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When we departed Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, we expected good winds and a passage of 3 days. Unfortunately, the forecast didn’t hold well, and we had almost a whole day of light winds. We decided to slow way down and arrive in Kauehi on Monday, the 4th day for two reasons:
1) Kauehi is an atoll (more about that later) and there is only one pass in and out. We wanted to time our arrival with slack tide.
2) The inner lagoons of most atolls is littered with coral heads that need to be avoided. It’s best to do this during strong daylight. The lagoon is also big enough that it would be a bit over an hour to get from the pass to the anchorage.
Instead of aiming for 3-4 pm Sunday we slowed WAY down and aimed for 11 am Monday through the pass.
The passage was good, but David was very irritated to be going so slow (Captain’s Note: We ended up averaging 5.7 knots and had to actively work to slow the boat down. I’d say a bit of irritation was warranted). We did land two fish – a small skipjack tuna (approx 8 servings) the first night out, and then a rather good size wahoo (approx 12 servings) our last afternoon before arriving. This worked perfectly – I’m trying to make sure we have an empty freezer when we leave SH in Tahiti.
Along the way we chatted with our friends on several boats via email. Blue Raven left the day after us and was also headed to Kauehi. Cartago was already in the Tuamotus, and headed to Kauehi as well. Beachhouse is on their way to Rairoa in the Tuamotus. We also encountered a boat named Morning Light from San Diego, who we talked to on VHF several times.
The Tuamotus and Marquesas are like night and day. While the Marquesas islands are generally tall, mountainous, and volcanic, the Tuamotus are almost all atolls. Thousands of years ago, these were islands that had barrier reefs around them. As the sea level rose, the land itself went underwater while the reef around the land continued to build. Thus, the atolls are formed as low sandy rings around lagoons. Check out our position and zoom in to see the beauty of the atolls! The formations of these atolls makes it difficult to settle them. The land is all sandy and narrow. Very little grows here in the Tuamotus, so most all food is imported (except for fish and coconuts of course).