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Tuamotus / Fakarava / Rotoava
(votes: 1)
Type Anchorage
Country French Polynesia
City Rotoava
Available places 50
Max depth 10 m
  • Water
  • WiFi
  • Shops
Views: 1330

For boats

Tides and currents:
The majority of the atolls have at least one break in the reef called passes. But only some passes are wide and deep enough to permit a cruising sailboat to enter through them.
The current runs strong in and out of these passes. How much is current depends on a lot of
factors including the moon cycle, wind and wave conditions outside, how big the atoll is, how
narrow the pass is, which way the pass faces, and how much passes atoll has.
If the wind opposes the current, there can be large standing waves. And if there are strong
winds or large swell, there can be as much as 8 knots of current. So it is always best to aim to enter the passes at slack or near-slack tide.
Some passes are east-facing, and these passes will be dicey on the outgoing current. Some
passes are west-facing, and these passes will most dicey on the incoming current.
Entering / leaving the atolls become danger when:
1. A strong wind opposing a strong current. This is just classic wind-against-sea and can
always produce uncomfortable and/or dangerous conditions. It is best to try to plan
your arrival at an unknown pass in mild conditions and in good light.
2. When the wind is blowing hard (over 20 knots) out of the SE thru West
3. When the wave heights are high (over 1.5 meters) from the SE thru West.
Strong winds and/or waves from East push a large volume of water over the reef into the lagoon, and the only way for this huge volume of water to get out is through the pass. In this conditions (strong wind for several days) there may be NO SLACK AT ALL.
In  Tidal Tables or any other Tide software or information available in internet on Tuamotus there is only few points with information about HW and LW (the biggest atolls). If you are between them you can use a simple interpolation to calculate HW and LW time. It is works, not very precise but it is.
So, there is no easy way to predict current or slack water in passes, but you can follow this tips:
  1. Slack is about 1-2 hrs after HW and LW
  2. Never sail through the pass during the night
  3. Observe the water and waves in the pass when approaching from the see by binoculars
  4. Just try to enter / leave, but if the current is to strong go back and wait until condition will change (usually 2-3 hours)
The atoll
Fakarava is 2nd biggest atoll on Tuamotus. The atoll has two passes, one on NW, it’s very wide (0,8NM) and very safe, to the main village there is only 6NM from the pass, but still there could be a strong current. The second SE pass is more narrow and shallow (3m), but is worth to visit / pass and anchor inside for snorkeling. In the south pass you can swim with hundreds of sharks (they are not attack).
The main village Rotoava is located in NE of the atoll. The anchorage in front of the village and is very safe. Just drop the anchor ahead of the village. It could be at position:
16 03.930S and 145 37.200W (20M)
The bottom is sand with many corals head.
There is some small mooring buoys, you can use this, but check first is not privet (it’s written on the buoy). They are free of charge.
There is a place for many boats.
Dinghy landing
There are several options for your dinghy. Perfect dinghy landing point is located inside the small harbour, but it’s far away from the anchorage (0,5-0,8NM). No swell inside. You can also land on the nearest beach, there is only few corals head, easy to observe. There is also some small wooden piers belongs to restaurants or hotel, usually you can tie your dinghy there.  
The wharf and harbour
It is possible to berth directly to the wharf or inside the basin of small harbour. Leave the main quay free (the middle one with big fenders), it’s for supplay ships, but you can berth to the short S wharf or longer N wharf . The depth is about 4-4.5 meters. You can also berth inside the basin, it’s deep enough and more quite. For more details see the chart in section Photos.
All this berth places are safe and protect from N-NE-E-SE swell and winds.
The passage from North or South or vice versa is pretty easy. There are large markers on the way (placed ON large coral heads). There are a number of places to anchor the lee side of the east side of Fakarava. Lagoon is easy to navigate if you follow marked channels. To the S pass there is near 30NM. Do some stops close to the E shore for snorkeling.
Fakarava is not a port of entry, no possibility to check in / out.
Not easy to buy, but ask the Fakarava Yacht Service. The easiest way is to buy fuel directly from the supply ship (coming 1 times per week). They sell fuel in 200l barrels only.
No official tap point on the wharf. The nearest tap is located in the yard of Police office (next to right of post office). Ask about the water at Police office first. Use your own containers.
Fakarava Yacht Services
FYS has a small house/office with a porch. The wifi is available during open
hours (8 am - 5 pm) for customers. FYS can help you in many problems, if you need a service just call them on VHF CH 77 (call sign: Fakarava Yacht Service), or visit the office.
Bottles available in the shops (no all the time)
Tap water is available in many places, but the best tap (good quality of water) is on the wall of Meire (City Hall) which is next to primary school. This water is filtered and expose to ultraviolet.
No bank. There is ATM near the post office. Sometimes there is possibility to pay in the shop in US Dollars or Euros, but ask first.
The town of Rotoava is the major provisioning stop for those who have been cruising in and around this area. The weekly supply ship usually came on Thursday or Friday. To find much of anything fresh or frozen, you have to hit the stores just after they have restocked from the supply ship. There are 3 grocery stores, all on the south side of town, and one 4NM to SE (in the middle of nowhere). The Magasin Rotoava looks best. There is an extra small shop with fruits and vegetables (opposite to Top Dive Center). But still there is limited number of products.
Few groceries (one bigger), church, restaurant, Paillotte bar, two dive centers, gallery with nice hand made souvenirs, small hotel with restaurant.
A number of cruisers had friends fly in and out from Fakarava (via Papeete). There are some flights every day. The office of Air Tahiti is in the center of the village, but airport is 5NM of, if you need a transfer contact with Fakarava Yacht Services.
There is a small hospital and the doctor in the village. It’s located near the school.

For crews

Rotoava is a very pleasant village. It is big enough to have a paved road, a couple of eateries, a dive shop, several hotels and pensions, groceries and its own bakery. The sailors can enjoy soft ice cream or steak frites at the harbour Snack, pedaling around on rental bicycles, and diving in North orSouth pass.
No WC or shower on shore.
WiFi is available in some bars or restaurants (we use it in Paillotte bar). There is Mana Spot close to the post office (it’s paid). Unfortunately there is no spots on anchorage or close to the wharfs. Internet is very slow.
Dive: there is 2 or 3 dive centers, we dive with Top Dive. Introductory dive + 2 open dives cost 220 USD (we got 15% discount for sailors). It was excellent. Fakarava is known as one of the most beauty under water world. You should visit the south pass and dive with hundreds of sharks.
There is several pearls farm on the island, if you want to visit one of them ask in FYS or gallery.
There is a church, be there during Sunday service – nice songs.
You can buy there some jewelry with pearls and other in few souvenir shop.


Anchorage - no fees
Berthing to the pier – no fees
There is a local tax – 55 CPF / each person / one day. You should pay it in Meire (Town Hall). Most of sailors did not do that, because they have no idea about this local tax. But to be correct you should.
For garbage – 1000CPF (once), paid the same way as local tax.
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