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The Tuamotu Diaries: Chapter 10 - Sailing to a New Atoll

sailing at night


I’m happy to be at our new anchorage in a new atoll. Yesterday we hoisted the sails and set out for an overnight crossing, the wind at our backs.

With just a little time in the morning before setting sail Josh and I went for a spearfishing mission to the baumys. Joshua wanted to take the morning off to rest his ear after having some discomfort the day before. He gave us his blessing to take the dingy out just the two of us.

The baumys didn’t have many fish to offer. At one point a large barracuda swam by that at first glance was easy to mistake for an ono. Our excitement faded once we realized its’ true identity.

The wind that we were counting on for our sail across and out of the lagoon later had picked up. White caps bounced the dingy as we moved between baumys and filled our snorkels as we rested and breathed before dives. On the way in, the dingy reminded me of riding a horse at gallop. Holding the bowline and bouncing just out of sync with the waves made me feel like I was wrestling a wild steed.

When we finally made it into manageable enough chop to pick up speed a boobie bird came in close to say hi. Except he must’ve miscalculated the wind and our respective speeds. When he realized we were meeting way too fast, he tried to put on the breaks but nearly got blown into us. I almost got a boobie belly to the face. Josh and I cackled at the clumsy encounter until we made it back to Agape.

A quick rinse and a smoothie and then the four of us made our way into the adjacent motu. This time to actually get coconuts.

Rachel and Joshua set off to find bright green cocos hanging in the trees while Josh and I were tasked with gathering golden brown cocos recently fallen from the trees. I left Josh to the husking this time while I ground the coconut into shavings we will squeeze for milk.

I never wanted to leave this motu. The low-lying palm trees covered us with shade from just a few feet overhead. The ground was made of mostly rosy colored sand with sections of rubble and coral. Off the far end a shallow sandbar covered by just a few inches of water protected a crystal-clear cove between us and the next motu.

The temp in the shade would’ve been perfect for hanging a hammock and enjoying the breeze for a nap. However, grinding the coconuts, I worked up a sweat. I walked out about halfway across the sandbar and plopped down. The shallow was perfect for giving the illusion that you weren’t actually getting fried by the sun. The cool waves felt amazing as they lapped over my steaming skin. A blacktip shark wiggled its’ way over the sandbar half exposed, dorsal up and caudal flapping to scrape his belly over the sand.

This was my paradise. I could’ve sat in that spot alternating between the sunny, kiddie poll deep water and shady oasis under the trees forever.

Once we collected enough coconut we headed back to the boat where Rachel made breakfast burritos while I helped the boys prepare the boat for sailing.

Any dry wetsuits or clothes were taken off the lines, the dingy motor removed and dingy brought up on deck, and everything inside put in a secure spot.

We ate lunch and then pulled anchor to start moving across the lagoon towards the pass. Timing our departure with the tides would be tricky. Rachel was able to pull a forecast for the tides so we had a rough idea of when we needed to exit the pass but sometimes the tides switch early or late.

We had a pleasant afternoon sail across the lagoon and ended up at the pass an hour earlier than we originally planned. It was a good thing too because the tide had already shifted. Luckily it hadn’t grown too strong and we were able to safely exit the pass.

As the sun began to set across the bow, clouds blocked out the glow from the sun. Squalls were visible in the distance but seemed far enough away that we didn’t worry.

The swell pushed along the stern and created a back and forth swinging motion similar to a carnival ride. Agape would glide up the crest of waves leaning hard to the starboard and rush down the troughs keeling to port. The rocking wasn’t violent, more like a hammock being sung heavily by the wind.

Joshua made pesto pasta for dinner. On passage, no elaborate cooking is done. It is too challenging not to have your chopped veggies or ingredients fly off the counter and all over the floor. Pasta is easy but tastes just as good as something more elaborate.

The stars rose in the sky. I started to feel a little dizzy. Rachel and I tucked into bed while the boys took first watch. We each committed to a three hour period fully awake and a consecutive three hours sleeping in the cockpit available to our partner should they need us.

I accidentally set my alarm for 12:45pm not am. I woke up an hour late for my watch but Rachel was busy watching a movie so I took cockpit, sleep shift.

Up until then I did not sleep good. It seemed every twenty minutes or so I would be jolted from my sleep. On top of that I’ve been having insane dreams the last few nights so the little sleep I did get wasn’t very restful.

I wasn’t fully seasick on passage but I was nauseous enough to prefer laying horizontal vs moving around or sitting. The dizziness combined with the moving boat made it hard to get comfortable.

The sun came up during my awake shift. Josh came out early and relieved me so I could go back down to try and rest more.

I woke up a few miles away from the pass.

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