Friday, June 11, 2010

Fakarava North - Pearls, Sharks, and Alternators

After a morning snorkel at the reef beside our anchorage, we weighed anchor and headed north to the village of Rotoava at the North end of Fakarava. This was an excellent way to cap off Amy and Strahan's visit to Renova. We wandered the village and found ourselves giddy at the prospect of filling our cupboards once again. We arranged a visit to a pearl farm, and were able to see how the gorgeous "Tahitian Black Pearls" are made. It is a much more complex process than I expected, and was surprised to learn that only one percent of all pearls produced are "A" quality - round, without blemishes, and with a high luster. We also got to meet Mike and Kyo from IO, from Victoria!

I tried to get online and do a few internet jobs, but found that paying two bills and viewing our account took almost 2 hours. While I banged my head against a wall, Amy and Strahan went for a fabulous dive outside the reef and John worked on replacing our VHF, which has become problematic as it only wishes to work intermittently. Now, everyone in the anchorage knows that it is us calling, as they are now able to recognize the machine gun noise that we broadcast whenever we push the transmit button on our mike. Too bad. We loved that radio, and it was almost new when we left BC. Oh well...the 1980's model works well, even though it is a power pig, and doesn't have some of the common channels, nor the fancy features. At least the rest of the anchorage doesn't feel as though they are in a war zone.

On Amy and Strahan's last day, we three went for a dive through the Garuae Pass. It was fabulous, and well worth the accolades in all the travel guides. We drifted through the pass, pausing several times to hold onto the coral and watch all the sea life around us. We saw hundreds of reef sharks, and more fish that I had thought possible to inhabit such an area. It was absolutely stunning, and I'm glad that I decided to join them at the last minute. And we finally got to meet Mike and Sammi from SV Quartermoon, who we'd shared anchorages with a few times, but hadn't met yet.

We celebrated our last evening by dining out at the Blue Van. This van is parked in someone's front yard, has plastic patio furniture in front, and serves up the standard menu of burgers, steak frites, and chow mein. Kinda eclectic fare, although it seems to be the norm around here. It was a fabulous meal. And we were able to chat with other cruisers who had also come to enjoy the meal - Mike and Hyo from IO (Canada), Jackie and Gary from Inspiration Lady (Canada), and Jack from Anthem (USA).

On departure day, we went ashore for last minute items, had one more swim, and then brought aboard the anchor and headed to the airport. There is a wharf directly in front of the airport, and we were able to tie up less than 100 feet from the airport check in counter. On the way over, the alternator wasn't charging the batteries, and none of the gauges on the engine panel were functioning, so while John and I did some troubleshooting and dug out the spare alternator, Amy prepared a lunch of fresh baguette and cheese in the cockpit. Turns out we had blown a fuse, so it wasn't long before we had replaced the fuse, and we were all enjoying lunch in the cockpit. After they checked in, we were able to return to the boat and enjoy a beer. I jumped in for a quick snorkel, and the fish life was fabulous.

Finally, the plane arrived and it was time to go. We said goodbye to Amy and Strahan and "ALLEZ". It was so great to have them aboard and we'll definitely miss their company. And their help. It was awesome having the extra hands to help with the anchor, the steering, the dinghy, the cooking, etc! And they were so generous with bringing down needed supplies and helping us to re-provision. We look forward to having them aboard again.

We waved to the departing plane as we made our way back to the anchorage.

We spent our last evening here enjoying sangria with Chris, Christine and the kids from Ottawa on their catamaran, SV Stray Kitty. Mike and Sammi from Quartermoon joined us, as did Jamie and Behan from Totem. What a fun night!!

Our Position: 16°03.7'S and 145°37.2'W


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