Navigation in the Tuamotus

Today is sunday July 24th. We arrived yesterday in Makemo (Tuamotus) after a 3 day grueling passage ! We knew it was not going to be a smooth one since a lot of wind was predicted. We had a constant wind of 22-28 KTS on the beam but the waves came from everywhere making it a very uncomfortable passage. I felt nauseous the first 48 hours and the only thing I wanted to do is lay down and sleep. After the second day Stefan convinced me to take a pill against motion sickness. Two hours later I felt fine and enjoyed a cup of Ramen chicken noodle soup ! The first day we already caught a beautifull yellowfin tuna, food for 4 days !!! We arrived at 9AM but could only go through the pass at around 1PM, when it was slack tide. Navigating in the Tuamotus is not just sailing from one atoll to the next. Most atolls have one or two passes where you can enter but these have very strong tidal currents (8-9 KTS) which reverse 4 times a day. At slack tide, just between high and low tide, this current is at its lowest and sometimes even zero for 15 minutes. It is important you enter the pass when the current is low so you keep control over your boat! After we had been in “heave to” for about one hour we decided to slowly move towards the pass and have a look. We arrived around 12.30 PM and it looked fine to go in. We still had a counter current of 2 KTS but this was manageable, now we just had to navigate through the different reefs. Luckily the sun was out and we could clearly see them and they were very well marked ! Needless to say we were happy when we finally anchored and were able to sit back and enjoy the scenery !

Sanuk at anchor in Makemo.
On approaching the pass into the atoll of Makemo. Deep blue water.
Reefs on starboard side, clearly visible by the sun and the markers.
Reefs on port side.
We took out our bycicles and did a tour of the atoll. This is main street in Makemo.
Lots of coconut trees as copra is the main industry on the atolls.
Crystal clear water in all shades of blue.
Wind generators that were never finished. The money disappeared in somebody’s pocket…
More dancing at the Heiva (whole month of july) festivities in Makemo.
Miss election for the little ones…the winner for the girls.
Winner for the boys.
I was asked to be on the jury for the Miss and Mr Makemo election.
Dinner in one of the “baraques” with our friends from the New Zealand boat Aislado. Left of Stefan is Tahi a local from Makemo.
Sunset in Makemo.
The following weeks we will be travelling, weather permitting, to the atolls of Tahanea, Faakarava, Toau, Apataki, Ahe, Manihi, Rangiroa and Tikehau.

The Tuamotus (meaning the Distant Islands) consist of about 80 atolls. These coral atolls are ancient volcanoes where the gradually sinking cone has been surmounted by coral reefs. You only see blue lagoons. It is like a lake surrounded by a string of narrow islands called motus.

Just before leaving Hakahetau Bay on Ua Pou,

Dinner at “Chez Tipiero”, winner at the barbecue contest in France for the “Porc”. Dinner was one of the best in the Marquesas.
Lunch at Yvonne Hokaupoko’s little garden of Eden.
Part of the lunch is breadfruit, cooked in the fire.
Yvonne peeling the cooked breadfruit. We do not care too much for this, dry and no real taste to it.
Weaving with coconut leaves.
I had a try….
Yvonne weaves mats and hats from dried pandalus leaves. I ended up buying a nice mat for the boat. They are not cheap but it is a lot of work to finish, all manual labor. I am happy with a great souvernir from the Marquesas !


5 thoughts on “Navigation in the Tuamotus

  1. Zalig! Love your stories and pictures!!!
    Geniet van ieder moment xxx

    1. Bedankt Martine. Hopelijk kunnen we hier maandag weg. We zitten vast omdat het weer sinds woensdag slecht is, veel wind en regen.We hebben de zon nodig om langs de vele koraal riffen te varen. To be continued….

  2. Het is een plezier om jullie te volgen. Wat een ongelofelijke avontuurlijke reis. Al die mooie momenten, nieuwe culturen maar ook leuke mensen die jullie ontmoeten uit alle uithoeken van de wereld, elk met hun verhaal. Wat moet een mens meer hebben. Veel plezier ! Yannick & Brenda

    1. Bedankt Yannick en Brenda. We genieten inderdaad van al die nieuwe indrukken, ontmoetingen. We zitten nu wel vast in Makemo waarschijnlijk tot maandag omdat het hier water giet en er een straffe wind staat. Gelukkig hebben we onze boot verlegd naar de pier (gisteren) en liggen we vast met 6 touwen!
      Groetjes en knuffel,
      Ilse en Stefan

  3. Gelukkig hebben jullie intussen al wat ervaring met het zeilen om de moeilijke stukken aan te kunnen. Aan de foto’s te zien zijn jullie heel gelukkig. Houden zo!!
    Mieke en Dirk

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