times through the pass again, and I think due to good timing at the end of the incoming tide and beautiful high sun it was even more beautiful than yesterday. The coral had the fish had even more color and we could see very deep. But actually we don’t have to get off the boat because we see so many fish here, a beautiful motu with the sea breakers and the endless blue lagoon on the other side. After dinner, we watch a spectacular rise of the full moon and watch a movie.

We had heard a lot about the beautiful beaches on the other side of the pass, les sables roses. This used to be a popular anchorage but now it is a protected nature reserve because of rare coral. We fill up the dinghy with gasoline from the jerry cans we brought, pack a picnic and go on an expedition. The joke is that if there are there also 2 submarines come while we have not seen anyone in recent days. But apart from a handful of tourists who also come for lunch, it is totally wild. Large plains of pink sandy motus with palm trees and light turquoise water between our toes. We eat a home-baked olive bread and other goodies while the black tip reef sharks watch. Just when we want to discover even more beautiful places here, a big shower comes over. So we decide to go to the church because with this weather it is not really nice even between the palm trees. Due to the rain, finding the way back between the reefs is not easy, but in the end we are the maze of shallows and we moor at the diving school. The church is very cute and the altar is made entirely of mother-of-pearl. Except for the ruins and some barking dogs, there is really nothing at all here, bizarre that it was once alive here. In any case, there used to be a lot of people living there because of the tuamotus. But first, entire villages died from the misery that the colonists took with them, alcohol, disease and weapons. And later when the pearl price collapsed because more and more is made of plastic, the economy went down very hard. People we met in papeete who grew up in the tuamotus also only told us that there is just nothing, except your own family, coconut palms and fish. So if you want work, a girlfriend or facilities you have to go to the city. After the church we chat again with the handyman from the diving school and he secretly gives us some pump mousse as a present. He himself has already eaten enough in his life, he is ‘Fui’ of it. A word that you come across a lot here, I have had enough, I don’t feel like it. We are still far from Fui so we go snorkeling a few more times. We enjoy with the realization that it is our last time snorkeling through a pass and with such beautiful vibrant coral drifting back to the boat. There we prepare for our longest crossing, back to Tahiti. We puzzle with the tide when we can get out the best, very early or mid-morning? And we cook for 3 days bread, yogurt and dinner. Fortunately, we still have time to count the stars.

Here we go, the first leg of our long journey home. It will take us 7 days from here to Utrecht and let us leave in time so as not to miss our plane in Papeete. We have timed out the pass and the weather is wonderfully beautiful and calm. We have a last look at the beautiful motus and the bright blue water and we head towards Tahiti. The 450 km between here and Tahiti there is nothing at all and depending on the wind it takes 2-4 days. The wind is a bit more behind than predicted, so we hoist the spinnaker and not the faster code zero. With a light breeze and nothing but blue around us we sail into the first night.

It’s not getting along yet … During the night we had to iron the spinnaker several times and hoist it again before and after a shower. Between the showers there was a very gentle wind so we have not made many miles yet. We have changed strategy and have hoisted code zero and started crossing over. But just when we were doing that, the wind changed again and it still seems faster with the spinnaker. All in all it is wonderfully quiet sailing, but we are tired of all the sail changes and broken sleepers and if it continues we will only be the morning before our flight in Tahiti. At sunset we go so slowly that the engine turns on, then hopefully we can sleep a bit more peacefully tonight. On the way we see nothing at all, now and then a flying fish or a bird and dead silence on the VHF. We enjoy this special Pacific Ocean and our sturdy boat in the middle of all the blue.

After a night of motoring with the sails added, Tahiti finally came into view in the morning. And there was more wind so the engine could be switched off and we even went fast without an engine. And the tough Vaa’a men try to keep up with us in their canoes. We eat our last pumplemousses and enjoy the beautiful view of green Tahiti. It seems as if we are in another country again, the landscape is that different again. After 1300 nautical miles, sailing about 2400 km through this beautiful country, we are back at our starting point, Arue, at sunset. We were totally looking forward to dinner at the Coconut station, but it is inexplicably closed tonight. Fortunately, 1 roulotte is open and we can eat a burger. Then we roll into our cabin exhausted.