Adventuring in Ahe

In Voyages on 25/08/2010 at 22:21

From Manihi we went to the neighboring atoll of Ahe. A pretty, smaller atoll, where you can almost see the other side of the lagoon. On this atoll there seem to be houses on almost each motu (the small islands that together form the ring of land around the lagoon). We anchored near the main village, which consist of one street from the lagoon to the ocean and three crossing streets. As you can image, there’s not much going on here. People are either hard at work on their motu’s somewhere else in the lagoon making copra (dried coconut for oil processing) or pearlfarming or just hanging around on the few available streetcorners.

Adventuring

On our second day on Ahe, we decided to have a little adventure and go out diving in the ocean. To get there we had to find a way through one of the shallow passes in between the motu’s with our dingy. So with four people, six full dive tanks and dive gear for three (Matty’s still got trouble with his ears, so decided to go snorkeling) we set out to the lee side of the island. As we soon discovered, this was the absolute maximum load our dingy could handle, during the ride the dingy filled up with water and it still amazes me it didn’t sink!

Anyway, we found our way through and had the most beautiful dive. The water in the ocean is so amazingly clear here, you can see for at least 50 meters. On the outside of the atoll, the reef plunges down very steep and so deep you can’t see the bottom. It’s a gorgeous coral reef with lots and lots of healthy coral and fishes all around. Rolf saw a giant bumphead parrotfish (1,5 meter), we saw a small grey reefshark and Matty saw a turtle while snorkeling (hadn’t seen those yet in the Tuamotus).

When we came up, the adventure wasn’t over yet. Although some of us have sailed half way around the world, we apparently had not yet learned much about tides. Before starting the dive, we left our dingy tight to a rock in the shallow water of the pass. When we came back out of the ocean, the dingy was almost on dry land. The water on our way back to the lagoon was much too shallow by now to get the dingy back. So we had two options: wait for the tide to change or carry the dingy and all our heavy dive stuff back to the lagoon. As the first option meant standing around for hours until midnight, we decided on the second. With a lot of complaining, swearing, and hard work we got there. Along the way the dingy took a lot of hits by coral and was scraped along the rocky bottom a few times. It still was alright though.

So we finished up our adventure with building a campfire on the beach in which Matty made some deliciously tasting fish. Accompanied by fresh coconut milk, as Rolf finally managed to open coconuts with his machete (which turns out to be quite difficult).

Hanging around

Our next days in Ahe weren’t all that exciting. Largely due to the new non-smoking policy on board, the men weren’t really enjoying themselves. After four days, we tried to leave and started by looking for a place to anchor near the exit (on the other side of the lagoon). Unfortunately we couldn’t find sheltered anchored here, and as it was already getting to sunset we had to return. After that we decided to be on the safe side and stay a few more days. So the nicotine-missing symptoms would be less and any troubles arising could be dealt with constructively again.

Fresh food!

Staying a few more days also meant we were still in Ahe when the supply ship arrived. As there are two shops in Ahe that are never open, this was our chance to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables. The ship arrived at 6 in the morning. As we were moored at the dock at that time we had to move out of the way. Because of this wake up call, we were perfectly on time for all the fresh stuff. The buying consisted of three phases. The first was standing in line waiting for a man at a table to inform you which fruit and vegetables he had, guessing what some of them were (we ended up with 4 kilos of cabbage simply because we had no idea what Choux meant), then he wrote down the order in a notebook, transferred it to another book, pushed buttons on his calculator, and put the money in his briefcase.

The next phase was waiting around on the dock with the whole Ahe community, seeing all the neighbors new things being offloaded (oh, he’s got a new generator, ah, she’s ordered a new wheelbarrow, well, well, a whole new garden-set). Phase three was gathering around the crates of groceries that were put on the dock and finding the box with our name on it (quite impressively they sorted and packed all the orders). After almost two weeks without fresh produces we were very happy with our carrots, cucumbers, apples, oranges, a 20 kilo bag of potatoes, 20 French breads and of course 8 whole cabbages!

If anyone back home has any nice cabbage recipes, please email them to us!!! 🙂

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