Sail to Tuomotus. French Polynesia: Makemo, Amanu and Tahanea Atolls

We dropped Anchor in the small island of Makemo. A big 2 day squall was coming, so we tried to shield ourselves from a weather. This quite difficult to do since the Tuomotu Island are flat sand beaches with no hills to block the wind. The ensuing winds definitely challenged the hardest of crews and the electrical storm did cause some damage to the generator and wind instruments.

Sea Bell is anchored at the Red Arrow.

A nice villager lived on the island behind our boat. Yes, it’s a desert isle called a Motu. A coral island in the shape of a ring with a huge lagoon on the inside. His name is Uribroa. He has lived on his little island for 28 years!!! Deserted? Good question.
No power, no running water, no wifi or phones and very few visitors. Uribroa only had on an old shirt on and wandering around on his beach…..
He took us to his home (camp more like it). Uribeoa was an amazing gardener. He also is different kind of interior decorator. His island is designed 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. Coconuts and crabs are his diet. We gave him some shirts, hats, lighters and some food. Dog food was also given for his skinny dogs.

Locals are so kind and very generous with coconuts and smiles, but only speaking native tongue and French.

Makemo, French Polynesia. The local villagers were practicing drums and dance for the upcoming festival in Tahiti. Heiva! Once again we were swamped with kids and we felt totally accepted in the community.
enjoying time with cruisers is always routine. Campfires and music on the beach is common. Island life!

Tahanea, French Polynesia is coming up next. It is a nature preserve and we hear the scuba 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 gets better!

Weathering in Makemo, South Pacific

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!

These remora’s usually hang out under sharks and boats, but this little guy stayed with and under the 6 of us for an hour.

Travel to Amanu, a small Tuomotu Village

What is a French Polynesian Tuomotu? Very much like the Hawaiian island chain, the Tuomotus began as Volcanoes. The difference down here is the plate movement and the development of coral. These Motus are all coral.

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.

The Mayor

Amanu Village Children, Tuomotus, Pacific

Cute as Buttons

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.

Simple games, communication, learning, teaching….heaven for sure!
Love at first sight.