Our sail from Fatu-Hiva to Fakarava took 6 very slow days. This was a welcome contrast to the previous passage. The winds were 10-17 kn the first day, which made for a much more comfortable sailing day. We were accompanied by about 2 dozen dolphins for a few hours on this leg, which is a big highlight for us. 

Brent had made some nice dinners the previous days leading up to leaving Fatu-Hiva. He made enough for a 2nd meal of each, so we just had to heat things up while on passage. This is a really nice thing, because sometimes the boat is pitching around too much to be able to really cook anything. That wasn’t the case for this passage, but it made things easier anyway. 

Much of this trip consisted of staring out at the flat, blue, endless ocean during the day and the Milky Way at night. We kept a lookout for planets in the sky, dolphins, flying fish and birds trying to catch them. There are currently 5 planets in alignment in the night sky, which was a fun thing to look for every evening. My watches during sunrises and sunsets, were a a definite highlight for me.  It was beautiful, but honestly, it was pretty boring. Having no internet intensified that feeling. I need to learn to embrace boredom.

On 5/8, we approached the North Passage of Fakarava at sunrise. We were so excited to see something other than water! Rotoava is the name of the main village here. We scouted the anchorage and located the dingy dock. We ended up selecting an anchoring site that was a bit farther to the dingy dock, but almost directly in front of a dive shop called Top Dive. 

5/18: We’ve been in Fakarava since 5/8 and it has been wonderful! It’s calm and tropically beautiful. We celebrated Brent’s 60th birthday here, complete with a cake I baked and decorated on the boat! I think he was pretty surprised at what a great day he had, even though he is not embracing his new milestone number at all. We’ve done a fabulous dive at the North Pass and saw so many sharks and other amazing fish and even an octopus! We’ve enjoyed going to a couple of the restaurants, a resort and the 2 grocery stores, riding our bikes on long, flat rides and shelling along the ocean side of the atoll. We’ve visited the local “Veggie People” to buy highly coveted vegetables and we’ve snorkeled on a beautiful reef that is about 150 yds from the boat.

The only bummer so far, is that there is only one ATM in the town and it’s currently broken. Someone has to come from Tahiti to fix it and there is no telling when that will happen. There are no banks here. Not every place takes credit cards, so we have to be very judicious with our cash.  The supply ship comes on Wednesdays and everyone converges on the 2 markets as soon as it pulls up to the dock. Even though the produce comes out last, people start waiting around the produce table for it to be put out. It’s quite a desperate scene – all the cruisers and some locals, waiting around the produce table for the paltry inventory to be put out. 

We hauled our bikes ashore to give them a good riding. We were very excited to get some exercise, but the chains on the bikes, particularly mine, had rusted solid along many of the links. It took several hours of wire brushing and oiling and working the chains to be able to get them unstuck. Then, it took many miles of riding to get them to stop kinking up. After that initial de-crusting, the bikes served us well and we went on several 15-20 mile rides along the scenic, flat road. I absolutely loved our rides!

5/21: We left Rotoava for Hirifa this morning after stopping at the fuel dock and getting some last minute groceries since the gas station has a market. After all, we had rockstar parking at the fuel dock and wouldn’t have to carry the groceries far.

It was a 6 hour motor South to Harifa, which was had postcard scenery the whole way. This really is an incredibly beautiful place. Since there is little in the way of services, structures, or people in Harifa, or here is no light pollution and the stars are incredible here! Tomorrow we will explore what is on the thin stretch of land behind the beach. Maybe more than we can see from the water.

There is a tiny island separated by a 10 ft wide shallow channel. It’s got the picture-perfect pink sand and a shallow spit of sand that lets someone walk out for hundreds of feet in less than a foot of water. Should be a great spot to fly the drone from. 

Had our first sundowner with our neighbors Shellie and Randy, who we met in Rotoava. They’re from Idaho. They gave us a  great tip about a cove we could pull the dingy into, with great shelling and tide pools.  We checked it out, wading in shallow water along the top of the reef, spotting lots of clams and colorful coral, sea urchins and live cowries. It was a fantastic excursion!

We checked out Raitiki, the only “resort” in Harifa. It has about a dozen raised structure bungalows. They have power, but we’re not sure what other services are available. We had a beer there because they were full for lunch. All the guests have to eat there, because there is nowhere else to go or eat here. It is an oasis in the middle of nowhere and really fulfils our vision of what a great tiki bar and resort should look like. They even seem to have their own mascot frigate bird, who sits contently on a wooden perch outside the beach bar. We also walked through their grounds and surveyed the beach bungalows that are part of the resort. Some side right on the beach, on the ocean side of the atoll. Looked pretty cool to stay there. Each bungalow has power and water. 

On to the South Pass. We did a beautiful dive on the pass, which didn’t have quite the best visibility the day we went, but still full of amazing sharks and reef fish. These dives are some of the best we’ve done. It’s pretty surprising at how calm you feel diving with sharks once you are reassured that they are harmless and have no interest in divers. Snorkeling here has also been terrific! If you start your snorkel in the pass, and let the incoming current carry you, you can cover about a mile of scenery. You float by at a 3-5 kn speed, which is comfortable. I would describe it as an E-ticket ride, (I’m dating myself I know). We enjoyed doing this so much, we did it over and over. 

Back to the North end of the atoll again. We scheduled another dive with Top Dive for the reef that’s just outside the North Pass. It did not disappoint. Better visibility than the South Pass and just a plethora of reef fish. Such diversity! 

 6/10/22: Sad day. we’re finally leaving Fakarava to sail for Tahiti. Last night we splurged one last time for dinner at the Hirinaki Lounge. This has been the nicest place to eat next to the dingy dock. The resort that’s 8 blocks down the road, was also a favorite. We will truly miss you Fakarava!!!

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Craig Augsburger June 17, 2022 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Wow, Beautiful Beth and Brent!
    Quite an achievement to be cruising the South Pacific for your 60th, Brent! Congratulations!
    Super cool cake, Beth!
    Your photos and your writing are just superb, Beth!
    Thank you for your eye witness accounts!
    Happy Friday from SD!
    Hana Hou!
    Craig

    • Beth
      Beth June 17, 2022 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Thanks Craig! Glad you’re keeping up with us. Yeah, the cake was an adventure all on its own to make on a boat😁. Turned out pretty well. It’s been a bit of a challenge to keep up with the blog posts. Internet connectivity was scarce in the Marquesas and we couldn’t always get recharge cards when there was 4G internet available. There was great service in Fakarava and there’s no problem in Tahiti.

  2. Avatar
    Linda Nadia Shaw August 1, 2022 at 4:03 am - Reply

    Hey Brent and Beth,such a lovely surprise to hear from you today! I’d think of you every so often wondering how your trip was going and where you were! I’ve loved reading your detailed commentary Beth and can imagine what an beautiful and fascinating life you are living, absolutely incredible and enjoyed seeing your photos immensely. Happy belated birthday Brent! Take care both and I will keep watching out for future updates! ❤️ Linda (Nadia)

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