Day 236, Year 1: Believe It or Not—Headed to Tahiti
Date: Saturday, June 10, 2006
Weather: Another Windy Day, NNE 25 to 30, Lumpy Seas
Latitude: 14 degrees 59 minutes
Longitude: 146 degrees 47 minutes
Location: Tuamotus to Tahiti Transit, Day 1
Estimated Time of Arrival: Monday Morning
Here’s sailing drama at its best. The sun just set in the west and although it is cloudy above, it was a beautiful sunset. The full moon is rising to the east. It is beautiful, but we are not where we are supposed to be. And the winds are just not behaving properly. Our daughter Heather gets the last laugh this time. In yesterday’s log I was rubbing it in a bit when I said that by this time today I would snorkeling in a beautiful blue lagoon in the Tuamotus while she was sitting at home on Cape Cod watching the rain.. Wrong. We made it to Ahe at sunrise and, along with Stillpoint, the boat we have been traveling in company with from the Marquesas, we started through the pass at about 0700. Our computer information and book charts told us to wait until 1100, but someone in the lagoon told us on the net yesterday that the local tide chart stated that slack water would be between 0600 and 0800. Wrong again. Stillpoint went in front and about halfway through, we saw them turn around. We got on the radio to see what the problem might be and they reported that they had overheated the motor to a point that it stopped running. Yikes! They raised a sail and came out with the rushing tide. It was far from slack and the 20 plus knots of wind right on the nose as we were entering didn’t help things. We turned around as well and spent an hour listening to the morning net and deciding what to do next.
Here was our situation. We felt confident that we could motor into the pass, but we didn’t want to leave Ed and Candice out there with the possibility of no motor. We had just finished a very windy four-day passage from the Tuamotus and we really wanted to see the atolls. But the weather was not cooperating. The report on the net this morning was for 25 to 30 knot winds in the Tuamotus for the next two days coming from the NNE. Winds and atolls don’t mix well. The winds blow more water into the lagoons over the coral reef which causes the calm clear water to be not calm and not clear. And there is really nothing to stop the wind since all of the land is low, so many boats have drug anchor over the years and been blown onto the reef. Not something we are interested in. The weather report for Tahiti was also for 25 to 30 knot winds with rough seas. More of what we have just been through, but it is only two days. So what to do?
We opted for what seemed like the safer choice – head for Tahiti. We know we can withstand the projected winds and seas. It might not be comfortable, but we will be there by Monday. We will miss not getting to experience the atolls here, but we have lots of fantastic snorkeling still ahead. We were going to get to spend very little time in Tahiti, but now we will get to explore that part of the world more completely. We will first land in Papeete which is big city, but since we will have an extra week, we might get to explore the southern part of the Tahiti known as Tahiti Iti. Or we might just find a nice anchorage in the harbor in Papeete and enjoy urban life for a week. That is still to be determined.
The weather is not doing what it is supposed to be doing right now, but that is to be expected. The winds are out of the NE, but not the NNE, and only blowing 18 to 20, not 25 to 30. The seas have calmed considerably and after about four sail changes this afternoon, we are having a great downwind sail now. Who knows what the night will bring, but right now sitting here in the cockpit with a still glowing sky in the west and a full moon guiding us to Tahiti, AND calm seas seems fantastic. Plus we are moving ahead at about five to six knots with just the headsail up. I’d love to have these conditions all the way to Tahiti. Probably won’t happen, but I can dream.