[NOTE: This post was supposed to go up on Sunday, but somehow missed getting published. So, I'm updating it with more details now. And adding photos from Fakarava and the dives.]
This post includes tales from the final days in Fakarava, and includes photos from our visit there. It also includes photos from our diving there – you should definitely check out the sharks. The photo here is of the restaurant and dive shop mentioned in the story below.
We got Karen to the airport on Thursday and she caught a flight to Tahiti. She then had to buy a ticket to Los Angeles and then on to Houston. Her Mom is ill and her sister needed help with watching over her.
Meanwhile, on Saturday morning Jason, Lara and I moved Tahina 30 miles to the south end of Fakarava. We felt the diving would be better down there. We’re really glad we did. Not only is the diving great down here, but the scenery is way better. The water is ultra clear and we immediately did some snorkeling and diving. I spotted two small black-tipped shark right after we arrived when I dove to check the anchor. Later, when we went to check the dive shop, we were amazed at being able to see 50 feet into the water like looking through glass. We could see fish and coral form the dinghy!
The dive shop was already maxed out with customers. But, when we told the dive master we had our own equipment he said we should just do a drift dive ourselves. He even told us when the tide would be headed in and where to start the dive. He wasn’t exactly friendly though.
In the afternoon, we got our gear and an extra long line for the dinghy and went out to the pass. There were some big waves out there, but we weren’t worried about getting wet. The extra long line was so we could hold on to the dinghy while we were diving and drift along with it through the pass as the current came in.
We were surprised how shallow the water was at the entrance to the pass (very different from the other atoll passes we have done). Then, it got deeper on the inside. We couldn’t resist going deeper though because there was a HUGE school of black and white-tipped shark. We were surrounded by about 50-100 shark in three different groups. It was very cool! Check out the photos below:
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We ended up almost back to where Tahina was anchored after an increase to about 5 knots of current where we were flying over the bottom at about 15 feet deep. I got some great video of the sharks and the fast motion finish as well. Maybe I’ll be able to upload the video when we get back to Tahiti.
We had investigated a local restaurant right out on the water when we first went to the dive shop. We reserved a spot for dinner, and so after our dive we got cleaned up and went to the restaurant. The place is run by a gal named Annabelle and her husband. She was from Hawaii originally, and speaks english. It turns out they own the restaurant, the dive shop, and 6 bungalows along the shore at the pass. Very nice setup!
We planned to dive and explore more the next day, with plans to leave by the evening to sail to Tahiti. We have a bunch of tasks to do (primarily provisioning) before we can move on to Bora Bora. Hopefully Karen will come back to Tahiti in time to enjoy a few days of Bora Bora before we leave French Polynesia by August 11th.
On Sunday morning, we got up early to do one last dive of the pass. The only time to do a drift dive is when the tide is coming in, and that was going to end by 8:30 according to the local dive shop. So we were up early to get our dive gear together. We had to use all our own gear including our air tanks. When checking over things, we realized our last tank had somehow missed being filled. So, we were one short. We tried nearby boats, but they didn’t have any tanks. So, we went to the dive shop. I asked the dive master if we could rent a tank and simply said “No” and walked away. That was kind of rude, so we went to talk to Annabelle at the restaurant. She said she would definitely rent us a tank and went to talk to the dive master. Apparently he was on his last day and had been a bit of a pain to the proprietors. He still refused to do the tank. Annabelle stomped back to the restaurant and got her 6′ 2″ husband to go talk to the dive master. A few minutes later, we had a tank. And we had another excellent dive!
Here are more photos from our visit to Fakarava starting with our arrival on the north side:
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The winds were forecasted to ease earlier than expected, so we opted to leave shortly after our dive to sail to Tahiti. It was a fantastic downwind spinnaker sail. We were averaging over 9 knots for the first 24 hours and made 216 nm. We also tied a record for Tahina’s fastest speed of 19.7 knots!