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Tuamotus / Apataki / Niutahi
(votes: 1)
Type City Quay
Country French Polynesia
City Niutahi
Available places 3
Max depth 5 m
  • Water
  • WiFi
  • Shops
Views: 1772

For boats

General about tides and currents on Tuamotus:  
The majority of the atolls have at least one break in the reef called pass. 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 strong 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 many 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 pass 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 are 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 works, not very precise but it does.
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 and the pass
There are two passes into the lagoon of Apataki. Passe Pakaka lies 6 miles NW of the S extremity of the atoll; Passe Tehere is located on the NW extremity, 14 miles N of Passe Pakaka. The SW pass (Pakaka), located near the main village of Niutahi is well marked with leading marks, it’s wide and deep.
Inside the pass, the strength of the outgoing current is increased by the narrowing channel, and sometimes attains a rate of 5 or 6 knots; the incoming current may reach a rate of 3
knots. Slack water occurs about the time of the noon meridian.
The SW pass could be more danger on the ingoing current than the outgoing because of standing waves!
The main village Niutahi is just on the right (S) from the pass. You will see a concrete wharf and big hangar.
Anchorage near the village is rough and open for NE-E-SE winds. The bottom in many places is coral and the depth about 10-20 meters. I recommend to anchor at position:
15 33.941S and 146 24.211W (about 10M, some protection from E wind and swell)
But better solution is to moor directly to the main wharf.
Dinghy landing
The best place for dinghy landing is inside small natural harbour (shallow for boats, ok for dinghy). It’s on position
15 34.092S and 146 24.797W
You can tie and leave dinghy there.
The wharf
There is a main wharf used by supply ship which coming every week (in 2016 it was Tuesday). Bu when it’s free you can moor a long side to the wharf. The depth is 10m. A current close to the wharf decrease, sometimes has opposite direction than in the middle of the pass (in the pass outgoing, close to the wharf ingoing). Anyway a current near the wharf is lower.  There is enough place for 2 boats. There is some noise because of generator working in the hangar close to the wharf. No fees. You need to release the wharf when ship is coming.
Apataki is not a port of entry, no possibility to check in or out.
Not easy to buy. The easiest way is to buy fuel directly from the supply ship (coming every week). They sell fuel in 200l barrels only.
No official tap point on the wharf. There is a tap inside the hangar. Close locals. There is a hose long enough to tank water directly.
Bottles available in the shops (not all the time). No possibility to refill no Polynesian bottles.
No bank, no ATM. Payment in US dollars is rather not accepted.
The town has one shop, located 100m from the wharf. Limited products, especially vegetables and fruits. There is also a small hardware store attached to that magasin. One extra small shop with few sweets and home made cakes and food (opposite to bigger one).  Extra bakery (Boulangerie) with fresh baguette.
Ship yard
There is a small ship yard named Carenage located on E leeward side of the atoll (about 10NM from the SW pass). I have no practical information about it, but other boats reports, that prices are reasonable, place worth to visit and the owners are friendly. Some boats decide every year to lift up the boat for cyclone season or do some minor repairs (including hull repairs). Maximum weight of the lift about 18T.
A church, post office..
Airport is located at the end of the village. Easy access. One flight to Papeete per week.

For crews

No WC or shower on shore.  
Niutahi is a very friendly village.
Good fishing directly from the wharf, peep the locals.
Snorkeling or diving in the pass is great attraction here, but do it only on incoming current or slack.
WiFi: there is a WiFi (available at thee wharf), name ViniSPOT, but it’s not free and rather  slow. One hour cost about 4EUR, 20hrs – 40 EUR (payment via internet with credit card). In 2016 the system worked wrong and with 1hr credit you can surf all the time.
There is a church, be there during Sunday service – nice songs.


Anchorage - no fees
Berthing to the wharf – no fees
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