Diving in Tahanea

June 10, 2003, 2:00 am

At anchor, Tahanea, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia

LATITUDE: 16-50.96S

LONGITUDE: 144-41.59W


Vesper anchored in rough waters awaiting the next storm

Dear friends and family:

Several days ago, three new boats arrived in Tahanea:  we are now five boats waiting for the proverbial weather window to take us to Tahiti.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  One of the boats, Dancer, (Jim & Jeannette) has been cruising the South Pacific for five years.  They came here all the way from New Zealand, with only one stop, in Raivavae (in the Austral Islands).  Tahanea is their favorite anchorage in the Tuamotus, and they have NO plans to go to Tahiti.  The other four boats (including us) have been learning lots about South Pacific weather and cruising destinations from Jim and Jeanette.

The other two boats came by way of the Gambier Islands, like our friends, Steve & Iretta on Rigo.  As it turns out, one of those boats, Vesper, was being worked on at Sound Rigging in Seattle, when Sequoia first came off the freighter from Shanghai.  Jeff and Dierdre (of Vesper) saw our boat then, and recognized it here!  The other boat, Neva, belongs to Linda and Peter, and they're headed back to their home in Australia.

We invited everyone in the anchorage (12 people altogether, including us) to a potluck dinner last night.  We exchanged stories and shared food from midafternoon, through sunset, and well into the evening.  It's amazing how people can come up with such different and appetizing foods, even though none of us have seen a grocery store for more than two weeks. Dierdre, Linda, Peter, Jim at the potluck aboard Sequoai
Steve, Mark, Janelle at the potluck

Another weather front coming through

Dierdre came up with hummous and home made pita bread.  Iretta brought a spicy bean dish.  Jeanette brought a chicken pasta.  Linda brought tuna spread and crackers.  We provided some barbecued tuna and one of our last boxes of corn chips along with salsa. 

It's a good thing we did the potluck last night, because tonight is another of those weather fronts coming through -- rough enough this time that we decided to set an anchor watch through the night.


Each of us takes two hours, watching the depth and the GPS location, checking lines, and watching the other boats.  Now, of course, is my time.  The first hour I listened to NPR ("All Things Considered") on the Armed Services shortwave radio service.  That finished at 2:00 a.m., and you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my second hour.

The weather fronts -- unusual this year -- have been coming through about every 36 hours.  We have learned to take advantage of the nice weather that usually comes between the fronts.  Today, for example, we got out the tanks and dive gear, and explored some of the coral heads directly below us.  I know Mark would rather have gone outside the reef, where the visibility is better, and the sights are more exciting (sharks in profusion!)  But we were appreciative that he went with us, and pointed out some of the more interesting residents of the reefs.  This was my first tropical dive -- the last time I was suited up, it was in a dry suit, in 53 degree water, off Maury Island (Puget Sound) in November!  What a different experience!  My favorite sight here is a coral formation that looks like a bouquet of flowers, with little iridescent green fish in a cloud around it.  If you approach too close, the fish dash into the crevices in the bouquet. 

During our dive, we had a look at the anchor and anchor chain.  As usual, it was wound around several coral heads, zig-zagging its way across the sand in between.  Each time one of the weather fronts comes through, the wind goes through a 360 degree evolution.  The boat swings with it, pulling the chain along.  In some places on the sandy bottom, you can see where the chain has dragged across an area, sometimes creating patterns that sometimes look for all the world like tire tracks.

We're hopeful that tomorrow the weather will cooperate sufficiently that we can start the 2-3 day trip to Tahiti.  We're meeting Maryline & Bernard Eya there, and they will spend a couple of weeks with us.  Maryline is a former French exchange student, who lived with us for a year -- Bernard is her new husband.

Well, that's all for now -- my watch is nearly over, and perhaps I just have time to get this out over a radio connection before Craig's watch starts.

Best wishes to all!

Craig & Barbara Johnston

S/V Sequoia

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