At anchor in Rangiroa

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Fri 21 Mar 2008 07:13




The last 18 hours of our voyage to Rangiroa was marked by an extraordinary change in weather.  We were hit by a succession of squalls, with one carrying 40 knots of wind, fortunately in daylight.  Almost all of the squalls brought heavy rain.  We became adept at putting in reefs at short notice, and in advance of every black cloud coming in our direction. Eventually we were sailing with three reefs in the main and only a tiny bit of jib, and as we were trying to slow down to arrive at Rangiroa in daylight, we kept this sail plan even when the winds had died back to their usual 18 – 22 knot level. 


During Tuesday night we also experienced a lot of lightning, getting closer than we felt comfortable.  Wherever possible we steered lower than the flashes, hoping they would pass by, and they eventually did.  Late on Tuesday night it became clear that we might be going too slowly – the winds had dropped to below 18 knots – so out with all reefs for the remainder of the night.


Early on Wednesday morning, we saw the lights off Rangiroa, and as dawn broke, we saw very clearly the outline of the atoll on the horizon ahead of us.  By 6.30am, and after 29 days at sea, we were about to make our first landfall, 4,294 miles from Balbao.


We had calculated that the best time to enter the Tiputa Pass into the lagoon was around 9am when the current was slack.  However, Robert reckoned that with her twin engines, Rumpelteazer could motor into the last of the outflowing current and so go through an hour or so before low water.  And that’s what we did – and a really exciting experience it was with a current against us of 7 knots, and a lot of turbulence in the water.  Our only regret was that Peter was not expecting us until 9am so was not there on the edge of the channel with his camera to record the event from the shore. 


By just after 7am we had anchored off the Kia Ora hotel in clear turquoise water and were astonished by the silence after living with the crashing of seas against our hulls for so long.  Peter joined us on board bringing with him bottles of rum and fresh baguettes.  Rumpelteazer and crew are now taking a well-earned rest in the second largest atoll in the world.