_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fakarava Atoll (Peter)

It was at Fakarava that we really realized that life on a sailboat anchored in an atoll can be a guy’s paradise. We get to use spearguns and machetes, hunt for food, and say manly things like “did you see that huge shark try to take my fish?” The snorkeling was amazing: clear water, a great variety of fish, and many, many sharks.

Ginger drift snorkel

5 knot drift, Peter

cruising the reef, Tetmanu
Tetmanu fish 1

Moorish Idol, Tetmanu

Blue school Tetmanu


Eagle ray, Fakarava

Tetmanu fish 9

We explored the little, half abandoned village of Tetmanu. It was the French colonial capital of the Tuamotus in the nineteenth century, and we could see many ruins and neatly laid out streets that are overgrown with tropical foliage now. The beautiful little church, dated 1874, is still immaculately maintained.

Tetmanu church

Church door - Tetmanu

Ginger on ancient road, Tetmanu

old quay, Tetmanu

Fish park guest, Tetmanu

House ruin, Tetmanu

The present day residents are either French (running a pension, a dive center) or Tuamotan (fishing and gardening.) The Tuamotans don’t seem to like the French a lot right now and talk about independence. One man griped that he had to jump through hoops to plant a coconut, whereas the local French could do anything they wanted. He was friendly with Americans, though, and taught us which fish to spear for dinner.

Parrot fish, Fakarava

lunch, Tetmanu

The pension, with it’s little huts built out over the water, reminded us that there is more to life than the “guy’s paradise” could offer so we headed up the lagoon to a town, shopping, and a restaurant.

Tetmanu pension

Fakarava, sunset over lagoon

Our new anchorage was in front of the islands’ quai where the inter-island freighters bring building materials and goods for the store. When the ship moored, a day or two later, we inquired aboard to try to buy some diesel fuel. No problem! We were invited to the bridge to chat with the captain while the engineer (the captain’s brother) filled our container. The young hard working captain was also the owner of the ship and another smaller one. He described picking up the ship in New Orleans and bringing it back through the Panama Canal to Tahiti. His memory of the States is dominated by an incident – he and his crew were robbed at gunpoint as they walked to get dinner at a restaurant. They were glad to return to the Pacific!

quay, Fakarava

The small town of Rotoava is as neat as a pin, and with a bakery, store, and restaurant it had the niceties that we were looking for.

main drag, Rotoava, Fakarava

table decorations, snack, Fakarava

snack, Fakarava

Peter and friend, Fakarava

school bus, Fakarava

Rotoava is also a center for Tahitian pearl culture. We visited a couple of operations and learned something about the process.

Large pearl farm, Fakarava

pearl work, Fakarava

pearl surgery, Fakarava

pearl farm lunch bldg, Fakarava

We found a very nice little necklace for Ginger, proving that the Tuamotus can be nice for girls, too.

Ginger at Fakarava

The roads on Fakarava are beautiful flat, well maintained, and almost devoid of traffic. We unfolded the bicycles and rode as far as we could in both directions.

the quay, Fakarava

airport dock, Fakarava

End of the road, Fakarava

riding south, Fakarava

It felt good to stretch muscles that get no use on board. When we bought the bikes, before we left Seattle, we weren’t sure that we would find places to use them. They have proved to be worth the precious storage room they take up. We recommend them to other cruisers.

Another gorgeous anchorage, Fakarava

Still unable to refill our cooking fuel, propane, at Rotoava, we realized that we needed to head to the big city of Papeete. Sadly, especially for the boy on board, we plotted the course to Tahiti and hoisted anchor.

Tiare flower, Rotoava



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