We are still following in Visions of Johanna's wake, and this was their selection as the final stop before the leave for Tahiti in a couple of days. They wanted a place that was easy to leave from, so they could time their departure for a convenient arrival time in Tahiti.
There is actually a pass that takes you inside the Toau lagoon. We hope to get back there later to check it out.
Our sail yesterday was relatively easy. We did an early exit from Fakarava on the last of the outgoing tide... with the current still running at 3-3.5 knots out. There was quite a chop in the middle of the pass, but we edged over to the east side, and it was no big deal, since the wind and the current were going the same direction. The wind blew all night in the 15-20kt range from ESE (right down the 25 mile length of Fakarava), so the 'chop' inside the lagoon was getting pretty big...2-3 feet when we left, and we had a fast beam reach for the 6 miles from the town anchorage to the pass. The pass would have been really nasty on an incoming current, with the current directly opposing the strong wind.
We set our route to sail right by the main pass at Toau, to get a look at it. The current was still running out, 2-3 hours after it should have turned to run in. We think this is the classic wind/wave effect, where the wind is blowing strong, pushing water into the lagoon over the low reef to the south. We thought we were passing far enough out that we wouldn't have been affected by the current, but we did get into some dicey waves, with the current still blasting out against the ESE wind and waves. We took one good square wave across the deck before we managed to get out of there... and we were almost a mile off the pass!
After that we had a really nice downwind sail along the coast of Toau. By the time we got halfway up the coast, Toau was sheltering us from the big southerly swell, which really smoothed the ride out. We gybed once to get around the corner, and on converging with the coast again near Anse Amyot, caught a nice big Mahi Mahi.
The entry into Anse Amyot is in the lee of the atoll. So even though the wind was blowing in the 20 knot range, it was an easy entry. It is pretty well marked, and the reefs are easily visible. The one thing we didn't expect was the 2-3 knot outgoing current. We understand that anytime the wind is blowing hard from the SE, there is an outgoing current here. This made picking up a mooring a little challenging, but fortunately, we had help from Visions in their dinghy. Fortunately there were 2 free moorings available when we arrived. (Our friends on s/v Puerto Seguro had answered our call on Ch 16 and confirmed there were moorings available, while we were still enroute.)
More on Anse Amyot itself later...
At 5/27/2010 4:03 PM (utc) our position was 15°48.14'S 146°09.09'W