Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 23, 2018

Polynesia March 18 – part 2

17.3.18 – Saturday – Provisioning completed, water filled, I passed the day reading and resting. I finished a book, a memoir, by professor Saul Fridlander “Where Memory Leads”; fifty years ago I had the pleasure of attending a seminar he gave in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I remember how impressed we all were by this brilliant historian and lecturer. His life story is very interesting; I learned a lot of facts I didn’t know about him.

18.3.18 – Sunday – A quick visit ashore for downloading the latest forecast and out we went from Taiohae bay. Thinking about fishing, I raised the main with first reef but once out of the bay, the wind blew 17-20 knots from the beam and we were doing about 7 knots. That was too fast plus I bought some fish the day before so I decided to give up fishing. My target was Vaiehu bay on the west side of Ua Pou island, 29 miles away. The bay hides behind cape Punahu which I reached in four hours; a pod of dolphins led me in, boobies flew around us and in front I could see a catamaran sailing with just the jib. That was fun!

I entered the bay and anchored; during that operation I found out that the down foot switch of the windlass was not working; the switch near the helm did the job. So, what first? repair switch or have lunch? I decided on the first, dismantled the switch, found one of the wires disconnected and soldered it. While I was working a French monohull entered the bay.

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After a short rest I took a swim, didn’t go ashore, which is full of stones and I had no shoes or booties on. As I got back to the boat, another French yacht came in. Later it rained and there was even thunder and lightning.

19.3.18 – Monday – After getting the latest forecast from my friend Itzik in Israel, I sat down to analyze it. It was clear that with the wind coming straight from the east (090) and my desired track of 115 to Tahuata I’ll have to add a lot of distance for tacking. It seemed that my best option was to leave for Tahuata at 1400 and sail through the night to arrive at first light. I decided to wait in Ua Pou bay which I wanted to see anyway. I motored there and dropped anchor in 11.5 meters; the anchor made the typical noise of dragging on rock but then held. A young man on a pirogue came by to say hello and after some small talk he went ashore.

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                                              Oa Pou bay

I went into the starboard engine room to check add a little oil and check the belts tension. As I was putting my tools back in the cockpit locker, a strong gust of wind was felt and with it the anchor grumble, we were drifting; the depth meter already showed 16.5 meters. I jumped into action, turning the key for the starboard engine to activate the alternator in order to operate the windlass. Surprise! Starter did not turn, engine not started. By then the wind abated; I was running scenarios in my head while opening the engine room cover again. “There must be some fuse” I thought and immediately saw it and remembered a similar case almost ten years ago.

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Having the right spares on board can save the day. I replaced the fuse and the starter came back to life.

So what now? Shall I re-anchor to wait for 1400? The idea was not very appealing. It was 1030 or so and I decided to GO. I’ll deal with the arrival time later. Once out of the island’s influence on the wind, gusting up to 30 knots went down to the forecasted easterly and stabilized at about 20 knots. With main at first reef and full jib we could make good a course of 135 degrees, 20 off the desired one, which was not bad at all. The sea, though, was not so pleasant; short waves made for hobby-horsing and slamming of the bridge-deck. Being a little tired I took a few 20 minutes naps, first in the starboard aft cabin and then, when the sea became calmer – in my cabin.

As my target waypoint I put Hanamoenoa, a popular enchanted bay on the northwest corner of Tahuata; the distance to go was 65 miles as the crow flies but probably 20 to 25 miles more for the future necessary tack. Evening came, the few clouds above dispersed and a sickle of new moon said “sorry I won’t be there for your arrival”. It was turning into a very dark night… I was thinking of approaching the bay carefully and if I could see any lights of yachts at anchor I would be able to find space for Two Oceans. If that would not be possible – I’ll enter a “holding pattern” at a safe distance from shore and wait for first light.

Around 2100 the wind started fluctuating and decreased to 10-12 knots; with the waves and a bit of contrary current our progress became ridiculous. Time for the iron sail – the engine. I took all sails down and continued motoring to my waypoint. It became clear that the ETA would be around 0100.

20.3.18 – Tuesday – Even before midnight I could see lights on shore to the south of my target. Those were the lights of Vaitahu, the largest village on the island (the whole population in the island’s two villages is less than a thousand). Vaitahu bay is 0.4 miles wide, twice the size of Hanamoenoa’s. I occurred to me that this fact plus the lights of the village would make it a safer choice. I had the Vaitahu anchorage in the plotter and added a point 1.5 miles from it which would be the point of final approach. When teaching flight students take-offs and landings we used to say:”A good final approach will give you a good landing” It was the same here. These last 1.5 miles I motored slowly, jumping from one side of the boat to the other, trying to figure out that whether what I was seeing was sea and not the rocky shore. As I got closer I was shining my torch around and identified two yachts; I passed between them and dropped my anchor in a way that would keep us* clear of both. The time was 0145, I was on an Adrenalin rush and fully awake.

* I use the word “us” even when I’m single-handing, meaning “Two Oceans” and I…

As is my custom after any challenging trip – I had  a wee bit of Scotch, called Gili to report that I had arrived and went to bed. 

I woke up four hours later, did my morning rituals and went out to look around. The village as seen from the bay is very small; perhaps many houses are hidden in the forest that covers the mountainside. The prominent building is the church. For me there was no reason to stay here, especially since the place is known to have katabatic wind “bullets” of up to 40 knots coming down the mountains. After a quick breakfast I started engines and motored two miles to the north to Hanamoenoa. There were already four boats at anchor when I arrived. Hanamoenoa is a very pretty bay with a sandy beach and lots of coconut trees. There is supposed to be a man living there growing fruit and veg – I’ll check that tomorrow. I snorkeled to check the anchor, the waters were crystal clear and I could see two big stingrays burying themselves in the sand just below my boat.

In the spirit of boats growing bigger and bigger, my neighbor on starboard was a Lagoon 52 foot catamaran.

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As the day wore on, more boats came in until the number reached thirteen, six of the yachts were participants in the “World ARC”, proudly showing the flag of that endeavor. In spite of the great number of boats for such a small bay – it stayed absolutely calm. I decided to stay here another day, paddle my SUP and go ashore with the dinghy – maybe climb one of the mountains…

21.3.18 – Wednesday – As planned; paddled the SUP for 50 minutes, did some work on the boat, read my book and relaxed. Some time before midday I saw a yacht passing across the bay; the familiar shape of the Wharram cat told me it was “Pakia Tea” whom we met in Easter Island and also the Gambier. We spoke on V.H.F and will probably see each other again in the Marquesas. I swam ashore in the afternoon – a sign said: “Private – stay in (sic) the beach” I could see no one near the few huts there and no trail going up the hill, so no walkabout from this bay.

22.3.18 – Thursday – I motored to Atuona on Hiva Oa, no point in battling the elements against 17-20 knots from straight ahead. I reached the anchorage at 0900 and guess who was there? Pakia Tea with Tom and Keano waving hello.

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A yacht just vacated a place I could anchor at without a stern anchor, which is the norm in the interior of the port here and is difficult when single-handing; I quickly took it. I’ll stay here a day or two and then go to Hanaiapa, a bay on the north of the island and maybe some other bays close by, until my crew, Michael Ben-Eli, comes on the 30th.

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Responses

  1. Great to see you back on the boat, look forward to reading your upcoming reports.


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