Tahanea is an uninhabited nature reserve and the third atoll we visit in the Tuamotus. After dropping our anchor on Sunday evening we stay for four nights in the same spot. From the four boats that arrived together only two remain: Toucan and us. Perhaps we were too loud for the others? After all we did have one late night with singing and guitar playing until the early hours…
It’s a beautiful anchorage. “But what do we do all day?” I hear people ask. In fact, our days are very busy and action packed. The mornings usually start early around 6 am (unless we have been up late, see above). I practice some yoga on the foredeck before the boys are up. We all have breakfast together and after tidying up we start school around 8 am. We only do school in the morning for a few hours (but we don’t have holidays and we tend to also have school on weekends). When we are sailing we usually don’t have school. Tyrii’s main focus is math, English and French. But he is also very interested in history, geography and science. He loves reading and devours one book after the other. We recently studied poetry and he wrote a few poems as part of his English lessons and they are beautiful. I hope he will let me publish one or two on the blog… Aeneas is learning to read so phonics is his priority but we also cover other subjects and he likes math. It’s sometimes tough teaching them both simultaneously. But we get by. And I have to admit: there’s often some bribing involved (e.g. IPad time or chocolate cake). While we get on with schoolwork Seathan usually has some boat maintenance or cleaning jobs to do. Or he runs the dinghy to the beach to get some coconuts for some delicious coconut juice. After lunch we have time for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving or a trip ashore to explore our surroundings. And it gets dark early so we have sundowners around 5pm either on the beach by a fire or one of the boats we are travelling with. After dinner it is off to bed early, as we tend to be tired most evenings!
I’m also a qualified open water diver now! I’ve had theory and practical lessons and several training dives and I took my exam right here in Tahanea with Bruce from Toucan who is a qualified and very experienced dive instructor. Tyrii also had a go and went scuba diving with Bruce in the shallower waters. He loved it and wants to do more and go deeper but he will have to wait until he is a little bit older.
Tahanea is an uninhabited nature reserve and there is literally nothing here. There used to be a village but it has long been abandoned. We bought sufficient supplies in Makemo but we have to make our own bread and we also started making our own yoghurt (and I never realised how easy that is!). We often make a chocolate cake or another treat. And there are no new toys so we started making our own: cardboard robots from a cool book we once got given by a friend and never before had a chance to get stuck into. It’s fun to finally have time for all those things.
On Thursday we feel it is time for a change and we move to a second anchorage. Our desire to move also has something to do with the fact that in the last day or so half a dozen sharks regularly started appearing and we are no longer keen to swim. They are mainly harmless black tip reef sharks but one shark is bigger than the rest and scary looking and he circles the boat in a predatory way. We think he is a lemon shark and they can be quite aggressive.
The second anchorage spot is gorgeous and close to a small pass. We drop our anchor right between several bommies in a patch of sand and manage to avoid a wrap. Of course, if the wind direction changes we might well wrap around one. As soon as the boat is settled into its new location we hop into the dinghy and go snorkel the pass. Toucan is with us and it’s always safer to be with two dinghies in case one of us breaks down. And our dinghy has been quite temperamental. Sometimes it just won’t start. Very frustrating! Seathan has spent many hours fixing it, taking the entire engine apart. When we get to Tahiti we need to drop it in for a serious review by an authorized Yamaha dealer or even consider buying a new engine. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of the bay and it can be dangerous too. We have paddles on board but if there is strong wind and counter current it is impossible to get anywhere. Our dinghy is like our car and it is our main mode of transport. We need it to get ashore, to get around, to do our shopping and to go on adventures. Without it we are totally stuck! In Tahiti there are a few other things we want to address. First of all: our icemaker. Ice is a hot commodity among cruisers. Everyone wants it and rum cocktails without the ice just aren’t the same! Our icemaker has gradually been producing less and less ice and the last time we got nine ice cubes after three hours of running the generator. I wonder what that works out as in terms of cost per ice-cube?
But back to our snorkelling trip in the pass… The pass or entrance to the lagoon is full of wildlife because of the current stream of incoming and outgoing water. The corals are amazing. They are like an extra-terrestrial underwater forest with an abundance of crazy colours and weird shapes. The four of us hang onto the dinghy rope and drift along the pass. The tide is nearly slack but still coming in so we drift into the lagoon. We see many different colourful fishes and Aeneas spots a black tip shark. When the tide starts to turn we clamber back into the dinghy and head back to our boats. The sun is going down fast so we head to the beach for a small campfire and some sundowner drinks. What a perfect day!
Friday morning the lemon shark is back and disturbs our breakfast. He’s circling the boat again and we will not be swimming or jumping off the boat as long as he is around! After school I go diving with Bruce and Di and Seathan takes the kids for another snorkel in the pass. In the afternoon we explore the abandoned village D’Otao. The villagers all left a few years ago but we don’t know why. There is also an impressive grave of a Frenchmen called Victor Michel Maurice Bernard who died in 2007 aged 51. We wonder what the history is here. It is something we must look up once we have Internet access again.
The days fly by and we’ve been here for a week now. We want to stay a few more days and try a couple more recommended anchoring locations. We’ll soon run out of beer though, which will probably force us to leave this beautiful atoll in search of some shops …
view from the cockpit
another spectacular sunrise
abandoned village otao
including a still fully operational church
anchored in crystal clear water
evening on the beach
sunset and moonrise