Ahe is an atoll which is a doughnut shaped island. The island was initially formed by a volcano which subsequently sunk in the middle leaving the crest of the crater as the only thing still poking up out of the water. This creates a unique environment where a string of palm trees grow on the narrow strip of land that circles around a beautiful lagoon in the center. The lagoon itself is a bit tricky to navigate as there are plenty of shallow sections and growing coral that are a danger to any boat ploughing through the waters. One unique section to Ahe and all other Tuamotu atolls is the “pass” that one must go through to get into or out of the central lagoon. Not all atolls have a pass deep enough for boats to pass through bit Ahe does have one. The pass however can be a dangerous place if not careful as it is the only section of the island where not just boats can travel through but also all of the water that floods into and out of the central lagoon as the tides flow in and out. As a result, when tides are extreme or flowing at their strongest levels, the currents in the narrow channel can be very strong and the water very choppy making it difficult to get in or out.
It was about 1:30 pm as we came in through the pass with one engine running at its normal strength. We normally can travel at about 6 knots but on this occasion we were going as slow as 1.5 knots through the pass but we were fighting the current that was now flowing out of the lagoon. We hoisted Alyssa up in the bosuns chair so that she could get a good view of the underwater coral ahead of the boat. She was also able to give us directions so that we could steer clear of the hundreds of crab traps that littered the approach in the lagoon.
It took us at least an hour and a half to get to the town where we saw two other sailboats. These boats were located next to the large cement dock which was inside of a reef within the larger reef. It is the perfect little safe anchorage as the large lagoon protects boats but by the village there is a harbour sheltered by a small rock outcropping.