Sunday, April 24, 2011


Namaste returned to Rangiroa after more than a nine-year absence from this phenomenal atoll, and we had a fantastic 10-day stay.
The past three months have been pretty solitary for Chris and I, but that all changed last week when we pulled into this popular place, and spotted flags from the US, Australia, Denmark, and French on the neighboring cruising boats. Then Team Namaste grew by one member on Sunday when Uncle Bill flew in for a 16-day stay. It's so great to have him here, sharing these great adventures with us.
Rangiroa is an absolute divers paradise and we took full advantage of the spectacular surroundings, including 150-feet visibility and 81-degree water. We made fast friends with four French cruisers and were able to hop into their dinghy for some drift diving. We'd drop outside the pass and descend quickly to about 150-feet, where we'd be surrounded by gray sharks waiting at the pass for breakfast. Chris spotted several schools of eagle rays as well. We'd reach the current pretty quickly and then it was a free-flow float traveling between 1.5 and 2 knots. On our dives, we saw giant Napoleon wrasse, whitecheek surgoenfish, titan triggerfish and pacific double-saddle butterflyfish, just to name a few. There was an awesome cave about halfway into the pass that usually sheltered schools of black-striped surgeonfish and soldierfish, as well as several blacktip and whitetip reef sharks. If you could hold on against the current, it was quite a show!
On Wednesday afternoon, we dropped in with our French friends and Liz, a single-handed American sailor we just met. The groups got separated and we ended up having an amazing dolphin encounter. The Tiputa pass dolphins are legendary and often play and visit the divers cruising in the current. "Touch me", as this dolphin has affectionately been named, swam right up to us, circling very close and showing off its underwater acrobatic skills. It stayed with us for two of its mammal breaths, and took our breath away in the process! What an incredible experience, truly once in a lifetime, and Liz got it on videotape!
Bill got his feet wet this week and started to scuba dive. He's a natural at breathing underwater and we took him outside the lagoon for his first real dive on Thursday. We dove to about 60-feet and checked out all the amazing coral and reef fish, as well as a couple gray sharks that were scoping out the new visitors. Kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming and Chris kiteboarding filled our days with fun, followed by awesome mahi-mahi dinners.
We pulled anchor Friday morning and sailed southwest en route to Moorea. We pulled over at Tetiaroa, the island that was once owned by Marlon Brando, but there were no tenable anchorages so we continued on and pulled into Opunohu Bay last night at sunset.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Apataki, part deux

Apataki has officially made the Namaste "best of" list! This atoll is simply amazing.
We sailed to the southeast corner on Wednesday morning and caught a nice blue jack mackerel on the way. The fish was okay, made better by panko bread crumbs one night, and shitake mushrooms, soy and ginger the next.
We anchored up off the motu Totoro. Before the anchor even hit the bottom, a local family sped over in their boat to let us know we could moor for free in front their pearl farm. They recently opened up a storage boat yard on their property and invited us to check out all their property. We were excited to learn about this new place to possibly haul Namaste.
Our visit was timed perfectly to witness the pearl harvest firsthand. Alfred and his son Tony showed us how they open the oysters and pop out the black treasures within the shells. He had a bowl full from the day's work. He said prices recently increased and he received a buyers call to begin the extraction.
On Thursday, we swam a good distance to a nearby reef and snorkeled. Then paddleboarding and kiteboarding in the afternoon.
The Lau family invited us over for dinner and we joined them at their seaside paradise. It was quite a group - two french cruisers, one with their daughter, and the family, Pauline, Alfred and their son Tony. Pauline speaks great English, but it was an international affair. Jean Pierre leaned over at one point and said he doesn't speak English, but he speaks Spanish. It took me a moment to switch gears, and then we had great conversation. Meanwhile the rest of the table was chatting away in French, English and Tahitian! It was an amazing experience to say the least.
We feasted on two different phenomenal dishes - octopus in a vinegar-pickled sauce with mustard greens and cabbage, and asian-inspired oysters. Divine! We also partook in Tony's special French rum he brought back from a recent trip to Nice. It was strong, we drank a lot, we'll leave it at that!
Their hospitality was overwhelming and we had an awesome evening. It's been quite a while since Chris and I have socialized and it was fantastic to share an evening with great new friends.
We went to Apataki's big town the next day, Niutahi, and walked around to take pictures. This morning we dove outside the pass. It was beautiful with 150-feet of visibility and literally thousands of fish, everything from tiny yellow tangs to big yellowtail tuna.
We sailed over to the northwest corner this afternoon and went underwater exploring again outside the Tehere pass. We spotted a huge ship's anchor a few feet from where we happened to drop ours - wonder what the story is behind that! There were giant Napolean, Moorish idols, parrotfish, and countless others. It was a rainbow of color, size, and shape. The only thing missing has been the sharks. Not sure where they're hiding, but I'm sure we'll find them sooner or later.
We're sharing the anchorage with a 160+ foot mega-yacht sailboat named Georgia. Their 40-foot sportfishing boat pulled in this evening. Life must be rough :)
We hope to be able to time a drift dive into the pass tomorrow. More to come...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


We've been living in the lagoon at Apataki atoll and have been exploring the northeast corner while a steady easterly breeze has been blowing the past few days.
It's absolutely stunning here, with sandy beaches, shallow coastlines dotted with coral heads, and every shade of blue and turquoise you can imagine. We've pulled out most of Namaste's toys and have been playing nonstop. Chris figured out how to launch his kite from the water and spent yesterday ripping around enjoying the steady wind and flat seas. He carried a radio with him and after he dropped the kite, he called for a pickup - dinghy taxi at your service!
I've been paddling close to shore protected from the wind in 3-5 feet of crystal clear water. There is plenty of life in those shallow waters and you can easily see the fish swimming around each coral head. Occasionally, a black-tip reef shark fin appears and you can follow its athletic swimming movement. I had a race with one today, it won by a landslide.
We went out in the lagoon and snorkeled a beautiful spot with hundreds of fish, eagle rays, and gray, white-tip and black-tip reef sharks. There were massive schools of tangs and triggerfish, as well as colorful damselfish and butterfly fish. There are huge formations of soft and hard coral and each head creates its own little microcosm of life. Families, with species from the size of your hand to the size of your fingertip, circle and live within the delicate fingers of the white coral. The life teeming within the lagoon has us both anxious and excited to dive the passes, and see what's out there!
Chris has perfected the art of opening coconuts with a machete - don't try this at home kids! And we've been drinking the fresh liquid and chowing on the delicate meat inside, mixing it in our mango-pineapple-papaya-banana smoothies.
We're going to explore the rest of the atoll over the next few days.

Friday, April 1, 2011


We arrived at the Manihi atoll Thursday morning after an awesome sail from Nuku Hiva. We left Monday morning and made the 470-mile trip super fast. We had to hove-to Wednesday night to delay our arrival. This is our first time here, and we wanted to be sure the sun was high for good eyeball navigation through the pass and around the lagoon.
This place is stunning, with crystal clear, warm water and an abundance of sealife. Several blacktip reef sharks have been checking out the new addition to the lagoon. We snorkeled outside the pass today and enjoyed 80-plus feet of visibility and hundreds of reef fish.

Last Nuku Hiva adventure

We left Taiohae Bay Sunday morning and headed over to Daniel's Bay. We did an amazing hike through the valley to a gigantic waterfall, Hakaui falls. The flow was only a trickle, due to the drought, but it was a stunning trip nonetheless. We hiked through a local village and were flagged down by an older couple to come visit their house. We chatted in broken English, French and Marquesan and they filled our bags with amazing fruit for our passage. The heat and humidity took a lot out of us and we took a nice siesta upon our return to Namaste. A snorkel trip was cut short by my sighting a 5-foot shark in murky waters.