Stargates in Paradise

Sat 31 May 2008 03:25
Hi everyone,
Friday 30th May
Noon position 12:40S 144:50W
Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells writes: It is a great shame that Planners have seen fit to introduce all sorts of restrictions on Public access to the Atolls in the Tuamotus Archipelago. Bad enough that our friends across the Channel thought fit to render the most southerly of them permanent nuclear fryingpans; the rest turn out to be subject to severe travel time restrictions with no (ie typically French) logic.
To the added previous difficulty of no lights at night out here, these Islands are tidal, and surrounded/composed of coral reefs. To enter the lagoons/anchorages you go through a 'pass' in the coral. It is too deep to anchor outside. These passes may be only a few metres wide, and shallow. Depending on the state of the tide there may be a tidal stream of many knots flowing, making progress in a small yacht impossible, or impossibly dangerous. The safe time to enter each pass is often only a short period each tide, and as one of these will be at night, only a short period each day. The safe time in relation to high tide varies from one island to another. Our intended landfall tomorrow, Ahe, is typical in all these respects, and we project that we will arrive three hours too late to negotiate the pass. To get there on time means increasing our speed by threequarters of a knot, but the only way I can do this is by running the engine for 24 hours. Of course the alternative would be to heave to for 21 hours, and arrive the day after next, but the prospect of bobbing up and down in the same drop of ocean for all that time, and with rolly discomfort did not appeal. Hence we are motorsailing now, with the engine hours ticking inexorably upwards, and the fuel tankometer ticking inexorably downwards, in conditions that are not far short of perfect for sailing.
Having got that off my chest let me say that we have otherwise enjoyed a fine sail so far, with ideal winds and fair weather (VB adds: oh but are you not forgetting the rolly sea!  two different wave diections and an 8ft swell makes the boat yaw and pitch in sucession so it's never still and you spend most of the time trying to wedge yourself soemwhere that doesnt require too much efort to remain stationary!  had I forgotten this peril of ocean sailing or did I susepct that the paradise pacific wouldn't be affected?!). The 500 miles have gone by quickly, and with two on board we have agreed to a watch system which keeps us up at night in rotation, but you quickly get used to this, and other tasks such as cooking and sail changing are much easier when shared between two. As usual we have seen no other boats since leaving the Marquesas, and on this passage there are no flying fish around (VB adds - except on my watch!). A big bird pooped on the foredeck this morning, and Vicky saw some dolphins alongside during the first night out: always a great sight with some phosphoresence about.
We are pleased to get news from UK, and send condolences to poor Charlie who is revising and working and generally deprived. At least you didn't get covered in sandfly bites!! Everyone will be excited/relieved to have Olivia back home, and I look forward to hearing a complete account of her great adventures at some stage. Pleased to hear from big (!) sister liz, and glad that they at least are managing to stay on top of the mountains. Hope that Hannah hasn't fallen off during her horse riding and that all other readers are well. I have also had a reply to my German blog, and am working, slowly, on the translation, and a possible rerply. Don't hold your breaths over there in Berlin!!
Vicky writes:  I'm now starting on this instant german course too - well see how it goes! Ish habe vier kinder, its easy really! Unlike this set sail for days at sea with unpreditaable winds with the aim of making landfall (or raised-beach-fall in this case) withing a few hours window!  and the pilot book are suspiciously coy about the instructions for these dangerous isles -"only enter through the pass when the sun is high and 5 hour after moonrise, and 4 hours before moonset.." Glad i brought my astro tables with me!  Reminds me of a croatian pilot book that warned of anchoring in bays where the trees bent to the west!  Anyhow - all will be well! off to go and cling on to another part of the boat!  good to hear from charlie and her rockn'roll lifestlye. more news/emails from bristol please! xV
Richard adds: ancient mariners have got used to the rolly seas, try swearing at them a bit more Vicky: Geoff will remember how well this worked for me!! Also about these flying fish: is she suggesting that I sleep through my watches? The very idea!!