Friday, May 27, 2016

Atoll Life

The reward for our three day passage was anchoring in the clear, clear waters of the atoll Kauehi in the Tuamotus.  But just anchoring has it's hazards.  First it is important to see and avoid the coral reefs and "bommies", which are individual coral heads.

Next, it is important to lay out your anchor chain so that it will not wrap around the bommies.  

Yeah, right!

If you get it right, you can see your boat's shadow on the sand bottom 25 feet down.

The Tuamotu atolls are the polar opposite from the Marquesas Islands.  No mountains, no waterfalls, no jungle here.  Just sand, coral and palms.

Every village in French Polynesia has a prominent church in the center of town.  

The city pier is where we began our exploration of the village with friends Mark and Deanna Roozendahl of the catamaran Speakeasy.  

We met them at West Marine in San Diego while waiting in line for the 2014 Baja Ha-Ha kickoff costume party.  They were cats, since Speakeasy is a catamaran.

Mark and Dee on the right.
We were the cow herd from Moooooooonshadow.  Somehow we instantly knew we'd be long time friends.

2014 Baja Ha-Ha party

Since then, we've seen them all over Mexico and now throughout the Marquesas and the Tuamotus. We've been "buddy boating" which means we're often traveling between anchorages and on the radio together.  This has been especially beneficial in the bommie filled lagoons of the atolls.  

We also pal around together on shore hikes and explorations.  This means we also trade photos, so some of the shots on our blog posts have come from the Speakeasy (and visa-versa).  We will soon part ways but will always have the memories, and full expectations that we'll run into Mark and Dee along life's paths.

Every day on the water is like a snowflake:  Completely unique and full of surprises.

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to realize 
you are not in some dream in the land of postcard photos.

When you hang out with buddies, there are more shots with people in them!

Photo by Mark
The water in these lagoons is amazingly clear.  We can preview the day's snorkeling adventures with the paddle-boards.  This looks like a good spot!

Speakeasy's launch is a 13 footer with extra large tubes.  That means you need some manly skills to get back into the boat.  

The sea life here is just beautiful... are the fish!  

There's plenty to explore

One night we had sundowners on the beach with 
pot-luck munchies all spread out on the driftwood.

On another night we had drinks at the swim-up-bar, which sometimes doubles as a paddle-board.

Sunset from the swim-up-bar.

From the village at the north end of Kauehi, we moved to the south end of the atoll 
where the amazing beauty of these atolls was on full display.

Here, the weather can be raging at sea, but we, just a few hundred yards from the open ocean,
 are protected by the reefs and the motus (small islands) of the atoll.

There is no shortage of magazine cover photo ops.

Friends from several of the yachts anchored here got together on the beach for a bonfire barbecue.  Lifelong friendships can be found at such events...

...and when you have friends, the first thing you do is try to crush them at bocci ball.  
Sometimes it works out the other way 'round!

Down here, we were reminded that the lagoon we're swimming in is actually someone else's domain.

Black tip reef shark.  About four feet long.
Finally after a week in the lagoon of Kauehi, we arose at dawn so we could navigate through the pass during the slack tide, then make our way on to Fakarava, another atoll some 34 miles away.  


Unknown said...

Terrific photo journal. What a life experience for you guys.
Any plans for a S D visit?
Stay safe
Aidan and Robin

John Ahlering SDYC said...

Wow!! Thank you guys. The drone movie of the Atoll entrance and mooring was spectacular. We are So jealous!!

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