Sailing Through Paradise: Rangiroa, Tuamotus to Papeete, Tahiti
Leg #6, July 1997
Blasting Through the Tuamotus!
July 10, 1997 1430
Position: 17 12 S, 149 17 W, Log 6094 miles, Water Temp. 80.1 F
Papeete, Tahiti: 25.5 mi@ 205M
Winds E @ 30 - 40 kts. Close reaching at 8.5 kts.
Tahiti is dramatically on our bow, visible through clouds and spray.
Winds have been between 30 and 41 kts since soon after our departure from
Rangiroa 23 hrs ago. We have covered nearly 200 miles in record time, and
will arrive long before we planned - hopefully just before dark this evening!
Weather conditions deteriorated quickly after we left Rangiroa, and we
relied on radar as we sailed the 6 mile wide channel between Rangiroa and
tiny Tikehau Atoll to the west. High winds and rain squalls made navigation
a tense affair between these 8' high coral islands, surrounded by powerful
and unpredictable currents. Sterling Hayden's 98' schooner Wanderer and
Marc Darnois' 80' schooner Maylis were both wrecked on these atolls, along
with a host of yachts, including the recent wreck of a 38' ketch very visible
as we sailed out Rangiroa's Avatoru Pass.
Recent shipwreck, Rangiroa.
Our landfall at Rangiroa was dramatic. Low slack water occurred at 0630
and we timed our arrival exactly, and sailed in to anchor off Tiputa Village
Sunday morning. We later moved to a more sheltered anchorage off the Kia
Ora Village Hotel where we enjoyed cold drinks, Tahitian dancing and a
great dinner ashore. Speaking of Tahitian dancing, after the dance show
(sort of a family affair with young kids, mamas, aunties adding to the
vocal section) one of the lovely young dancers grabbed Fiji, a good-looking
blonde of 22, drug him out to the middle of the impromptu stage and set
about teaching him the Tahitian tamure dance, much to the enjoyment of
Rangiroa surpassed our crew's vivid expectations! The scuba divers;
John, Fiji, Joe came back bubbing with tales of sighting over 1000 sharks
PER DIVE and the rest of us had three great drift dives with 6-8 kts of
incoming current, zooming over huge manta rays, giant parrot fish, and
yes, a few sharks! Everyone got a chance to go up the mast to practice
a rig check, had the experience of setting a second bow anchor in strong
winds on a lee shore, and lots of practice coral piloting.
Hard to believe this expedition leg is nearly over, but within less
than two hours we hope to sail in Papeete's main pass and anchor off the
waterfront, to clear customs first thing in the morning. Then some of the
crew fly home Sunday morning and the rest are off for a week of exploring
these Islands of Paradise.
Amanda and I are looking forward to sailing over to Moorea for two weeks
of R and R and are looking forward to meeting up with Steve and Linda Dashew
and seeing their new 80' Beowolf.
Amanda passed a milestone on her watch last night, passing her 100,000th
mile under sail - something to be celebrated over dinner at Le Trucks (mobile
barbecue trucks that park along the waterfront) tonight.
Next update in a week from Moorea's Opunohu Bay.
Mahina Tiare III, Papete, Tahiti.
To The Next Log Entry:
Log #7 - 7/26/97