Toau Atoll, Tuamotu Atolls…..

Dear F&F,

August 12-17, 2009
Toau, Tuamotu Atolls

It was about a 5 hour easy motor from Fakarava to Toau. The entry into the mooring area was pretty easy. There was some current, the opening of coral not too narrow & shallowest depth seen was 25 feet. The mooring area is kind of a \”cul de sac\”. It is not a true pass entry. You cannot navigate anything besides a dinghy through to the main lagoon. The people that own this land smartly put in permanent moorings to protect the coral from anchor damage. The diving is on the outside of the atoll. The local owner of the moorings here, Gaston, directed us to a mooring. We introduced ourselves & gave him greetings from \”Lazy Bones\” our boat friend Jeff Allen was here 3 years ago.

Another boat came in just ahead of us. There are 8 boats quite close together. No going naked outside here. The captain of American sailboat \”Rominy Star\”, Paul, came over to say he knew about us from the online news report for cruisers \”Latitude 38\” (which is published in San Francisco). We have been featured in articles about careening our boat in El Salvador, Scott\’s photo from the top of our mast in marina Barra de Navidad and a few photos of me with the mantas of San Benedicto. Apparently we are semi-famous amongst the sailing/diving crowd.

We didn\’t waste any time getting back in the water. Our first dive was in the entry of the \”cul de sac\” & Scott towed the dinghy. It is hard our first time at a new site to get our bearings underwater & know if we are going the way we want. Scott kept surfacing to check our position. We saw a few moray eels, a lion fish & lots of tropical fish. No sharks. Gaston, the local guy said that after several days of a strong wind, there can be manta rays inside the lagoon. We could take the dinghy but not the big boat in to explore.

Over the next 2 days we dove further down outside the atoll. We were able to tie the dinghy to a buoy there. Very pretty coral reef & good visibility; lovely. We stayed down over an hour. It really makes all the difference in my comfort in the tropics if we spend a couple hours a day submerged at 81 degrees. We fondly refer to is as \”therapeutic hypothermia\”. The most interesting sighting of this dive site was anemones with resident clown fish. We used to have this kind of fish in our tropical tank at our Los Angeles home. It is much more fun to see them in nature.

Gaston predicted strong wind & sure enough, it began to blow Friday night and has not stopped. The prediction is for the strong S-SE winds to continue through Tuesday. As the wind blows the surface of the water along there is a sensation that we are sailing, even though sitting securely moored. Despite the low lying atoll there are not big waves so the boat just swings a bit left & right, not bouncing around much thank goodness. One charter boat left here Friday night, which did not seem like a smart idea, but they probably had to keep on a schedule to get a guest to an airport.

Valentine & Gaston have been busy getting ready for Valentine\’s sister\’s wedding next weekend on Fakarava. Apparently they already slaughtered a pig & are roasting it or letting it ferment or something; cooking it an a traditional earth oven. I\’m not sure how that is working in the rain. Paul & Erin took pictures of the bloody mess, no thanks. I can be squeamish about eating meat without seeing the butchering process.

We\’ve stayed onboard for three days in the wind. It drizzled on & off. Diving is no good in strong wind & just moving around outside is arduous when it is blowing 25-30 knots. No need to battle the breeze. Just wait for it to pass. Scott watched a tutorial DVD on video editing. There is a lot to learn. I could see the information oozing out his ears… Hopefully knowing more tools & tricks will make the editing task easier. It is very time consuming. But thankfully we have plenty of time. He just finished \”The Sharks of Fakarava\” which you will all enjoy. (See the Video Gallery)

Erin from \”Rominy Star\” came by for a short visit. She wanted to see our Manta Magic video & more underwater photos. She & Paul left Seattle 3 years ago, cruising on their 39 foot monohull. So small & cramped & she is close to 6 feet tall!

Cindy & Scott