Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia 6-9th May

What wonderful snorkelling here! Nereida anchored in turquoise blue water (over white sand) with her own pair of fish that stick to sharks etc (have sucker pad on top of head) that took up residence - to clean 'Nereida' or were they just hoping for scraps?? The reef nearby inside Timatu Pass, called 'The Aquarium' for obvious reasons, is full of beautifully coloured coral. The locals take people there and then feed the fish with bread and large fishheads - attracting hundreds of fish of all shapes and sizes in so doing - also black-tipped reef sharks! I counted four really big ones and a tiny baby one on Tuesday - they stayed near the sea bottom but I kept a wary eye on them to make sure they didn't get too close to me!!! A bit later I saw a big leopard moray (had leopard-like markings all over large grey/brown body), having already spotted an enormous plain grey one on Monday - it was very aggressive and definitely followed me for a bit! And always there is such a variety of fish of all kinds, often in shoals, many I've not seen before. Snorkelling has become a 'must' every afternoon, in company, usually, with 'Can Kata' and 'Dreamweaver'.

One day, I dinghied over to the resort hotel dock nearby & had a very nice seafood salad in company with a French couple. Another day, I visited Avarotu, the other 'town' 5mls WNW of this anchorage. It didn't take long to wander around everywhere, watch some volleyball, get a few tomatoes (& some Polynesian francs at 80 to the US dollar) & have lunch (chicken&chips for me, providing a drumstick for the next day's lunch on passage!). Had to avoid lots of hazardous connected lines of pots on the way (black pearls are a major 'industry' here).

One job I got done was to give the cockpit sole a thorough cleaning - it needed attention badly since the cockpit drains were thoroughly blocked. I also found a ballpoint pen, plenty of fluff etc and lots of almonds my guests had obviously dropped the other night when they came for sundowners!!

One of the screws on my starboard genoa car seems to be coming loose, yet I can't tighten it.. Another outstanding job (for the calm water of Tahiti) is to go up the mast for tricolour bulb replacement. That's in addition to propane bits & pieces - & refilling propane gas cylinders, hopefully.

On Wednesday evening I left as planned and safely took the close-to-shore short-cut to Tiputa Pass (min depth 6m for a very short time!). My main slight worry after leaving and coming around on the outside of the atoll was seeing an enormous dark grey cloud well ahead in the fading light - clearly a big, rainsquall.. but it stayed out of my way!

I'm glad to say that both Nobeltec on my laptop and the Navionics chips used in the Raymarine chartplotter are using very up-to-date French charts - they both seem spot on in GPS positioning -quite a relief on an overnight passage skirting this big atoll in pitch darkness. (The Nobeltec software is so much easier to use for routeing than the chart-plotter). I have radar on also, of course, and there's actually a small lighthouse flashing clearly on the NW corner that I have to round. I'm motoring & expect very light winds for most of this passage, according to my weather info.

I expect to reach Papeete, on Tahiti Nui, early morning on Friday 11th May... at present, I'm motoring in a glassy calm sea!

Written by : Mike

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