18 Aug Rangiroa, Tahanea, and Fakarava – August 4 to 18, 2002
Rangiroa: August 4 – We arrive back on Starr.
August 5 – Before Magne and Laura leave on the noon flight to Tahiti, we go shopping for pearls. They have scoped out the best shops while we were gone and I want to buy some pearls for our friend, Hap Heyden, Captain of Asteria. I would also like to find some nice pearls to give as Christmas presents. There are lots of pearls available at cheap prices, but I am interested in good pearls and fair prices. This year I have a much better idea as to what constitutes good quality in a South Sea black pearl: size, shape, flaws, luster, orient and color. I find that I am more interested in the odd-shaped circle or baroque pearl than the more costly perfectly round one. The majority of the pearl farms in the South Pacific are here in the Tuamotus Archipelago, and the best buys are from the pearl farmers; however, they take their best pearls to Tahiti to sell. I have very specific description of the size, shape and color of the loose pearls Hap would like and I find what he wants for a very reasonable price.
We have now been to Rangiroa four times: in June, 2001; January, May and August 2002. We always dive with Sebastian Bertaut of Blue Dolphins Diving Center; he was my instructor for my Open Water Certification last year. Both passes at Rangiroa are spectacular diving with masses of tropical fish, sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, rays, dolphins and (my favorite) sea turtles.. For Don and I it’s a difficult choice as to our favorite diving spot: Rangiroa or the South Pass at Fakarava.
We seek out Gerald and Christiene Lefevre, French couple who live here at Rangi. Gerald is a retired geologist who has studied the geophysical plate in French Polynesia. He has lived here more than 20 years, and 30 years in French Polynesia. Christiene met Gerald when she visited Rangi as a tourist, nineteen years ago, and teaches biology in the local high school (college). Now retired, Gerald spends time flying over Rangi, the second largest lagoon in the world, in his ultra-light. We have them to Starr for dinner and the next day Christienne takes me to the aqua farm and to the best shops for fresh fruit and veggies. The wind comes up by bedtime and we spend the night rocking and rolling; we don’t sleep much.
Tahanea: August 7 and 8 – We planned to leave but it is too windy, so we do chores all day and leave early in the morning on the 8th. We intended to stop inside the South Pass, as we hadn’t been there before, but the anchorage is too small so we do a night passage back to Tahanea. As we come into the pass, we are surprised to see two humpback whales cruising the pass. These are the first that we have seen in the South Pacific and we feel nostalgic for SE Alaska. Heading into the pass we have dolphins off the bow. We spend the night near the pass with Carl, Karen and 5 yr. old Rebecca from Texas on the sailboat, Enchante; and Clive and Jean on Hannakin, from England. Rebecca is a 5 yr. old adult child and an avid reader. We share the half-dozen children’s books that we have onboard with her and are surprised when they are all returned to us the next morning; she read them all in one night.
We motor over to the far side of the lagoon once again. This place is so beautiful that we just couldn’t stay away. It is what everyone imagines when one says “South Sea Island”. We had expected to have guests from Seattle on board this week, but they had to cancel. Since we are a powerboat and have now had a lot of experience traveling “the wrong direction” against the prevalent wind and waves, we decided that we hadn’t had enough time at Tahanea and returned.
Tetamanu, Fakarava: August 15 – OK now we have to get back to Fakarava to pick up our friend, Shari Walker, from San Francisco. We allow one more day at the Tetamanu at the South Pass with Tila and Manihi. They have a large group of guests, including Michel Xavier, the youngest Commandant ever of the Marine National in French Polynesia and Ann-Laurence, his wife, the only marine attorney in French Polynesia. We visit with them at dinner and enjoy their company very much. In the morning we plan to return to Rotoava at the North end of the lagoon, closer to the airport, in anticipation of Shari’s arrival the next day. Before we leave, I share with Tila the list of the names of the relatives of my neighbor back home, Manio Radford, who still live in the Society Islands. On an earlier visit we have talked about how Tila and Manio’s families lived in the same area of Tahiti when they were growing up. I am not surprised when Tila reads the list and turns to me and says: “But they are my relatives too.”
Rotoava, Fakarava: August 16 – We hurry to arrive at Rotoava by 1500, as Tila told us that one of the little stores might have some fresh veggies in the afternoon. We are disappointed to see that there are only a few old potatoes and onions, but as we are walking down the single-lane dirt road heading back to our dingy, a truck passes us with boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables. JACKPOT! We hurry back and are able to buy salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, cukes and a pineapple. These items have come in on the afternoon airplane. There isn’t a lot, so we are careful to only buy a few of each so there will still be plenty for the local folks. We have been numerous places where we have been embarrassed to see other sailboater grab all of the fresh items for themselves and leave nothing for the people who live there. It would not be unusual for there to be no additional fresh items for as long as a week, until the freighter comes in.
August 18 – Shari doesn’t arrive until the afternoon so we go diving at the North Pass with crew from the Yacht Dionne Starr. We enjoy getting to know Capt. Brian and Jude Harrison and spend time with them again in October in Whangerei, New Zealand.
Note: Dionne Starr is a charter yacht based out of England and early March 2003 she started the passage from New Zealand to the Mediterranean, during hurricane season with threats of impending was with Iraq. . At the posting of this website we eagerly await news of their trip. The following is from their email of March 8: