Fri 21 Jul 2023 22:41
We were in luck…there was one mooring buoy left. As we approached the bay from the northern end, it became clear that there was a fairly hefty ground swell coming from the SW. Although we were sheltered from the prevailing wind, we hadn’t considered this might be a problem. Initially we couldn’t see the 3rd mooring buoy…we swung by one of the yachts already moored who kindly pointed it out….now we understood why no one was on it! The trouble is, the sea bed goes from 100m deep to the coral shore over a distance of about 20m (literally). Initially we both considered bailing and carrying on to Tahiti albeit with unfavourable winds…we eventually manned up.
First we did a drive by, the buoy was about 25m off the breaking swell. We approached with some way on so we could abort quickly if required. The depth gauge was having an exciting time, the buoy was in about 8m depth and we had to approach from the shore side. I have to say, I definitely nearly lost it, it was without a doubt the most precarious mooring either of us have ever attempted. We did a couple more drive bys to rehearse how we would do it. Our little radios really came into their own….though I recon their 2second delay might have been long enough to loose the boat!
We got her secured and then sat for a long time observing the proximity of the breaking waves. Eventually we turned the engine off and stared over at the incredible sheer limestone rock faces littered with palm trees at the base, totally magnificent, and such a contrast after the low lying coral atolls we’ve been used to.
A little history…Makatea is one of only 3 raised atolls, it was pushed up from beneath the sea bed when Tahiti was formed. Up until the 1960’s, it was a major phosphate mine. You can see the remains of some rather hefty industrial infrastructure from the boat. There’s an abandoned town from when the place was booming.
We’re hoping to do some climbing tomorrow (if we ever dare leave the boat)! For now, we remain on tenterhooks.