At 9 a.m. Saturday, we departed anchorage near the Kia-Rao Hotel, on
Rangiroa. Another megayacht arrived as we weighed anchor. It was a good
reminder that someone always has a bigger boat. The one we saw in Fakarava
looked like it had to squeeze to get its helicopter on the aft, upper deck.
This one fit nicely above its 200' waterline. In fact the sailboat, the
fishing boat, the launch, the inflatable hard bottom and the jet skis all
Crew member Geoff Curran left this morning for R&R, back in Hawaii. He will
re-join us at Raiatea.
We departed through Passe D'Avatoru against an incoming current and followed
by a strong south wind. We called on the extra power of our Lugger diesel,
and powered our Nordhavn through the turbulent pass. No problem. Outside
the pass were two unlucky sailboats, tilted over high on the reef.
We finished our tour of the Tuomotu Archipelago and now our course is set
for Tahiti. We have seen the spectacular mountains of the Marquesas and the
ringed reef of the Tuomotu Atolls. Next, we will see the towering mountains
of the Society Islands that are surrounded by a ring of coral. We are
planning for landfall tomorrow morning at Passe Teafa, 17-44.8S 149-10.1W,
on the southeast coast of Tahiti Iti.
Saturday morning, we retraced our path out of Kauehi Lagoon. We are enroute
to Fakarava Atoll (16 04.8S 145 43.1W), where we will enter the northern
passage into the lagoon. We left Kauehi at low slack water and will try to
enter with the end of the flood into Fakarava, in about five hours.
Kauehi was pleasant and certainly uncrowded. The lagoon is about 8 by 12
nm. The only boats therein, were skiffs belonging to pearl farms, and us.
We are off the usual path used by the cruising boats. We visited Kauehi
City, at least that's what the sign said. The city had maybe 100 people,
but did have a cell site, phone booths and a general store. The people were
gracious, which is a continuing phenomenon.
Geoff Curran, our retired pilot, leaves us at Rangiroa Atoll on 4/30 and
Marvin Humphrey, a TKE fraternity brother will go back to Napa on 5/17.
Geoff will rejoin us in the Society Islands around 5/15 and take the leg
back to Hawaii.
Yesterday's anchorage was too buggy, but otherwise spectacular. We had a
360 degree sunset from the upper boat deck, with palms, reefs, islands and
towering cumulus clouds. Gail claims that she scared away her first
black-tipped shark. Water temperature is 87 and the air 85 at night and 89
during the day.
We entered the lagoon entrance at Kauehi, Tuomotu at 9:10 a.m. Thursday
morning, 20 minutes earlier than planned three days and 500 nautical miles
ago. As predicted, current flows were mild and we passed without problems.
Nobeltec's chart software for French Polynesia is right on GPS standards,
and was obtained from the French Navy hydrographics. Our 25 kw Furuno radar
was very useful in defining the low-lying atolls at night. Both of these
tools were provided by Long Beach Marine, along with a custom central
processing unit for our multi-task computer.
On Wednesday afternoon, we played escort for a school of skipjack tuna and
diving seabirds. The tuna traveled along just off our bow, much like
dolphins do when playing. But, the tuna and diving birds were taking
advantage of small fish startled by our hull to swoop forward and attack.
The birds then dove in to pick off the wounded. This kept up for two hours.
Our three-day crossing from the Marquesas Islands was down wind and down
swell, and there was little of either. We had no salt spray on the boat the
whole way. Our biggest strategic issue was keeping boat speed slow enough
to make our timing for the lagoon entrance. With the favorable conditions
and current, our fuel efficiency increased to 2.5 nm/gallon at 7 kts.
We will explore this part of the Tuomotu Archipelago for the next several
days, ending up at Rangirora, then on to the Society Islands. Today, we are
at anchor at 15-49.6S 145-07.0W.
We left Baie Hanavave Monday morning, with the sun highlighting the towering peaks above the bay. This anchorage, also known as Baie des Vierges is touted as the most beautiful in Polynesia. From what we have experienced so far, they may be correct. Check Google to see if photos have been placed on the Web. Yesterday afternoon we had good lighting for photos of the boat, with the village and mountains in the background.
We leave the Marquesas Islands behind on a 500-mile run to the Tuomotu Archipelago. Our first destination is Kauehi, a small atoll located at 15-57S 145-11W. It will be quite a change from the Marquesas Islands, that tower thousands of feet. In the Tuomotus, the average topography is only 10 feet above the sea. Satellite and radio reception should improve. We are running with the seas and wind at 217M. We now have the trades on our port quarter, so the bashing to weather is over, for now.
Low slack water in the entrance channel to Kauehi's lagoon is predicted for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. To arrive at that time, we have dropped engine speed to 1,275 rpm. With the following wind, seas and current we are making 6.8 kts and 2.2 nm/gallon. Our Nobeltec navigation software constantly updates our estimated arrival time. If necessary, we will adjust speed over the next three days to arrive at optimum conditions.
We are enroute from Atuona, Hiva Oa to Baie Hanavave, Fatu Hiva. At noon on April 15, our fix was 10-14.6S 138-49.5W.
This morning, we caught a large mahi mahi off Tahuata Island, re-filling our freezer space.
Atuona is picturesque and populated with charming Marquesans. While walking to town, several vehicles stopped to offer us a ride. The nearby harbor at Tahauku is protected by a small breakwater. Cruisers are relegated to the back of the bay to keep room for local boats. So, we were packed cheek to jowl with about a dozen sailboats. All used bow and stern anchors, so it worked. Atuona is the southern Marquesas port of entry, which tends to concentrate boats arriving in the islands. Besides that, it is a place that would be easy to linger.
Fatu Hiva will be our last stop in the Marquesas. Next we turn west to the Tuomotus.
We arrived after dark at Baie Hanamoenoa, Tahuata Island (9-54.4S 139-06.3W) Monday evening. With the new moon phase, it was pitch black. It is a small cove, less than 1/4 mile wide and deep. We approached with deliberate speed, with our Furuno 25 kw radar, commercial depth sounder and scanning sonar painting a perfect picture.
Hanamoenoa is considered to have one of the best beaches in Polynesia. It is just off the channel between Tahuata and Hiva Oa. This slot accelerates trade winds and results in heavy showers, as clouds pass by. This morning, our boat was squeaky clean.
One of our correspondents asked for fuel information for our crossing from Hawaii. Our route covered 1,980 nm, we burned 1,126 gallons of fuel and traveled for four hours short of 12 days. Fuel use was confirmed by filling the main tanks and adding the two 115 gallon rear tanks that were not filled. Our burn rate was 1.76 nm/gallon, including generator fuel. Our average speed was 6.97 kts, including stops for fishing and oil checks. (Editor's note: The fuel burn for the 1,980-nautical-mile passage at 6.97 knots was 3.96 gallons per hour.) We
experienced more head winds, seas and current than expected; however, our base plan was 7 kts and 1.8 nm/gallon. In calm seas and currents, we average 8 kts and 2 nm/gallon. Our Flo Scan fuel computer accurately showed us our burn rate and consumption totals, so we knew that we would have ample fuel supply to reach our destination, without slowing.
Fuel at Taiohae, Nuku Hiva was pre-arranged through Polynesia Yacht Services of Tahiti, with the French oil company, Total. We estimated needing 3,200 liters and took on 3,505. The fuel service obtained a duty-free rate of $2.14/gallon. Fuel was gravity fed by hose from a large storage tank and we were med-moored with our stern tied to a concrete dock and held off by our anchor. It is unclear whether sufficient supplies would have been available for the volume we purchased, without prior notice.
We are steaming upwind from Ua Pou to Tahuata 9-45S 139-28W (2 p.m. local).. We plan to drop anchor at Baie Hanamoenoa, Tahuata, tonight.
The harbor at Hakahou , Ua Pou, was shallow and tight. It is used primarily by supply ships that tie to a quay. We anchored fore and aft and made a spot to spend Saturday night. One sailboat was in the harbor, said to be owned by a local school teacher. We were the only cruisers. Dinner ashore was excellent. The French have succeeded in passing on their cooking talents.
Sunday we anchored at Baie Vaiehu, Ua Pou, where we snorkeled in clear, 86 degree water with lots of brightly colored fish.
At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, we departed Hakatea Bay on Nuku Hiva, enroute south to Hakahau Bay, on the island of Ua Pou. At mid channel, we were 9-08S 140-07W. The familiar SE trades are giving us 20 kts on the port bow.
On Thursday, we took an all-day tour of Nuku Hiva, aboard a Land Rover. This island has steep mountain sides with narrow, winding roads. Most of our tour was in a four-wheel drive over mud and rocks. The vistas and remote
villages were very interesting, but it was a long day. Taipivai Valley, the setting for Herman Melville's book, "Typee", was memorable.
The botanicals were interesting. We saw teak and rosewood trees, vast areas of palms, flowers growing along the road that we had only seen in exotic florist arrangements. Fruit bearing trees abounded. Along mountain ridges were pine trees all growing in straight rows. Oh, something was odd. All of the above were brought to these islands by settlers at one time or another. The mountains were covered with ferns when the first explorers arrived from southeast Asia. The pine trees, planted for harvest, grew too fast for good lumber. So, they are rarely used. It is reminiscent of the eucalyptus trees planted in southern California for railroad ties.
We visited a major archeological site, under a jungle canopy. Evidence shows that the early Marquesans followed the usual command and control organization. Youngsters reaching puberty were displayed in ceremonies, and became fair game. The unlucky of the community were singled out for human sacrifice. Tattoos were a big issue. Fist-sized holes in stones were used for grinding the tattoo medium.
The island's population is now at 4,000, down from 60,000 in the 1700's due mainly to disease brought from Europe. Communities were based on valley typography, and wars were constant between neighboring watersheds. Cannibalism was widespread until the late 1800's.
French administration and Catholic religion has influenced the present culture in a positive way. Marquesans we met were polite, clean and industrious. Local restaurant cuisine was excellent. Like many island economies, it appears to be subsidized to an extent by its sponsor country.
The anchorage at Taiohae was very enjoyable. At the head, it is about 3/4 of a
mile across. Our Nordhavn was the only motor cruiser among a field of about 15 sailboats. We supplemented our food provisions and took on 3,505 liters or 926 gallons of diesel fuel, to fill our main tanks. This was the big city, a population of about 1,500. From here our journey takes us to smaller villages, until we reach Tahiti.
At midnight Monday, April 4, we passed Eiao, the northern-most of the Marquesas Islands. We should be anchored at Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva by noon.
Ice Dancer is riding high in the water, after using 1,050 gallons of 1,430 on board. We have 27-knot trade winds, 30 degrees off our port bow. Most of the 12-day crossing has been with this wind angle, which would be troublesome for sailboats, but no problem for our Nordhavn. Perhaps that is why we have not seen another boat since leaving the island of Hawaii.
We will send reports about what we find on these islands, visited earlier by the likes of Captain Cook, Herman Melville and Paul Gauguin.
At 5:30 p.m, Sunday evening, April 3, we were at 05-05S 142-29W, steering 140M at 6.8 kts. We had a mix of seas today, but nothing really adverse.
Our projected arrival time at Taiohae, Nuku Hiva is Tuesday morning.
Besides checking in, our priority task will be cleaning up salt spray on and in the boat. Constant winds on the port bow and beam has provided a fine spray of salt water. High humidity near the ITCZ added to the salt mist.
The exterior has been drenched several times by squalls and washed down with our fresh-water system, but the interior will need a good scrub.
All systems are working remarkably well.
At 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening we were at 02-36S 143-53W steering 141M at 7.3 kts. Seas remain friendly.
Midday temperatures are running about 86 and nights 82. Water is 84.
Humidity has dropped remarkably since leaving the ITCZ.
On our last visit to So. Cal we picked up some carne asada from a place in Costa Mesa that my brother John showed us. So, last night we had wonderful tostadas.
We have been learning star constellations during these very clear nights.It is no wonder so many cruising boats are named after them.
Boat, equipment and sailors are functioning well.
At 3:50 p.m. Friday, we crossed the equator at 145-20W steering 141M at 7 knots. As we crossed, a bright rainbow appeared from a small squall, ahead.
We are pollywogs, no longer, but shellbacks in the seafaring tradition. Our trusty Nordhavn has taken us to the southern hemisphere.
Seas have been kindly, with 5 to 10 kts on the port bows and 3- foot seas. If conditions remain favorable, we should drop anchor in Baie d' Taiohae, Nuku Hiva midday on Tuesday.
Dick and Gail Barnes
Aboard Ice Dancer
Nordhavn 50 #22