Friday, February 22, 2013

South Rangiroa Anchorage

February 22, 2012
South Rangiroa Anchorage
Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, South Pacific Ocean

Anchorage position: 15°16.3573 S 147°14.7828 W

It's our eleventh day here in Rangiroa and it seems like we've been here forever. It was our intent to stay a few days then sail to the Marquesas or at least another atoll further East like Manihi or somewhere southeast like Fakarava. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't cooperated with our plan.

The day we arrived in Rangiroa we made a quick trip to shore for some fresh baguettes and that was pretty much it for the day.

On the second day we went to visit the Gendarmerie (National Police) to officially check-in to French Polynesia. It was a long walk, so after 30-45 minutes in the baking tropical heat, we spotted a Gendarmerie driving past and flagged down the car. We asked where we could find their office, but they didn't speak much English and our attempts at French were questionable at best. We finally got the gist that the cop shop was three more kilometers and they got the gist that we were off a sailboat and need to 'make the first touch'. We continued on our way and about 5 minutes later the Gendarmerie (police car) came back by and offered us a ride. I mimed the question of whether they were going to cuff us before they put us in the back of the car, this got a good laugh. Once at the police station it was a bit of a struggle to get the basic paperwork completed. I think it's very unusual for a boat to 'make first touch' (check-in) to French Polynesia at Rangiroa atoll, but the staff were super friendly.

We continued walking toward the village, Dave was pretty sick after the passage from Penrhyn atoll, he'd been nursing a sore throat for more than three weeks. The suspected cause was swimming in the filthy Pago Pago, American Samoa Harbor while cleaning the boat bottom. The sore throat just wouldn't resolve on it's own, so we found the private local doctor. We could have gone to the local clinic, possibly for free, but the timing and availability of the private doctor made the 3600 French Polynesian Francs worthwhile. The diagnosis was strep throat, but that was just a guess as no culture was taken. Eight days of amoxycillian and he's feeling mostly better, but still nursing a nagging unproductive cough.

Looking back, we wish we would have taken advantage of the calm weather that helped us get to the Tuamotus and kept moving toward the Marquesas. It seems that the normal trade wind pattern has reestablished over French Polynesia and the likelihood of a tropical depression to interrupt the trade winds this late in the season seems very unlikely.

We've been experiencing lots of squalls and rain here, nothing with the intensity of Pago Pago, but not very nice weather. The anchorages near the primary villages at Rangiroa offers no south protection, so it's been a little rough at times. There's a Shell gas station on the motu so we've fuel up the boat via jerry jugs and done a bit of shopping. Believe it or not we've scored beautiful fresh broccoli a few times from the local shop. Otherwise vegetables and fruits are most likely to be found in a can.

Despite the marketing hype, we found drift snorkels through the pass to be under whelming. We didn't even see one shark! The commercial pay for service WIFI provider on Rangiroa has apparently been on vacation as the service has been down the entire time we've been here. So, no internet to keep us entertained on rainy days.

With south winds predicted, we've moved 30nm down the lagoon to the southeast corner to find a nice protected anchorage. The anchorage offers great protection and we're enjoying the new scenery. Today we braved the rain and wind and visited a few of the motus. This area of the lagoon is unique with miles of super shallow sand flats and emerald colored water. Check out for yourself on Google Earth. 15°16.3573 S 147°14.7828 W.

That's it for now.

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