We need to carry a bit of momentum if we are going to experience the windward society islands. So, after three days, we pick up anchor and head to Fakarava’s Southern end. The wind is spectacular at 20 knots off my port beam. We sail along inside the atoll, so there are no waves. I hear Andrew and Leslie praising my speed and agility, and I turn my nose up with pride. Then, I hear someone say “Take out all of her heavy cruising gear and she would be an excellent lake racer.” What?! Lake racer? That’s crazy. No. No, no, no. I’m claustrophobic.
I hyperventilate about the possibility of being landlocked until I hear Leslie say “I don’t think she would like to be surrounded by land. She has a pretty serious case of wanderlust.” Right, exactly. I return to enjoying Fakarava’s waveless lagoon, and look! Kevin is smiling, too. We stop for the night at about the half way mark. The crew heads ashore to drink a beer and they meet a handful of other sailors to chat with. We don’t stay long, though, and the next morning, we pull out again.
For the first time ever, Andrew has decided to tow Grin behind me. He is tied up tightly to my stern, and I look back to see what he is doing. As Leslie warms up my engine, Grin bops happily in the little wind chop waves. “I don’t know about this.” I think. But Grin can’t imagine what could go wrong.
We make quick headway under genoa sail alone. The wind is blowing steadily behind my quarter stern, and whitecaps are forming even in the protected lagoon. Leslie is at the helm actively steering, but with the whitecaps and passing clouds it is hard to spot coral heads. I am nervous. We slide by a coral head only two feet below the surface just to my starboard side. We missed it by maybe 10 feet. I couldn’t see it, Leslie couldn't see it, and it wasn’t on the chart. “Woah, look at that!” Kevin says, pointing. Leslie gets a sick feeling in her stomach thinking about what could happen out here. Andrew is then posted on top of the boom as coral spotter.
As we arrive, and I immediately start making friends. I meet a super yacht named Vertigo next door, ramoras attach themselves to my underbelly, fish swarm around me, and sharks join the fun. Andrew hops in the water to check out the anchor set. “Ayieeeeeii! There are a lot of sharks down here!" My crew spends the evening chasing sharks, eagle rays and fish right below my keel.
My captain, on the other hand, spends another night in/with The Boat of Punishment trying to fix the outboard motor that has so aptly been named Groan by a good friend/blog reader. While Osmond listened to Andrew cry tears into his beer over the continually inoperable dinghy motor, Osmond mentioned that he would like to scuba with the sharks, too. This cheered Andrew quite a bit, and Andrew set to work to find Osmond an adequate scuba apparatus. Success was achieved with at lock tight bean canister and some butyl tape. Osmond ventures where no owl has ventured before.
Fakarava South Pass is famous for a wall of a thousand sharks. So, later that afternoon, my crew left Osmond and I to relax while they scuba dived with more and more and more sharks. I am jealous, but I plan to check them out as we leave through the pass in a couple of days.
The wall of sharks did not disappoint.
We were going to leave the next day, but rain and heavy winds prevented departure. So, Grin took the crew onto land to explore the tiny village.
But, when I look across the water and I see Grin drifting along in the current, all alone. What the….??? I look and look and look for the crew, no crew. Are they still on land? How will they get back? What if Grin is swept out to sea? I try to brainstorm options, but there isn’t much I can do. So, I wait and fret. Grin is drifting directly to me, so that keeps me a bit more at ease.
As Grin moves closer, I see a rope tied to Grin’s bow stretched out forward and attached around Andrew’s waist. Andrew has his fins and snorkel on. Leslie, Crystal and Kevin are floating in the water, free diving and swimming along behind. They had been drift snorkeling in the current the whole time! All is well. Leslie’s anxiety is starting to rub off on me, I think. The snorkel pictures are awesome. I can’t wait to motor through the pass, so I can see the sharks, too!
The next day, we drop the mooring ball and head out to sea. Onward, ever onward to Tahiti. And here is some bonus material for you. I couldn't get it to embed here because I am a technologically disinclined sailboat, but click this link https://youtu.be/boV0t-riFuw to hear Sister Pooh's warning about swimming in the Shark's House. You will laugh.