After Fakarava we started the sailing calculus involving variables of time (our son, Tanner, was arriving in Tahiti on 11 June) pass timing (we can only enter and exit passes twice a day) and weather (is there enough wind to sail? is it coming from the right direction?) to decide on how many more atolls we could visit. We had heard great things about Tikehau and Manta Rays but the weather window was too short. Some friends were anchored at Toau which was close by so off we went. The pass was easy and wide and the anchorage was easy. We had a great time exploring and playing Settlers of Catan at night with the crews on Wildflower and Auryn. Calla Lily and Wildflower went on an explore in the lagoon for a change in scenery but ended up back in the same anchorage after not finding the right combination of goldilocks depth (not too shallow, not too deep) and sand. We did do some sailing in the lagoon and got hit by a big squall that spun the wind around and reduced visibility to the point we almost had to turn on the radar.
Next stop for us was the "false pass" on the northwest corner of Toau. It was one of those places that didn't sound very great in the guidebooks but ended up being a highlight of our Tuamotu journey. Basically, the false pass looks like a pass from the outside but on the inside there is a very large semi-circular reef blocking the way into the lagoon. Picture anchoring in the middle of a runway. Only you can snorkel right from the boat in magnificent coral gardens. Auryn and Wildflower joined us the next day and we went off in search a manta feeding station in the lagoon. We never found it but we stopped at a large coral head and at a magical little island a few miles into the lagoon and snorkeled in the crystal clear water.
Unfortunately, the proprietors of the restaurant were away so we didn't get to meet them nor enjoy a meal. Another benefit of the false pass was that we could come and go anytime we wanted because there was no current to worry about.
A weather window opened up and it looked like we could make the 200nm passage to Tahiti in only one night if we left early in the morning. Wildflower was out at 3:30AM, Calla Lily at 5:30AM, and Auryn left around 6:00AM. We enjoyed our sail with Auryn and were within sight of them through the day and most of the night. All in all it was a beautiful sail until we got about 40nm from Tahiti and it got pretty sporty. Mostly just a crummy sea state. We still made it by nightfall and set down in Pointe Venus safely inside the reef with Auryn for the night. Next day, we would go back outside and then down to find a spot to anchor in the crowded anchorages of Tahiti.