Raroia and the Covid-19 experience

Will add more pics as and when I have internet access – VERY slow to load here in Raroia at Ngaramoa Village, the only place with an internet access point.

Marquesas to Raroia

We left the Marquesas (Nuku Hiva) on the late afternoon of the 8th March, to take advantage of a favourable weather window for the passage to the Tuomotus, some 450nm to the south south west. It was a good beam reach the whole way and we had a lovely, almost full moon at nights. We made very good progress and had to slow the boat down in order not to get in too early.

We arrived about 07h00 on the 12th March outside the entrance pass and rendezvoused with our friends on Ari B, Carla and Alex, who had left from Ua Pou.

Ari B had entered Raroia before and so led the way. We were around about slack tide but there was still a strong tide coming out through the pass. You can see the standing waves and Ari B ahead of us slewing as she entered the main current. We powered through on high revs and were soon in calm waters.

We went up to the village and obtained a bit of slow internet outside the Post Office and topped up from a very limited and expensive choice of provisions from the small village store (a delightful couple, Charlot and Gerard, who speak good English and are most helpful).

Raroia is an atoll, unlike the spectacular mountainous Marquesas. The atolls are the remainders of what were islands like the Marquesas, now reduced to a fractured rim of reef and sandy islands. It is quite wonderful (after the rolly anchorages of the mountainous islands to the north) to come out of the wind and waves of an ocean into the peaceful, flat quiet of an atoll anchorage. An Oasis in the Ocean.

We went up to the north east anchorage which is very remote and peaceful. Lovely walking and snorkelling.

We had fun gathering land crabs (there is a huge population that we can’t make a dent in). About 6 make a decent meal. There are large Coconut Crabs that emerge at night but we have not taken any of these as they have a much smaller population.

We then heard of the impending Covid-19 restrictions and returned to the village for a quick re-provision and got back to the anchorage just prior to lock down.

 

Inter-Island travel is banned so we are to remain here for the duration. The French Polynesian officials were quick to implement social distancing, travel and other protective measures and it seems to have worked, with relatively few infections and these contained to 3 islands; Raroia remaining free of the virus to date.

There is a total of 6 boats spread widely apart in the anchorage. We and Ari B keep to ourselves as we have been together and healthy for far longer than the quarantine period and we do not know definitively about the others, although we do know two of the boats.

We have had fun ashore on a spit of sand on the edge of the closest island.

I set up my “workshop” there some mornings as I make some wooden Boules out of Marquesan Rosewood. We had our first game recently.

Walking the outer reef bordering the ocean provides for spectacular views, good foraging and a wonderful perspective on how the rim of the atoll protects the interior environment from the great Pacific Ocean.

Liz does her long swims still and has attracted a loyal following of Black Tip sharks that follow her respectfully around the anchorage.

Arib B hosted a birthday party for Liz replete with chocolate birthday cake, crab starter and duck breast mains.

Daily life on the boat continues with its tasks:

Drying Bananas

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Washing and washing up

Making hanging nets for food storage

Reclining in the hammock during the heat of the day

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Repairing and deploying the lobster trap (this was not successful and neither, so far, has walking the reef at night produced results).

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Making and deploying our anti-Bommie defences – firstly a 15 foot flexible three strand rope snubber, to take the load should the chain get snagged on a bommie close to the boat and secondly four 14.5Kg weight load buoyancy buoys, collected from the reef, to keep the chain from snagging on bommies.

Whilst doing repairs with superglue, I did the unusual and read the instructions of superglue bought in a Marquesan store. They were hilarious!!

As usual throughout French Polynesia, sundowners and sunsets are a great time, with stunningly beautiful scenes.

And equally as usual to contrast with this, the underwater scenery is extensive, varied and delightful.

As there is as yet no sign to an end to the Covid-19 restrictions and as we have no need to adopt any risk, we expect to remain in the wonderful location for several more weeks yet.

 

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