Sunday, May 31, 2015

Makemo Feast

We did an overnight from Raroia to Makemo. Entered the pass with a strong out going current that looked a bit like a fast river. Maybe 5 knots at times. There were no standing waves, so it was pretty easy. We anchored near the town of about 800 people. The oven in the bakery was temporarily broken, so no baguettes were to be had. But what we really wanted was 'essence', aka gasoline, for the dinghy. No essence till next Sunday's ship shows up. This is kind of a problem because when we left Hiva Oa there was no gas either– it was supposed to be in on the next ship too!
We spent a night in the town anchorage in light winds(16*37.6S 143*34.35W)  . Then sailed down 15 miles through the uncharted lagoon to a nice anchorage on a sand spit(16*31.2S 143* 49.37W). Its pretty tiring watching for reefs as you sail along.
Here's me in my color coordinated conning outfit. You can see the reef we were passing at the time. AS we sail across the lagoon, these babies show up about every 1/2 to 1 mile or so and come straight up out of 60 to 100 feet deep water to about 1 foot deep. They are pretty easy to spot when the light is right, but as soon as the sun gets low in the sky or the clouds cover it, they are deadly.
After a few days in this anchorage we headed to the west end of the atoll near where there is a second pass that we could exit in a few days. We worked our way between the shoals and reefs into a nice anchorage (16*27.11S 143*58.01W). We were sailing with Bob and Mona on Continuum who we met back in Bonaire. As soon as Bob got there he realized that the single local's boat tied up was his buddy he met in the main town, Vanui. Vanui and his fishing partner Jonas immediately invited all the cruisers into a pot luck that evening. They supplied the freshly caught lobster, coconut crab, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo.
Vanui (left) and Jonas BBQing away, Tuamotu style.

This is one of the coconut crabs that the boys had captured. They sell them in town for about US$50 a piece. Even though they were living off what they caught here, they insisted on cooking up the local delicacy for us. The lobsters were a little closer to our normal tastes.
That's the Mahi being pre-BBQed. It is amazing to see how they catch these. They have an outboard powered boat that has its steering station right up in the bow. They go out the pass into the open ocean and look for the Mahi. When they see one they go into a full speed chase. One guy driving, the other holding a long harpoon.  When they get up alongside the fish, in a flick of a second the harpoon is launched and the fish is on its way to dinner.
  This is the harpoon they use. They are in the water cleaning the day's catch here. The harpoon is being used to poke the sharks that keep coming up to get a little of the leftovers or maybe a leg or finger.

One of the black tipped reef sharks coming into the shallows right next to the beach looking for any leftovers
Here's Bob (from Continuum) in his element
The crowded BBQ top
There's an art to opening those coconut crab claws and Mona has it down using the all-purpose machete.
We were short a serving bowl, so Jonas went to work to quickly weave one. No need for extra plastic here.
We were also short of rum mixer, so Vanui climbed the closest coconut tree and knocked down 4 or 5 green coconuts to get the coconut water.
What great hosts these guys were – a time to be remembered.


  1. That reef you're watching gives us the heebie-jeebies.