Navigational AIDS, a must have in French Polynesia

Navigation at its most extreme in these parts. There are no paper charts, no depth soundings and no navigational marks in sailing apps such as Navionics. In and aound all these atolls, you can see coral heads or “bommies” as they are called out here in Polynesian waters. You can clearly see the coral heads all about.

We use downloaded files called OpenCPN and of course our eyes. Satélite imagery is the key to sailing in some of the most remote places in the world. This location was inside the east side of Rangiroa, French Polynesia. Cruisers rarely, if ever, traveled these atolls until satélite imagery was married to GPS positioning.
We travel areas like this only when the sun is at its highest so we can see the coral heads and white reefs. If it’s an overcast day, it’s a no go. Thank you friends on Fundango for the drone shots. Sea Bella will be getting her own drone later this year.

When we go exploring about in the dingy, we both are on a keen look out for these bommies, but also for the shallow waters and sand bars that are in front of the Motu inner islands. The outboard motor can be lifter into 3 different positions, when at its highest working position we draw about a foot. This is when one of us gets out to walk ashore.

We had shorty wetsuits for our long afternoon of snorkeling.
4th of July beach party, Fakarava.

Marvelous Moorea

Scott and I really enjoyed our stay in Marvelous Moorea for a week in August. These photos show an area we hiked and explored. Moorea was formed millions of years ago by a volcano that erupted, collapsed upon itself, created a massive caldera and caused 2 giant mudslides.

Two beautiful bays are the result of the slides. One bay is Opunohu, the other is the famous Cook’s Bay (where the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” was filmed). The movie, and book are historically fascinating. It’s about in 1788 a true story of Christian Fletcher. He sailied to Tahiti and kidnapped young Tahitian men and women. Fletcher then sailed off with the captured villagers to the southern Pitcairn Islands. He then burned up his ship, leaving them all stranded there. Today, some of their descendants still live there as well as in New Zealand, Australia and United States.

Below are the ancient tribal platforms made for the chiefs to perform the archery challenges. A regular sporting event in those times.

Tikehau, Tuomotus. Scuba Diving Dream

This feels like our Little Private Island…diving the wall outside the pass was breathtaking. We Sailed from Moorea and enjoyed a beam reach sail for over 175 miles. Beautiful, relaxing and pretty simple.

Tahiti and the big city feel were nice for views, boat work and a bit of tourism, but we are now back in “our” sweet spot. Tikehau has about 500 residents, some of the best snorkeling in the Tuomotus…….and less tourists.

Thank you friends on Idefax for the drone pictures.

Playful Manta Rays, French Polynesia.

Our snorkeling adventures in Tikehau brought us to a a small coral area where the Manta Rays get a dental cleaning. These are definitely our new friends. Today off the old Pearl Farm in Tikehau, Tuomotus, we encountered these gentle giants being cleaned by small wrasses and remora which rid them of the parasites they have on the skin and mouth.

Although some cruisers prefer to scuba dive, we find the best colors and the most animals are within the top 20’. We have all the scuba equipment (including the compressor) but we rarely find scuba is worth the time and effort.
Believe it or not, the water is getting colder, it’s winter here, in August, and the locals don’t like getting in the water (80f, 27c) lol. We are even wearing shorty wet suits. A bit spoiled we are. It’s supposed to get down to 77 by the end of September. Burrrrrrr, it will be even colder South of here. I never thought I would say we need to go more north to get warm(er) Ha! We even have a blanket on the bed.

A few facts on Mantas:
Kathy is intrigued by the Reef Manta Ray. Learning about these new friends; he can grow to a wingspan of 16 ft! But we have only seen these 3 of about 6-9 ft. You can see at the front of his face, he has a pair of cephalic fins which can be either rolled up in a spiral for quicker swimming or they can be flared out in front to channel the plankton filled water for feeding. I watched today that he has a small dorsal fin and a long black tail without a spine or barb like his cousins have.

Mobula Alfredi (Reef Manta Ray)

These Mantas are not afraid of us at all and often turned to look and see where we went.
The Tuomotus never fail to amaze us and this atoll Tikehau is no different. We will poke our way around this atoll for a week or so before moving on. We are adventuring French Polynesia, one island or atoll at a time.

This checks off another box of “things we want to swim with”. Lol Adventure never seems to be far away….I can’t tell you how cool it is not to be in a hurry.