Position: 15 34.09 S 146 24.83 W
Moored Niutahi Boat Harbour, Apataki
Wind: East, F3 Gentle breeze
Weather: Cloudy, warm
Day's run: 115 nm
We sailed back and forth in between the atolls last night staying safe. Low water was at 7.30 this morning so I timed our approach to the entrance to Apataki so as to sail pass at about this time. If my tide tables were correct I expected that the tidal stream would still be ebbing strongly from the lagoon which in fact proved to be the case, the strong outflow and associated turbulence was clearly visible as we sailed past. I figured it would be a good couple of hours before the stream would have eased significantly so we tacked and headed out into clear water again, gybing at 8.35 to be back off the entrance at ten. Sure enough on our return the tidal stream was still flowing out the lagoon but at a much slower rate against which I was confident Sylph's engine could manage comfortably. There is a small boat harbour in the pass to the lagoon but my guide did not recommend it and suggested anchoring off the village once properly inside the lagoon. I therefore proceeded past the boat harbour which indeed was very small and shallow but when I got to where my guide recommended it was open and choppy and access ashore was over a reef, I was not at all happy with this option. I therefore turned around and headed back to the boat harbour for a closer look. The entrance is very narrow and the water shoal but it was very calm so I figured if we went slowly even if we did touch bottom no harm should be done. We got in no problems with a meter of water beneath the keel, and the water is crystal clear so it was easy to see any potential hazards. Once inside there was barely room to swing at anchor and in any event the harbour had a mooring right in the middle of it. I took the way off Sylph and looked around. As I did so someone from the wharf hailed me and made me to understand that I could use the mooring. By this time I had already drifted onto it so it was a very simple matter to grab the boat hook and pick up the mooring line. And here we are.
I have since been ashore, walked around the small island and found the important item of interest, namely the magasin (shop), it didn't take long. My main objective is to buy some fresh bread but there was no bread left and the lady in the boulangerie who was obviously making a fresh batch of baguettes said to come back at three. I also met the local constabulary whose name is Steve who, by the time I had walked around the island, clearly knew all about me. As I walked past his house, a young fellow dressed like everyone else in shorts and T shirt hailed me and asked how long I would be staying for. I managed to communicate to him my plan to stay until Monday and then to proceed to the carenage. It was only after I had answered his questions that he smiled, offered me a handshake and introduced himself, so I presume he was satisfied. I imagine he was a little concerned about me taking up all the room in the boat harbour. I have shaken hands three times today and have been struck by the huge square hands of these three fellows. Something else to study – my study of the cocos nucifera continues, plenty of specimens to study here, and in a very different environment from the Marquesas. More later, yes you shall have to wait, now I intend to have a short siesta while the bread bakes.
All is well.