Nuku Hiva to Raiatea   June 2009

June 15

South Pacific Ocean:  Monday

0630  Anchor up.  Taiohae Bay.  Nuku Hiva.

0730  In passage mode.  Monitor steering.  Making 5.8 knots under jib with two rolls.  There is a bit more wind than last week, but having a gooseneck barnacle free bottom makes a big difference.  Surely they were costing us at least ½ a knot.  Boat could carry spinnaker, but I am happy with 5 knots.  I’ll only set the spinnaker if the jib starts collapsing or we start going much slower.

I was awake at 0500.  Unmade the bed and plastic bagged the bedding.  Moved some bags from quarter berths to v-berths.  Sat in the dark drinking a cup of coffee, waiting for first light, knowing that 800 miles downwind in the trades should be routine, but with no repairs possible to the rig and no medical treatment for me in Nuku Hiva, this isn’t.

Sky began to lighten at 0600 and by 0625 I could see well enough to get underway.  Engine didn’t start the first two times I turned the key.  I knew that during the passage from Panama the leak I have never been able to find over the port quarter berth dripped on the back of the engine control panel.  Thought I might have to go below and hot-wire the ignition, but it connected on the third try.  Will check the wires while underway.

Anchored in 33’ to 36’ of water, depending on tide, I had out almost 125’ of chain.  All came in easily, and anchor came up with only a little weed and mud, which came off when I let it drag through the water.

Once I cleared the other anchored boats, I let the tiller pilot steer while I went forward and removed the anchor from the bow and stowed it below.  Considered leaving it on the bow for this passage, but was only being lazy.

As I was powering out, another boat which had waited for first light too was coming in. 

Our course to Raiatea is 235º.  Distance 811 miles.  I also have a waypoint just off the westernmost of the Tuamotus, Matavia.  It is 615 miles away and also bears 235º.

The tension that left me for a while in harbor has returned, but I am glad to be underway.  The end game has begun.  A week should tell. 

1220  Sunny.  Trade wind sky.  Nuku Hiva to the northeast and Ua Pou to the southeast are receding.  Wind has veered to the south and is forward of the beam.  Not where I want it.  Waves are still small and on the beam.  At the moment we are making 6 knots on course.  I’ll go up soon and reduce the jib to try to slow us to 5.5.  Wind is only around ten or twelve knots.

Noon position:  09º 12’ South; 140º 31’ West.  Run to noon 30 miles.  Matavia 589 miles, bearing 235º.  Raiatea 781º, bearing 235º.

The Raiatea waypoint is just outside the entrance to the pass I intend to take through the reef.  It is 16º 45‘ South; 151º 25‘ West.  So 7 ½ degrees of latitude and 11 of longitude.

1645  The islands have disappeared behind us.  Beautiful afternoon.  A  160+ mile day going begging.  Wind 14 knots has backed just aft of the beam.  2‘ to 3‘ seas.  Every time our speed touches 6 knots, I furl more of the jib.  We’re presently making 5.7 under about ⅓ of the jib.  The point of this is not fast but up.   I’ll be very happy to arrive at the boatyard in Raiatea, having averaged 5 knots, and with the mast still standing.

June 16

South Pacific Ocean:  Tuesday

0630  Light rain.  Jury rigged shrouds creaking, which makes me nervous.  Wind is not strong, and I have only a storm jib size scrap of sail set.

An easy night that saw me let out more jib twice.   All of which and more I have furled back in during the past hour because of a line of dark rain clouds behind and to windward of us.  If the wind becomes too strong, I’ll go to bare poles.   I’m not talking about real storm conditions here, just weakened shroud strong.

Seems to be passing as I write.

Just went on deck to let out more jib.  Cloud left hole in wind and we are rolling.  SOG 2.4.  Another patch of rain coming. 

We are near the western edge of this time zone.  Sky is light, but I’m not sure the sun has come up yet.  Will be in new time zone this afternoon or evening.  Lots of clouds around.  Hope they burn off and stable conditions return.

0810  An unsettled sky, with some thunderheads and other masses of clouds and some blue sky.

I checked the weather online before I left and saw that a weak front was due to move through French Polynesia today with up to 20 knot winds.  So far we haven’t had more than 15 or 16, and only 11 now.  I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow to leave, and there was no guarantee that even if I had, another front wouldn’t catch me somewhere between Nuku Hiva and Raiatea.

I’ve let out more jib in stages until we are again making 5 knots reasonably smoothly on course.  Leaden waves 2’ to 3’.

1215  Bands of cloud with ten or fifteen minutes of light to moderate rain pass overhead every hour or so.  One just before noon.  Another looming on the eastern horizon.  So far no strong wind or waves, although they do have a slight increase in front of them and leave a hole behind.  I let more jib out and I bring it back in.  All this with an undamaged rig would be nothing.

I ate the canned mackerel with wine sauce for lunch.  Good, but messy with sauce spilling from the can as it was opened.

Noon position:  10º 23’ South; 142º 09‘ West.  Day’s run 121 miles.  Matavia 468 miles, bearing 236º.  Raiatea 661 miles, bearing 235º.  SOG 4.8.  COG 243º.  Have to go adjust Monitor.

This will be my course for the rest of this voyage.  My mooring is 2820 miles, bearing 238º.    

1500 New time zone:  GMT -10, which is the time in Raiatea.   Only three more times zones, including the International Dateline, to New Zealand.

Complete cloud cover.  Not raining on us yet, but all around.  Wind light.  Only making 4 knots with jib down to storm jib size.  Might increase it slightly.  Would like to make at least 4.5.  But really doesn’t matter and this may be only a temporary lull.

1700 Sunset early with ship’s time reset.  The sun is brightening the layer of clouds near the western horizon.  Seems much farther north than it was, but that is because our course is southwest, rather than west. Complete low cloud cover, with a few patches of rain.  None near us at present.  Making 5.4 knots under about ½ the jib.  The barometer has been steady and slightly high at 1018 all day.

Even with clouds almost all day, still got some solar charging.  Discovered at anchor that there is no problem with the panels, as I thought there might be on the passage from Panama.  Reduced output was due to shadows and inefficient angles to the sun.

I have been up and down all day, adjusting the Monitor and letting out or furling in the jib.  It probably wasn’t a hundred times, but felt like it.  Certainly dozens. 

Waiting for my freeze dry lasagna with meat sauce to cool.  Listening to Faure’s REQUIEM.  Definitely need soothing music.

June 17

South Pacific Ocean:  Wednesday

0630  Was surprised to find the sky beginning to lighten at 0500.   Adjusted course and went back to sleep for another 45 minutes.  Saw the sun come up at 0552.

After a final short burst of rain at 2200 last night, the sky began to clear.  There were a few minutes of the jib collapsing and filling, but with only a fraction of it set, the strain was not severe.  Still disturbing. 

I was up a half dozen times, adjusting sail and course under an increasingly starry sky and a last crescent of moon.

Dawn sees a resumption of trade winds.  I let out more jib, but then we started making 6 knots, so I furled us back to 5.5.  Had my first cup of coffee listening to music on deck.

1210  Beautiful trade wind day.  Making an easy 5 knots under about ½ jib.  The closest of the Tuamotus, Takaroa, which I saw from CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, is 190 miles away.

Noon position:  11º 29’ South; 143º 48‘ West.  Day’s run 117 miles (25 hours).  Matavia 352 miles, bearing 236º.  Raiatea 544 miles, bearing 235º.   

2010  I couldn’t have asked for better conditions with a damaged or undamaged rig.  The only difference is about three knots boat speed.  Wind on the beam at 12-15 knots.  Undamaged I would have had the main and jib up and been making 7 to 8 knots.  Damaged I keep reducing the jib whenever our speed reaches 6.  There really is no point going more than 5, when  4.5 knots will see us there in 5 more days if the mast stays up.  At 6 we would make it a day earlier.  Don’t mind the extra day.

Sat on deck part of the afternoon and after sunset.  Starry night.  Wind seems to have increased in the past hour.  Might have to go on deck and put another roll or two in the jib, which is already down to ⅓.  Amazing how little sail is needed to drive this boat when it has a clean bottom.

June 18

South Pacific Ocean:  Thursday

0600  Although the wind remains at 12 knots, the waves this morning are a little higher, 2’ to 3’, which resulted in more rolling and more groans from the jury rigged shrouds last night.

I was up several times, adjusting course and jib.  Making the desired 4.5 to 5 knots at present under ¼ of the sail.

1315  Not so good today.  A few sprinkles of rain with clouds that disrupted the wind, which really hasn’t fully returned.  Sunny now, with only scattered puffs of clouds, but making only four knots, often less, with full jib set, which is too frequently collapsing.  I’ve tired partially furling it, re-trimming the sheet and moving the car lead around to minimize the strain this puts on the rig.  Largely without success.  The only solution is for the wind to increase beyond the current seven and eight knots.

Noon position:  12º 37’ South; 145º 21‘ West.  Day’s run 114 miles.  Matavia  238 miles, bearing 236º.  Raiatea 430 miles, bearing 235º.

1800  There is a lot of stress being out here with a damaged boat.  It is analogous to playing a Wimbledon final with a racket with a broken string that can’t be changed; except that the final goes on for days and weeks, not hours, and in which not just defeat is at risk.

I was very frustrated at conditions at noon and screamed my displeasure to the sky.  The sky did not respond.   Music helps.  I sat on deck in late afternoon and had my dinner on deck listening to music, mostly women’s voices.  

The sun set at 1720.  Lingering light on the western horizon.  We’re making 4.5 under full jib in less than 7 knots of wind.  At least the jib isn’t collapsing and jerking the rig around. 

We’re about halfway between Nuku Hiva and Raiatea.  If I can keep the mast up for three more days, we’ll be within powering distance of Raiatea and completion of a fifth circumnavigation, although assuming I do eventually make it to New Zealand I’ll count this voyage from there.

June 19

South Pacific Ocean:  Friday

0620  Sun came up twelve minutes ago.  Going to be another beautiful, but probably slow day.  Wind only 5 and 6 knots, as it was all night.  Seas have flattened, but there are still a few 1’ waves that collapse the jib.  SOG 3.5, which isn’t enough to get us in on Monday, and I really want to be in.  360 miles to go.   4.5 knots would put us close enough at Monday dawn.  4 knots would leave us 60 to 70 miles short.

0930  My hopes that this ordeal would be over on Monday are fading with a 2.4 knot SOG.  Sunny.  Wind has weakened.  From time to time we roll and the jib collapses and fills.  Not with much force, but not desirable.  After a while I scream at the sky and it stops.  Obviously there is no causal relationship here.  I expect that my tolerance runs out just when the wind is about to resume.  Other than that we are barely heeled, as well as barely moving.  Sunny.  Beautiful day.  Perfect for the big spinnaker.  Barometer up to 1021.

1200  Changed to tiller pilot steering an hour ago.  At least it keeps the bow pointing in the right direction.  Too little wind for the Monitor.  Little sensation that we are moving other than water trinkling past the hull.  I may have made up ‘trinkling’, but that is the sound.  SOG 2.9.

Noon position:  13º 24’ South; 146º 41‘ West.  Day’s run 92 miles.  Matavia 147 miles, bearing 235º.  Raiatea 339 miles, bearing 234º.   

1500  We’ve made just under 8 miles since noon.  Very hot in the cabin even with all hatches open.  95ºF/35ºC.  Today is shave, exercise, shower day, and I did the exercises.  Boat is level enough to do push-ups, so I did seventy.  Haven’t done them for months, but sailing I use my upper body.  It’s my legs that weaken.  Left the cushion covered with sweat.  A beautiful day, but wasted on me.

1745  Better. 

After showering--still have one more fresh water shower in the solar bag--I changed from the jib to the small spinnaker.  This resulted in an immediate increase in speed of .5 of a knot.  2.7 under the jib.  3.2 with the spinnaker.  It also eliminated the jib chaffing against the spreaders when it collapsed.  The ultra-violet protection strip on the jib has chaffed through in places.  And it gives us a sense of sailing rather than wallowing.

This is another example of how the Facnor gennaker furling gear has changed the way I sail.  I wouldn’t have chanced setting the spinnaker without it.

When the wind goes above 5 knots our speed goes to 3.6.  When below, back to 3.2.

I would very much like to know what the big spinnaker would produce.  In such light wind probably not much more.  That is a problem in sailing:  it is not a controlled experiment.  Anyway I’m not going to set the bigger sail.

Although the barometer is only at 1020 we have a high pressure sky, or did before sunset twenty minutes ago:  powder blue and cloudless, which makes me think that these conditions are not going to change soon.

Had dinner and a drink on deck.  In fact spent the afternoon up there after the sail provided shade.

I am very tired of detuning.  I had to do so in Panama and on most of the passage from Panama, and earlier when the other shroud was breaking in the Atlantic.  This one has now been broken for more than a thousand miles.

As I write there is almost no sense of motion, yet our SOG is 3.3.  I woke up this morning thinking that I had three more days to go.  I’ll wake up tomorrow morning thinking the same thing.  And I might be too optimistic.  Where I really would like to be right now is having a martini with Carol.

Going to watch a movie. 

June 20

South Pacific Ocean:  Saturday

0630  A quiet night, much smoother and quieter than the anchorage at Taiohae Bay.  Every time I woke up we seemed motionless, but our SOG was 2.5 to 3.0 knots.  In the past hour I’ve improved that to 3.5 by coming up ten degrees to 225º, giving us a better angle to the apparent wind, which is slightly north of east.

There are some trade wind clouds around and the barometer is 1019, but that might just be a nocturnal variation. 

On this course we are heading for the twenty mile gap between Matavia, the western most of the Tuamotus, and its neighbor to the east, Tikehau.  A waypoint in the middle of that gap is 85 miles away.  We are 65 miles north of the next island to the east, Rangiroa, which if I remember correctly has the biggest enclosed lagoon in the world, forty miles east/west and twenty miles north/south.

The Tuamotus are all low islands, atolls on which usually the highest thing is a palm tree.  There are dozens of islands in the archipelago, which is also known as the Dangerous Archipelago, stretching across hundreds of miles of ocean between the Marquesas and the Society Islands.  I’ve sailed through three times on the way from Nuku Hiva to Tahiti, once in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and twice in RESURGAM, and once around the end when EGREGIOUS was damaged and, not having planned to go this way I did not have a detailed chart. 

All these were in the days of navigating by sextant and there was relief as well as satisfaction in having a palm tree appear where it was supposed to.

Coffee and Bach’s GOLDBERG VARIATIONS on deck at dawn.  Spinnaker floating overhead.  Wavelets measured in inches, with an occasional swell of a foot.

0930  Increasing trade wind cloud to the east and slightly increased swell, which I hope presage more wind; but so far the opposite has happened and our SOG has dropped to 2.3 knots.  This may not be the slowest day of this voyage, but it will be close.

1200  Missed by four miles.  Second slowest day of voyage so far. 

Trade wind clouds have reached and passed us.  Now ahead, on both sides, as well as astern.  But with no increase in wind.  SOG 2.0 knots.

Bored and hot.  Been re-reading the three Alan Furst novels I have on board.  The rest are in Evanston.  I’ve written of him before.  His spy novels are set in Europe, often Paris or Poland, in the years leading up to and including WWII.  They are superior.  Equal to Eric Ambler’s.  Good writing and atmosphere.   Intelligent, yet not beyond my presently limited powers of concentration. 

His first, NIGHT SOLDIERS, is one of the best.  I liked the second he wrote, DARK STAR, which is also the longest, somewhat less.  I’ve almost finished, RED STAR, also very good.  Don’t know what I’ll read next.  Probably have time before I reach Raiatea to go through the complete works of Shakespeare and all three volumes of Gibbon’s DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, which are on board.

For no particular reason, I usually listen to classical music in the mornings and non-classical in the afternoons.  Just listened to Sibelius’s, “The Swan of Tuonela,” which I haven’t heard for a while.

Noon position:   14º 04’ South; 147º 37‘ West.  Day’s idle 68 miles.  Matavia 79 miles, bearing 236º.  Raiatea 271 miles, bearing 234º.   

1645  It just got worse.  We are essentially becalmed.  SOG 1.4.  Spinnaker hanging limp.  If the wind doesn’t return, I’ll lower it for the night.

While I’m becalmed, this thing growing on my leg is doing eight knots.

1800  Yesterday’s sky was a clear blue high pressure sky.  By late afternoon today, the sky was a trade wind sky with evenly spaced low white puffs of cloud everywhere.  Yet there is even less wind.

I spent the last few hours on deck.  Even with all the hatches open, it is cooler there in shade than in the cabin.  For a while the sea went ominously glassy.  Some slight wind has returned, so I’m leaving the spinnaker up.

I don’t know exactly how far I can power.  We have made all of 13 miles since noon.  We still have 259 miles to the pass at Raiatea.   I doubt I can power that far, and I certainly don’t want to; but if conditions are the same tomorrow morning, I’m going to turn on the engine and power until we are through the Tuamotus and/or down to ½ tank of fuel.   I’ve been saving the diesel in case the mast came down, but my patience is near its end, and at least we will be that much closer when the wind finally does return, as I keep telling myself, inevitably it must.

June 21

South Pacific Ocean:  Sunday

0700  The spinnaker came down at 0430.  No problem thanks to my headlamp and the spinnaker furling gear.  I had been awakened by the sound of the sail vibrating, and when I checked found that the wind had increased slightly and moved forward of the beam.

I set the jib before I sorted out and bagged the spinnaker, and then was able to go back to sleep for an hour.

While the sky and sea look the same, except for a long slow swell from the south, the wind has increased to 6 and 7 knots and we are making about 4.5 under full jib.  The closest point of Tikehau is eleven miles away according to the chartplotter, but not in sight. 

Coffee and music on deck more hopefully this morning.  The music is piano pieces by Federico Moupou, the Spanish Erik Satie, and our SOG 5.2.

0900  A ship passed a few miles east of us a half hour ago, heading northeast.

Wind has held.  SOG 4.2 to 4.8.  Would be very pleased if it remained like this all the way to Raiatea.

The Tuamotus were considered dangerous not just because they are low and difficult to see until you are almost upon them and impossible to see at night before navigation lights, but because of the currents between the islands.  With the tiller pilot steering a constant course, I saw evidence of one of those currents this morning when our COG changed from 224º to 210º in a matter of a few minutes.

1030  Matavia a smudge on the horizon off the starboard bow at a distance of eight miles.

1205  Matavia now a line of palm trees five miles to the north.   Nothing more between us and Raiatea, except possibly a corner of Huahine, 20 miles to the east.  However it is by no means certain we will make it there in two days.  SOG has dropped to around 3.5 knots.

Noon position:  14º 56’ South; 148º 33‘ West.  Day’s run 75 miles.  Raiatea 197 miles, bearing 237º.  

1615  Just came below after a warm beer and pretzels on the sun deck.  Finally found some shade on the port side amidships.   Enjoyable sailing at five knots for the first time in a while.  Big swell from the south.  

A smooth five knots the rest of the way would be wonderful.  178 miles to go. 

June 22

South Pacific Ocean:  Monday

0620  I went to sleep last night at 2100 and was awakened two hours later by an assortment of odd noises, fortunately none of them serious.

Loudest was the clinking of two glass jars of instant coffee on the upper galley shelf.  I’ve eaten and drunk spaces there, which didn’t matter these past few days when we were motionless, but left room for things to move when we began to roll.

The servo-rudder for the Monitor is hinged so it can be lifted from the water when not in use, and it was clanking against the frame of the gear.

A sound I had trouble identifying turned out to be the bill of a cap on a hook inside the hanging locker scraping back and forth against a bulkhead.

And three one-gallon jugs of bottled water were sliding to and fro on the cabin sole near the v-berth where they are stowed.

Additional were the sounds of THE HAWKE OF TUONELA moving too fast through the water.   She was making 6.3 knots, which was completely useless.  We are not going to get in before sunset today, so more speed simply means more strain on the rig and more time to waste later.

I furled the jib down to a scrap to slow us to four knots, which is all we need to be near Raiatea at dawn tomorrow.  The waypoint off the pass is now 112 miles distant.

I decided to let the Monitor resume steering in the 14-16 knot wind and lowered the servo-rudder back into the water and disengaged the tillerpilot.

I removed the cap from the hook.

I rearranged the stuff on the galley shelf and stuffed a few more things in to fill the spaces.

And I moved the water bottles from the cabin sole to the v-berth.

It remained a rolly night, largely because we had too little sail set; but it was quieter.

Dawn is cloudy with scattered showers, one of which caused me to close the companionway for a few minutes an hour ago.   The barometer remains high at 1021.  We are making 4.1 knots under a small amount of jib on course for Raiatea.

0900  A band of rain to the north of us,  but clearing elsewhere.  Ran engine.  Started first time.  I cleaned the electrical connections on the back of the panel; but then the button in the center of the shift lever that is pushed in to start the engine in neutral, wouldn’t pop back out again.  Although I have a Yanmar engine, the shift lever is Volvo.  I’ve had them before and sooner or later this is always a problem.  I keep that button sprayed with McLube.  Had to use pliers to free it. 

We continue easing along at 3.6 to 4 knots.

1200  Another band of cloud has just caught up with us and increased the wind slightly, so that we are making 5.3 knots.  I don’t see any rain falling from it; but today is not a typical trade wind day.

Put the anchor back on the bow this morning.  Considered doing so yesterday when the sea was smooth, but that seemed premature.  No problem this morning.

Noon position:  15º 57’ South; 150º 07‘ West.  Day’s run 109 miles.  Week’s run 696 miles.   Raiatea 89 miles, bearing 238º.

1400 Most unpleasant day of passage.  Complete overcast with light rain and light wind, that shifts out of synch with the waves and weakens, leaving us flopping, scrap of sail slatting, putting strain on the rig,  Rain has just become heavy, but I see a lighter patch of sky through the closed companionway so I doubt it will last long.

1730  Sky cleared after the rain at 1400, but still some clouds to the south.  Barometer has remained at 1021.

I just switched from the Monitor to the tillerpilot.  Certainly want a compass course tonight.  Hesitated because there are 4’ cross seas and I wasn’t sure if that would put too much strain on the tillerpilot bracket.  Also, although the unit is sealed and supposed to be weatherproof, I had one fail after being exposed to a downpour in Brazil.  It seems to be handling conditions at present.

We are 45 miles from the north end of Huahine, and 66 from the pass at Raiatea, having averaged 4 knots since noon, which is what I wanted.  I may increase sail and speed during the night.

Also brought one solar panel below.

Moroccan lamb for dinner, accompanied by the last half of my last bottle of wine opened yesterday.

June 23

South Pacific Ocean:  Tuesday

0520  The timing has been perfect.  We are 17 miles from the pass at Raiatea and sailing at 3.2 to 3.5 knots.  I’ll turn on the engine around 0600, but am enjoying the mostly quiet now.  Only mostly because the scrap of jib is collapsing from time to time on very slight seas.  Lights visible on Huahine to the southeast and Raiatea ahead, and on a vessel halfway in between.

I went to sleep early at 2030 and set the alarm for midnight, though as I expected I was awake before it went on and subsequently reset it for 0200 and 0400.  I don’t like being awakened by alarms and never was.  Finally up for good at 0445, well rested for an approach night.

Clouds disappeared with sunset and the seas went down.  Although we had a few intervals of rolling and the jib collapsing, it was a generally peaceful night.   At 0330 we were 11 miles off the northern tip of Huahine, but I couldn’t see it.  This was a new moon night and dark except for starlight.  Sky only now beginning to lighten.

Just checked my log.  The port lower shroud broke about 650 miles east of Nuku Hiva and we are now 800 miles west.  The starboard lower shroud was broken for the last 700 miles of the passage from South Africa to the Caribbean.  Making a not so grand total of 2150 miles.

There are several variables that may have resulted in the weakened shroud not continuing to break this time.  I got jury rigged lines around the mast immediately.  I put tension on them so that they took the strain rather than the shroud.  The wind was further aft.  And the wind was less strong.

0620  Still sailing.  Unfurled more jib in an effort to get our speed to 4 knots.  Did so only briefly.  Wind 5 knots.  Seas are 1’ to 2’, but are collapsing jib.  Would like to sail until 0700, but may not.  Looks like a fine morning, with only scattered clouds, other than those caught on the islands.  Huahine, Tahaa and Raiatea all in sight.

0700  Sun on horizon at 0635.  Engine on at 0650.  Raiatea 11 miles.

0930  Anchor down at Raiatea, off Tarou Motu just inside Passe Teavapiti.  I anchored here in September 2004 and have thus completed a fifth circumnavigation. 

I couldn’t have asked for a finer day.  Light wind and seas.  Excellent visibility.  Much better than yesterday.

The pass between two motus, which are islets on the reef, is short, straightforward and marked by three starboard buoys and two to port.  Tarou is the motu on the south side of the pass.  Uninhabited, but privately owned, as a sign nailed to a palm tree states.  One other boat, a catamaran, was anchored when I arrived.  A large ketch just powered  up the lagoon from the south.

I’ve moved the stuff off the v-berth and even put the fabric covers on the cushions in the main cabin.  In the next three months THE HAWKE OF TUONELA will power five miles tomorrow, then sail twenty-five to Bora-Bora in September, so I don’t think we need to remain in passage mode.

As the covers came from their plastic bag, they smelled fresh and I realized that I haven’t used them since washing them in Panama.  I do not smell fresh.

A pleasantly cool breeze is blowing through the cabin.  Sound of surf on the nearby reef.  Clouds on the high mountains  of Raiatea, the shore of which is a half mile away across the lagoon.  Raiatea, as do most of these islands, rises abruptly from the sea and has only a narrow coastal strip.

Time for lunch.  A swim and snorkeling sometime this afternoon.  A shower.  And a glass or even two of celebratory Laphroaig tonight.

1500  The sound of an engine nearby, voices, and a loud splash, caused me to go on deck just after lunch, where I found a small barge with four young Polynesian men on it, levering blocks of concrete with buoys attached into the water.  They put down five, one of them almost on top of me.  I hope it is not resting on my anchor or chain, but it is quite possible that I will swing into it with the change of tide.  I don’t anchor close to moorings.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a mooring anchor too close to me.


Went for a brief swim.  Bottom is still clean.  I found one gooseneck barnacle that either I missed or he made a quick come back and removed him.  Showered.  Started to re-read Mary Renault’s THE LAST OF WINE, but am enjoying the quiet and lack of motion.  Water inside the reef has only ripples.   Feel as though I should be doing something.  Checking the course.  Trimming the jib.  But there is nothing I have to do.  First time THE HAWKE OF TUONELA has been this quiet in a long time.

June 24

Raiatea:  Wednesday

0615  Rooster crowing on shore, but I woke more than an hour ago.  Will wait until at least 0800 before raising anchor and heading for the boat yard on the other side of the island, powering around the north end of Raiatea inside the reef it shares with Tahaa to the north.

Lots of activity on the water near sunset last night, when people got off work and paddled pirogues.  One man paddled from the shore around the motu and back standing up on a board.  Two four-man crews were practicing presumably for the big Bastille Day races in Papeete.  I sipped my Laphroaig as I watched them and the light dwindle.

1100  The anchor came up earlier than I planned at 0745 because the newly placed mooring buoy started to swing dangerously close to my anchor rode and I definitely did not want them to become entangled.

I had out 100’ of chain in 33’ of water.  It was hard work cranking it in against the current, and seemed to be caught at one point on something on the bottom.  It finally came free, with THE HAWKE OF TUONELA carried backwards rapidly by the current once the anchor was off the bottom.  Got everything under control and moved out to mid channel.

With the current behind us I kept the rpms down so our speed remained at five knots.

The channel is well marked, but there are bits of coral around, including a huge area known as Grand Banc Central between Raiatea and Tahaa.  With good visibility and darting below from time to time to check the chartplotter I had no problem following the channel around the top end of Raiatea and then south to the boat yard.  At the narrowest point between the shore reef jutting north from Raiatea and the southern point of Grand Banc Central, sits a shack.  Don’t know its purpose or if it is inhabited.  Picturesque,  but I was too busy to take a picture.

A mile and a half from Raiatea Carenage Boat Yard, I called them on the VHF.  I had done so the previous day while at anchor, but got no response.  The signal was probably blocked by hills in between.  This time the response was immediate and deafening.   After I turned down the volume, I explained who I was, and after a brief interval was told that I would see a blue travel lift and to go directly there.

As I neared I saw a number of boats on moorings, a small marina, and eventually the travel lift.  Only two problems remained.  A small marker post, neither red nor green, was just off the travel lift.  I called on the VHF and asked which side I should pass it, but before the woman on the VHF could respond, a man on a moored boat shouted to me to leave it to port, which I did.

Four men were waiting at the concrete walls just in front of the travel lift.  I went in and they took my lines,  I killed the engine and thought, ‘It is over.’  But it wasn’t.   The Chinese travel lift operator said apologetically, “You’ll have to back in because of your headstay.  It is a problem?”  There was moderate wind.   I said, “Maybe.”  Started up the engine, backed out, swung around and backed in.  I have mentioned before that THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is the best handling boat in reverse that I have ever owned.  Not something I knew when I bought her or even much valued, but it is at times a great virtue.

Within a half hour THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was lifted from the water and on the hard, which may be a New Zealand expression but should be intelligible to my fellow Americans.

Distance covered today:  5 miles.  Position:  16º 44‘ South; 151º 21‘ West.

Total of daily runs from Nuku Hiva:  821 miles.

Distance to my mooring at Opua:  2153 miles, bearing 239º.  But that will have to wait until September or October.

Passage over.