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Show MapTuamotus - July 2005


Thankfully only room for 4 candles!



Sue had a birthday the day before we arrived in the Tuamotus. Tom made a delicious chocolate cake!

The Tuamotus used to be called The Dangerous Archipelago - we prefer the new name! It is a group of coral atolls which are basically rings of coral surrounding a sheltered lagoon (geology lesson). Many boats have been wrecked on these islands because they are very low-lying and difficult to see until you are within a couple of miles of them. These days however, with GPS, navigation is much easier. Having said that, you still need to be careful as currents run strongly in the passes into the lagoons and unmarked coral heads abound when inside.

We entered the lagoon at Ahe on 29 July, after 6 days at sea, timing our arrival at the pass to coincide with the slack water around high tide.

Once inside the lagoon Tom climbed up the rigging using the ratlines (steps) that we fitted while in Panamá. From this vantage point and with the sun high in the sky, it's easy to spot and avoid the isolated lumps of coral that come to within a couple of feet of the surface.



Inside the lagoon at Ahe, with our ratlines on the right. The lagoon is wider than you think when just looking at a chart!



In places like the Tuamotus it is easy to see why it would be a disaster to have a sea level rise - the height of most of the motus (islands) on the reef is rarely more than 2 metres above sea level. A hurricane, with its associated tidal surge, is even more devastating because of its shorter time frame!



Locals out having fun on surf boards.




Ahe church.



We anchored in the lagoon at Ahe for two nights, snorkelling on the nearby coral heads. We saw many new fish but couldn't identify many of them as our fish books don't cover this area.


A Christmas tree Worm.


Sue duck-diving.

This fish tried to scare us off his hole in the coral...


... so did this one, but he managed a grumpier face!

A reef clam.


This species is known to us as a "wee black and white stripey fish".



Above and left: Water cisterns.

Water is in short supply in the Tuamotus - what they cannot catch from the sky has to be shipped in at great expense.


We also popped into the village store and purchased a few items as follows:

  2 baguette (only frozen ones available)
  6 cans Heineken beer
  1 can baked beans
  1 can peas
  1 can diced beetroot
  1 can salmon (this was cheap!)
  2 pkts biscuits

The total cost was 3800 pf (polynesian francs), equating to roughly US$38 or £20. After the incredible cheapness of South America, we are finding French Polynesia to be rather expensive! No more beers for you Tom!!

We left for Tahiti in the Society Islands, sooner than we would have liked, but time was moving on and we only have 3 months left to cross the western half of the Pacific and reach Australia.


Email us:  tomandsueATmcnaughtan.net (replace AT with @ before sending!)