Ua Huka, Marquesas, French Polynesia: 08:56.6S 139:35.8W
From the north of Hiva Oa to Nuku Hiva is about 80nm, which we might be able to sail during daylight but you are never sure. An average of 8 nm per hour is really high. Alternative is a night sail but if you don’t have to we prefer not to. Other possibility is heading for Nuku Hiva via Ua Huka, a very small island with three anchor possibilities. The day before leaving we receive an email from Baju late in the afternoon with, the message they skipped Ua Huka because of the bad anchorages. Hm, what should we do? Reason for Baju to continue to Nuku Hiva is mainly based upon the windlass that isn’t working. We on the other hand don’t have a windlass issue so we decide just to go to Ua Huka and just spent the night there.
We plan to leave very early in the morning, 06.00 it still is 50 nm to Ua Huka. While we wake up we see the Aranui arriving. The local people are already waiting at the little dock for them to collect the cobra. This time the Aranui only makes a stop and then continues. Only at a few places there is a day program for the cruise passengers as well.
At 06.30 we are off to Ua Huka. Rough sea, waves coming from everywhere, about 20 knots of wind, east south east, not favourable for Ua Huka.
A brief moment Vries comes with the idea going to Nuku Hiva instead of Ua Huka, even though it is another 30nm arriving in daylight is attainable Unfortunately, wind shifts continuously and so does the wind speed, so we skip that plan and head for Ua Huka, Haavei Bay.
At a certain moment, just a couple of miles before we arrive Vries thinks that the just new bolt for the new automatic pilot has broken again. Although the pilot still works Vries checks, and g.. d… the bolt has broken! First we have to anchor safely in a bay with huge wind gusts and swells. We arrive at about 2.00 p.m so that gives Vries the opportunity to see what the damage is. Thank God it is only the bolt and not also the driver plate. A spare bolt we have, a spare driver plate (with all the bits and pieces coming with the plate) we don’t have. At a closer look the bolt has come off in such a way that you can’t just turn out the bolt. Wow, what a lovely day we have. Vries knows more than one trick, and so he manages to get the bolt out. We can put a new one in but that doesn’t make sense if we don’t know the cause. We do have the other old automatic pilot working (again) so, not necessary to may be waste our last new bolt on the other pilot.
Meanwhile no change in wind or swell, this will probably be one of those nights with no sleep but this wasn’t our day anyway so what’s next?
And indeed, not much sleep. Although at half past four we both have falling a sleep and wake up at 8.00. We lift the anchor immediately and off we go to Nuku Hiva. After only 5 minutes sailing the old (and still only working) automatic pilot gives a bleep and the message ‘drive stopped’. What the …… When Vries pushes the button and put it on auto it works again. We don’t know what happened; can it be that the new carbon brushes needs to settle? The pilot works and we stop thinking about it. It gives a very uncomfortable feeling but what can we do?