position S17 43.800 W149 19.900

Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Mon 9 Oct 2017 20:01
Friday 6th Oct. Phaeton Bay.
(delayed due to no internet access.)
Final destination for this leg.
What we thought would be an easy 30 mile motor round the coast in the lee of the island turned out to be anything but easy and definately not incident free.
Most of the coast has a nice sheltered bouyed channel between the shore and the reef. However it isn't continuous and occasionally there are passes through the reef that have to be negotiated. The 1st pass after a couple of miles took us out into calm water as expected (but sufficient surf on the reef to give some surfers a good ride) but as we rounded Pte Nuura we discovered that the wind was much more southerly and we weren't getting the protection we had hoped for. We were once more making painful slow progress against 20+ knots of wind. I had plotted a route outside the reef for the rest of the trip untill reaching the final bay but we hit much heavier seas at the next point (Maraa I think) to the extent that the satellite receiver that is mounted on a pole at the aft pushpit and had survived all the beating we had taken for the last couple of months broke off the from the pole and was last seen floating off-dome side up. I thought about retreival but it has no projections for catching with a boat hook and is a heavy lift in stationary conditions. In a steep sea it would have been impossible. The antenna is for is the faster communication system that has failed to work this trip and I was going to have to take the whole kit back home for testing and repair- so I have saved myself an awkward job but I will have to see what insurers say about replacement.
There was a pass back through the reef near the point but the electronic chart looses definition just to the south and is less clear about the next pass out again. We decided to take the inside route however and were able to make progress in flat water for the next few miles. The pass out again was marked with red and green markers but the surf each side was occasonally almost joining up in the middle of the pass. I approached cautiously and then thinking it was clear opened up the revs. Needless to say the next wave was a breaker right in front and whether it pushed us sideways or whether the whole pass is shallow we crunched horribly as we came down the back of the wave. Hearts in mouths I gave it full revs and thankfully the next wave wasn't breaking and we cleared out. That one moment was perhaps the closest we have been to losing the boat altogether and will probaby give me nightmares for some time to come. Once out the sea allowed slow progress with occasional stoppers that take the speed down to under 1 knot.
After a couple more miles we spotted a large black tail waving at us to our port side towards the reef, then two tails waving, then a 3rd much bigger white tail emerged and splashed followed by a full breach of one of the smaller whales. I think a mother hump-back with 2 young ones. Finally a wave of a long side fin from the mother and we left them behind.
The pass back through the reef was again well marked and the sea much clamer now but the surf to the side was even more dramatic throwing up huge sheets of multi coloured spray that flys along the reef at great speed.
The marina when we reached it at the head of the bay at about 4pm is a much more modest affair than that in Papeete and we circled a couple times before asking a french yachtsman anhored off if the marina had vhf. He said no but after we mentioned that we had a reservation he very kindly jumped in his dinghy and went ashore to see if he could rustle up some marina staff. Returning he said all staff had finished for the day but there is a space in the marina that he would help us into. The marina has room for just one row of bow to shore moorings and we took a spot near the back, with three more friendly yachtsman helping us to tie up. The stern lines all turned out to be broken so for the time being our stern is rafted to the next boat- the marina is very sheltered with no wind. The yachts here are much more our style (various degrees of tatty) rather than the impossibly smart superyachts in Papeete. The trailer for hoisting out however looks very serviceable and there are a couple of workshops. The marina is advertised for safer cyclone season storage than Papeete.