To Be and Not to Be

The Tuamotus Diaries #53, Day 111 – September 16th 2016


After Adriana’s arrival, exactly one week ago, we sailed back to Fakarava’s southern end, dropping anchor on the West side of the South Pass.

It is a truly lovely anchorage. A large reef to the East offers wave protection from the prevailing direction of the winds. Ahead of us, a mini archipelago of small motus (little sandy islands peppered with a few palm trees) create a jigsaw-type of image. Really scenic. We are anchored on 15 ft of water – quite a change from the typically deep anchorages here in the Tuamotus. The water is very clear, as it is always the case around the passes, and we have a lot of coral heads to explore right around us – not to mention the plethora of reefs just a short dinghy ride away. This is the perfect setting we had imagined to wrap-up our stay here in Fakarava.

It is a great place to be.

And yet, it feels like we are not here.

The thing is, since Adriana’s arrival – well, in fact, since 10 days PRIOR to her arrival – the Trade Winds have settled on a strong pattern, and it has been blowing uninterruptedly. At times it “eases down” to maybe 15 knots for a few hours, but most of the time it is a solid 20-25kt blow, with the occasional 30 kt gusts. It has been so much indeed that our anemometer chose early retirement one of these days, and spun away from the top of our mast to enjoy a different type of being somewhere else.

The pristine, ultramarine water boils all around us in small wavelets driven by the howling wind. Pesto dances merrily – a bit too much for my taste – puling on its chain on successive tacks. Now heeling to port, and now to starboard, the snubber straining to its limits and moaning on each cycle.

We go in the water every afternoon, but it is quite sporty, the wavelets slapping our faces incessantly, and Pesto sailing over us with all the grace of her 30 tons. At the end of a 30-minute swim, we often intake quite a ration of salt water. Some approach to keep our respiratory ways clean!

At times we consider taking the dinghy to explore the motus, just 200 meters away from us. But a dinghy ride in these conditions wouldn’t be too different from taking a ride on a submarine – hanging to it on the outer side.

We considered sailing back to the village. And going to our next – and last – atoll: Toau. But with these winds, the ride would be just so uncomfortable.

So we stay and wait.

Wait for the opportunity to explore the preciosity of a place we are at now.

And wait to do a proper passage to Toau, via Fakarava’s village (for a quick internet check and provisioning).

But soon we will run out of time, and wait will not be an option anymore. Then we will have to accept leaving this jewel of an anchorage behind, and doing another rolly, wet passage to Toau.