Tuesday 3 May 08:00
At anchor off Tiputo village, Rangiroa, the only yacht here!
Approaching land you cannot see even when just a few miles off is disconcerting to say the least. First the red light on the aero beacon at the airstrip popped up on the horizon, dipping back behind the swell until we neared enough for it to be constant. Then lights on the shore, the rough outline of tree clad islands and the green leading lights slowly became clear.
Behind us dawn was breaking in a celebration of red and orange. I’d roughly calculated using the degrees and not the minutes of our LST and long from Reeds tables up that sunrise would be 06:19, the gps predicted 06:00 and was closer as it actually popped up at 06:05. By 06:30 we were right at the end of the rough water were the tide was pouring out from the lagoon. Inside we could see small passenger ferries zipping back and forth across the pass, presumably what constitutes rush hour in these parts.
Entering the pass at an hour before low water was an interesting experience akin to rounding St Albans Head on a spring tide or entering Langstone Harbour mid Spring ebb; the water was a mass of boiling water with further in small standing waves breaking like surf. Temptress motored forward at over 6 knots and was at one point making just 0.8 knots against the outgoing tide! It was only a short distance, a few hundred metres but what a turbulent passage, definitely not something to attempt at full flood or ebb. Once inside the lagoon proved to be an expanse of flat blue water as far as the eye can see.
We gingerly turned to port and felt our way along the deep water channel, no marks just eyeballing the darkest blue water, until we were opposite the little village boat harbour just east of the church with its red tin clad spire. The skipper executed his usual pre anchoring survey by circling slowly around a few times with the mate on the bow calling coral or sand depending on what colour the water appeared, blue for sand, brownie green for coral. The water is startlingly clear, the anchor could be seen dropping through all 14m to the bottom! Hopefully we have found a spot reasonably clear of coral heads so our chain doesn’t wrap itself around anything, the skipper will snorkel later to check on things.
Not a spectacular anchorage like those of the Marquesas but pretty nonetheless and so peaceful with no swell, just a gentle bobbing, we should sleep well. As far as the the eye can see is flat; a white sandy shoreline and green trees. Even the village is simply a smattering of buildings in amongst a lot of trees. The smell of woodsmoke wafts our way, the occasional dog barks and cockerels crow, it all seems rather idyllic and rural. Finally we are away from it all!