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Old 31-03-2016, 14:25   #1
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Tuamotus, advice?

Following a lot of research into Pacific destinations for a five week charter, the Tuamotus have come out top of our list. We are looking for a real Pacific experience. We understand that the sailing is fairly challenging, which doesn't worry us as we have 10,000 sea miles under our belt.
Does anyone have any advice or experiences they could share on the Tuamotus?

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Old 31-03-2016, 14:54   #2
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

South pass at Fakarava, not to be missed.

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Old 31-03-2016, 15:14   #3
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

Great place and wonderful diving but I had no idea you could charter a boat there or is this not a bareboat charter?
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Old 31-03-2016, 15:25   #4
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

We spent a couple of weeks at Ahe many years ago. Outstanding diving, flat water anchorage, easy pass and unspoiled small village at that time. Definitely recommend stopping at any of the islands that haven't been developed/no hotel/airstrip. Stopped at Rangiroa but it was too civilized for our tastes and diving not nearly as good as Ahe.

Anchored off Makatea, a raised atoll unlike most of the other Tuamotus that are low atolls. Diving was great but didn't go ashore because the anchorage was insecure. The bottom drops off almost vertical beyond a small fringing reef. Dropped all 250 of chain and it went down vertical. The wind pushed us in towards the Island so our stern was only a few hundred yards from shore. A change in the wind and the boat would have drifted out to sea. Wanted to go ashore because the Island had an abandoned guano mining operation and supposedly all of the equipment including a steam strain. Yeah I know, sail to SoPac so you can see an abandoned industrial site.

Our experience may no longer be the case as navigation in the pre GPS days scared off many cruisers going to the Tuamotus. Ahe had a reputation as being cruiser friendly then so there were a few other boats there both times we stopped but not enough to feel crowded. With the many Islands in the Tuamotus, shouldn't have a problem finding an unspoiled one.

FWIW, there were a lot of reef sharks inside the lagoon. The black tip sharks are very passive and will not attack unless severely provoked. I counted more than 30 sharks one day I went spearfishing by the time I'd speared a couple of groupers and had them on a stringer. This was in one location across the lagoon from the village. There was an Italian Swan 65 there the first time we anchored who were avid spear fisherman. One of the crew speared one of the sharks and didn't want to lose his speargun so he hung on with the shark towing him around. The shark eventually got tired of the sport and bit the guy on his thigh. Guess that's what you get for wearing Speedos.
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Old 31-03-2016, 15:44   #5
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

The amount of experience you have is probably irrelevant unless you have specific experience negotiating coral lagoon passes, which isn't so hard as long as you're willing to be patient and wait for slack water to enter or leave a lagoon. What we found to be more challenging was keeping an anchor chain from fouling on the coral heads and, indeed, we had several friends who spent many hours trying to extricate themselves from the grip of a bommie. We had differing levels of success by 'floating' our anchor chain.

By far, the biggest problem we had in the Tuamotus was that, being American, we could only get a 90-day visa for French Polynesia (extensions are difficult if not impossible to get once your there). We could have spent years in the Tuamotus alone and they remain one of our favorite places that we have visited in the last 5 years of our circumnavigation. Makemo Atoll was one of the more remote atolls we stayed at and the sea life was nothing short of spectacular.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 31-03-2016, 16:06   #6
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

Originally Posted by Dave852 View Post
South pass at Fakarava, not to be missed.

Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
... Makemo Atoll was one of the more remote atolls we stayed at and the sea life was nothing short of spectacular...

And, if you're into remote places and in the vicinity of Makemo and Fakarava I would throw Tahanea into the mix. Uninhabited (unless some temporary fisher-folk happen to be around) and absolutely outstanding. There are bommies, no markers, charts are not complete, so high sun and diligent eyes are a necessity.
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Old 31-03-2016, 16:28   #7
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?


I am not quite clear - do you want to use a charter boat or are you on your own?
For charter the closest point probably would be Tahiti or Raiatea. From Tahiti it's about two days to Fakarava, from Raiatea it's three, and it is upwind.

We've been to Manihi, Ahe and Fakarava. Manihi is very nice, but the pass is difficult and fast running, so you need tide tables there. Ahe is easier, and in Fakarava both passes can be crossed any time, as long as you can do 8 knots under engine.

The south pass in Fakarava is awesome, and there is a very nice anchorage in the eastern corner - see picture below.

I second the mention of anchoring problems - I had to dive in Manihi and in the north of Fakarava to free the anchor - you simply have lots of "bommies" and the anchor chain will wrap itself around them gladly. If you don't have diving equipment I would not recommend going there...

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Old 31-03-2016, 17:40   #8
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Re: Tuamotus, advice?

Yes chain in a coral head, very common. At the time we were there I had a tank and 40 feet of hose with a regulator that I used for cleaning the hull. After spending an hour trying to remember how many times we spun a 360 I final gave up and waited for another boat to arrive that had proper dive gear. After 2 days without any visitors I finally wrapped the hose and taped it to the tank and went down the chain in 50 feet of water and sure enough I was wrapped around a mushroom shaped coral head and would never have gotten the chain clear. Decided I better get proper gear and a refresher course as it had been many years since the last time I had dived. Yes bring dive gear to visit that neck of the woods and don't forget to buy some black pearls as that's a big industry there and you can get some nice ones for very little money. People are wonderful.

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