28 May–06 Jun: Rotoava to Hirifa, Fakarava, Tuamotus – 16 26S 145 21W
Exiting the pass at Kauehi early morning went smoothly and for the first time in months we were off on a 40 mile day sail. Conditions were perfect – a steady light breeze, flat seas, sunny skies – should be a relaxing day on the water in French Polynesia. But we were not alone, kiwi yacht Blue Raven and American catamaran Starry Horizons left right behind us, we were all going to the north pass of Fakarava, all skippers were in their element, RACE ON!
Fresh Food Finally?
One of the big attractions in going to the north of Fakarava is that there is a village with a weekly supply ship delivery from Tahiti. The promise of fresh produce was too good to miss, it had been 45 days since we had left the Marquesas and a bag of bokchoy had been our only fresh produce purchase since. Scurvy was about to set in!
However just because there is a weekly supply ship we learnt quickly that this does not necessarily mean there are supplies to be found. We turned up two days after the ships arrival and it seems that this is two days too late. But lets be fair, we did manage to buy 2 cabbages, the last 4 little aubergines, 3 teeny capsicum and a wilted bunch of spring onions. The freezers too were void of vegetables, plenty of hamburger patties and french fries to be had but little of anything with nutritional value! Sadly it was time to top up on canned vegetables, oh well.
Moving South to the Good Stuff
We left in company with Blue Raven mid afternoon with our meagre haul of groceries and stopped the first night at Tekoko just 8 miles south, and anchored off what we thought may have been an abandoned resort. After a snorkel on the fringing reef we swam ashore and explored. This was all private property, although we were welcome to enjoy the beach front, and we were told it is a holiday residence for the President of French Polynesia. The over water structures sure had that “seen better days” feel to them, but the beach made a great spot for an evening bar-b-que with kiwi family on Blue Raven.
Next day we nurdled at few more miles down the lagoon and found another protected headland to tuck in behind. The white sandy beach welcomed us, wood was found for a fire and a consecutive beach bar-b-que dinner was enjoyed.
There was a small low key resort ashore that offered yacht services and a free wifi signal, what a bonus, first free wifi on board for about 18 months. We dinghied in to give the resort some business and to watch the late afternoon sun dip from the waters edge – but alas, they don’t have a bar, oh well we tried!
Heaven Found at Hirifa
Next stop was one that came very highly recommended by several friends so our expectations were high, we were not to be disappointed, heaven was found.
A gaggle of us tucked ourselves away in this corner of heaven. While strong winds blew all around the Tuamotus we barely had a ripple across the anchorage, magic times were had. Spots were found on the white sand beach for happy hours and more bar-b-ques and an exceptional evening was enjoyed at lively and lovely Lizas Snack Shack, (normally we would call this a shacky beach bar but sometimes they run out of beer and they don’t sell any other alcohol!)
A pig had been sacrifced for us, we had heard the squelling as it had been chased around the yard that morning but tried to forget those memories as we dined on marinated pork ribs from the fire, pork chow mein and a fine secret recipe of it tender chunks of tasty meat cooked in its own blood with a blend of herbs and spices, (tasted way better than it sounds!).
Fresh fish had been caught for poisson cru and salad ingredients (and beer supplies!) arrived just before dinner having been flown in from Papeete that afternoon then transferred nearly 2 hours by boat. The meal, company and setting were exceptional, one of those great nights to tuck away in the memory bank for later years!