We left the next morning for Rotoava, way up on the north side of the lagoon. It was a marvelous sail. We had 18 knots of wind just aft of the beam for the whole way up the marked channel on the inside of the lagoon. We were effortlessly going fast and watching motu after motu glide by without having to deal with being thrown around by any stupid waves. Oh, if it could always be like this..
A few short hours later, we arrived at the anchorage at Rotoava. What the hell? Last year, when Agnes drove us up from Pakakota, there were three boats here. Now there were at least twenty, filling all of the available space between the beach and the channel. We swung by one that we had met in Tahanea and he told us the bottom was all sand and his anchor bit right away. At least there was that.
After much searching, we found a spot wedged in between two other boats and dropped our anchor in blue water where there was no sign of the dark coral heads. When I dove on the anchor later, I discovered why. The water was filled with fine silt which obscures the bottom and reflects sunlight back upward as if it were white sand. After pulling myself down the anchor chain, I discovered the bottom was pretty much the same as it is in the South Pass. Our anchor had actually found the only sandy spot big enough for it, but just barely. The rest of our chain was draped over coral heads like tinsel on a Christmas tree. I untangled it as best as I could on a series of dives where each time I headed for the surface, I was convinced I had waited just a little too long, and then returned to Begonia to get a fistful of cable ties.
I returned to the chain and attached the ties to strategic locations. Then I cranked it all up by hand, Maryanne measured and attached floats at the ties, and then we dropped the whole thing back over again. Now all of our chain except the last meter or two by the anchor was safely above the coral.
As we were doing all of this, we noticed several people looking at us like we were being foolish for being unnecessarily cautious. Some seemed annoyed at our string of floats getting in their way as they went by in their dinghies. To them, we were “Those people” – probably a couple of newbies who don’t know you don’t have to use the float-the-chain trick on sand.
Later on as they left, I noticed most of them were having a devil of a time getting their anchors out of the ‘sand’.
Rotoava is one of those places whose diversions can all be experienced in a couple of hours. We did each twice for good measure and then parked ourselves at a creperie on the water in the hopes of using their wifi. It was virtually non-existent, which we expected, as that is par for the course, but they did make up for it by having real ice cream. Ice cream is worth its weight in gold here, which is how I think they came up with the price structure, but who cares? They have ice cream! The village was also supposed to have a place that made real pizza but, alas, that was shut down permanently, so that craving would have to keep waiting.
We were up super early for the next day’s provisioning, which was entirely because every store sells out of their fresh baguettes thirty minutes after they open. Fresh French bread makes everything better, but for the life of me, I have never been able to figure out why it has to be baked at four a.m. instead of something normal like noon. I have no problem making it to the bakery at the crack of two p.m., but dawn just hurts.