If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Toau

Otherwise known as “Another Day, Another Atoll”. And yes, I do know that it’s only Monday. But here we are anchored in the beautiful atoll of Toau after a quick 15 mile sail up from Fakarava.

We ended up not moving to the other anchorage on Tahanea last week because some weather was threatening, so we left and sailed north to Fakarava. The timing of slack tides in the passes did not work out for a day sail, so we headed out late afternoon from Tahanea and sailed overnight to the south pass of Fakarava. Unfortunately it was only a 50 mile sail and we had to burn up 13 hours for a daylight arrival. We sailed with only a reefed main and were still going too fast and approaching too quickly, when at 3:00 a squall came through and the wind died behind it. After that we drifted and arrived just at daybreak as planned. Hello World was running with bare poles most of the night and also arrived at daybreak.

The pass entrance at Fakarava was finally an uneventful one, and we motored into an anchorage inside the atoll. The village at the pass has been abandoned, but there remains one hotel with overwater bungalows and a little restaurant and dive shop. We arranged for a dive with the guide the next day through the pass on the incoming tide. He told us about what to expect on the dive, and that at one point we would see “hundreds of sharks”. Yeah whatever, we thought.


Bright and early at 6:30 the next morning we were motoring out the pass and dropped into 100′ of water. It was absolutely spectacular. The coral was so healthy and the water was crystal clear. There were schools of fish so huge they nearly blocked out the light. And sure enough as we rounded the corner into the pass there was a little area with a ledge at about 60′ that looked out into the deep dark waters of the pass. We all grabbed ahold of a piece of coral to stop us from drifting and looked over the ledge, where there were literally hundreds of sharks. And OK, it was really really cool. It’s the narrowest part of the pass and the sharks all just hang out there. Every day.

We finished up the dive at the hotel where there was a Napoleon Wrass that’s obviously a pet, because he was getting fed fresh fish by the dive guide. He was too big to fit in the water, which was only about 2′ deep, and it was funny to see him swimming around sideways to stay underwater. We all got a chance to pet him, which was something I can say I’ve never done before.

Later that afternoon Rob went to work on the watermaker of another boat in the anchorage so I went for a snorkel behind the boat. I was going to swim over, but there was a very aggressive remora under the boat who kept swimming at me, well inside my comfort zone. I took the dink over to shore, and the snorkeling was amazing. The bommies (coral heads) rise up to just below the level of the water, and I was swimming around between them like in a maze. It was so much fun seeing all the coral and fishies that close. At one point a 4′ reef shark and I spotted each other, but we both did a 180 degree turn and all was well.


The next day we motored up inside the lagoon to the town at the north end of Fakarava where there was internet. Rob & I got online and ordered some new computers to my brother Tony’s house. He’s going to load them up and ship them off (Thanks TB!) to some folks in Kentucky who are flying in to Tahiti next week to see the people on the boat whose watermaker Rob worked on last week. Yesterday we went to lunch at the resort and had the best $15 cheeseburgers we’ve ever had. And actually, quite shockingly, it’s only the third restaurant we’ve been to since we left the Galapagos in early April.

After this atoll we’ll likely head up to Rangiroa, the largest and most touristy of the Tuamotu atolls. Then we’ll go to Papeete and visit the Society Islands. Years ago I was reading a cruiser blog where a woman made a comment that she was absolutely bored in the South Pacific, and she said “if you’ve seen one sandy beach with palm trees you’ve seen them all”. I was horrified that someone could become so bored so quickly. But in actual fact, these atolls do all start looking quite alike very quickly. We’ll hopefully do some diving here and discover some underwater treasures before we head north again after this weather system passes in a couple of days.


Fakarava south anchorage is here