100 miles from Rangiroa!
Rumpelteazer entered the ‘Dangerous Archipelago’ two days ago, passing around 50 miles north of Puka-Puka and then 25 miles south of Napuka (the bigger of the two ‘Iles des Desappointement’), the two most north easterly of the Tuamotu atolls. Although not well charted, we were surprised to see a significant loom over the top of Napuka, indicating quite a lot of human and/or industrial activity.
With tales of the abrupt ending of the voyages of the Kon-Tiki raft and Gipsy Moth, navigation has become an important part of daily life. Aided by no less than two different GPS systems, which the Captain interrogates increasingly anxiously, and by Max’s detailed plotting on the paper charts, we are making our way safely, but at speed, through the atolls.
This morning at around 7am (we are now on Hawaii time = GMT minus 10 hours) we passed the atoll of Takapoto, 3 miles on our starboard beam, close enough so that we could see thousands of palm trees, white beaches and a radio beacon - our first sight of land in 21 days! And then it disappeared again and we can see only the ocean.
We have also had a busy day on the sailing front – having been on the port gybe for over a week, we gybed twice in 12 hours, necessitating a lot of pre-planning and unravelling of all of the preventers, anti-chafe devices and barber-haulers controlling our two big sails. Since this morning, we have been back on a port gybe, heavily reefed in winds of up to 28 knots, and are goose-winging our way at speeds of up to 12 knots in a westerly direction. Unfortunately our lay line to Rangiroa is dead down wind so another gybe will be necessary before the day is out.
Our average speeds (SOG) for the last two 24 hour periods were 8 knots and 7.8 knots respectively, and the distances travelled were 193 miles and 188 miles.
After 28 days at sea, and over 4,500 miles since Panama, our GPS tells us we are 15 hours from Rangiroa. We are now slowing down so that we arrive in daylight, and go through the pass into the lagoon (probably the Tiputa pass) at around tomorrow, at slack water. Hopefully Peter will have bought the croissants for breakfast!