Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tuamotus - Societies: Day 1 - Speedy and Salty Start

Time: 1730UTC, COG 260T, SOG 5.0kts, Distance Remaining: 123nm

It was 6am and Mark and I were up and ready to go to Tahiti in the Society Islands. But first, we had to wait and debate for two hours... Wait for the sun to get higher, so we could see enough to safely leave the coral strewn anchorage; debate whether we should go or wait yet another day for better
conditions. The weather predictions - I should really start calling them weather contradictions - were less than ideal for our 260 mile trip to Tahiti. After some contemplation and the realization that the forecast is never spot on (Hey, things might actually turn out better than we are led to believe - the front between us and our destination might dissipate or move instead of being stubbornly stationary...), we decided to lift anchor. We are out of food and have things to do in the big city!

The pass in South Fakarava can be a tricky one, especially when it has been blowing 15-20 knots out of the SE, the way the cut is faced. An outgoing current would oppose the wind and means standing waves and dangerous conditions. We knew the tide was coming in when we left and we had about 2 knots of current against us. Not a problem. Back in the ocean, the seas were big and lumpy around Fakarava. The first thing I did was have a wave crash over me while we sailed around the south part of the island. A salty start of the journey. The second thing I did, once on course, was puke over the
side of the boat. I guess I have gotten used to those slow, mellow conditions during previous passages. Back to bed I went.

We received a call on the VHF and saw some sails approach behind us. It was the Swiss born Frenchman on Ma Louloute, who we had seen the morning before in the lagoon of Fakarava and who was practicing and testing some things on his small Hobie Cat-like boat near us in the afternoon. We chatted with him on the radio a bit and hope to meet up again in Papeete, Tahiti's capital. He is on his way around the world in an open 20 foot catamaran, trying to set the record as "smallest boat to sail around the world" and "first sailboat to do so without a cabin". I'm sure if you google this boat, you
will come up with some interesting facts. I forgot his name, though. He passed Irie at 12-14 knots, twice the speed we were doing!

After that entertaining talk, I stared at the horizon for the rest of the day. The wind blew 15-20 knots from the ESE (behind us), the waves were about 7-10 feet and Irie sped along at 6-7 knots, pretty much on course. She was doing OK, despite getting hit by a shark the evening prior. One of our
grey pets bumped against a rudder when fighting for a piece of chicken skin that ended overboard. Ouch!

At night the conditions mellowed down a bit and our progress slowed to around 5 knots. We expect the trip to take about 48 hours, but we might have to slow down once we approach Tahiti as to avoid going through the surrounding reefs at night. By the time we arrive in the Taina Marina area, Ma Louloute will have beaten us by 24 hours!

No comments: