The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Fri 23 May 2014 03:54



15:56.35S 145:03.38W


We’re now in a lovely anchorage at the south-eastern end of Kauehi in the Tuamotus.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


22 May 2014   Daniel’s Bay to Kauehi, Tuamotus (Day 5)


We waited until half past nine before starting to go through the pass - at which time I'd guesstimated the current to be 1-2 knot going into the lagoon.  Looking through binoculars, I could see some standing waves in the pass.  They didn't seem too bad, but just in case, we rolled away the genoa and turned on the engine. 


I think that we got it about right - we had the current with us and the standing waves were only a couple of feet high, so we soon powered through them.  Once inside the lagoon, we motored east, straight into the wind.  The water was 30-50 metres deep without any hazards apart from one small reef at 15:56.39S 145:04.69W, which must be a pinnacle rising up from 30 metres to just under the surface. 


There are lots of places to anchor all along the long motu on the east side of the atoll, which gives excellent protection from north-east to south winds.  I'm afraid that we suffered from "empty car park syndrome" and dithered about trying to decided where to park our boat, eventually settling down at 15:56.35S 145:03.38W. 


The main reason for our indecision was that we were trying (and failed) to find a place to anchor that had a clear patch of sand.  Everywhere seems to have coral heads dotted around in the sand.  These are substantial lumps of coral that stand 3-6 feet off the sandy seabed and are perfectly suited to snag anchor chains.  The water is 10-12 metres deep, so with 50 metres of chain out, any change in wind direction is likely to cause our chain to snag on a coral head.


Not only is this a problem when we come to lift our anchor, but it also shortens the amount of chain available.  When the wind increases, we rely on the weight of the chain hanging down to absorb some of the snatch forces in strong gusts.  If the chain is wrapped on a coral head, then we lose this cushioning effect and more load is placed on the chain & the windlass - not a good thing.


With this in mind,  I've tied a couple of fenders onto the anchor chain to lift it off the sea bed and hopefully stop it snagging on coral heads.  It took me a couple of hours of experimenting with different sizes of fenders and the position of them along the chain, but I think that I've got it sussed.  With 50 metres of chain out, I've got a large fender at 20 metres and a smaller one at 30 metres.  This lifts most of the chain off the sea bed, but leaves the first 15 metres on the sand.


We finished our various chores by four 'clock, cracked open some nice cold beers and chilled out - reading and gazing at our surroundings.  This really is a lovely anchorage - the water is multiple shades of blue leading up to the white beach of the motu with palm trees swaying in the trade winds.  To make things even better the water is flat calm, which is a great relief after the rolly anchorages of the Marquesas.


We had dinner early and the thing that struck both of us is that there’s no sound here.  We’ve been so used to the constant blast of wind, the thrum of sails and the slamming of water into the hull that this is a shock to our systems – my ears are actually ringing because it’s so quiet.