Author: Scott and Kathy Erwin
Skipper Scott Erwin and First mate Kathy Erwin, have been saving, planning and dreaming the 2020 Vision since 2011! Its almost here! With many boat and home projects behind us, we are excited to say we depart early August 2021.
Makemo and Tahanea Atolls
Action packed two weeks here on Makemo.
Our first 5 days were anchored in the East trying to shield ourselves from a weather system that is quite difficult to explain. The ensuing winds definitely challenged the hardest of crews and I believe the electrical storm caused some damage to my generator (Always something).
After the storm, we met a local that lived on the island behind us. Yes, a desert isle and a long way from a town. Uribroa has lived on his little island for 28 years!!!
No power, no running water, no wifi or phones and very few visitors. When I first met Uribroa, he only had on an old shirt on and wondering the beach…..
He took me to his home (camp more like it). After I saw his place I knew I had to bring Kathy over because Uribeoa was an amazing gardener and has decorated his island with everything he has found washed up on the island(s) over the last 28 years. We brought him many items off our boat, as he has almost NOTHING. Shirts, hats, lighters and some food for his skinny dogs.
He was so kind and very generous with coconuts and smiles.
Midweek we moved back into the village and were able to have a meal on shore and also enjoy the locals practicing drums and dance for the upcoming festival in Tahiti. Once again we were swamped with kids and we felt totally accepted in the community.
In the following week we enjoyed time with other cruisers and had multiple campfires on the beach and experienced some of the best snorkeling we’ve seen so far.
Before we said goodbye to Makemo, Sea Bella was unfortunate enough to wrap her chain and anchor on a reef in the west side of the atoll. With some help from Denton on Simplicity, a couple of hours of engine time and a bit of scuba we were able to free her. It’s hard to explain, but believe it or not, you can clearly see everything going on at 65’ but between the waves, wind and multiple rocks it was a huge challenge to untangle.
This morning we pulled anchor, and we’re off to Tahanea, nature preserve and we hear the diving and snorkeling in the pass are supposed to be better than what we’ve seen. That is hard to believe!!! The coral, sharks, octopus, Moray Eels and thousands of tropical fish keep us in the water frequently. It seems every time we get in the water, it is getting better!
After Makemo, we headed to Tahanea for excellent diving and more adventure. From sun up to sun down, an incredible day was had here at a Motu in the East tip of the Tahanea. Stunningly clear water, excellent beaches, and a fun filled cruiser bonfire.
Weathering in Makemo, FP
Crazy storm past over last week. LOVE our anchor, thats for sure. Harder it blows the harder she digs in.
We clocked over 50 knots multiple times and had sustained 30-40 knots for a day. A few boats here broke their snubbers (the rope attached to the anchor chain to softwn the pull and protect the windlass)
Ahhh, sunny day coming!
The clarity of the diving in The Tuomotus is stunning! We have all been in the water nearly all day all about our boats. See the octopus cleaning his head with his tiny arm? And the colors of the coral, reef fish, shell…but best of all is sharing this incredible life with friends on SV Simplicity.
More go pro photos, as we just can’t get enough of the colorful and strange sealife here in the Tuomotus. Good thing there are no jellyfish (yet anyway) and the water temperature is perfect for just a bathing suit!
Amanu, Stunning Snorkeling
Snorkeling here on Amanu has 60-70+ feet visability and ASTOUNDING coral. Much more today but check out our new friends!!!
Note: I said “White Tips” in the Video but they are black tips. Kathy has snorkled every day and has been very lucky to see dozens of black tips reef sharks, 1 XL green morey eel, 1 8 foot wide manta ray, dozens of brilliant blue clams and 2 cantaloupe sized octopus.
After a good swim and back deck shower, we look up and see this awesome sunset. Another great day!
Amanu Atoll is a seldom visited Atoll in the Tuomotus that has a population of about 220 people.
We spent a week here and checked out the village and surrounding coral reefs.
An Atoll is basically an ancient volcano that is sinking into the ocean with coral now topping the outer ring. The center of the lagoon is mostly over 100’ deep with coral heads called “Bommies” that come all the way from the bottom to within inches of the surface. This makes navigation around the inside of the atoll very challenging. Amanu was seldomly visited by cruiser’s because up in to 2019 the atoll wasn’t even on Navionics charts. We used multiple navigation aids to get around but the most useful was Satellite photos used in a program called OpenCPN. Thank you Bruce on SV Migration! We spent the last week with Bruce and Alene on SV Migration getting a good education on French Polynesia and OpenCPN.
It is windy here! With no mountains for cover and the island chain being in the trades we saw between 10 and 20 knots ALL the time, with squalls up to 35 knots. We used a mooring to secure Sea Bella upon our village visit and we almost chaffed through both our mooring pendants on the coral. Expensive and valuable lesson!!!!!
The reefs are amazing to snorkel and we were fortunate enough to see many sharks and mantas. We spent as much time in the water as we spent on shore cracking coconuts (a true skill).
Our visit to town was on a day that the village was welcoming some visitors from a National Geographic ship and we got the full tour. See the attached kids dancing
The Mayor of this town is 30 years old and is in his third term. Francois became mayor at 19 years old when the previous mayor (his Father) was lost at sea.
Francois was flown to France and celebrated as Frances youngest ever mayor. The mayor is also a member of the welcoming band and seems to be in well control of the island.
Today we are off to the next Atoll to the west called Makemo. 175 miles so we should see the the completion of this passage by midday tomorrow.
Footnote on Starlink…..
Unfortunately Starlink needs to start making a profit and we received two emails that said we were both using the service outside of our continent and on the ocean. 😕
Well for us to upgrade to the proper plan it will likely to be between $250-300 a month for the Mobile Global plan. Between Sat phones, cell phones and Starlink, something has to give. Our fixed budget probably can’t support it all so we may be offline as Starlink still isn’t robust enough to replace our Iridium Sat phone. 😕
Hopefully we find a solution but if we don’t post as often don’t worry about us. We are just waiting for connectivity……
Amanu Village Children
I was in heaven sitting in the sand playing with the local children for hours. Without knowing their Tahitian language or French, which they now learn in school, socializing takes a different approach. Bringing heart lollipops help in starting up an interest, friendship, and trust. However, there is an art in this ‘giving’. If you simply hand over a lollipop, the child may just run off and eat it. You haven’t gained a thing. She may even bring back a friend to get a lollipop as well. But, if you play a little game like tic tac toe, or do a little whistle for them to copy, hide a coin, or turn take humming a little tune, now that builds a fun connection for both parties. This little 6 year old girl in the red dress stole my heart. She was so playful and engaged me in a drawing game in the sand. She also insisted on giving me a taste of her lollipop. The 3 year old boy in my lap was a bit more shy, but he was happy to give me a snuggle. Fun was had by all.