Days 37 and 38 from Hobart - safe arrival in Tahiti through reef entrance at sunset

Tuesday 5th June 2012 (GMT)

At 10am, I wrote: "ETA Papeete tomorrow is receding fast ... best course we can make in present ESE wind of 14 kt is 035T at 4.5 kt - but need 055T to lay entrance through reef near to Taina marina... Should have kept heading East for another day, yesterday... Grrr!!!"
By midday, wind was SE but had dropped to just 6-7 knots, so motorsailed for couple of hours, then sailed gently in SSE, but although course was good, speed was too slow ...only 4 kt at best...
By 9pm, we had about 90M to go to Papeete. However the wind had slowly backed to almost E and increased to 11-12 kt, so we were being forced to head N of Moorea on NE course. and unlikely to make Papeete by the following evening.

Looking at the weather info I had, the next day was forecast to have light winds, followed by stronger SE Trades the day after, so I felt that that my only chance to make Papeete was by motor-sailing there in the light winds, before the stronger SE winds set in. But without a working autopilot, I'd have to sit at the wheel all day solidly.... I decided to get a good 6 hours' sleep so that I could be awake well before we bumped into the small island of Maiao, 45-50M away to the NNE. So long as I could make Taapuna Pass through the reef by sunset, I could always then anchor overnight inside the reef and wait for daylight to get to the marina but I knew from past experience that I needed to be alert when at the wheel for such a long time - it was all too easy to lose concentration....

Wednesday 6th June (GMT)

In fact, the wind sent us NNE --- so it was a good thing I had several alarms set - we were 10 miles SSW of that little island when we started motor-sailing at 1500Z, well before dawn, ....managed a nice sail for about one hour when wind went NW! There was an interesting long N-S line of raincloud across our path - I wondered if it showed a trough we were in... the reason for the mix of winds, perhaps? Luckily the wind WAS very light, but it was coming from all over, NE and E included.

Unfortunately, there was no way I could take time out to try to see the transit of Venus across the sun's face ... and Venus Point here in Tahiti was named after Capt. Cook's expedition's reason for being here then - for a similar transit of Venus!!

We passed Moorea, getting a good view of its SW and SE coasts and its dramatic mountain peaks, topped with thick raincloud. I managed to keep out of the sun to an extent - didn't want to end up burnt to a frazzle! We just made Passe de Taapuna soon after sunset, having had 3-4 knot wind since early morning .... dropped the mains'l beforehand. Found us surrounded by LOTS of surfers, longboarders, scullers, big canoes with outriggers full of teams of energetically-paddling guys (and gals) - clearly practising for racing soon ('quatorze juillet' coming up soon!) Made my way cautiously down the channel towards Taina Marina and its anchorage inside the reef, as dusk fell.

I was called from the marina dockside by manager Phillippe who'd been given the 'heads up' that I was arriving and planning to tie up to the fuel dock overnight (not a good option, as it turned out!) - he directed me around to an empty berth for the night ... very kind of him. After tying up, I had a relaxing time, chatting to nearby boaters who treated me to a celebratory drink and pizza (!)

Small group of boobies, or so they looked to me, flew around boat this morning. One flew close yesterday around dusk - light too poor to be sure what it was, but looked similar. Dark brown with black markings on top, pale grey underbody,darker/black tips to wings. Two had a paler head than the rest. Later saw some with distinctive blue bill and white body....Blue-footed boobies?? Also saw the solitary bird again - definitely different - grey all over, but darker above.)

Thursday 7th June (GMT)/ Wednesday 6th June (Tahiti time)

Tidied and met Patrick, Fischer-Panda agent, who's taking me in tomorrow to airport for Immigration paperwork and coming the following day to deal with genset. Also had visit from Laurent - good friend of absent friend Mike, who gave me all forms to fill in prior to seeing officials - useful (he's a ship agent so into all that)

This evening walked to nearby Carrefours to get simcard for phone and visit ATM for cash - Polynesian francs still - notes looking big and colourful like old French franc notes used to be!!

Slowly sorting out boat - lots to do! Glad to have wind blowing and fans inside boat to cool me down!

Thursday 7th June (Tahiti time)

Up by 7am - checked far end of dock to see if boat there had sailed off around dawn ... gone..... so I moved around to new alongside berth, opposite fuel dock.

8am, joined Patrick in his van for trip to airport, finally found Immigration, then walked over to the bus-stop to catch 'Le Truc' into town... found Port authority in spanking new, very 'swish' terminal building and then long, hot walk around into Industrial Zone to find Customs ... so all initial paperwork has now been done, including paper for duty-free diesel on leaving - important, in view of exorbitant prices here!

On looking in Industrial Zone for correct hydraulic fluid for new motors expected soon, discovered none available at Raymarine agent's shop - nor expected within one month at specialist hydraulic workshop nearby.... Might be able to use something similar... still working on that - Patrick thought he might have some...

Seems the replacement motors and ram have got as far as Auckland, N.Z., today.

Written by : Mike

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