We departed Raroia on Friday after a great week there. We enjoyed the unpopulated side and on our last evening there a very large manta ray came by the boat and did all kind of underwater dances – full circle turns – it was amazing to watch. He stayed quite awhile until it was too dark to watch him anymore. Before leaving the atoll, we went back to the other side of the lagoon and anchored near the village. We had to anchor amongst way too many coral heads (or "bombies" as the Australians call them) and had to be very careful about the spot we chose – so it took several tries. Then we went into the village to walk around and met Tatiana and Regis, two local folks who are very friendly to cruising sailboaters. They gave us lots of good local info and explained the process of black pearl farming. We got to see lots of pearls with no pressure to buy any. It was a lovely afternoon. The village is very modern with solar arrays at every house; solar street lights and paved roads. The airport had a very nice terminal and the people throughout the village were exceptionally friendly.
On Friday, we left bright and early to catch the early slack tide to get out the pass. We did have to circle several times before the water was calm enough to make our exit. It is really all about patience and waiting until the water is not running with a 7 knot current. The trip one out the cut was 197 miles to the north entrance into Fakarava. This is a more populated atoll and quite large with two entrances. They say that the south entrance has some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The attraction is sharks – hundreds of them (and that's an attraction???) We have to get some internet and hopefully we'll be able to get it on this atoll.
Arrival should be Sunday morning – and then another pass to time and enter.