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Bora Bora ...& on to Niue 21-24 May 07 (Days 1-3 on passage)

So much for clearing out and leaving immediately on Monday... I had to wait until after their lunch-break for the Gendarmerie to issue my clearance out of French Polynesia & then had a major hassle trying to fill up with duty-free diesel at the nearby fuel dock - papers were supposedly 'incomplete/missing', he took cash only, and, to cap it all, AFTER all that, I discovered that his minimum for duty-free fill-ups was greater than I needed... Using up my remaining cash, I finally got just 18l at
125francs/l, instead of twice that at the duty-free price of 69 francs/l ... and left with a 'bad taste in my mouth' from their unfriendly attitude.
The weather was very squally and I did not feel ready to leave on a long passage after all that...
However, I was cheered up soon after by managing to pick up a mooring buoy unaided, on returning to Bloody Mary's - where I went for a nice meal later!

Tues-Thurs 22-24 May
Took time to hoist outboard & dinghy, deflate & stow dinghy... Released buoy around midday & sailed over to reef passage - motor-sailed out in flukey winds. ENE wind, dead astern... Long slow swell from SE and another competing swell from ENE.
Motor-sailed gently overnight with just 5 knots of following E wind. At sunrise, was about to turn off engine to get sailing when noticed 1st reef line had chafed through at cringle in sail - managed to tie it (wind being light helped) & luckily still have enough line at the cockpit to pass through clutch. Hope the knot holds and doesn't cause more problems. Managed to keep sailing over the day, eventualy poling out the genoa as the wind lessened & backed a little, but by nightfall, having already
downed the pole & gybed the main, boatspeed was down to around 2 knots in ENE 8knots, so ... back to motoring again....
During the night, I was awakened by the wind gusting, with dark clouds around. I turned off motor & hurriedly reefed the mainsail & genoa as the wind suddenly got up to 23knots from the SSE - at least we were sailing again.... but not for long ... 2hrs later we had just 5 knots from the SE, ...and so it went on over today (Thursday) .... Having passed through a mass of cloud around midday, when we managed another short spell of sailing, we're presently motoring in 3knots from the NW!! So much for
the SE Trades....! Light N winds are forecast, according to my grib files, for the next day or so....
I've spent quite a time today trying to find weather info sources via Winlink & Sailmail. Interestingly, when I looked at a f'cast issued from Fiji, it mentioned that the ITCZ was causing unsettled weather & gave its coordinates.... passing right through where I am! Obviously, the cause of the squall overnight. Also of interest - the barometer has not given any indication of use - it's stayed roughly constant at around 1012 for over two days.

I'm looking around me now, before going below to post this via my SSB radio - bright sunshine, almost no clouds in sight, except a grey mass on the N horizon (that ITCZ...!), motoring gently, to conserve fuel, with sails pretending to help, in 5 knots of N wind & a long, slow, SE swell. Haven't seen another boat since early Tuesday night and don't expect to sight land (possibly Aitutaki) for over two days.

Time for a mug of tea.... and to decide what to eat tonight. Yesterday's meal was steak and onions with fresh broccoli and fried potatoes!

Written by : Mike

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