The Tuomotus and beyond

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Mon 20 Aug 2007 18:23

We arrived at the island of Manihi on 2nd August.  Without setting out to do so we had sailed almost alongside Y-Not for four days and, with excellent electronic charts we led the way in through the shallow pass.  We had not calculated the flow of water out through the pass quite correctly – it was still ebbing and we encountered some turbulence but there were no serious problems and we anchored off the village in the early afternoon.


Just a beautiful sunset.Some turbulence as we motor through the narrow pass at Manihi.


The small village has few amenities but there are some pretty streets, two general stores and we were able to stock up and have a good look round.  As ever the people were wonderfully friendly.  One young man, seeing me carrying two cases of beer, stopped his tricycle alongside, insisted on putting the beer in his basket, and cycled off to scramble down and load it into our dinghy.  He apparently had not the slightest expectation of any reward but was pleased with a handshake in the French manner.  This was an incident typical of this part of the world.


A pretty village street at Manihi.While changing a light bulb, view from top of the mast.


After a couple of nights we decided to move to a more picturesque spot but were hampered by the collapse of our anchor windlass.  Like many anchorages in these parts the bottom was strewn with coral knobs and a sturdy windlass is required to free the chain.  Following the complete disintegration of a cast aluminium part our strong and mighty help in trouble had become a weak and feeble thing capable only of a little gentle pulling.  We got the anchor up eventually but it took nearly two hours and we decided to use the kedge (second anchor) at the new spot.  It has a short length of chain but mostly rope cable that can be hauled by our powerful sheet winches.  There was a barbecue party on the beach but we missed it.  As dusk approached rain squalls threatened and not knowing how much wind they would bring we decided to stay on board.  Night fell and JJ Moon shifted in the changing breeze.  Now we were concerned that the rope would chafe through on a sharp outcrop of coral so we set anchor watches and sat up all night alert to the slightest shift towards the reef.  It was not too bad.  We could read with a good light in the cockpit and at least we did not have to remember to fill in the log every hour.  Apprehension kept us wide awake!  At first light two boats called us up to enquire whether we realized where we were and whether we were OK.  We had kept within precise co-ordinates all night but it certainly looked a bit dodgy when we peered over at the reef disconcertingly close in the bright light of day.


The following day, the 7th, we sailed for Rangiroa in the company of others.  The hundred miles took us about eighteen hours and we motored through the wide but swift-flowing pass at breakfast time to anchor in a sandy patch opposite a smart hotel.  Rangiroa is a big atoll, about a hundred miles in circumference, with two villages and several settlements.  It is also very beautiful and is an ideal spot for a quiet holiday “away from it all.”  A simple air strip provides for a regular service to Tahiti.


Rooms at a luxury hotel at Rangiroa.The South Pacific!


While sharing a curry with Y-Not we mentioned that Mags had been snorkelling round the boat and spotted that the protective anode had fallen off our prop.  Ross immediately offered to help fix a replacement.  The following morning we got ourselves organised, intrepid snorkellers took huge breaths, removed the old bits and bolted on the new.  While filling his lungs prior to a final tightening of the bolts Ross suggested that my next move should be to put the kettle on for some coffee.  I leapt to brew some fresh Colombian and he was soon changed and on board with blueberry muffins straight out of the oven.  Sue came across with more warm muffins and we spent the happiest of hours, some revelling in a job well done and others pleased and grateful that it had been achieved without the need to haul the boat out of the water.  The true pleasure of cruising.


That afternoon we hitched a lift in a truck to explore the most accessible village (in close company with four very large frozen fish).  On returning we decided to take a break from coral atolls and head for Tahiti.


Which is where we are; close to the large town of Papeete.  We tied up at first on the Quai des Yachts in the centre of town and did some essential business with immigration control, the harbour master and a large chandlery.   We did not mind the noise of the traffic for once in a while but the high speed ferries create a lot of wash so we have moved five miles down the coast (permission had to be sought from harbour control to take our high mast past the ends of the airport runway) to the marina Taina. 


The President's House, Papeete.Happiness.  Beer o'clock.


We may be here for some time.  Communications are good and the chart plotting programme disc which caused so much anguish in the Galapagos is nearly here.  We found an efficient man in Scotland with spares for the windlass and they are on their way.  With the help of local engineer Marco I have finally got to the bottom of our generator problems.  It should not give us any more grief and we can remedy the problem relatively simply when we get to New Zealand.  While waiting for the spares we can see something of the island and tackle other useful jobs.


We are booked to arrive at Heathrow on the morning of 31st December and we are due to fly back to Opua, via Sydney, on 6th February.  It will be great to catch up with people face to face.


At last, we have a picture of JJ Moon sailing.