The Tuamotu and Society Islands
April - May 2006

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Our track in the Siocuiety Islands
(Click on any photo or map for a blow up)
Preparing for a dive
Exploring a reef at Tahiti
From the Marquesas islands we sailed roughly 500 nautical miles (950 km) to the Tuamotu group, the worlds largest archipelago of coral atoll islands. An atoll is actually the rim of the crater of a sunken volcano.
Our track through Tuamotu
Grey Black Tip Shark in shallow water
These islands were once known as "the Dangerous Archipelago". Variable currents, sudden storms and poor charts made cruising the islands by yacht extremely hazardous in the times before the GPS. That has changed now, but entering the passes still requires vigilance and timing. Because of strong in- or outgoing current one frequently has to wait for slack tide before attempting an entry or exit. Of the 78 atolls 21 have one entrance (pass), 10 have two and 47 have no pass at all.
Demeritt on s/y Bingo landed a big marlin
Raimana, Richard and Roberto, three merry fisherboys at Apataki
We visited two of the atolls, Ahé and Apataki. The major activity on the islands is production of pearls, and their black pearls are world famous. Ahé is frequently visited by sail boats on their way between the Marquesas and Tahiti, but at Apataki we were usually the only boat in our anchorages.

The Tuamotus reached fame the first time in 1947 when Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki expedition landed at Raroia. Later it was a frequently in the news from the 60s to the mid 90s because of the French nuclear testing sites at Moruroa and Fangataufa. With no respect for the world opinion the French set off around 200 nuclear bombs during 30 years, several of them in the atmosphere!

Radioactivity will thus remain in the Tuamotus for thousands of years with unknown, frightening consequences.

Waterfall at Tahiti Nui
View from Tahiti Iti
From the Tuamotus we sailed for two nights to south west, 250 miles to Tahiti, in the Society Islands. At this island of legend and song, we anchored outside the Yacht Club de Tahiti in Arue Bay, near Point Venus where Captain Cook landed in 1769.

Most of the Society Islands, including Tahiti, are high volcanic islands with rocky summits that are the eroded remnants of volcanos, and a surrounding lagoon protected by a coral barrier reef. We explored the twin island of Tahiti by car. From the top of the southern island, Tahiti Iti, the fringing reefs are visible for as long as the eye can follow.

Bar-vahines at Huahine
Outrigger going through the surf
Our next stop after Tahiti was at it's neighbour Moorea, only 15 miles to the west. Moorea is regarded as a good challenger of Bora Bora for being the prettiest island in the Societies. From Moorea we sailed over night to the Leeward Group, Iles sous les vent, where we first landed at Huahine. Then we crossed over to Raiatea and Tahaa, sharing the same surrounding lagoon, and finally arrived at the legendary island of Bora Bora.
smiling fish
Even the fishes are smiling here
No, this is not Lac Léman, Switzerland, but Raiatea.
At the end of May it was time for the crew's traditional vacation back in Finland and we returned to Raiatea where Scorpio will stay on the hard in a shipyard during our absence. We will return at the end of August and continue our odyssey.
The mandatory photo
Scorpio at "Twin Peaks", Bora Bora
After our return to Raiatea we will be rushing through the Cook Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji on the final 2.000 nautical miles of our way to New Zealand. Follow the arrow below .....