Entering and Exiting Atolls in the South Pacific

1) enter during daylight hours
2) go in a slack tide or near slack tide – use interpolation to calculate slack tide – interploation and other tools are NOT perfect – be prepared to enter with ripples coming through
3) many times the atoll will still “empty out like a teacup” even though you are near slack tide as trade winds continuously fill the atoll due to elevated trade winds / big swell braking over the S / SE portion of the atolls
4) the most dangerous part are standing waves if you see those do NOT enter and wait
5) when entering with and out-flowing atoll your steering is enhanced as there is more water flowing over your rudders so in many case going in is easier than going out.
6) use satellite charts in addition to sonar charts to validate where shoaling and coral heads are as you enter the atoll.
7) if you can avoid entering during a squall, during low visibility and do no enter at night
8) The bigger the Atoll and the fewer the openings ( outflows ) the more ripping the current will be and the later the entry will be from slack tide


Where tide is of interest is around the atolls, explicitly when you are attempting to enter or leave one. Each pass is a flowing gateway.ย  . The thing that matters is the passes here are undeniably more impacted by wind and wave impacts.

In the wake of visiting our third atoll and paying attention to the day to day dramatizations of othersย  , we areย  examinging out when that subtle leeway will happen includes as much art as seamanship.


A few different rules for individual passes, again corresponding to a decent time from an essential port. Different tidal forecast distributions have a similar issue. They need to give you direction yet are restricted by the way that any direction they really do give is probably going to be erroneous.

There are not many essential ports here and the distance between where you are attempting to sort out your tides and where the essential is can rush to many miles. The two nearest to usย  Rangiroa (160miles away) and
Tahanea (around 100 miles), neither precisely close. Not an issue, I hear you say.


The enormous issue with the Tuamotos is that there are extra factors that can essentially modify the hour of slack waterย  Despite the fact that tides are little, seldom north of one meter even at springs, the base outward momentum speed at passes in times of clear, actually weather conditions runs somewhere in the range of 4 and 6kts, subject to the atoll. With gigantic measures of water hustling all through the frequently restricted passes with reef tight either side, races, bubbles, standing waves and overfalls are normal external the brief time of slack, importance travel during slack remaining parts ideal. Nonetheless, the key proclamation that you should comprehend is that the active momentum speed is affected by climate and can, anytime of the tide, be essentially higher a speed than the approaching flowing stream.

Wind over tide is a significant thought ย  In the Tuamotus, Atolls for the most part run SE to NW in locations. Most atolls are comprised of motus (the more modest islands making up the atoll’s edge) on the E side, where millennia of the ordinary tradesย ย  have kept sand and ruin within the reef to shape them. The safeguarded W side is undeniably more infertile and most frequently comprises basically of reef with a couple of little segregated motus as it were. The S and N finishes of atolls will regularly have a motus because of the wave wash over impact of the ocean.


A few atolls (Makemo for example) have not many extremely lengthy motus on its E side which gives brilliant security to the tidal pond. Be that as it may, the more prominent the quantity of motus making up the E side of an atoll (Raroia has parts),

When the water is in the tidal pond, it necessities to get away and most atolls have yet a couple of fundamental passes where the water can escape from. Restricted measures of water will stream back out through the holes between the motus or back over the reef.


The course a pass faces is an element. One that faces E, into the Exchanges, will constantly have a breeze over tide impact during an active stream, keeping down and dialing the outward stream back

A decent wide, profound channel permits more water to drop of the tidal pond.

Also he size of the atoll thus the size of the catch region for water streaming in to the tidal pond. The most grounded of flowing races is at Hao, an exceptionally huge atoll. More than 30 miles in length it has a solitary pass confronting N. With such a lot of water coming into the tidal pond tossed over the reef, the race can work out positively past 10kts on an outward stream.

Thus, how much water in the tidal pond attempting to escape through the pass anytime of tide is the amount of what the weather conditions has unloaded across the reef and the typical tide. The more water there is in the tidal pond, the more prominent the momentum strength and speed of the active stream. This then, at that point, impacts a contrast among determined and genuine pants times. Furthermore, assuming that the tidal pond is exceptionally high after a time of terrible climate, you might find that the outward stream refutes the approaching tide, meaning no leeway period by any stretch of the imagination.


The Well known Guestimator gives the accompanying augmentations to current outward stream speeds:

1. Add 1 kt for each day the breeze has been blowing north of 20 kts from a S or W part

2. Add 0.5 kt for each day the breeze has been blowing more than 15 kts from a S or W part

3. Add 0.5 kt for each 1/2 meter augmentation of southerly swell over 1.5 meters (ie 3 meter grow = +1.5 kt)

4. Cap the Breeze Wave factor at 1.5 times the Typical Max Current

5. Take away 0.5 kt for wide/profound passes and for every additional pass that an atoll has