Each place you go, you think this is the best! and it is each time and every time. When you are talking to other cruisers about their "favorite spots" they can barely give reference before they say.. "but for different reasons THIS place was amazing". We all experience it in some form and for us, this thinking came into sharp relief with the Tuamotu. Coming from the volcanic cliffs and cloud-touching lush jungles of the Marquesas the contrast of ocean skimming sands and palms was breathtaking. We even had a demanding squally passage to help clear our expectations. Our first landing was the atoll Raroria, where the Kon Tiki crash landed after nearly one-hundred days riding currents from Peru. We had water-tight hull, sails and rigging, and charts to direct our course :: that's the way to go!
Our arrival at the atoll was later than planned so the coming evening determined our first anchor, turned toward the "village" instead of going across to nicer anchorage. That experience was a lesson in timing. We did anchor overnight but neither of us slept well... 'Bommies to the left of us, bommies to the right... here i am, stuck in the middle with you' ...
So we were very happy when we synced up with two boats we know that came through the pass next morning. Without much trouble we fell in behind them and marked their tracks as they followed the tracks of previous cruisers themselves. For the first traverse of an atoll, this removed most of the trepidation. Although when you are following a track and watching the chart screen as if playing a video game, it's butt-puckering to look over the side of your boat and be able to count the lobes of the coral passing your hull. Too close! Eyes UP!!
Our time at Kon Tiki anchorage was terrific, three boats turned into fleet of twelve over the next several days as cruisers made their way to calm waters from the wind-steeped waves out in the sea. We celebrated every safe arrival. We also celebrated with an all-call snorkeling event where each child with an obsession got to share their thrills of discovery: octopuses tucked into coral, spikey beautiful shells, and black-tipped reef sharks that were curious, circling all around. On another day, everyone gathered to tour the tiny island with coconut marked trails and a small fort established by the kids and the party continued on that beach with a sunset bonfire.
The next stop was Makemo and this is my favorite now. It was a sporting grind to get through the pass and Mike was at the helm. We had other boats nearby to share their immediate experience but we tested Calla Lily's strength and resolve. She came through!! even though at one window of about 15 minutes, SV Pawsative Attitude radioed to ask us if we had anchored :: it just looked like it. In fact, our track would show that we went backward in a circle! Yep, that kind of type-two fun again!! We have since conferred with others who also had a ripping difficult time that day. It was agreed that the atoll lagoon over-full and flowing BIG from days of wind-tall waves was pushing water along full moon tides. But this atoll is the perfect combination of serene remoteness and a village that is charming, very friendly and provisioned. Mike and I enjoyed a day of Brompting the length of this motu and discovered a trove of shells that Danite (SV Pegah) and I have craftily turned into anklets.
The VERY BEST part of this stop has been the open rehearsals of the village musicians and dancers who will compete in the "All Polynesias" in December. (This only happens every four years.) Because we do not have a long-stay visa, we need to be out of FP by the end of June so will be further along in our adventure. But to be welcome at the rehearsals, hear the chorus and drumming and to see the choreography has been a gift beyond measure.