Yesterday morning in the wee hours, we did the thing you’re never recommended to do, and pulled up anchor in Manihi at 3:30 a.m., bound for Rangiroa. We figured we knew the exit path in this atoll well enough to make a safe passage out, and with the help of a GPS track laid over a Google Earth map, Frank managed to get us out A-OK…after Jason dived the anchor to free it from coral rocks…again. Having to SCUBA dive the anchor has been a pretty regular task here in the atolls, and Jason has dived more than one. Good thing we carry tanks aboard.
We were aiming to reach Rangiroa, about 100 miles away, on an incoming tide at around 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. We overestimated our speed, however, and were faced with an even riskier entry after sunset, at 7:30 p.m., on a rushing outgoing tide. The lagoon in Rangiroa is the largest in the southern hemisphere, and there are only 2 main passes into the 110-mile ring. An outgoing tide created big standing waves at the entrance, and piloting through them can be a little nerve wracking. But, we’d taken a very close look at the charts and Google Earth photos, and the GPS/Google Earth combo proved very accurate on the way out of Manihi, so we went on in. We laid the cut to the anchorage perfectly, and here we are for the next several days.