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Old 18-12-2019, 00:02   #1
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Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Hey community.

My family and I plan to start our world cruising adventure, however, I have a question Iím hoping someone my be able to answer.

When weíre looking at South Pacific Atolls on our Navionics maps, we see that many atolls have no designated anchoring/mooring indicators, yet the maps indicate sufficient depth and other information,

My question is this: Are you only allowed to drop anchor in these designated areas on the map?

Much appreciated

Daniel
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Old 18-12-2019, 00:29   #2
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Daniel, I saw a little marina symbol on your map. Check with the local people if there is somewhere you can anchor. There will be pearl farm areas to steer clear of, and perhaps tabu areas. The whole of FP is re-considering their anchoring policies for foreigners. Sometimes such laws become draconian.

Instead of planning now, long before you're there, keep an eye on what their anchoring restrictions generally are, and then, closer to when you depart Mexico or Panama or wherever, check then.

Do not try and second guess them. For them, your interests as a visitor are of less importance than their fisheries, and even their privacy. Village life has privacy that first world yachties don't see--it is a form of culture clash.

We found the Polynesians to be very generous, and their culture reinforces that. It can be quite challenging to be both a good guest, and match their generosity.

When you anchor out in the lagoon, it is deep, generally, and your chain may damage coral. You can spread ciguatera that way.



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Old 18-12-2019, 01:09   #3
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Dear Ann

Thank you very much for the information and guidance on this. It’s much appreciated and we will definitely follow your suggestion on this.

Sincerely
Daniel
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Old 18-12-2019, 04:42   #4
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Daniel.
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Old 18-12-2019, 05:24   #5
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Anchoring in some parts of FP is undergoing many significant changes at the moment, specifically in Tahiti and the SOcieties, but I think a couple of the atols, Rangiroa and Fakarava, will also be applying restrictions. If you get on facebook and follow the FP cruisers page there is a whole load of details on the upcoming changes and where they apply.

Not sure if they will apply to Makemo it seems fairly fluid at the moment. However avoid if possible coral patches, and also learn to float your chain to avoid wrapping it round bommies and damaging them. Also DO NOT rely solely on navionics- its pretty accurate, but I would never enter a pass or navigate the lagoons using it alone. I would advise you download and get comfortable using open cpn, not for the chart accuracy but so you can overlay google map images. You can then use this (as well as your eye balls) to accuratly navigate through the passes and round the lagoons avoiding the many unmarked bommies that will cross your path.
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Old 18-12-2019, 06:08   #6
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

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Originally Posted by Olly75 View Post
...You can then use this (as well as your eye balls) to accuratly navigate through the passes and round the lagoons avoiding the many unmarked bommies that will cross your path.
For those of us, who aren't fluent in Australian English:
A "bommie" is usually understood to describe anything from a single coral boulder, to a large reef structure. Technically it is a small patch reef, in column form in, usually, a sheltered lagoon.
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Old 18-12-2019, 06:14   #7
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

throughout all of the french overseas departments there has been a large increase in the budget for funding marine infrastructure,this includes the building of secure small craft harbours,ferry docks,boat ramps,floating pontoons and the laying of large concrete mooring blocks in mooring fields..

due to the often limited areas,that are protected from the prevailing winds,and are also free from coral heads, shallow enough for a mooring fields ,these areas marked as anchorages are now taken over by moorings,generally filled up with small private local craft,dive boat operations and local fishing cooperative vessels.

this results in being prepared to be able to anchor in 20-40 meter depths,trying to find and pick up an unused mooring,renting a mooring,using a dock or bypassing the area.
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Old 18-12-2019, 11:39   #8
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Every jurisdiction in the sea-going world is putting restrictions on anchoring, the primary purpose of which is to drive cruisers to purpose-built mooring fields and marinas where the service can be charged for and taxed. Saving the coral is just an excuse that sells will with the non-boating envro-public. All the cruisers I know are very carful to anchor on sandy, mud or rocky bottoms and generally avoid areas of coral.
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Old 18-12-2019, 12:15   #9
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Having just spent 2 seasons in FP, I found few places where anchoring was restricted, however that is changing. The more popular anchorages are simply too crowded and locals don't like the crowds of cruisers, neither do I. So in those areas, pick up a mooring, pay the pittance, and be their friend. As for charts, they don't survey much more than the channels and some anchorages, so eyeball navigation is the only method you can trust. I rarely anchored in more than 30'but some prefered the 100' range simply because noone else is around. A recent cruising guide is more important than charts, or download from numerous cruising articles.
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Old 18-12-2019, 12:16   #10
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

There are both the legal questions, which are subject to significant change in the next year or two in French Polynesia, and then there are the practical questions.

That appears to be the west end of Makemo, but it doesn't really matter, the west end of most atolls is usually an unpleasant place to anchor. During the cruising season we pretty much rely on the SE trades, and anchoring at the west end of the atoll generally means you have little protection. If that is the west end of Makemo, I have exited that atoll through that pass. We did not find good anchorage at that end because of both wind chop and numerous coral heads. However, the anchorage at the SE end is quite beautiful and peaceful. You can also anchor or tie up near town (both subject to whatever legal requirements when you get there).

In general you will find a lot more information about anchoring on the eastern side of atolls because that's where most people go - because of the trades. I have anchored at the west end of Tahanea and one other atoll during unusual weather, but otherwise we are always seeking protection from easterly breezes and few west-end locations provide that protection.

Once you get underway you'll find there is quite an active cruiser's grapevine that filters information back to people just arriving.
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Old 18-12-2019, 12:23   #11
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Thank you all for all the insight and information; much appreciated.

May I ask: where would one get the latest up-to-date cruiserís guide? Not just for French Polynesia but also for other destinations?

I see a number of books on amazon (besides Cornellís books) referencing cruising destinations, but would those still be of value even when legislation seems to be changing everywhere (Florida etc).

Many thanks

Daniel
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Old 18-12-2019, 13:48   #12
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

Indeed, finding the information is the toughest part. If it is in books then frequently the legal part, at least, is usually out of date. Sometimes much of the rest. For out-of-the-way places the anchorages don't change much, but in just the past decade it amazes me how many of the out-of-the-way places no longer are, and where I used to anchor there are now mooring fields (or even marinas).

For FP the Puddle Jump (Latitude 38) puts out a guide every two years or so that has some broad information and is generally up to date for legal stuff.

Then there's blogs, a few years ago a yacht named Soggy Paws traveled the SP, they put together a bunch of "cruising compendiums" that exposed many of our favorite "secret" anchorages. Even those are getting a bit long-in-the-tooth.

When we arrived in Australia we simply borrowed the latest guides from a local sailor we met, then posted them back to him from Darwin. On their own don't know if we would have bought them all. Same for Alaska, someone gifted us a copy they weren't using.

If there's a charter base near where you are going you can frequently download their guides (and then decide if the places in them are where you want to go or want to avoid).

Last, but not least, here on CF. Although you'll need to be a bit more specific about locations, if we started to list everyone's favorite cruising guides from around the world you'd get lost in the deluge.
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Old 18-12-2019, 15:18   #13
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

it gets worse ,not only no anchorage,but nowhere to land your dinghy, an article published today from new caledonia by fatty goodlander

https://www.allatsea.net/a-tender-tr...B8JilkbpQzfV2E
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Old 06-01-2020, 10:53   #14
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Re: Silly Question: Anchoring French Polynesia Atoll

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Originally Posted by DanielHawk View Post
Thank you all for all the insight and information; much appreciated.

May I ask: where would one get the latest up-to-date cruiserís guide? Not just for French Polynesia but also for other destinations?

I see a number of books on amazon (besides Cornellís books) referencing cruising destinations, but would those still be of value even when legislation seems to be changing everywhere (Florida etc).

Many thanks

Daniel
The go to guides for the South Pacific including french Polynesia are from Soggy Paws and they are free. Updated by cruisers. Tuamotus has just been completely revised / Societies undergoing major revamp.

You can find the Compendiums here S/V Soggy Paws - Useful Files and Links

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