The village here is nothing to write home about (which, of course, dear friends is why I am writing about it). There are three shops, which sounds strange that one needs three small supermarkets on an atoll with 250 people, but some prefer to buy from one shop owner, some from another. Twice a week the airplane from Tahiti lands and then there are fresh baguettes as long as supplies last (usually one day). None of the shop owners or families here have figured out that they could buy frozen baguettes and bake them every day and thereby make some money selling them to the rest of the island. We were never able to find any of the shops open. The shops are open when they are open and not when they are not. There doesn’t seem to be any system.
There is (or so they say) a small pension out near the airport with a restaurant. Vinni and I decided that it would be a nice walk and good exercise to trek out there, eat a good lunch and trek back. A French cruising couple on a boat in the anchorage tell us that it is about a 45 minute walk. The next morning Vinni and I, with a backpack full of water bottles and an empty backpack (we need to steal a couple of coconuts on the way back) set out. And we walk. And walk. And walk. It gets hotter and hotter. And we walk.
45 minutes? Maybe he meant in a truck. We keep on walking. Now we’ve gotten stubborn. Finally, we simply give up. We’ve walked for over an hour and a half, it is hotter than the proverbial Hades and still no restaurant (read: cold beer) or airport in sight. Disappointed and hungry, we turn around and slough our way back. We grab a couple of coconuts as we near the dinghy and sail out to Capri for a late lunch. We’re tired so it ends with a light dinner and early to bed. We walked over ten kilometers.
Next day we go for a walk in town. Town is a big word, let us say small village. As we walk by a house, two small white poodles come running out and jump around us. They are cute beyond words and unusually they both sport collars with small silver bells that tinkle. These are obviously house pets. They follow us around and finally back to the dinghy. As we sail out, they decide we’re such fine folks that they want ot come with us and start swimming after us.
Ahhhh- that’s no good. First we don’t want dogs and second, they’ll never make it out to Capri. Don’t worry, I say to Vinni – they’ll turn around.
Stubborn little beasts, they don’t turn around but keep coming. Nothing for it but to turn the dinghy around and pick them up. Both are tired. We sail back and put them on the dock. Damned little idiots! AS soon as we sail away, they jump in and start following us. Back in again and this time we give them to a man who lives right by the dock. He tosses them in the back of his pick-up and they stay there.
We’re concerned that we will meet these two little beasties again. What if they continue to swim after us? Besides, we have seen what there is to see of the village and we don’t really need to buy anything in the stores. At the southern end of the lagoon, 6 nm away, there is supposed to be a great anchorage with pure white beaches, crystal clear waters and great snorkeling. To use a one word description – Idyllic.
That sounds like our kind of place, so we up anchor and start across the lagoon. Of course, sailing across these lagoon outside of marked routes is not for the faint of heart. The lagoons are littered with “Bomies”, coral heads that grow from the bottom towards the surface. Many of them are just a meter or less under the surface and if you hit one, it is the boat that will be damaged most. Coral is sharper than the sharpest knife and can cut right through our inch thick fiberglass hull.
The water is over 30 meters deep so we can’t see the bottom or the bomies. Nervously we start across the lagoon, Vinni stands out in the bows to see if she can spot anything under the surface. Everything goes well and soon we sail across the line on our charts marking that from here on the lagoon is not even charted, meaning the charts show no depths or anything else.
Ah yes, you are completely on your own here. Here you have to trust your depth log and your eyeballs. Fortunately, the distance isn’t that far and soon we approach the anchorage. Long stretches of beach, virtually transparent waters. I use the word transparent because crystal clear doesn’t describe it. Later we will find out that we can see over 15 meters under water here. We circle around until we find a spot with eight meters of water and no bomies, drop the hook, shut off the engine and here we are , completely alone in a bountyland. No one else.
The beaches are so white that the sun’s reflection hurts you eyes, the palm trees sway in the wind, on the other side of the reef we can hear the surf breaking on the coral. The water is 30 degrees C (86 F) and the black tip sharks swim lustily around the bomies.’
A bhttps://youtu.be/4lRxsUSvcBAit we get ready to go snorkeling and Vinni drops her mask in the water. We don’t manage to grab it and it sinks and we can see it lying eight meters down on the bottom. Eight meters is more than I, or Vinni, can free dive so out comes the diving gear. While I’m down there I decide that I might as well check our anchor and see how badly our bottom is fouled. I ask Vinni to get our underwater camera and she brings it up.
I swim down and the camera quits after a couple of minutes. Hmmm – well it was charging and perhaps it simply hadn’t charged enough. When I come up I can see it is full of water. The watertight (!) flap that covers the charging port wasn’t watertight. Damn!! This was our good Fuji camera. Good-bye Fuji.
Damned shame because this was the camera we used the most, both for stills and videos. It was small and handy. Oh well, we also have a Nikon that is waterproof. Later that day I take it snorkeling andit tooo fills with water.
GOD DAMN IT!!! That’s two “waterproof” cameras in one day.
We’re running out of waterproof cameras. We still have one waterproof camera left. It was cheap and after looking for it for an hour or so we have to admit that we can’t find it. We have a Gopro, which supposedly is completely waterproof, but having just destroyed two “waterproof” cameras, I’m reluctant to take them into the water. Our big Nikons take superb pictures, but they aren’t waterproof and they are heavy to carry around if walking. They can’t just be put in your pocket.
But paradise remains paradise and that night we have a starry, starry sky the like of which has never been seen. No moon and no clouds and trillions and trillions of twinkling lights across the heavens. We’re here all alone, enjoying the sundown and night sky with a G&T in our hand.
Friends, it simply does not get any better than this.
We are humble and very aware of just how privileged we are to be able to lead this life. This opportunity is not given to everyone.
A few days later, we weigh anchor at daybreak and sail out the pass – not quite the washing machine we sail in through, but still some hefty seas. IT si 37 nm to the pass on Fakarava and need to be there at 2 p.m. to hit slack water.
More about that pass in our next post………………………..