147* 38.2' West
Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
June 18, 2010
The overnight passage between Toau Atoll and Rangiroa Atoll was very pleasant. We left Tuesday about 1:00 pm on a nice, but dying breeze. Brad's navigational timing was again spot on as we sailed to within 6 miles of Rangiroa's Pass before we the wind got light and we turned on the engine and motored through the pass about 10:00 am. We did not wait for slack water as this pass is very deep and we had a pretty exciting moment or two (for she who was hand steering anyway) as we had about 4 knots of current against us.
Rangiroa’s eastern pass: Passe de Tiputa
The anchorage and the main town in this part of Rangiroa are on separate ends of the main motu about 5 miles apart. We were very low on dinghy fuel and one of the pearl farmers nearer to the anchorage than the town sold us 5 gallons of gas. We then proceeded to make a foray to "the village" where we were finally able to hit an ATM (though we still had a few French Polynesian Francs held in reserve) and get some more fresh fruits and vegetables. We are not sure if anything is grown here other than coconuts and grapes (there is a winery!) because most of the fresh stuff seems to come from the Marquesas. This community is definitely not as egalitarian as most that we have seen in since we made landfall in the Marquesas. There are definitely differing levels of income and social stratification here. I am sure that we will see even more of this in Papeete.
Yesterday, we crossed the pass to another village (much closer to the anchorage). We were able to use the internet at the post office and found a little store where the women was making Polynesian style quilts and had soft ice cream! Back on this side of the pass is a hamburger stand/restaurant that is right at the main quai and a bit out over the water so that you can watch the fish and stingrays swim around a shallow reef right from your table. The kids loved it.
We have brought the bikes to shore and done some riding up and down the main atoll. There are definitely more tourist attraction-type opportunities here: scooter/bike rentals, pearl farms, artists, and of course, dive centers. Brad and I did not quite make it to the main village on this morning's ride, but maybe that will be tomorrow's activity.
Snorkeling the reef just inside the Passe is fantastic. Since there are more people here, the fish are not at all afraid of them and often seek out the human snorkeler in hopes of handouts! Sometimes, they get in the way of the camera!
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