Funafuti and Nanumea Information

Our thanks to Kate & Rory of S/Y Streetcar for passing on this information to noonsite.

Published 10 years ago, updated 4 years ago


– Make sure you arrive here Monday to Friday, customs and immigration do not work on w/e at all. We arrived at 16:20 in Friday and, despite pleading with a departing customs official, had to sit on board under Q flag until Monday 0900.

– CM93 and latest admiralty charts seem to be exact for Funafuti.   But, looking at the google earth images, charts may not be correct in Nuku’alofa and other islands.

– We used Southeast pass. Very easy, although would need to be treated with caution in a strong SE wind.  Follow charted lines for ship channel right into Fongafale,  these seem to avoid all shallow patches.

–  We used North pass out. Easy, but much shallower and would definitely be trouble in north swell or big wind from N sector. Some sources recommend against this North pass.

– Other boats used the West Pass and reported it to be easy provided there was good light.

– Two anchorages off town: one straight off 3 storey government building at the South end of town, boats reported good holding and easy dinghy ride in; one about halfway between there and new ship wharf North of town, very good holding but longer dinghy ride

– To clear in first go to 3 story government building and check in with immigration, then follow their directions – probably to customs at end of a warehouse at new ship wharf. Lots of dinghy action to get around.

–  There is an all-tide small dinghy dock off Government building with good access to town (but use stern anchor). Also, a very good dinghy landing on S side of new ship wharf, next to police boat dock.

– Still no ATM. Bank will change USD, Euro etc for AUD (local currency, with Tuvalu coins) but the exchange rate is painful.

– For fresh produce, you can get cabbage, salad and some other vegetables and fruit at the “Taiwan Garden” farm another side of airstrip (next to prison), but it can be expensive. There are other supermarkets. Best is inside road, just off runway approx 500m north of airport building – behind basketball courts.

– You can get diesel AUD 1.60 per litre (you have to ‘jerry can’ quantities less than 1,000 litres). Buy it from the Pacific Energy depot to the north of the new port (which is to the north of the town) – its cleaner. They claim never to run out. Buy the guys who fill the jerry cans a coke and they’ll probably deliver the jerry cans to the dinghy dock in the new port. They will bring a tanker down to the dock for more than 1000 litres.

– While we were their boats anchored in various locations inside the lagoon & outside the marine park and there was no problem with this, no charges were made or suggested.  Check with immigration/customs or the tourist office, or the town council.

– Petrol is easily available anywhere, sold out of buckets in most shops. It seems to be mostly clean.

– The Internet is available, but very very slow so do any downloads etc in Fiji. Best we found is wireless at Filomena Hotel by the airport. This is also a nice place to sit and wait, you even get to watch an aeroplane land twice a week. Patience is required.

NANUMEA (outlying island)

– We didn’t go – lack of depth in the pass.

– Three boats we know that did visit in Nov 2012 gave good reports, including the following information:

–       The pass is approx 20m wide, blasted through reef in a straight line.

–       Can be strong currents so go through near slack. Reported to be approx. 1.5 hours after high and low water.

“We arrived in Nanumea at 7:30 at low tide we had current flowing out at 1 kt. We saw 6 ft depth, this being on the lagoon side. We had more than 9 ft all the rest of way in the cut.  The channel is very well marked, new steel post on each side lighten or reflective. 2 waypoints:  Outside S 05 40.380 .E 176 06.368. Inside S 05 40.120 E 176 06.522” … “We have left Nanumea at High tide yesterday afternoon. In the past, I have seen 2.7m on the lagoon side.”

“I took the dinghy through first with the depth sounder, and found the shallowest spot where you described on the inside, at about 6.5 feet an hour or two after what we thought was low water, but the water was still ebbing, at about a knot which was nice to work against.  We lifted the rudder all the way and the keel about half way about halfway through the pass and didn’t touch.  Apparently, the Swiss boat came in yesterday several hours later and had three knots of current with them!  must have been quite frightening.”

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