Relaxin’ In Rangiroa

We all left Apataki bright and early and it turns out that once again Dan timed our passage through the entrance perfectly. We had a little rocking and rolling but still nothing like Fakarava. Looks like he’s getting to be a pro at this and I couldn’t be happier.

Ed & Linda lead the way through the pass and we are Rangiroa bound. The passage will take us less than 24 hours. The weather is good and the winds are right for some nice sailing.

We arrive at the northwest pass to Rangiroa first thing in the morning. The sun is coming up and the waves are crashing upon the coral sand beach outside of the atoll with great force. As they reach the beach white foam shoots so into the air and looks as if it is as high as the coconut palms. The pass looks a bit turbulent so we take a few runs by the entrance to access our next move. Ed & Dan are on the radio discussing what they are seeing and whether or not we should go in. They decide it looks okay so I head to the bow, clip my tether into the jack line and ready myself to be on lookout. As we begin our entrance we are being hit with just a couple of knots of outbound current. We rock back and forth a bit but it seems like this one will be pretty easy. Suddenly off to the port side we see several dolphins swimming and jumping in the waves. They are known to ride the surf at this entrance and we are fortunate to get to see them. It’s almost as if they are here to welcome us.

After ten or fifteen minutes we are through the pass and the waters are calm again. Another fairly smooth entrance….NICE! We make our way to the main anchorage on the northwest side. It’s full of sailboats, maybe thirty or so. On the shore is the Kia Ora Resort with its quintessential tropical huts over top of the water.

IMG_0209We spent several days here and enjoyed each one. One day we took the dinghy down to the south end of the atoll and stopped at the Paul Gaughin Pearl Farm. There my honey bought me a beautiful Keshi black pearl that we will have made into a ring when we reach New Zealand. If you are not a pearl expert or don’t know what a Keshi pearl is, let me explain. Almost all pearls in the world these days are farmed. The pearl farmers plan a nucleus inside of an oyster and then put it back in the water for a few years. Sometimes the oyster rejects the nucleus IMG_0253.jpgwhich means the nacker, or the shiny substance, doesn’t form a round pearl, rather it’s very unique and oddly shaped. Keshi pearls tend to be some of the most beautiful as they have the most luster. Being one who doesn’t typically like to go with the masses, I chose a unique and beautiful Keshi.

One evening we, along with Ed & Linda, decided to visit the Kia Ora Resort. On Sunday evenings they have a wonderful Polynesian style dance show. We started with sundowners on SV One Fine Day and then headed to the shore to have cocktails on the deck at the resort and watch the sunset. Prior to the main event we were entertained with live Polynesian music at the bar. One of the really neat things about this place is the windows in the floor. They have lights below the deck to attract fish and we were even able to catch a few glimpses of some black tip sharks as they chased the smaller fish.

Kia OraThe sunset was perfect and the drinks…$14 a drink.. $6.50 per beer, were served with beautiful, fragrant flowers as garnish. It was perfect! At 2000 they started the Polynesian dance show by the pool. It was awesome! The dancing and music made you feel like you’ve lived here your whole life. It just crept into your soul and grabbed hold. On the way back down the dock to the dink we saw a couple of large white tip sharks swimming in the lighted water under the bar. THIS is truly a tropical paradise! We concluded the evening with a nightcap aboard One Fine Day. Yep…a pretty nice day.

We woke up to yet another spectacular day. We picked up Ed & Linda around 0900 this morning to go snorkeling at the “aquarium”. That’s what they call this snorkel spot just inside the pass. They have mooring balls there to tie the dink up and there’s not a lot of current. The water is so clear you feel like you’re looking into a pool. Even before we got out of the dink we could see hundreds of fish below us. Oh my gosh! It was everything we’d been told it was. I’ve never seen so many colorful fish. We saw thousands of fish, a couple of moray eels and a few black tip sharks. I got great video on the Go Pro of me chasing a black tip shark through the shallows. What an amazing experience. The tour boats come in every so often to feed the fish and let the tourists swim amongst them. We got to watch this first hand and swim in a ball of thousands of fish. They were surrounding us….too cool!


Before we knew it we’d been here five days. Time sure does fly by out here. And there’s that dang ol’ visa clock still ticking in the background. This is our last atoll in the Tuomotus. Tomorrow it’s off to Papeete, Tahiti. We sure will miss this place but are looking forward to more adventures in paradise.

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan




Ahhhh Apataki!

Yesterday was one of those absolutely perfect days. You know, the kind of day you never want to end? We woke up in the morning and did our normal coffee & computer thing. Then it was time for a few chores. Dan cleaned the dodger and putthe dink in the water while I stayed below doing some cleaning and writing. Around noon we decided it was time to get off the boat for a bit. We pulled out our snorkel gear, threw a few beers in a bag and hopped in the dink. Ed & Linda were in their dink too and we all headed to shore.

The water here in the south end of Apataki is just beautiful. We could see lots of colorful fish swimming around the bommies we dodged on the way to shore. We beached the dinks, put out some chairs, popped open our beers and sat there for hours just chatting and laughing. We were the only four people in the anchorage! As we sat there on our very own private beach we saw a couple of small black tip sharks swim within a few feet of us. It’s awesome to sit there and be able to see so clearly in the water. We snorkeled and played in the water and had an absolute ball.

At one point Ed started trying to goad Dan into climbing one of the many coconut palms to get us a fresh coconut. Fortunately Dan didn’t take the bait. He did, however, go back to the boat and get his machete. Back on the beach he starts looking for some low hanging fruit. He ends up harvesting a couple of these magnificent gems. He cut one open and we sat on the beach eating fresh coconut while enjoying our beer and great company. It was absolutely fabulous.

As we sat there beside the gin colored water on the white, coral sand beach beneath the swaying coconut palms, the sun and the deep blue sky we all agreed that this is exactly what we dreamed of when we dreamed of sailing French Polynesia. I mean really, how much better can it get? We have our private beach, clear water, beer and amazing friends. Yes, it is truly perfect!

The sun begins to get low in the sky and we have run out of beer and wine so we load up our dinks and head back to our floating homes. We shower and rinse down all the gear and I go below and make spaghetti. We are making the overnight passage to Rangiroa tomorrow and leftover spaghetti makes a perfect passage meal. After dinner we curl up together around the table and watch a movie. Oh yeah, it was a wonderful day!!!

This morning I wake up feeling a bit odd…yes more odd than normal. My bottom lip feels numb and swollen and I reach around to scratch by back and I feel lumps. Not wanting to panic I slowly climb out of the bunk and slide into the head. I barely make eye contact with Dan who is sitting around the table having coffee. I look in the mirror and see my bottom lip is swollen on the right side. I lift my shirt to look at my back and find huge welts all over my back and my bum. I turn around and see long, 5-6” welts across my stomach and groin area. My entire torso is covered with them. Okay, now I’m panicking!

I step out of the head, “Honey, there is something very wrong with me.” I say in a high, trembling voice. Dan immediately sits up and asks what’s wrong. “I’ve got welts all over and my lip is swollen.” I reply. I lift my shirt to show him. Ever the calm in the midst of the storm, he looks me over and tells me to take two Benadryl immediately. He never raises his voice or shows any sign of panic. Thank God because I’m doing enough of that for both of us. You see, I have anaphylactic allergies that have been known to close my airway. They are not fun and while I have Epi pens and Benadryl on board, the last thing I want to deal with when we’re 100+ miles from a hospital is an anaphylactic reaction.

I take the Benadryl and Dan re-inspects my body looking for signs of a bite or a cut. He finds nothing. Now he starts drilling me with questions. “Did you touch any live coral? Did you get stung by a jellyfish? What did you eat?” You know, all the things a doctor would ask. “No, No” and “Spaghetti, Coconut and some cheese.” I reply.

Dan tells me to sit down and stay calm. Sure, easy for him to say. He’s not feeling the need to scratch his body till it bleeds while wondering at what moment he’s going to be jabbed with a three inch needle in the thigh as he gasps for air. And then there’s the thought of what happens if the two Epi pens we have on board aren’t enough? Oh yeah, that’s right. He has that airway thing he will cram down my throat after I go unconscious. Sure, stay calm. Yeah that’s not going to happen.

I’m doing my best to follow Captain’s orders but I can’t stop scratching and I’m getting a little teary eyed at the thought of what could possibly be in my future. Dan tries to act like everything is fine but I see the look of concern in his eyes as he “nonchalantly” looks over at me every minute or so. That alone raises my panic level.

Fortunately after about twenty minutes I start to feel the effects of the Benadryl and I’m becoming quite loopy. Thank God the water is still and the boat isn’t rolling or I’d be like a pinball bouncing off of everything. Dan takes another gander at my body and decides the meds are working even though I’m certain my lip is getting fatter by the second. He suggests that I lay down for a bit and take a nap since I’m head bobbing at the table. With no energy to argue I go back to the bunk and within seconds I’m out like a light.

A couple of hours later Dan wakes me up to see how I’m doing. I’m groggy but he insists I get up so, you know, Captain’s orders. Once out of bed he checks me again. Almost all of the welts are gone and my lip is almost back to normal. Thank you Lord! I’m going to live!

We decide based on my still dopey condition that leaving for Rangiroa must wait another day. Not sure I’d be ready for night watch later. So, we let Ed & Linda know and we all agree to wait for tomorrow. Darn, we’ll have to spend another day in this amazingly beautiful spot.

By 1300 I’m feeling good enough to get out so we take a dinghy ride along the beach checking out the beautiful shore. The view and the fresh air wake me up and make me feel somewhat normal again. We stop back at SV One Fine Day for a couple sundowners before heading back to Dazzler where my sweet man makes me dinner. Yep! He’s a keeper!

I think we watched a movie tonight but I was so wiped out by the day I slept through most of it. Here’s hoping tomorrow and our trip to Rangiroa are less eventful than today. As Dan says though, “Even in paradise it can’t always be perfect.” so it’s anybody’s guess.

Until next time,