Tahanea Dreams

Tahanea is fulfilling all our dreams and desires. From the pass we had another blissful sail, closehauled and pointing high in light winds, dodging coral and trimming the sails. This time Mark was the lookout while Anson trimmed the main and Devon the jib and I hogged the helm again. Diego was motoring ahead of us, so it wasn’t a race, but somehow the view of his stern and the inviting conditions put us all in racing mode. Anthea looked sharp and felt divine.
Once at anchor Anson and Devon raised the spin pole and twirled off the rope swing into the clear, warm water. The next morning we dinghied to a large coral head for a snorkel. The top layer of coral was vibrant and healthy, glistening white, yellow and purple, and large mushrooms of coral glowed with health six feet down. This was a welcome change after the mostly bleached coral of Raroia. Butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, and all the usual colorful suspects darted in and out of the coral, some nibbling at the edges, others establishing cleaning stations, and small ones seeking shelter from predators. Twenty feet down a large moray eel held court as large groupers swam by. Anson took the go pro camera and sat on the bottom nearby. Large Napolean fish (one 3 feet long), small reef sharks, and the groupers all came to investigate this new addition to their neighborhood. Unable to dive that deep, I waited for these large fish to swim towards the coral and then I followed as they darted into their favorite caves.
Another sail across the lagoon, this time under jib alone and with our awning up, took us to the NE corner of the atoll to find shelter from the strengthening Easterly winds. I perched on the bow pulpit to site the coral heads while Mark took a turn at the helm; once again we pointed high and slipped through the water with ease.
This side of Tahanea has a low lying reef keeping the ocean waves at bay, but allowing water to surge over. Streams of water emanating from the ocean deposit coral sand in long lines that meander by the motus (coconut covered mini islands dotting the edges of the lagoon) and form sand bars at the entrance to the larger lagoon. Deep water channels flow between the sand deposits, painting turquoise streaks between cerulean and white. Layers of color dazzle the eyes as the tradewind clouds dot the brilliant blue sky, the green of the coconut trees and shrubs blow in the wind, and the deep lapis waters abut the turquoise and cerulean shallows only 100 meters from shore.
Yesterday Mark and I took a dinghy excursion across these shallows and channels, drifting by one motu after another, Mark rowing when the wind blew us towards a coral head or shallow bar. Behind each motu another mini lagoon emerged revealing new patterns of color. White terns flew and dove, silver fish darted across the surface of the water, a small black tipped reef shark skimmed along the shallows, fins exposed. Occasional clumps of purple coral shone brilliantly against the sand. Surreal, dream-like voyaging led us to a motu far from others. We anchored the dinghy in the shallows and walked ashore with boobies flying above us. No foot prints marked this sand, only the trails of insects, crabs and birds. A booby flew up from the ground as we approached and hovered nearby, keeping watch on us as we spied its precious, down covered baby sitting in a nest where sand meets brush. We watched from a distance and walked on, relieved to see the parents return. A dozen nests made of twigs and leaves were arranged in the sand around this small motu, all but two were empty, not surprising as it is winter here. The second nest held an egg the size of a goose’s, and the parent flew nervously away and then back as we walked on.
The wind came up today, blowing 13-15 knots, a kiteboarding dream come true for Anson and Devon. Conditions were challenging at first. Devon launched into the lee of a motu and couldn’t find a steady breeze to lift him up on the board. Anson then tried and ran into the same problem, aggravated by some gear challenges, before it all came together. For the rest of the afternoon he had one brilliant ride after another. Devon and Mark followed Anson in the dinghy while he transitioned back and forth across the lagoon. I walked along the shore soaking in the visual feast of the play of land and water. From shore I spotted Anson by looking to the sky for the kite then searching the water for the brilliant streak of white spray he generated as he flew back and forth across the lagoon. It was epic kitesurfing, the stuff of dreams. The wind is up tomorrow too – time for Devon’s dream ride as well. Kim, June 29

2 thoughts on “Tahanea Dreams

  1. Wonderful snorkeling – you paint such a wonderfully visual description that I imagined myself there!
    Kite boarding extraordinaire – how fabulous. Great that you and Mark have some dinghy trips alone- 4 people on a boat does get tight! Love, love your posts and love, love you all four! Louise

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