16:30.064S 144:13.653W Back on the road again

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Fri 15 Dec 2023 02:23

14th December 2023

We enjoyed our little stop over in the south of Fakarava hugely. It was lovely to be somewhere a little rural and remote again and had much of a feel of the San Blas islands about it; looking across the clear water of the lagoon to the white sandy coral beach and the dense line of coconut palms.

After a pretty decent weekend of weather Monday brought the promised wet and windy deluge and we made the most of it by filling all of our water cans. Fortunately we had chosen a good spot to be for the strong winds and the anchorage was pretty comfortable as it was protected from the southeast where the winds were blowing from. Tuesday was our last day there and the weather began to improve through the day. Having been stuck on-board for most of 2 days we took the dinghy ashore on Tuesday evening to enjoy a walk along the beach; to say goodbye to our kitty friends, and to take a nice long swim and bath in the shallow waters off the beach. It was then that we met the first of the inhabitants of this perfect little spot; a little girl of about 8 or 9 years old walking along the beach. We spoke briefly before she jumped into the water to swim with us and began a game of "can you do this?" which resulted in me having to demonstrate I could; walk on my hands, do a somersault, then a backwards somersault (it was a bit shallow and I was a bit too buoyant for that one but she executed them perfectly) and finally a series of karate-kicks and kung-fu chops which basically resulted in a big splashy water fight!! After our intensive session of water aerobics it was time to say goodbye and all head home for tea. As we rowed back across the lagoon we could hear her "kung-fu chopping" her way back through the undergrowth to her house along the beach just across the water from us. She was the first and last resident of that remote spot in south Fakarava that we met other than our four-legged friends.

Wednesday 13th December we lifted our anchor shortly before 8am. Jamie had spent some time repairing and re-soldering the deck buttons which operate the anchor windlass whilst we were here and we were glad to see them working properly again. He operated the windlass whilst I helmed and then we set out under engine towards the south pass a few miles away. We lifted the mainsail as we approached the pass and exited at the perfect time with nearly slack water and just a half knot of current carrying us through. As we left we admired the spectacular reef off our starboard beam and the beautiful picturesque village to port. This pass is reputed to be one of the most spectacular snorkel and dive spots in the world. We had been encouraged by friends to attempt to drift snorkel through this pass but unfortunately that is an activity suited to the modern set up of a large inflatable dinghy with a powerful outboard on it and not really suitable for either an inflatable kayak or a wooden rowing dinghy. We swept over the bubbling waters of pass and out into the open sea once more where we set full sail and waved goodbye as Fakarava shrank behind us.

Our first day was; as is often the case, pretty comfortable. We put in our first tack of many at midday and recorded our noon position.

Evening brought a series of squalls and we soon reefed down both sails and cowered under the dodger trying to stay as dry as possible. We concluded that we were sailing along a line squall; several cells all lined up such that we were inevitably going to be hit by each and every one of them. It is frustrating to know that a course just 10 or 15 miles in either direction and we would have likely missed them all. The discomfort of night time squalls isn't limited to the rough conditions of strong winds and beating rain during the event but that it leaves a drenched cockpit with no dry spot for whoever is on watch to relax. For the next few hours we tacked our way back and forth along the line of squalls in a wet, windy and generally miserable manner.

Once they had passed through Jamie allowed me to go below and get some rest in the dry while he stayed on watch. I managed to enjoy a few blissful hours of sleep before relieving him of his watch shortly before 5am whereby he went below for some rest and I was treated to the spectacular sunrise over the ocean. This being my favourite time to take a watch, I have seen many ocean sunrises now but it always amazes me that no two are ever the same. Today the sun rose through a broken layer of cloud off the horizon which it seemed to burn through such that the whole orb was visible despite the thick cloud either side. Above the rising sun a mackerel sky so geometrically perfect that any atheist would have to believe it was man-made. The perfect evenly-broken clouds had gathered in great wave-shaped swirls across the sky and dotted around them were cloud formations that each bore a striking resemblance to some earthly or heavenly being; an angel with a trumpet here; a bear raising it's paws there. It was a true work of art.

At 9am Jamie recorded our days run made good at 
52.5nm with the same distance remaining to the village pass at Makemo. These upwind passages are toughly contended miles but we were making good progress.

As I write this we have continued to make good progress and despite a largely overcast day we have; so far, remained dry. We are now hoping that the skies clear and we can enjoy a rare dry night sail too. We have just passed two dolphins which always feel like a good omen whilst discussing weather conditions... We will see.

We have now approximately 
15.5nm to reach the first pass into Makemo although we will likely not take that pass as we will not be able to navigate the lagoon at night. Instead we plan to spend a second night at sea and enter the lagoon at Makemo through the eastern pass which takes us directly into the village that we spent several weeks anchored off previously.

We are looking forward to seeing one of our favourite places in Polynesia again.