After a fabulous overnight sail from Tahanea, and no dramas entering the Fakarava’s north pass, we headed over to Rotoava and found a spare mooring buoy. We were as thrilled as anyone suffering sleep deprivation could be.
Maria hooked the mooring pennant at the first attempt, and as we were getting ready to put on the second line, our neighbour (anchored suspiciously close to the mooring) came over in his dinghy. He’s going to help us, thought my eternal optimist. But, alas, that’s where a wonderful day took a plunge in the briny.
This guy told us that the mooring we had picked up was compromised. “It was good last year,” I replied. “I dived on it, and it is compromised,” he said in an authoritative German accent. I could see that we weren’t going to get anywhere with this. We were tired from an overnight sail, and all we wanted to do was to sleep – not argue. So, Maria went back to the bow, slipped the line, and we headed a little further south to anchor.
Later that week, we were recounting this tale to our friend, Mike, on the boat Easy. Mike, who was anchored near to our ex-neighbour, said that he got fed up with listening to that guy’s generator clattering away for most of the day, so he moved onto the same mooring ball as us. He received the same ‘It’s compromised… I’ve dived on it’ script, but instead of taking his word for it, Mike free-dived to the seabed to take a look. When he came back up a couple of minutes later, he told the guy, “It’s fine.” Then, in a final attempt to win, the guy claimed his boat is too close to the mooring. Mike suggested that he take up some chain. He did. All of it. Later that day, he had buggered off.
It’s unusual to come across such an overt arsehole, such as that fella. Granted, a few sailors who could do with a course on anchoring, but on the whole, there is a great sense of community where people will go out of the way to help each other.
We did eventually get a mooring buoy. Mike gave us a heads up that a boat on another mooring ball was leaving the next morning, so we pounced on it quicker than a shark at feeding time.
And talking of fish
During one of our trips to land, we came across a fisherman who had landed a fine-looking tuna. As you can see in the photograph below, Maria was particularly taken by this and asked him if she could take a photo. He was more than happy to oblige.
Shopping was hot on the agenda; our stocks had depleted faster than supermarket toilet rolls at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak. And, with completely unplanned good timing, the supply ship was coming in the week after we arrived, bringing with it the promise of fresh fruit and vegetables.
To ensure a fighting chance, we picked Mike up from his boat at 0630, the day after the ship unloaded, to start the queue outside the petrol station. We felt a bit daft being the first ones there, but less so when we were in front of a crowd when the doors opened at 0730.
Dance dance dance
On Saturday 18th July, Aldric from Fakarava Yacht Services invited us to a dance show in which Stephanie and their children were taking part. So, later that afternoon we zipped over in the dinghy to the beach where it was being held to enjoy a beautiful evening with these beautiful people.
It was great to see generations sharing this experience and perfecting their art together. And I’ll bet most of them will have been taught by the same instructor – the woman stood at the back of the band in one of the photographs above.
Tour around town
We spent a lot of time around Rotoava, either loitering around Fakarava Yacht Services or soaking up the internet. And, more actively, cycling around. Although, before heading off on our bikes, we had to deal with the curse of the broken spokes again. After a short ride through the town, I had to replace five spokes on Maria’s bike. And while we had all the bike bits out, I thought it prudent to service mine.
Although we have been here longer than anticipated, we have been productive. Not only have we staved off malnutrition, but we have also stocked up with fuel – and seen more of the town than last time. And, as a gourmet treat, we have occasionally eaten out: twice at the Rotoava Grill for burgers and once at a snack place that I would prefer to forget. My fish there was cooked on the outside and frozen on the inside.
Eventually, though, it was time to move on. And on 30th July, we sailed to the southeastern corner of the island to anchor at Hirifa.