24 Aug Fakarava, Toau, and Passage to Tahiti – August 18 to 24, 2002
Rotoava, Fakarava: August 18 – We pick up Shari at 1600 at the airport by Novurania. So good to have her with us; our “boating pal”. In the morning we take Shari on a tour of Rotoava, snorkel the North Pass and head the over to Toau. On the way we catch two yellowfin tuna, another “double hitter”. Shari has cruised with us for years on our Skookum boats in SE Alaska and she want to see why we so love cruising in the South Pacific. We plan to spend most of her time with us at Toau which is mostly uninhabited, yet still close to the airport at Fakarava for her return flight to Tahiti at the end of the week.
Toau: August 19-22 – We have a great week. We swim, snorkel, walk on the beach and paddle the outrigger canoes. We read and nap. We find Pamela, the “Pearl Queen” on her motu and have the opportunity to see how she and her workers live (very simply). I call Pamela the “Pearl Queen” because she has lived on her motu for five years, since she was 16, and has built it up into a successful pearl farming operation. She has several guys who work for her and there s no mistaking the fact that she is the boss. She is a real entrepreneur and in addition to selling her pearls in Tahiti, she sells her pearls to all of the boats that come into the lagoon. The whole pearl farm gang come over to Starr and I buy all of the pearls that Pamela has remaining. They are small, but very good quality and well-priced. August 22 is Don and my 38th wedding anniversary and the day is perfect: our last bottle of champagne on the flying bridge at sundown, with a full moon rising buried in fluffy pinkish clouds
August 23-24 – Yes! We talk Shari into making the passage to Tahiti on Starr, instead of flying from Fakarava. We leave Toau at 0800 and are anchored off Marina Taina in Papeete by 1500 the next day. The passage starts off fine with the wind on our stern quarter, but moves forward as the day progresses. We do unstructured watches in the morning, switch to 2 hr.watches at noon, and 4 hr.watches at night. During the night the wind moves to our bow quarter and increases to 25-30 knots. It is not very comfortable, but Shari hangs in and does a great job. After we arrive in Tahiti she says that she is glad that she came with us on Starr and that she would choose to do it again. When we see her later in September on a trip home, she tells us that she had sore muscles on her airplane ride back to San Francisco from griping the arms of the chair in the pilot house so aggressively during the lumpy parts of the passage. This was her first ocean passage: Good Work Shari.