May 29, 2020 ; 7:03 AM
16°06’S, 145°62’W – Fakarava

We’re incredibly blessed to be in community with our (lost) ARC rally and other sailors we met at marinas and anchorages along the way. We are banded together to support each other in passage and anchorage planning, staying connected, and keeping ourselves sane. Thanks to a subsect of that community, Amazing Grace is now safely in Fakarava anchored just inside the north pass with Influencer, Sea Lover, Milanto, and Ariel.

Before we left, we squeezed in as much exploration of Moorea as possible. We rented a car and drove all the way around the island, stopping for lunch at a snack shack, visiting lookout points, taking a hike, and swimming on a beautiful beach white sand beach. Okay, “swimming” may be a stretch. More like rapidly floating down to the other end because the current was so strong, we couldn’t stand still.
There was another mile swim to the tiki huts and reefs in front of the Hilton. There were dinghy rides to see the sharks and rays again. We had a sashimi feast on Sea Lover and a poisson cru lunch on a small island just off the mainland, complete with the best pina colada of the trip. The last morning, we took a very steep hike up to a mountain top for another view of Opunohu bay and beyond. The vistas were breathtaking.

Opunohu Bay is my favorite anchorage of the trip so far, but it was time to move on and explore the islands we skipped on the way across the Pacific (due to COVID-19 lockdowns).

Day one of our sail to the Tuamotus took us through thunderstorms back to the north end of Tahiti (Pointe Venus) for the night. This would allow us to better time our entrances to the Tuamotus. Timing is tricky and important because of strong currents and tides surrounding the atolls, as well as difficult passage against the trade winds. If we reached Fakarava in the dark or during a non-advantageous tide, there would be risk of coral damage to the boat (and to the reefs).

It was a miserable first day of sailing as we pounded through big waves, were soaked by the sea and the rain, and watched lightening all around us. And although a lightening strike to the mast could have been harmful to Gracie Girl and her crew, at least our electronics were safe after Admiral Anne put them in the microwave (insert eyeroll here). Still, the odds were in our favor since Influencer has a higher mast than us 😊.

The next two days were much better. We still had the motor on (boo), but we made good time, saw dolphins, and basked in the sunshine. Better to be motor-sailing than not sailing at all!

Night watch was a breeze and the stars were endless. I’m not telling you what I wished for, but the three shooting stars during my watch were certainly good omens for a COVID-19 vaccine.

After running the wind, wave, tide, and current reports again, we decided to stop one last time to ensure we would enter the north pass of Fakarava at the perfect time. Our little anchorage in Katuri, Toau was just what we needed. Influencer came over for sundowners, and my coconut, lime, pineapple, rum concoction hit the spot if I do say so myself (and I do).

Our last day of sailing was glorious- there were bird friends drafting off us and pods of dolphins racing us and Influencer tacking in front of us- what more could you want? Within 20 minutes of anchoring we already saw a reef shark swimming in the clear water around our boat.

Today we are headed to shore to do some exploring in the water and out! Fingers crossed for manta rays, manta rays, manta rays.

In actual news, Amazing Grace got a feature on the AP Wire that was picked up by ABC!

And the Olympian on the trip asked to take a picture with US, because it was big news with his buddies back in Australia!

If you’re interested in a more eloquent perspective on confinement and sailing communities in the South Pacific, check out our buddy Will’s blog:

-Kristen Pankratz
First mate, Amazing Grace

TLDR: When in doubt, put your electronics in the microwave.

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