Friday, February 28, 2014

Marquesas - Tuamotus: Day 5 - Almost There

Time: 1730UTC, COG 270T, SOG 3.0kts, Distance Remaining: 18nm

The squalls have disappeared with most of the wind and we have had some lovely night skies and beautiful tourist weather. The 2 foot following seas - with regular waves for a change - make life aboard Irie very comfortable and allow us to do whatever we feel for. It's almost like being at anchor.
:-) Just jumping in the ocean is still not recommended. Even though we only move at about 3 knots (yes, we managed to keep this magic speed up), with the spinnaker in place, there is no way for one person to turn the boat around if the other accidentally lets go and stays behind in the water. For
the last 24 hours, the trip has been slow, but quite enjoyable and we are almost there. Thank Axel for our spinnaker!

Apataki, like all atolls - islands consisting of a lagoon surrounded by motus (low laying islets) - with passes ("entrances"), cannot, or better, should not be entered at just any time of the day. It would be foolish and reckless to attempt this at night, what with all the reefs, wrecks, narrow passes and lack of navigation aids, but even during the day, one has to time it right. The tides are not the problem in the passes; the currents are... Because all the water has to come into the lagoon during flood and leave the
same way during ebb, through narrow entrances, the current at those times - taking up most of the day - can be as strong as 10 knots! The best time to enter or leave the lagoon for a sailboat is therefore right around slack tide, which happens every six hours. Of course, the South Pacific being the South Pacific, still a frontier is many ways, there is no reliable or accurate information to be found, and cruisers use something called the "current guestimator".

Because Irie could not make the afternoon slack tide yesterday (Thursday) and we did not want to enter the lagoon at night, we had to "stay out" for an extra 18 hours to make the first slack tide on Friday. The wind being very light (3-5 knots) made us put that time to good use with a leisurely
sail. Entering an atoll is a new experience for Mark and I. We hope for good light and gentle waters. At least the wind should not cause any issues. In a few hours we will find out how well this "guestimator" works!

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