Yesterday we had some good snorkeling at Motu Mauu, then anchored off of Tavania Islet for the night. Today we had a beautiful sail up the atoll to Motu Puarua, which is a bird sanctuary. The sight and sound of hundreds? thousands? of terns and frigates is quite something!
The wind finally shifted and so did we. After some delightful experiences in Tuherahera village, we moved a short distance up the atoll to Motu Aua.
A short overnight passage brought us to Tikehau, where we anchored near the wharf at Tuherahera village shortly before the weather deteriorated. Haven't gone ashore yet, but this looks like a good place to be stuck for a few days.
Makatea is a rare raised coral atoll, with no pass, no lagoon, and high steep vertical cliffs. Though it was worth the side trip to see it, we can't recommend it as a stopover. The two moorings are in very good condition, but they are alarmingly close to big surf breaking on rocks.
Had an easy exit from Tehere Pass at one hour after low tide, and are now en route to Makatea.
Anchored at Roto Ava, a mile from Tehere Pass; still no inhabitants or vessels in sight. Plan A is to snorkel the pass tomorrow, then depart for Makatea the next day.
Yesterday we ghosted up the eastern side of the atoll and anchored at Point Teonemahina, the NE corner. This is a magical place, protected by miles of uninhabited motu; we are alone in a blue paradise! For cruisers: the route is free of hazards, as long as one stays on the shore side of the pearl floats. Navionics accurately charts the location of all shallows, though depths are inaccurate ("16 ft" was actually awash).
Correction! Last post said 14 36S but that was a typo; we were at 15 36S, Apataki atoll. Sorry! Yesterday we moved up the atoll to Motu Omiro, where we enjoyed exploring coral spits; today we went to the next motu and are anchored in front of the Apataki Careenage at Tamaro. Assam's Pearl Farm is gone; Assam retired and his son & grandson built an impressive shipyard
We arrived at Apataki's Pakaka Pass 3 hours after our intended transit, but we made it through on a 2k incoming current with no problems. Whew! Now we're anchored near Motu Rua Vahine; not much protection, but not much needed for the next day or so.
Left Papeete yesterday around noon, bound for Apataki. Predicted E15 winds turned out to be NE20's; they've eased but are still from the direction we want to go. We recall that one definition of sailing is going slowly in the wrong direction! That said, it's a lovely day to be out on the ocean.
We moved to Marina de Papeete for pre-departure errands, only to discover that the facilities are under construction and there are no showers, laundry or internet. Bummer!
We've arrived back in Papeete, completing what turned out to be a wonderful 9-week loop through the Society Islands. We expect to be in this area for a couple of weeks, preparing to sail to the Tuamotus. Right now we're anchored near Marina Taina
After we saw the underwater tikis and fed the stingrays (wow!), we skedaddled back to the more protected anchorage at the NE entrance to Opunohu Bay, then moved this morning to the NE entrance of Cook's Bay. Conditions are predicted to be calm in a couple of days, so we'll head back to Papeete then.
Opunohu Bay was as secure as it was beautiful, and hiking in the valley was excellent. We finally moved back to an outer anchorage, this time slightly west of the village of Papetoai. This anchorage is frequented because it's close to snorkeling destinations (sting ray feeding, underwater tikis), but we're not keen on it; it's exposed and too close to shallows with lots of bombies. Once we've seen the underwater attractions, we'll move somewhere more protected.
With fairly strong winds predicted for the next few days, we anchored at the head of Opunohu Bay. We'll probably get wind bullets here but we're in 20' of water with a good holding on a mud bottom. We would have had to move anyway, as work is being started to place moorings where we had been anchored; also, it's not snorkeling weather for a while. In this anchorage we have access to hiking trails and a shrimp farm (ooh, I can make a shrimp dinner for my birthday!).
We were sorry to leave Huahine so soon, but it was a good choice: rather than (the normal) hard upwind beat back to Moorea, we had a calm overnight sail with winds mostly behind us. We're anchored near the entrance to Opunohu Bay and expect to be in Moorea for at least a week.
We expected to stay at Huahine for longer, but incoming winds will give us a much easier sail back to Moorea
On a mooring at the head of Port Bourayne, where there is a rarity of rarities in FP: 1) a sand beach, that 2) is public. Picnic on a beach towel, woo-hoo!
Had a pleasant light upwind sail to Huahine, where we're on a mooring at lovely Avea Bay (anchoring discouraged here also). We plan to spend several days at this island, exploring anchorages we bypassed 4 years ago.
We heard the best poisson cru in the Leeward Islands is at Snack Mac China in Haamene Bay, so we made a side trip there for lunch; well worth it! Now we're anchored near the reef at Motu Mahaea.
Before we leave this lagoon for the last time, we had to return to Motu Tautau and swim with all the fish in the Coral River one more time. What a delight!
We moved to Faaroa Bay on the east side of Raiatea for a brief rendezvous with some new friends. It's still not swimming weather, but a plus: the rain is washing the salt from yesterday's passage off our deck and windows.
We punched our way back to Taha'a and found a calm anchorage in Patii Bay. Conditions below are outside the lagoon.
We are ready to leave Bora Bora but are on a mooring in the lee of Motu Toopua, waiting for more favorable wind and swell conditions outside the lagoon. (Why head into a 3m washing machine if we don't have to?)
Bora Bora is our turn-around point, so we are back at Vaitape to reprovision and start heading east. Of note: Anchoring is now strongly discouraged at BB. Moorings have been installed in the popular anchorages and a single company is overseeing all of them (including the ones formerly associated with BBYC, Mai Kai, and Bloody Mary's). The commercialization is a disappointment, but given the exponential increase in cruising and particularly charter boats here, the change is understandable.
The Taurere anchorage was comfortable in stronger winds, and when the wind eased we had fun swimming with rays. Now we're on a mooring near Bloody Mary's, where we will celebrate our 45th anniversary (a few days early).
We moved to Taurere, an excellent anchorage. It is reasonably well protected from the trades, with less current and less traffic than the other anchorages
After completing some errands in Vaitape, we moved around to the east side of Bora Bora and are anchored near Motu Tupe. It was a tricky entrance (shallow with lots of bommies) and there is small boat traffic to/from the nearby resorts, but it is a pretty and pleasant anchorage.
Winds have eased so we moved to a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club, where we can walk into town for errands and internet.
In current weather we had 3 options at Taha'a: 1) endure wind bullets in a bay anchorage, 2) endure rough fetch in a reef anchorage, 3) sail to Bora Bora. We chose Door #3. We're anchored in the lee of Motu Toopoa, where we feel blissfully secure.
After one last fabulous float at the Coral River, we relocated to Hurepiti Bay. It's a bit shallower and feels calmer than Tapuamu Bay, where many other boats are headed. During these next few windy days, Art will do some rewiring of the watermaker, and we hope to take a long hike.
With stronger winds predicted in a couple of days, we wanted to be on the leeward side of an island; so we sailed back to Taha'a. We're anchored at Motu Tautau, near the Coral Garden
Anchored at Motu Taoru, where we had a terrific snorkel in the pass. We saw several fishes we'd never seen before (after all this time, even one new species is a delightful surprise), and a very large eel
We're anchored at Faaroa Bay, where there is a fun dinghy river trip. We're on the windward side of Raiatea, but this is a secure anchorage (35', mud).
At Opoa Bay on Raiatea to visit the impressive Taputapuatea Marae. It's not a good anchorage (very deep until right next to shore) and one of their two moorings is nearly chafed through. We'll move on tomorrow, but the marae was worth the white knuckles!
Heiva dances, performed by all the island's villages, were terrific! Mooring buoys at Patio had disappeared since our last visit, but we've moved on to Tapuamu and their 3 moorings are still intact.
Snorkeling around the motu was fantastic! We moved on to Patio for the last 2 days of their Heiva festival (dancing and food). The moorings are gone so we anchored east of town.
After a delightfully laid back stay at Moorea, we had a calm overnight passage to Taha'a. We're anchored near Motu Mahaea.
Strong winds and reports of crowded anchorages at Moorea kept us in Papeete an extra week. (After being hit by a vessel dragging anchor last year, we had no desire to get into a similar situation!) We finally made the short trip to Cook's Bay (Moorea) today, where the backdrop scenery is truly awesome.
We moved to the Marina de Papeete, right downtown. We now have our carte de sejeour in hand, so our long stay visa is now official! Plans are to stay through their Autonomy Day celebrations this weekend, then sail to nearby Moorea early next week.
Papeete is much more crowded than when we were here 4 years ago! Both marinas are full and vessels are anchored all along the inner channel. We found a spot to drop the hook south of downtown; inconvenient, but it will have to do for now. Since we have to finalize the paperwork for our long-stay visa here, we will probably be in Papeete for a while. No chance of getting bored, though; we passed up museums, gardens, etc. our first time around, so there is plenty to see while we're waiting.
We have great wind for our course, and are having to reduce sail in order to make our final approach to Tahiti in daylight tomorrow. Is that a hot shower I hear calling?
Easterlies filled in late yesterday afternoon and we've been at a gallop ever since. We had a Rainbow Morning: numerous rain showers in the vicinity, but enough sunshine to light them up with colors.
We thoroughly enjoyed Raivavae, particularly our long walks around & over the island, and feasting on pamplemousse! Now it's time to move on; we departed for Papeete this morning.
Landfall! Given yesterday's conditions we weren't sure we would arrive today, but overnight the wind became a consistent ESE 25-30k so we managed to make it. The anchorage is far from calm (see below) but we set an anchor alarm and took a very long nap! We're looking forward to exploring Raivavae and may stay here a couple of weeks; I'll file YIT reports again when we start sailing north to Tahiti.
Yesterday afternoon we encountered SE winds precisely on cue and we were able to execute Plan A (keep same direction with sails up, directly to Raivavae). Apparently one of the weather gods decided things were going too smoothly, as today has been a mess! No dependable wind speed or direction, messy seas, lots of rain (and lots of sail changes).
Ugh, still motoring. We should reach the band of easterlies any time now...
Gribs have been remarkably accurate on this passage, so we banked on being able to drive north in an upcoming calm. Sure enough, winds died as predicted; we fired up the engine and are heading slightly east of the rhumb line to Raivavae. Even with no wind for a while, the swells are still magnificent!
Soon we'll need to turn more northerly, but for now winds are still taking us ENE rather than NE. Still moving well though, it's quite a fun sleigh ride downwind on these large swells! We've started to see a few seabirds again, a different species this time. It sounded like they were speaking French.
So far we had been able to sail the direction we wanted, but the most recent wind change meant we are having to head off a bit. That's called a passage, though, and so far we're still making progress, so no complaints on this ship!
We're riding the periphery of a low and having a great run! It's a bit warmer as we work our way north, but there aren't nearly as many seabirds.
Sailing was slow overnight but picked up briskly in the morning. Conventional advice for this passage is to wait until reaching 155W before turning north, but gribs showed turning earlier could be advantageous
Yesterday afternoon's succession of strong squalls gave way to a mostly clear night with frequent gusts over 35k. The full moon on 4.5 m seas was a sight to behold! As the center of the high approached, winds calmed but seas are still large, so we're motorsailing for a while to keep from banging around so much. We're paying tribute to passing the halfway point (in terms of miles) by having a NZ breakfast and a FP dinner. (Not as exciting as it sounds
Continuing to enjoy the seabirds and large waves, and making good easterly progress. Position reports are from noon and this was our "base rate"; we spent the afternoon running downwind in front of frequent heavy squalls.
Winds were 25-30k overnight with gusts and squalls of winds 35-40k. We were glad we'd dropped to 3rd reef before dark so the feisty night wasn't problematic. We're also grateful that the wind is behind us, and we're making good progress. *This report may not have been filed properly on 17 May so I'm sending it again on 18 May (NZ date).
Winds were 25-30k overnight with gusts and squalls of winds 35-40k. We were glad we'd dropped to 3rd reef before dark so the feisty night wasn't problematic. We're also grateful that the wind is behind us, and we're making good progress.
We came a bit south to be ready for predicted westerlies, and are now on a downwind run with main on 2nd reef.
Motoring in virtually no wind and beautiful swells. An albatross has visited a few times today, along with other seabirds; marvelous! Art was a carpenter at sea, repairing a hinge that broke on our companionway door.
Squalls with 35-40k winds and heavy rain appeared overnight, but the old gals were primed for the event and came through in style (Second Wind down to just inner foresail, crew in foulies). Wind is backing, seas are getting rougher; it's a frisky ride but not a bad one.
The low pressure system arrived punctually at midnight, at which point we were very glad that 1)we are members of the Reef Early, Reef Deep Club, and 2)we weren't any closer to the center of the low. Right know we're just trying to keep Second Wind at the most advantageous angle to the waves. (And sadly
Still making good time, and trying to best position ourselves for the low pressure system soon to arrive. Ideally we'll end up near the top of it, not down in it! We were intrigued by a small land bird that found its way into our cockpit, at least 400 miles from home. When it flew away we were concerned it would perish, but a couple hours later it returned
The strategy was to sail ESE but since the wind backed, we're able to head east at best. But no complaints, we're moving nicely (and the fortune cookie said this heading may put us in a better position for the incoming low).
We've had breezes of 10-20k and mostly sunny skies; what a great start on our passage to Raivavae!
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