Passage to Ahe, Tuamotus - and now for something entirel y different
Position 14:32.16S 146:21.66W
Date 1535 (French Polynesian Time UTC -10½) Wednesday 9 April 2014
Distance run – 506nm over the ground, 470nm through the water
Time taken – 3 days 6½ hours
We made it away from Nuku Hiva on Sunday, slipping at 0915. It was good to see that the gearbox with new cooler fitted now ran at a steady 43 deg C as opposed to the 72 deg C without. Bar a four hour period during the early hours of Tuesday when the wind went light we sailed the whole distance without engine.
This guy joined us for some hours and took up residence on the solar panels where he proceeded to do what sea birds do best. It cleaned off fairly easily!
The Tuamotus are a group of atolls formed by old volcanic islands sinking into the ocean. So we are looking out for a coral fringing reef with low lying islands, motus, surrounding a lagoon of varying depths but generally shallow. The accessible islands have passes through the reef. Because of the large volume of water contained in the lagoon the currents in the passes can be up to 8 knots and it is generally sensible only to attempt the more narrow passes at slack water.
For Ahe we calculated that slack water would be about 1400 and to avoid having to wait we slowed the boat down overnight Tuesday/Wednesday and arrived off the pass meeting two other Rally boats, Skylark of London and Civetta II who had arrived earlier.
The pass into Ahe
Entering for the first time is quite nerve racking. The swell piles up on the reef at each side of the pass, which is at its maximum 300 metres and narrowest 120m and the water in the pass swirls and creates standing waves. It is rather like standing at the top of a black run skiing knowing that once committed there is little chance of going back. Following Skylark and despite our calculation we still had 3 knots of current against us but all was well as we slid through the gap into the calm waters of the lagoon.
Bad hair day – the Mate taking advantage of a tropical downpour to clean off the salt.
The main anchorage off the main, and only, town was a 6 mile motor across the lagoon to where we joined a number of other Rally boats including Flomaida on which we were subsequently entertained to a wonderful dinner to celebrate Dagmar’s birthday.