Knowing that we relaxed a bit and turned our attention to determining the time to enter the lagoon at Fakarava and to the significant number of squalls all around us. The lagoons are protected waters bounded on their perimeter by a semi-continuous palm tree covered strip of land called a motus. In harmony with the tides, water flows into and out of the lagoons through the few passes where boats can traverse. Depending on weather and tide conditions these passes can have currents up to eight knots, and as that current interacts with wind, ocean currents, and sea swell in the pass, large standing waves, whirlpools, and short breaking seas can occur. Therefore, one tries to traverse the passes at slack water, which is the point where the current changes from ebb to flood or the reverse. The key to this is knowing when the tides are. Unfortunately, of the 78 atolls in the Tuamotus, there are published tides for only 6 atolls, and you guessed it, Fakarava is not one of the six. In fact, of the 3 or 4 atolls we plan to visit, none have published tide tables. All one can do is try to find a published tide for an atoll to the east and one to the west and interpolate. This will usually get you within a couple of hours of the actually time of slack, and you can wait until the sea conditions appear satisfactory and press through. We completed this procedure for Garue Pass and determined slack water to be at 0741. We arrived at the pass very close to this time, but obviously slack had been some time earlier as the current was clearly flooding (current into the lagoon from sea), and we could see the standing waves. We pressed on and conditions were not too bad, but with our only partially functional engine, we were moving very slowly, so we set the sails and took off like a rocket in the 20+ knots of wind. We made our way 12 miles east to a lovely beach just off the town of Rotoava where we anchored in 45 feet. With the white sand, coral heads, dense palm coverage ashore, comfortable 15 knot trade winds, numerous and colorful reef fish, 84 degree water, and even a few black tip sharks, we definitely feel like we are in the South Pacific!
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