Move to Tikehau and a Big Fish

Tahina under spinnakerTikehau is an atoll in French Polynesia just west of Rangiroa. We decided to move from Rangiroa to Tikehau for our final few days before we need to leave for Tahiti. We were told by our friend Fernando in Manihi that Tikehau is a wonderful place to visit.
We needed to leave early in the morning because the trip to Tikehau was about 45 miles to the pass, and another 6 miles from the pass to the village and anchorage. We wanted to arrive by mid-afternoon when the sun would be at the right angle for us to see into the water so we could avoid coral heads in the lagoon.

Since Rangiroa is a large atoll, and has Internet, Jason and I got up early to try and take care of E-mails, blogging, Skype calls, etc. We wanted to make sure we got all Internet stuff done since we wouldn’t have Internet until we get to Tahiti since Tikehau wouldn’t have Internet. We went ashore around 7 AM to pick up our scuba tanks which the local dive shop filled for us. While we were waiting for Jason to finish one more Skype call, Karen hollered: “‘Small Nest’ has arrived!” It’s hilarious how many times this has happened – either we are arriving and they are leaving, or its the other way around! We spent a few minutes laughing and chatting with them to share our local knowledge about Rangiroa, and catching up on their time at Ahe. Then we had to leave.

It was a nice sunny day with only a few scattered clouds. We motored about 6 miles west in the Lagoon of Rangiroa to the other pass called Avatoru. This pass is wider and has a nice town dock which was occupied by a cargo vessel. Although the tide was incoming, we were hugging the side of the pass and only experienced a 1 knot current against us. There was already about 12 knots of wind. Once we were out of the pass, we set the spinnaker sail up, and were soon making 6-7 knots west. We needed to sail past the western point of Rangiroa, then continue almost straight west across the northern part of Tikehau. Tikehau is a round atoll with a pass on the west side.

Big Fish Catch
Six foot spearfishWe had a delightful spinnaker sail to the north side. As we were approaching the point where we needed to turn west, one of our two fishing rods suddenly started screeching! I was standing nearby and immediately ran to set the hook. I saw a large splash and big tail – so I knew we had a game fish. Wow, what a fighter! We couldn’t easily slow ourselves down, so we were pulling the fish at about 6 knots. At times, he was pulling so hard the line was still getting pulled out even with the reel locked down. I even had Karen cool the reel with some water because it was getting hot. I was having the hardest time ever trying to reel the fish in. It took nearly 30 minutes to get it to the boat. Karen and Jason saw the huge tail breaking the water and thought I had a shark. But, I was confident it was something better. The fish was still pulling hard. Finally, we got the fish aboard and quickly used some rubbing alcohol to put it out of his misery. It was a bill fish for sure – a big one. About 6 feet long weighing 60-70 lbs. We soon determined it was a spearfish. Wow! Since it was so big, we had to clean the fish right away.

Arriving Tikehau

We needed to pull down the spinnaker and change sails as we turned south towards the pass. Soon we were making 8-9 knots on a reach for the pass. The island was beautiful off to our port side and the sail was wonderful. Especially after the excitement of the fish. We put some tunes on the cockpit speakers and were reveling in the beauty of our day. We dropped our sails right at the entrance to the pass, and waved at a dive boat full of people preparing for a dive. The pass was really easy to enter, and we never saw less than 12 feet on the shallow side. The Navionics charts are actually quite good for Tikehau and the 6 mile passage to the town anchorage are well marked.

We only saw one other sailboat in the lagoon. They were parked on the east side of the lagoon. We realized that with the east wind, the east side would be better since it would be in the lee of the atoll island. So, we headed east. There we saw a beautiful polynesian style hotel – probably the one called “Blue Nui” which we read had a dive shop. Sure enough, the boat we saw at the pass came here. The sun was about an hour from setting when we arrived. It’s a beautiful location, and we were soon thinking about trying out the hotel bar we could see with our binoculars. But, we decided instead to just grill up our fresh fish and have dinner. I was really tired and having some muscle pain in my back. I realized later it was from the fish fight.

It occured to me with a nice hotel like we were seeing, they might have Internet. So, I turned on the computer’s WIFI – sure enough, they have a WIFI hotspot! One of the two main hotspots we have been using. Sheesh!

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2 Responses to Move to Tikehau and a Big Fish

  1. Doug and Rachel says:

    I noticed you didn’t make mention of where to clean such a large fish on an all white boat?
    great story…..

  2. Frank Taylor says:

    @Doug and Rachel: That’s one of the best things about a catamaran like Tahina. We clean it on the steps at the aft. Plenty of room, right next to the ocean. Throw most of the remains overboard, toss a bucket over what doesn’t automatically wash off the bottom step, rinse your utensils with the fresh water shower, and you’re done! It’s a really nice set up.

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