16:02.775S 142:28.373W Hello Tuamotus!!

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Mon 19 Jun 2023 04:48

Sunday 18th June

The final 24hr leg of our passage to the Tuamotus was a comfortable one with winds at force 
5-6 and a flatter sea state than the earlier part of the trip. This meant conditions onboard were more pleasant and moving around the cabin to perform simple tasks like preparing food and drink wasn't quite as high-risk as previously!

We woke on Sunday to the sight of the Tuamotus far off in the distance. By 8am we had arrived at the atoll of Rairoa and stood off the pass through the reef into the lagoon studying our tide tables and calculating the best time to attempt to get through. We watched as a catamaran came out of the pass very VERY fast which confirmed our theory that the tide was still flooding out of the pass. We hove-to whilst we studied our charts and made a plan. To heave-to we backed the headsail and sheeted in the main and this effectively stops the boat. It's a very useful technique for resting during heavy weather and despite the sea conditions being calm it was fascinating to see the slick flat water created by Hamble Warrior's lee and to feel the boat stationary with both sails still up. After half an hour or so we had our first go at the pass. We furled the headsail and turned on the engine and motored into the pass; we pushed the engine a little harder than we would normally; around 5kts with our fouled bottom, but we were still barely holding ground and eventually started to go backwards. We turned back out of the pass and hove-to for breakfast to wait for a more favourable tide.
We enjoyed a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit and coffee. By the time we had finished breakfast we had drifted a little way from the pass so we sailed back and at 
1020hrs we made our second attempt at the pass. It was very slow but we made it through this second time. Watching anxiously as we made just 0.8kt of speed and then slowly a little at a time a little more and a little more until we had about 1.5kts of speed and managed to creep through the pass and into the huge lagoon of Rairoa. Next time more patience and wait another hour or so!!

Having safely made the pass we then had to carefully navigate inside the lagoon keeping a keen lookout for shallows and "bommies" which are coral heads which protrude from the seabed up to sea level. We headed to the small village and spent some time surveying the best place to drop our anchor. There was just one other sailboat here and we made sure we found a spot away from them at the other side of the village. We found an area we were happy with and I waited until I was pretty sure we were positioned over a sandy patch before I started to drop the anchor. We carefully laid out around 50 metres of anchor chain attaching fenders at regular intervals - a new technique for us and intended to keep the anchor chain off the seabed and therefore stop it from wrapping around coral and damaging the coral (as well as preventing difficulties lifting our ground tackle back up). We were rather pleased with ourselves and just before midday I made a final entry into our logbook that we had arrived and set ourselves. I made us coffee and we admired our beautiful surroundings. The water here is crystal clear blue and turquoise; the beaches are bright white sand and the low-lying coastline is row after row of green palm trees. It's a perfect paradise setting; very much like the San Blas islands of Kuna Yala that we visited off Panama but on steroids!! We drank our coffee admiring the stunning view and then I jumped in the warm water and had my first swim in clear waters since we had been in San Blas. It was heavenly. Whilst I dried off and started to tidy the boat from our trip Jamie took a snorkel mask and went to check on our anchor. He returned with the bad news that we would have to reset as our anchor had set in front of a coral patch. We started to lift our chain and as we reached the end of it we could feel our anchor was trapped under the coral. For the next two hours or so we practiced trick and technique after trick and technique - taking it in turns in the water, trying to trip the anchor out; attaching various lines and chains. Eventually we managed to free it and started the whole process of setting it all over again.

After that excitement we felt like we had earned our arrival drink so at 4 o'clock we opened a couple of cold beers and once again sat back to enjoy the view. By 5 o'clock the sun had set over the palm trees and little buildings of the village. It gets dark very early here - and light very early too! We will have to adjust to that!! For the time being we are very glad to be in a new archipelago; a new part of the world, and we are looking forward to some time exploring this beautiful place and learning to live with coral and tidal lagoons and learn a few new things.

The phone signal here is terrible so it doesn't look like we will be too distracted by social media or emails... good thing we have plenty of good books aboard ;)