FAKARAVA SOUTH, Tuomotus
Fakarava is the second largest atoll and is a 32 mile long by 15 mile wide rectangular shape archipelago. We had a pleasant day sail to the South end of Fakarava, where we were escorted through the reef by Bob (Stardust) in his dinghy.
We no sooner had the anchor set when Bob quickly loaded us into his dinghy and took across the pass to the Beach Party already in progress. Our friends had selected the most beautiful setting for the party on a sandy spit surrounded by palms they had decorated with tiny white lights. Music and laughter greeted us as we met up with everyone once again. As usual everyone had some sailing stories to tell and we got caught up on the adventures of this group of our friends.
As the sun set over the water, we had a Potluck Dinner around a the fire.
Denis & Shari (Babalona)
Corby & Rick (Emerald)
Doug, Duncan, Bob, Angela
Chris, Duncan, Dave, Bob, Angela, Doug
SNORKELING THE PASS
The snorkeling at Fakarava was out of this world. the first day, Bob, Becky, Angela and I (Gord was not feeling well) drift snorkeled the pass at slack tide. We towed the dinghy behind us and let the current carry us along the reef. It was like floating through a marine Buchart Gardens, the colour of the coral ranging from yellow to purple with such alien shapes that it seemed we were in another world.
The fish life was so plentiful and varied that I didn't know where to look next. At one point the vast density created by the numerous school of fish looked like a waterfall cascading down the coral, shimmering yellow and blues. A huge Napoleon fish swam within reach, it's body almost as long as my own, with his friendly inquisitive eyeball rotating on his bulging socket. We saw more black tipped sharks (4-5 feet) than I was willing to count, some way too close for comfort. Bob took me to a spot off the reef where I looked down and saw hundreds of grey shark about 30 feet below me.
I returned to the boat so excited and exhilarated with the experience. Obviously the atoll is teeming with marine life. When I threw some perishables overboard, a couple of sharks immediately appeared beside the boat to investigate.
The following day we all went snorkeling (Gord included) in the pass again. As soon as Doug from Solstice jumped into the water a large grey shark arched his back and lowered his fins and came straight for him. That is very aggressive behaviour and grey sharks can be dangerous. He headed lickity split back to the dinghy. We gingerly got back into the water and it appeared that the intruder was gone, so we drifted down the pass and had a very enjoyable snorkel, although we all had a weird perception that the other sharks and even the fish were a little more agitated than usual. (We saw lots). About 3/4 of the way along, where the current carries you along at about 3 knots, a stupid remora (those leaches that look like baby sharks and attach themselves to sharks) decided that he wanted to hitch a ride on me. I was frantically kicking but he wouldn't leave me alone. These things are about 2 1/2 ft long and have a big sucker on the back of their head. Finally, he gave up on me and went after Becky (Stardust). What a pest. Now here's the interesting part. As we were returning to our boats in Stardust's dinghy, we noticed that Freebird had their dinghy hoisted up on deck and one of the pontoons was completely deflated. Judy & Dave had sped by us earlier while we were in the water and we wondered what the hurry was. Apparently, the pontoon exploded so they had to rush back fast enough holding up their pontoon to keep the dinghy afloat. Divers in another dinghy had been witness to the episode. They saw a large black object hit the back of the dinghy just as the group of divers were about to get into the water. On close inspection, the rather large hole in the pontoon definitely portrayed the serrated bite of a shark! We figured it must have been a white tip or tiger shark because they are the most aggressive. Anyway I am glad it was the dinghy and not one of us! Imagine the shark's surprise to bite into the rubber and get a huge blast of air.
EXPLORING THE MOTU
Since we still did not have an operational dinghy, Bob & Betsy (Stardust) took us to explore the motu. We walked out to the reef across the coral sand and then through the tiny village (pop. 5) that had a charming resort consisting of huts built on the water.
The water was so clear that you could see the fish in the water from the shore.
Gord & Bob
There were reports of a storm brewing so we needed to relocate because that particular anchorage was a dangerous place to be in strong winds. We all decided to head to the North end of Fakarava in the morning.
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