|View from the boat
First, I stayed there in the lagoon, on anchor outside the little motu called Rua Vahine. It was my own little island, nobody else was there. One could walk around it in 20 minutes. It had a beautiful beach shore a lot of coconut palms, a small uninhabited house, and not much more. I picked coconuts and drank tasty coconut water from them (and brought some home and cooked coconut curry). I tried waving some baskets from palm leaves and also to catch some crabs. I did snorkeling and hunted Parrot fish for breakfast when coconuts would not be enough. The water off the motu was warm and transparent, and there were some black-tip sharks, big ones, circling there. So I did some snorkeling with them.
I stayed there for about two days. The view from the boat was incredible. It was like being inside one of those computer background pictures, you know, the perfect paradise island. A magnitude of friendly sharks and fish were my company. The Tuamotu felt extremely calm, full of harmony and positive energy, a very special place to be at. And a small island just to oneself is dreamlike. I would have liked to just stay there. But finally, I weighted anchor, reluctantly. I had more adventure in front of me. But first, I would go and try to find that boat yard.
|Aiming for the passage between the motus. Another sailing boat is seen! Civilization! Also means that I will be able to monitor the possibility to pass...
I met several very nice sailors there, and ended up staying a little more than planned. A couple of them were leaving for France, and of course a party was thrown, everyone bringing something nice for the table. I baked some bread and made salad, there were grilled Parrotfish, a goat stew, a pumpkin pie and a lot of French specialties. I had an absolutely great time, and since everyone else at the table were French it sometimes felt like a big family meeting near the French Med coast, with plenty of sun and good food, full of laughter, noise, completely disorganized and very cozy.
A fun incident happened just before the party. It was already dark, and most people were drinking beer or fussing with the food in the big kitchen – it’s half open, and everyone seems to be welcome everywhere by the locals (suddenly you find yourself in the middle of the Apataki family life just when you have barely stepped ot of the dinghy). Anyway, I was running around and playing with their dog – a small adorable creature that seems to believe she is a cat or a teddy bear. In the middle of the running, I tripped and fell on the coral grovel, cutting up my hand. Nothing that would kill me of course, but it bled a bit, so I went to the beach to wash it up in clear sea water. All the motus are so peaceful, both day and night, and very beautiful, and I was enjoying myself as I crossed the white sand beach and took a step into the warm water which now was almost up to my knee. I washed the blood away, and looked in front of me. I thought I saw something in the shallow dark water, maybe some small fish? I looked closer. And then I realized I was face to face with a shark, that was as big a I was, laying still in front of me, only the fin cutting the water. Looking me straight into the eyes. I was so close to it I could have kissed it on the nose.
Now I know that its not a dangerous shark. It is a fish-eater. But try to think those rational thoughts when you have that dark shape with the typical fin right in front of you, and you are standing in the water and washing the blood of your hand. I must have had an interesting face expression! I backed out carefully, with a much higher pulse than after running around with the dog.
The combination of civilization and deserted paradise was great, I loved the Apataki boat yard and was hoping to return to there even before I left. I decided to skip Tahiti, as most sailors say its very different from the rest of Tuamotu - a lot of people, a lot of industry, traffic, poverty, and materialism. I also skipped several other touristic islands. But some are just not to be missed. Like Bora Bora. Read about how I sailed there and what happened!
|This photo is here to show the feeling of being in Tuamotu. Piece of soul, gentle lagoon waters, sun and happiness. Photo creds to Linus Nylund