Many of the following pictures accompany text from a previous
post, Current Whereabouts, so they
are not described in detail here. More detail is given for images not
|A sailboat preparing to enter the south pass from the ocean|
|Range markers and reef in entrance to south pass as seen from the lagoon|
Only a handful of families remain at Tetamanu, the village
at the south pass.
|Approaching Tetamanu in the dinghy|
Most of the huts belong to pensions (resorts) and dive
shops. We read that the old village was devastated by a cyclone decades ago. We spent our
first afternoon at the south pass exploring the old village and visiting the
still beautiful church.
|Church at Tetamanu|
It was interesting to us how similar some of the
construction of the old village was to the Marquesas, with the exception that the
available building material had changed from basalt to coral sediments.
|Common walkway or street lined with chunks of coral sediments|
|Old foundation or wall made from blocks of coral sediments|
Other sites from the old village:
As for the church, it made sense that shell ornamentation
had replaced the decorative wood and stone of the Marquesas.
|Detail of mother-of-pearl altar|
|Detail of shell chandelier|
The next day, and every following day when weather
permitted, we got busy snorkeling.
|Boats and dinghies in the south pass preparing to drift dive or snorkel|
|Damselfish lined up in the current|
|Black-tip reef shark|
Our resident canvas worker made a bag for the dinghy anchor,
while I read my first book in a couple of months.
|He looks skeptical|
We also did a lot of cooking, baking, and eating. (We
couldn’t do a lot of drinking because we were out of libations.)
We ran into some old friends at the southeast anchorage in
|Double Bruyn (at right) and their buddy boat Cant at anchor|
|Cant crew members kite-boarding|
….and made some new ones. We didn’t get a photo of our
sister ship, Dream Time, but you can
see their Cabo Rico here.
While the scenery at Fakarava was very similar to Tahanea,
|View of motu from southeast anchorage|
the coral had broken down into sand on the beaches at
Fakarava, making for easier walking on the lagoon sides.
|Lagoon between motus|
On the motu, we discovered yet another kind of terrestrial (burrowing)
crab. These were much bigger than the ones we’d seen in the Marquesas and
constructed burrows in holes one to two feet in diameter! More than one crab
was seen to occupy a burrow, while the crabs we saw in the burrows at Hanamenu
appeared to be solitary.
|Things that go bump in the night|
We did not get a picture of our first coconut crab.
We didn’t want to leave, but after a week at the south pass,
we moved on to the north pass (about a half day’s sail across the lagoon) to resupply our fresh groceries. The village
at the north pass, Rotoava, is much larger than Tetamanu but is a very quiet
town. It was strange to see our first paved road and motorized vehicles
on an atoll when we arrived. There are also many people riding bicycles in
Rotoava, a first for us in French Polynesia. Some people rode bicycles for
transportation in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, but very few compared with those on Rotoava.
The topography of the Marquesas is less conducive to cycling than the flat
atolls of the Tuamotus.
|Waterfront view of Rotoava from the small boat harbor|
|Church at Rotoava|
A friend of mine asked where people on atolls get their
fresh water, since there are no rivers, lakes or streams. Cisterns, used to
collect rain water, are a common sight on the atolls we’ve visited.
|The plant that looks like it's coming out of the cistern is actually a palm tree behind the cistern|
In this case, the cistern is connected to the gutters on the
roof of the building, but in many cases, they are stand-alone collection
|Detail of water catchment system|
The north pass (Passe Garuae) is a very popular dive spot in
its own right. Unfortunately, it’s less accessible to snorkelers than the south
pass. Friends of ours on another boat had taken a dive boat to the pass and
snorkeled while the rest of the party was diving. The agency we approached in
order to do the same thing (Top Dive) said that their rules had changed and
they no longer provided that service. We didn’t ask the two other dive services, Fakarava Diving Center
and Dive Spirit, because we are only going to be here a short time.
It would have been tricky to anchor the boat outside the
pass so we could snorkel the reef on the ocean side (recommended area for
snorkeling), so we had to content ourselves with snorkeling the various reefs
in the northeast corner of the lagoon. Unfortunately, we have been spoiled by
the south pass. The visibility at the north pass isn’t as good, although there
are a lot of fish.
|Reef fish in northeast corner |
The reef in the north corner of the lagoon is also a more degraded
than at the south pass. I saw a lot more broken coral, more bottles and cans on
the bottom, and even several large plastic bags draped over coral heads.
There are many pearl farms around the north pass which
specialize in cultured black pearls.
|Stump decorated with pearl farm floats|
|Pile of oyster shells outside pearl farm|
Resupplied and ready to go, our next stop is the atoll of
Toau. There, we will not actually go through the pass but will anchor outside
the lagoon in a “blind” pass called Anse Amyot.
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