Jaeden and I woke up early to check out the conditions at Tiputa Pass. Since arriving in Rangiroa we had wanted to return to Tiputa where we had spent a glorious week about 6 years earlier. The problem was that there was an unusual disturbance in the water for the past three days with elevated water levels, high waves and strong winds. This made crossing the pass in our small little dingy rather dangerous and so we held back on making the crossing. We headed off around 7:30 in the morning to take the short 1 kilometre trip from our boat. Jaeden was anxious to make some good speed and so he floored the engine on a course that would take us straight across the pass. As we started to motor across I pointed out to Jaeden a small boat no larger than ours that was making the crossing. I suggested to Jaeden that we follow this boat to learn the best route across the pass. He didn’t want to follow however as they were going rather slow and he wanted to get to our destination as soon as possible. As a result we made a beeline straight course across the pass. Before we crossed the first 100 feet some large waves and swells were in front of us and splashing onto us in the boat. We were drenched and it was rather dangerous and so Jaeden finally gave in and turned back. We were about to call it a day with such rough weather when the pilot on the slow boat behind us pointed for us to go in a different direction.
After pulling back we decided that maybe it would have been better in the first place to follow the local boater who obviously knew the area well. As we followed him he took us on a course that led us directly to the North side of the little motu islet that almost intercepts the centre of the South side of the pass. Only about 20 feet in front of the little islet with its lone coconut tree, he took a sharp turn that took him North and parallel to the motu before turning to cross the pass. As we took this route the waves were only large in a very narrow section but we rode the waves much smoother and didn’t get much water splashing on us at all. We then were able to cross the rest of the pass without any difficulty at all. Because it was almost slack tide, the currents were there but not too strong. It was the best way to traverse the pass from the dock on the one side by our sailboat to the dock on the Tiputa side.
As soon as we made it across we decided to go for a walk through the village. People recognized that we were not from the area and as a result they did notice us. Because fewer tourists frequent this Tiputa side of the island, I found that when walking around the village we received numerous greetings, waves or as we spoke French, a few friendly conversations. We had hoped to visit a family that used to live on the island when we came to visit many years previous but had heard they had moved away some time ago. We wanted however to find someone who knew them so that we could get their contact information in Papeete. As I started to ask around, I met a friendly local resident who said that she would take us to her mothers home. For the next 10 minutes we walked down the only paved street to their home while having a very interesting and welcoming discussion. As we walked we were greeted by many others that passed by including one older lady that said, “You are Canadians? Too bad my daughter is not here right now, she used to live in Canada although I don’t know what part.” It seemed that we didn’t need to go very far to have some friendly chit-chat.
Before long we arrived at the home of our friend’s mother. While she was not home her sister was and when she found out who we were she was excited to greet us and talk with us for some time. She invited us to come back and we were only too happy to take her up on the offer.
The 20 minute walk back to the dock was just as welcoming as locals smiled and greeted us as we walked by. By the time we got back to our dingy we had spent much longer on this scouting expedition than we had anticipated and needed to get back for our pancake breakfast that was probably getting cold.
Following the reverse directions to get across the pass we were able to make it without getting wet at all. Having successfully crossed the pass we made plans to return with the entire family later on in the day.