Saturday, July 27, 2013

Taha'a, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Richard checking out our approach to Taha'a.
We only spent one night in Faaroa and in the morning we lifted our anchor and headed to Baie Hurepiti, on Taha’a…where the fun began.  When we entered the bay the wind was ripping, gusting to over 20 knots.  We entered the bay and circled around looking for a shallow spot and had to settle for anchoring in about 70 feet of water.  We ended up setting the anchor several times as each time the wind picked up it seemed to pull on the chain we had laid down and swing the boat precariously close to the coral reef which was right off of our aft quarter.  With the anchor finally set, we hunkered down for a night of gusty winds and a wildly swinging boat.

Osprey sailing off of Taha'a (photo courtesy of Kyanos).
At some point during the night, the dinghy flipped with the outboard attached to the transom.  When Richard peeked outside of the cabin in the morning, he noticed the upturned dinghy and we immediately pulled the dinghy up to right it and removed the outboard, setting it on its bracket on the stern rail.  At that point, we decided to lift anchor and proceed to the next bay up the western coast of Taha’a, Baie de Tapuamu.  As we were leaving Baie Hurepiti, just at the entrance to that bay, our anemometer recorded a wind gust of 41.6 knots.  Granted, it was just a gust, but when the gust was over we were looking at consistent winds in the mid to high 20s.  We tucked into Baie de Tapuamu and were treated to a calmer bay which was a welcomed sight after the wild night we had just experienced.  We set our anchor down in about 80 feet of water right behind our friends on Compass Rosey and began the process of working on the outboard motor.  We changed the oil, replaced the sparkplug and worked the water out of the inner reaches of the outboard to no avail.  It wasn’t until Mark from Compass Rosey suggested that we look at the carburetor to see if any water had found its way in that our outboard finally turned over.  As of right now, it works but it seems like there may be some residual moisture somewhere in the inner workings of the motor that needs to evaporate or work its way out for the outboard to be completely right.

Ours was not the only dinghy to flip that night in Baie Hurepiti; Dragonsbane’s dinghy flipped as well.  As a side note, dinghy flipping seems to be a common occurrence in the cruising community.  The reason Mark knew to look at the carburetor is because his dinghy had flipped when he was in Nuku Hiva.  And just this morning we heard Nicole of Bella Star on the VHF radio saying that their dinghy flipped last night as well.  Richard and I feel as though we are in an elite group of cruisers who have a knowledge set that is now complete, or at least we know what to do if our dinghy ever flips again!  And while the outboard will eventually run smoothly (or as smoothly as that sea cow will ever run!) we will not be able to replace our dinghy oars probably until we reach New Zealand (the oars flew out of the dinghy when it flipped, never to be seen again…sad really).

So here we sit in Tapuamu on the island of Taha’a waiting for the weather to turn.  The wind is a consistent mid to high 20s and gusts in the 30s are not uncommon.  We have been swinging on our anchor for the past three days now just waiting for a break in the wind so we can go to Bora Bora.  It’s weird, Bora Bora is about 15 nautical miles away and we can’t even get there right now due to the wind.  If it were just the wind it might not be so bad but in order to get into the lagoon at Bora Bora you need to enter the single pass on the west side of the island.  With the winds the way they have been for the past week it is likely that the swells will have built to unforgiving heights.  We heard a boat the other day on the net stating that they had 25 knots of wind outside of the Bora Bora lagoon and 5 meter seas!  That’s crazy –big waves!  That said, we’ll just sit here and wait it out in Bora Bora’s backyard until the winds subside and we feel comfortable moving on.  Just another day in windy paradise…aita e pe’a pe’a (no problem!).

Today Richard and I dinghied over to the Coral Gardens which is a pass between two of the motus off the west coast of Taha’a.  The dinghy ride over was no big deal as we had the wind on our backs.  Once we got to the motu, we tied the dinghy to a coconut tree and walked across the motu to the ocean side where we were able to get into the water.  There was a small current passing between the motus which helped push along the shallow pass.  The fish and coral were quite spectacular.  The dinghy ride back to the boat was a bit dicey as we were now heading into the wind and there were wind waves impeding our progress.  We made it back to the boat and settled in for lunch.  Quite the adventure.

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