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Home Port of Seward, Alaska



We all fell in love with Rangiroa, in the Tuamotus, when we came across the Pacific in 2013. Several of our cruising friends in the South Pacific had urged us to visit Fakarava, also in the Tuamotus. The Tuamotus are all coral atolls - rings of coral reef dotted by low islands or "motus" fringed with coconut plams and surrounding a central lagoon. Fakarava is the second-largest (after Rangiroa) and has been designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve due to the purity of the environment.

Conni found a weather window that allowed us to sail further East without hammering into the prevailing southeasterly winds, so we decided to fulfill a wish and see more of the Tuamotus on this trip. In fact, the conditions were so calm that we ended up motor-sailing for much of the 70-hour passage from Huahine to Fakarava.

Captions by Conni this time.

Conni on "watch." Being on watch usually implies, you know, being awake, but anyone who knows Conni knows how she hates mornings. It's about 6:30 AM here. Hey, at least I'm clipped in.

At anchor near Rotoava, the main village on Fakarava, with sunset silhouetting two teams of racing outrigger canoes.

View of the Top Dive dock, Fakarava. Wings is the distant boat most to the left.

We saw many of these shallow wells (really, cisterns) and small pumphouses on our walks around Rotoava village. The Tuamotus are fairly dry and fresh water is a prized commodity. Traditionally, the local people would dig a shallow pit (remember, the motus are only a few feet above sea level at most) which they would line with banana leaves and coconut palm fronds to trap rainwater. Now many houses have above-ground cisterns that collect rainwater draining from their roofs via gutters.

The proverbial "chinese grocer" ringing up our purchases at one of the two magasins (grocery stores) in Rotoava.

The interior of the other small magasin in Rotoava, Fakarava. Guess the ethnicity of the shopkeeper!

The main (and only paved) street on Fakarava.

Although racing in outrigger canoes was traditionally the purview of men, we saw teams of young women practicing their racing skills on almost every island. These effervescently friendly young ladies generously let us stash our dinghy by their canoe, which they were about to lift out of the water after making a few practice runs.

Another view of the Top Dive dock with our dinghy tied alongside. Note the shadow of our dinghy in the clear shallow water.

We were in desperate need of more diesel after motor-sailing most of the way to Fakarava, and Bill managed to negotiate the purchase of a 55-gallon drum of the stuff from this small freighter. We've heard stories about buying diesel directly from freighters at docks, and now we've done it. Of course, that meant we devoted an entire precious afternoon to carefully siphoning the drum contents into two 5-gallon jerry cans and taking it back from the wharf to our boat, emptying the jerry cans into our fuel tanks, returning for more, etc.

Conni taking Bill's feet for a dinghy-ride part-way around the huge lagoon of Fakarava.

Fakarava has only begun to have a tourism industry (and we hope they take it slowly and carefully). This small lagoon-side resort was one of the few we saw on our dinghy-ride.

This is the same stunning, 85-foot-long, custom-built yacht that anchored near us in Bora Bora, now seen again in Fakarava. Yep, the short mast and blue sail-cover is another (smaller) sailboat almost completely hidden behind the yacht.

So we're walking along a dirt road beside the lagoon and we see this local gentleman cleaning a couple of fish. He stops, looks at us, grins and points at the water, and then we see the sharks circling and waiting for him to toss in another morsel.

Two sharks and one ray going for a bit of fish-head.

The two sharks passed on a pile of fish guts but the ray thought they were tasty.

Did we mention the larger shark was about seven feet long? Snorkelling, anyone?

We need to figure out what these intersting trees are. They are evergreen, with very long indiviudal "needles" and bark that looks like a redwood. They're everywhere on Fakarava.

We followed a path across the motu (about 2 city blocks wide) to the ocean side and snapped a photo on a windy afternoon.

Here you can see that the deep ocean instantly shallows up to rock-hard coral reef. This is not the way you want to land on a coral reef island, but the wrecks of old freighters (and some newer yachts) can be found on several of the Tuamotus.

The fly and honey bee covered flower of some type of palm tree.

A copra shed, used to dry copra (coconut meat) before shipment. Copra production is still a major part of the economy of the Tuamotus.



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