Passage from Nuka Hiva Marquesas to Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus…..

Dear F&F,
July 17-20, 2009

The first 24 hours was great. I think any of you would have enjoyed the ride. Then it got more \”boisterous\” as Scott calls it. Rough & bumpy. Too intense wind & sea for me to enjoy being outside. Nice & dry & comfy inside. We had several rain squalls last night which always does strange things to the wind – none, then way strong – hard to predict & know how to react. We are doing fine on our good old 4 hours on 4 hours off watch schedule. Our first night there was a ship that passed very close to us. They did not communicate respond to our hail by radio & did not have the Automated Identity System on, which is required for a ship that size. Oh well, good thing we use our eyeballs. We also saw another sailboat on a parallel path & they did talk to us by radio. We warned them of the ship.

July 20
We have arrived! After 3 days & nights at sea we entered the pass to the inside of this atoll. Our timing was lucky, because for that distance (550 miles) it is hard to predict daylight & a flood tide. Flood tide means water from the ocean is rushing into the interior of the lagoon. You get an extra push across the shallow part of the pass. We never saw less than 40 feet deep. Cargo & cruise ships come in here, which is one of the reasons we chose this as our first Tuamotu Island – easy entry. Easy means that it was obvious where the entry was, with buoys marking the safe water passage. But there were 3-5 feet standing waves from winds of 20-25 knots on the nose. So it was a bumpy ride for about 15 minutes. Then we got into the protection of the motus, which are skinny, low sand/coral islets. So here at anchor it is very calm with just a nice 10 knot breeze. It was overcast & rained on & off yesterday & today.

When Scott checked in with the Pacific Coconut Radio Net, another sailboat \”Migration\” asked to speak to him on another channel. We had heard from our friends on \”Red Herring II\” that this couple were divers. They had read about our manta adventures & were keen to meet up with us. They are avid divers too, but do not have a compressor on their 45 foot trimaran. So they actually diverted from going to a different atoll to meet us here in Fakarava. Their names are Alene & Bruce, potentially our new best friends. We have wanted to connect with other divers because we may need topside dinghy support to dive with the currents here. They should be at anchor near us soon & we\’ll have them over for Happy Hour. Hope it\’s a good match. Friends Mary & David from \”Giselle\” will arrive here tomorrow. There are only 2 other boats in this wide lagoon. There is a little village (Rotava), which we will explore probably tomorrow.

The water right where we are anchored is not quite as crystal clear as we\’d hoped, but part of the limited visibility could be due to the overcast sky. We\’ll need a couple of days to recover from the passage and then we\’ll see about diving. First dive will likely be on our anchor, hoping we did not drop on coral but sand. We have lift bags we can use to pick our chain up off coral if necessary. We did this in Coco Island.

I am very pleased with how I felt the whole trip. By avoiding the computer & chewing on fresh ginger in addition to my full scopalamine patch I really had no seasick symptoms. I also slept quite well during my off watch periods. The sun is coming out a bit. It is very peaceful & quiet. I can hear some children laughing & a rooster crow, lovely!

Cindy & Scott