To Raivavae, Austral Islands, French Polynesia, South Pacific
We completed final chores to up anchor at half past eleven. Bear took this picture, amused watching the baker taking his supply of flour home. Knowing there would be no wind for a day we settled to the idea of motoring.
Our final look at Mount Duff. A little difference leaving the fairway compared to our journey in, today flat calm.
Gusts to eight knots made us laugh as we settled into our first game of backgammon. Seas were kind so no need to prop the board up with a rolled towel, our pieces stayed in position beautifully. I went to bed as usual at twenty two hundred and woke to the captains call at a quarter to two. As I took my shift at two I was told that a star was very low on the horizon, but looked near. Still, many light years away though. Well, no sooner than the skipper had got to the bottom of the stairs, I called after him to question why his little star had a port light. He chuckled as he went off to bed. An hour later the freighter, now forever renamed Little Star, passed me port to port.......................
I got up at ten to see the sun and clouds promised wind.
Day One. Thursday the 11th of July
Midday Position: 23:19.63 South and 136:56.63 West.
Miles covered: 110 under engine.
Engine off at 12:40, sails full of wind, only ten knots but signs of growing, and, we were off at a faster lick than under motor. No sooner than we had eaten lunch than the gusts lifted to twenty eight knots. One mammoth wave dumped a wheelbarrow full of cold water into the cockpit, enough said, up went the conservatory and we were snug as bugs. I lost at backgammon on a very supported board, Bear had every wave help his dice, oh you’re just bitter. Possibly. The sea took up her false teeth and proved she has a temper.
Day Two. Friday the 12th of July
Midday Position: 23:23.11 South and 139:28.35 West.
Miles covered: 139.2
Overnight the sea calmed and steadied, we did twenty six miles in four hours, I got up at ten to find the sun shining, the skipper smiling, the fishing line out and the wind at seventeen knots. I lost again at backgammon so headed for Spam fingers dipped in salad cream as a happy food lunch. Bear had a wet chicken and noodle soup to soak up into the last of our French stick. No sooner than I had said things were just perfect we had a couple of really big squalls. All the Rummikub chips ended up in Bears lap, we laughed and tried again but the same result.
Every day at dusk we do the same things. Chart Plotter set to night light, navigation, instrument and compass lights on, tidy cockpit for the night and wash up any supper dishes. Either of us do the jobs, like who takes the lead between Keef and Ronnie, it just happens. I set off to take the bits to the kitchen, I made it to the bottom of the stairs – no problem. As I turned to take the first step across the hall a rogue wave hit and I flew backwards, I landed splat against the door frame of the sea toilet. The pain was so great I couldn’t get a swear word out. I somehow threw what I was carrying into the sink, stood beside the bed, laid across it and put the cold, wet flannel on my now pulsating touché. Bear missed it as he was the other side of the shed winding in the fishing line. The pictures above are as tasteful as I can possibly manage.
It took me some time to get back to the cockpit and even more trouble to get seated. Bear got me the rest of my Spam as a comforter and a cushion off the settee.
We had a lovely sunset.
Overnight we got to the half way mark
Day Three. Saturday the 13th of July
Midday Position: 23:27.91 South and 142:33.34 West.
Miles covered: 170.1 – A new twenty four hour record for Beez Neez, a wow of 7.0875 per hour.
Bear holding tight on one of his chafe inspections.
Needless to say sitting is a problem, the bottom of my back is shouting and the left side of my neck is championing whiplash (first time for everything) - but what put the smile back on my face was when Bear got up from his sleep and presented me with the bathroom door. It chose this time to expose corroded through hinges, goes to show we never know what will happen next.
I thought Bear was being cute putting our two toothpastes hand in hand on the bedroom floor. No a rogue wave threw them out of their box on the bathroom shelf, so this is where we left them for the rest of the journey. Some would say we are taking a bit of a beating, but Beez is having fun, she is totally trustworthy and well built for the job. It is true to say that if we had no conservatory we would be really wet, probably cold and miserable, perhaps the best design and purchase aboard.
The skipper smiled as he gave me the weather report. The GRIB files predict winds of twenty five to thirty knots. For the first time Bear went out and put a reef in the main (put a pleat in the big sail to make it smaller) without me having to turn to wind. He had never tried it before and put me on ready about in case he needed help. He came back in very pleased with himself. I finally won at backgammon and Bear lost heavily at Rummikub, but I did have a very strange rack at one point. The skipper keeps poking painkillers in when I wince and things seem pretty settled.
Day Four. Sunday the 14th of July
Midday Position: 23:45.40 South and 145:22.63 West.
Miles covered: 155.8
Bear had to hand steer through some periods of big squalls. Overnight for me a stead-ish thirty two knots, not bad gusts to thirty six, the numbers may have been big but settled so we sped along quite smoothly.
Bear’s first sight of Raivavae in big waves that had me star shaped in bed, air born once or twice.....
I got up to see what some sailing books call the most most beautiful island in the world. Cannot wait to see it for ourselves.
Sails down, we managed 0.7 knots as we headed into wind and current to line up with the leading markers (a blob low down and one up the hill a bit, that when they are in line lead you in) to cross the coral heads. We had quite deep water all the way in, the least was fifteen feet below us.
Interesting - Bears IPad map is Navionics and had us going over dry land, whereas our chart plotter is C-map and had us spot on.
We followed the buoys in. The last red before we turned into the bay was almost on the shore.
We rounded the corner and saw one of the two island villages, the wharf and what scenery.
We loved the names of the ‘gateposts’ of the atoll, on one side Tetoherahi on the other the fantastic name – Hotapotaataa. Beez safely tucked in with thirty feet of water below her, windy but secure.
The moto opposite our anchorage (below) is called Tuitui and made us really feel like we were at last in the South Pacific. A must to go and explore. Unbelievable that the deep Pacific Ocean is just behind and breaking so close we can hear it.
Day Five. Monday the 15th of July 2013
Eleven o’clock anchored at 23:52.01 South 147:41.38 West
Total: 704 miles in 4 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes.
Av Speed: 5.8912 knots
Anchor down, we set about our individual chores, had a couple of hours sleep, a very late lunch or early supper. Bear swapped the hinges to rehang the bathroom cupboard door (with the sea toilet cupboard door – on his list for Tahiti or New Zealand). I did the washing, we both showered and settled in the conservatory to take in our new surroundings with a celebratory drink over some serious games. Smashing.
ALL IN ALL REALLY DOING IT
TESTING BUT SATISFYING