Anse Amyot, Toau, Tuamotus

A few days of calm weather wasn’t so good for sailing, but was perfect for diving. The distance from the north pass of Fakarava to the top of Toau is around 37nm along the eastern coast of the atoll and slightly longer along the western side.

With the few days of calm weather, we decided not to enter the atoll, in favour of going to Anse Amyot, a small cul-de-sac on the northwest of the atoll where diving is supposed to be excellent on the outside of the atoll.

With little wind we motor-sailed all day to arrive at around 1pm, grabbing one of the ten moorings – large yellow buoys with heavy spliced rope seem sturdy enough. Already five vessels were on moorings and it wouldn’t be long before the rest for taken. There’s also room for anchoring. The inlet has good leads to guide incoming vessels through the narrow pass, and is well charted on Navionics.

After lunch we dinghied ashore and were welcomed by local inhabitants Gaston and Valentine – both available to offer humble services. Valentine speaks English so we chatted to her for a while; she told us about how Gaston had to swim for six hours after he was knocked out of his boat in rough sea conditions; how she can free dive to 25m, Gaston to 40m and how they live here in the middle of nowhere surviving on lobster, coconuts and fruit and vegetables. They produce honey and sell it to passing vessels. Rotoava at Fakarava is where they go for supplies, but it’s a long way in a small runabout boat. We’d read previously that there’s a fee for grabbing a mooring – the price seemed to vary depending on who was asking, but we were happy enough to pay 1500F (Around US$15) for three nights. Gaston also catches lobster and these can either be bought for fresh, or Valentine can put on a meal for paying guests. She even said they had pigs and if there were enough people, she would prepare one for dinner.

A number of dives are marked on Navionics Community Edits. Our first dive was on the outer reef, about 1.5km east of the entrance at the dive named Yellow Dog. There are no longer any dinghy moorings on the outer reef dives, so we dropped the small dinghy anchor in a patch of sand in around 10m. For safety, we went as a group of three – Wayne, me and Kevin – Alpha flag flying high from the transom.

Community Edits marking dive spots on the outer reef

The narrow strip of coral reef around the island drops off steeply into depths hundreds of metres deep (you can see the contours on the image). It’s a little daunting to say the least, but we didn’t go any deeper than 25m, nothing but deep blue beneath us as we swam over abyss and huge walls. Even though, over 50 minutes our average depth was around 10m. It was a good dive, with great visibility – I had hoped to see Manta Rays or Dolphins, but just a couple of sharks and plenty of groupers and fish varieties. This dive was in the morning, so afterwards we filled the tanks while we had lunch and prepared for a second dive.

The contours showing the steep walls of the outer reef

The second dive that day was fairly straightforward. We swam in our SCUBA gear to the entrance of the pass and expected to drift in on the incoming tide. Turned out there was virtually no current and visibility was murky. On a nice day, it would be a good dive as the bommies were dotted on the sandy bottom; much like a Japanese garden. We dived for around 35 minutes, 20m to an average of 10m, and saw large groupers, a cleverly disguised octopus and a couple of large moray eels tucked inside caves.

The next day we filled the cylinders and by 10:30am were motoring 1.5km west of the entrance to a series of coral grottos on the outer reef. Once again, the distance from the reef to drop off with depths >100m was about 15-20m wide. Having another calm day to dive was a bonus, otherwise the swell could wash us onto the reef. I jumped in first to look for a sandy spot to drop our anchor – immediately behind us the vertical wall descended into the daunting depths of the deep blue ocean. We dropped the anchor in 8m on a sandy patch, and the three of us dived down and poked around the grottos of this narrow shelf of coral. Small fish darting in and out of the coral trees reminded me of ‘Finding Nemo’ as my goggles appeared above their little homes. Kevin spotted a nurse shark lurking under a ledge and we saw wrasse, grouper, and a large tasty looking snapper. A huge scary moray eel was exercising his jaws and poking his head out a bommie.

The entire dive depth averaged only 6m – this was good as we can stay longer, ultimately diving for over 70 minutes still with one third of air remaining. It’s a great depth to poke around as there’s plenty of fish life, sunlight and colour.

Back on board, we filled our cylinders, washed the gear in preparation of departing the next day, using minimum water from our dwindling supply. Our next destination, Rangiroa – the second largest atoll in the world and recognised as a world class diving location. With 100nm to reach the Tiputa Pass, we had a slow overnight sail to arrive at low tide slack early the next morning. At least we thought it would be slack. With the swell pumping across the South Pacific causing strong outflows at the atoll passes, would we have the conditions to dive?

Until then…

About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
This entry was posted in 2022, French Polynesia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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