What a relief! I thought, once I tied up to the mooring. I had been anchored in Avatoru Pass for 5 days doing chores, enjoying the unbelievably scenic location. But the anchor chain was giving me problems.
As opposed to the atoll’s lagoon, which can be somewhat milky, the water inside the pass are crystalline, reflecting every hue of blue from the seabed. Dozens of fat trigger fish swam among the coral. A stone’s thrown away was Mama Ou’s beach house, on either side being the twin red steeple churches; along with the pleasant bucolic sounds of the village and occasional copra boats running to outer motus. It was all very far away from the busy Scuba tourist waters of the famous Tiputa pass, 6 miles east, and I was loving it.
Yet the anchor chain kept wrapping coral heads with the ebb and flow of the tide. I used 3 buoys to “float” the chain into the water column, which worked well, but everyday I’d have to untangle the buoys lines from the spinning chain. During one of these swims I discovered a huge mooring lying derelict on the sea floor — a 4x4ft slab of concrete with a heavy ship’s chain leading away from it. I asked Noho and he confirmed it was installed by the Rangiroa commune for use of sailboats, but had not been maintained. It was time to change that!
I asked my friend Toriki for some pearl farm buoys, which there is no shortage of, from the heyday of pearl farming in the 90s. I took one buoy down to the chain, which lifted it off the seabed, essential to protect the mooring line from chafing on any coral. I added another float to the surface. Then I checked all the connections, and voilà! the mooring was ready.
Raising anchor in the Tuamotos is always an effort as the anchor chain tends to snag on coral rocks everywhere. There are even cases of the windlass being ripped off the deck as the chain short scopes on a rock, if the wind and seas have grown in the lagoon.
It is considerably easier for the person raising anchor to do it safely if there’s an with extra person to drive the boat; and even better with a person in the water to help guide the boat in a fashion that releases the chain.
On a calm tide I did all this solo, Chinese fire drill style, running back and forth on deck and jumping into the water now and then, to see where the chain was now snagged.
Then I attached to the new mooring… ahhh, satisfaction. The photo shows both of Aldebaran’s anchors on their bow rollers, and the mooring line leading into the gorgeous waters of Avatoru. Now I can come and go easily (and other sailboats too) Hurrah!