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.