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After a great night sleep, but our body clocks still tuned to our watch schedule, we were both wide awake at dawn. As Elaine did her yoga on the foredeck, our early rise was rewarded with a glorious sunrise that reflected off the glass-like water.

After breakfast we headed for land, if you can call the 1/4 of a mile strip between the Rangiroa lagoon and the Pacific Ocean "land". Regardless, we enjoyed a Polynesian band and dancers as well as a stroll around the village and a walk to the luxurious Hotel Kia Ora, where we enjoyed a morning grande café.

Then it was back to Paw Paw for lunch and a snorkel of the reef just off our stern. By then an afternoon nap was in order, followed by sundowners as we watched the sunset. A perfect end to compliment the glorious start to the day.

Since all the WARC yachts had headed to Fatarava, it was a lovely surprise to have Overseas Express hail us on the VHF radio early this morning en route from Ahe to Rangiroa and to chat to Widago who were in Rangiroa along with Kiwi Beanz, Heido 2.0 and Take Off.

Having got some input from Widago on their transit of the pass, we inched forward to check out the situation for ourselves. At just after 1000 we entered the pass and made our way into the lagoon in flat seas, with 25 Kts of current with us. We couldn't have asked for better conditions and it was nothing compared to the many entries we have made into Oyster Pond, St Martin.

What we discovered, as we anchored off the Kia Ora Hotel, was worth every inch of ocean we have travelled to get here. It is absolutely stunning! It epitomises everything one imagines the South Pacific islands should look like - Crystal clear waters of varying shades of blue, white sandy beaches, sunny b lue skies and hotel rooms over the water on stilts. Can't wait to explore tomorrow.

With less than 12 hours to go before making landfall at Rangiroa, it is fair to say that this passage seems more tiring and a little more stressful than our Pacific Ocean crossing. This may be because it's hot on the heels of a 3000NM voyage or the fact that we only have one opportunity to enter the anchorage area and, therefore, our arrival time is crucial. The Tuamotos archepeligo comprises a number of atolls which are essentially donut-shaped islands with surrounding reefs and a lagoon in the centre. There are passes through which yachts can gain access to the lagoons. These passes, however, have strong currents running through them as the lagoon floods and empties with the tidal changes. As such, one has to time one's arrival in order to transit during slack water, preferably with the sun high enough in the sky to see the coral reefs and bombies. Unfortunately for us, there is only one opportunity tomorrow where these conditions are met. Watch this space! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Well, no sooner had the wind eventually turned to a more favourable direction for us to sail closer to our rhumb line, the squalls came up, so down came the "Chicken Chute" and on went the engines. An hour later it seemed safe enough, so up went the "Chicken Chute". An hour after that, the wind simply died. So, down came the "Chicken Chute" and on went the engines, again. All this during Elaine's off shift which resulted in very little sleep for her. By early morning the wind was howling, squalls were everywhere and we were flying along in 25 Kts of wind on headsail alone. By sunrise - nothing. The engines went back on and have stayed on since. Needless to say, Elaine slept the day away to catch up on lost sleep while Roy cooked up a few storms in the galley for lunch and for dinner.
Today we sailed in relatively flat seas as the SE swell, which we have endured since leaving the Galapagos Islands, finally abated. Unfortunately, for the last 36 hours, the wind has been in the wrong direction pushing us more west rather than more south towards our destination. Tonight, however, although the winds are lighter, they have eventually turned NE per the forecast and we are now sailing a more direct route. We did have some excitement aboard earlier this evening when we saw whales off our starboard side. At that same moment Roy's fishing line stated to run out at a furious rate - He had hooked a huge Mahi Mahi. From what we could see, as it skipped over the water, it was at least 4 ft long. Alas though, it pulled the entire line off the rod and got away. Unfortunately, not only did Roy lose the fish, he also lost the new line and lure that he had just put on his rod this morning. Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
This morning we were up early to weigh anchor and set sail for Rangiroa, Tuamotos in the company of Barbara Jean and Belafonte who set sail at roughly the same time, but are heading for Fakarava, Tuamotos.We were the last of the WARC fleet to say goodbye to the beautiful islands of the Marquesas. It didn't take long for us to settle back into our sailing / watch routine and Roy enjoyed chattng on the SSB radio and catching up on the days sailing with the other yachts this evening while Elaine slept soundly. Tonight we sail under the brilliance of a moonless clear night sky heading for pastures new!
Last night, as the katabatic winds swept down the mountains and over our anchorage, they carried with them the beautiful sounds of Maquesan singing from ashore, allowing us to drift off to sleep as if in a magical place. Today it was another early start in order to collect our hired car to do some sight-seeing. We started our tour heading east to the paepae called Koueve which is Taiihae's best preserved tohua. After the rains from the night before the trail leading to the archaeological site was rather muddy. We managed to keep our footing until the last 10 ft on the homeward stretch which Roy ceremoniously completed on his rear-end, fortunately, without injury. Next we headed towards Anaho, passing through the beautiful and most ferttle valley of Nuku Hiva, evident by the numerous waterfalls, the very lush vegetation and the 600 year old Banyan trees. En route we got to explore Paeke, one of the most beautiful archaeological sites of a 12th - 14th century village. In Anaho we enjoyed a seafood platter (Elaine) and a goat curry (Roy) for lunch before exploring this scenic seaside village and it's most unusual church, which in many ways, looked completely out of place, with its towers that resembled a fairyland castle rather than a church. Our route west took us to Toovii. The high plateau, with pine forests sprinkled with Sandalwood and, what looked like, Eucalyptus trees, had us feeling like we were back in the White Mountains of Arizona driving to our cabin. It certainly was a trip down memory lane as the landscape reminded us so much of Big Bear Lake near Greer. We completed our tour with a visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame Des Marquises with her magnificent wooden statues, carved from trees coming from the entire archipelago. We definitely feel that leaving Nuku Hiva to the end of our sail around the Marquesas, definitely left the best for last! However, these islands with their melodic Maquesan language, their rhythmic haka dances and songs, their traditional decorative arts of tattoos, beautiful wood carvings, stonework and sculptures, tapas and petroglyphs, as well as her generous and hospitable people will definitely hold a special place in our hearts and, of course, a permanent reminder on our arms by way of our tattoos. This evening we have returned to Paw Paw to get her ready for our sail to the Tuamotos in the morning. Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
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