Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Tahiti, Tuamotus, Moorea, Tahiti - Leg 2 1999


Todd arriving with exactly the right amount of gear. One WestMarine explorer duffel and one knapsack. That's all that's needed..

June 8, 1999 0645 17.34S, 149.37W At anchor off Tahiti
Log: 22,848 Baro: 1013 Air: 78 Water: 77.0

Our Leg 2 crew are aboard, and in a few minutes I'll be headed in to clear customs and we'll be setting sail for Rangiroa in the Tuamotu or Dangerous Archipelago.

The week between expeditions went by all to fast. Amanda and I enjoyed three anchorages off the reef on Mooera with Amanda working away on her Galley Companion book which she will be sending off to the publisher later this year and me catching up on boat projects and expedition correspondence.

One of the most rewarding experiences for us in the past three weeks since we arrived in Bora Bora has been meeting cruisers at every island we've visited who have taken our Weekend Offshore Cruising Symposium. These are the folks that had a dream of cruising, prepared themselves well and are now living their dreams! We have started collecting photos of them on their boats and look forward to posting these on this site.


We had a real fright just before leaving Moorea. I took the instrument panel out of the binnacle to spray it with WD-40 as it had gotten wet when breaking waves landed in the cockpit and found the ignition relay's contacts were all green and corroded. It looked like a sealed part, so I made the mistake of using water and a toothbrush to clean off the corrosion before remounting it. Turns out it wasn't sealed, water got inside while I was cleaning it, and when I started the engine it started smoking! Amanda pried the cover off and inside we found a coil and contact that were totally corroded and had shorted out. No amount of cleaning would fix it and the alternator wouldn't charge the batteries without it.


Bill and Leslie Senn, ex-Weekend Symposium graduates aboard their gorgeous Esprit 37. Scimitar, ex-Mahina in Rangiroa.


Ghosting into Cook's Bay, Moorea.

New friends Marshall and Dee on Penguin also have Volvo engines and just happened to have the exact spare part, which they generously loaned us. That didn't do the trick, so we replaced the alternator and voltage regulator, thinking that possibly they had blown when we ran the engine without the alternator working. That still didn't do the trick, so we shut down all electrical draws that we could including the freezer and fridge and motorsailed to Tahiti to pick up Leg 2 crew.


Tahiti astern! Leg2-99 crew sailing for Rangiroa.

Yesterday I pulled out the electrical diagram and we deduced that if we put 12 volts to the voltage regulator terminal that was supposed to be getting power when the ignition key was turned on, it should make the alternator charge - AND IT DID!

Then using a multi-tester we tracked the problem down to a tiny light bulb which was supposed to indicate if there was a charging problem. That had burned out, breaking the circuit. That was it! As it was an unusual little bulb which we hadn't a spare for, it just took a minute to make a jumper wire to bypass the bulb fitting, and everything was OK.

What a relief to turn the fridge and freezer back on!

Once we're underway I'll tell you about our eager Leg 2 crew and a little about the Tuamotu Atolls.

Leg 2-1999

June 20, 1999 2100 17.29S, 149.51W At anchor, Moorea

Log: 23,399 Baro: 1013 Air: 81F Water: 77F

Amanda: Like the passage of the Southern Cross that travels our sky each night wrapped up in the Milky Way, Leg 2 has slipped by unnoticed and now its over we're left with moments to treasure. Our passage to Rangiroa, Tuamotus was mellow, the easterly trades were not their normal 20 knots and rather than motorsail the 190 miles to arrive before dark on Tues. night, we enjoyed two lovely nights of light air sailing making landfall just after first light (and slack water) at Avatoru Pass.

With the wind on our beam, we sailed in against a slight ebb current, the ocean depth was stunning - we could see the bottom clearly in 75'. As the anchor pierced the turquoise sea and kissed the sandy bottom the crew were divining in after it like lemmings falling off a cliff, an underwater paradise to explore.

Rangiroa, Second largest coral atoll in the world.

On Thursday we sailed 15 miles away from town to the middle of the lagoon and anchored behind a tiny islet, the home of one lone shrub. At 45 by 18 miles, Rangiroa is the second largest coral atoll in the world, and anchoring in the middle was almost like anchoring in the middle of the ocean. Dozens of sting rays and spotted rays, ever inquisitive, followed us around whenever we took to the water.


Matthias watching for coral heads as we approach Motu Nao Nao in
middle of Rangiroa's immense lagoon.

Al and Todd sailing through Avarna Pass. Rangiroa, Tuamotus.

The next day we sailed to a anchorage along the dotted motu reef. Ashore exploring Peggy felt she got a taste of what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island, she felt remote. Amanda found a large Japanese glass float and a Coke bottle from Ecuador; to her the world seemed small. Once back at the main anchorage we went snorkeling in Tiputa pass, first drifting with the incoming current, power snorkeling, then anchoring the Avon RIB near the pass markers where we were surrounded by swarms of fish and sharks. It was exciting, we had brought stale bread which enticed thousands of fish, so close that they were bumping into us.


Peggy and Amanda relaxing on foredeck.

Each morning we spent 2-3 hours covering one or two topics in detail, then sail or hike and explore in the afternoons. After a few days enjoying Rangiroa and exploring the two villages (total population 1,000) we set sail for Tikehau, 25 miles west, population 300. An Amel Santorin, also 48' long left an hour ahead of us, also sailing for Tikehau. We kept full sail up, even in 27 knots and had Mahina Tiare surfing along at up to 9.3 knots, passing the Amel easily, and getting some great photos in the process. We found a superb anchorage, just inside Tikehau's pass to spend the night, before sailing 7 miles across the lagoon to the picturesque village.

Passing "Jabado" 48 Amel Sharki, en route to Tikehau.

We've never seen a tidier, prettier village in French Polynesia!

Tiare Tahiti flower that Mahina Tiare was named after.

Flowers lined the streets, surrounded the houses, and even the sand along the road was raked free of leaves! Everyone we met was cheerful and smiling, and the azure lagoon and white sand beach framed this picture of paradise. Amanda and I tracked down Felix the baker and ordered two dozen loaves of French bread before setting off to explore. Arriving back, our bread still in the oven, Felix was hard at work. He gladly showed us the entire process of making French bread and the old brick oven out back his father had used. We received a private tour of his yard, the 300 laying hens in cages he had built, the watermelon patch (we bought one), papaya trees and home-built picnic speed boats. Felix explained that his father was from Martinique and mother from Tikehau. He was proud of the Martinique connection and said that was why he worked harder than the laid-back locals. When we offered him money for two choice papaya he just grinned and shook his head. After a few days we sailed 166 miles south to Tahiti. With light winds we motorsailed some, then as the wind filled in we had a great sail into Papeete, stopping long enough to clear customs, fill the water tank and pick up some vegetables.

Papeete is gearing up for the Le Fete, the month long celebration of Tahitian life, so we were happy to set sail in time to make it 17 miles to our favorite anchorage on Moorea before dark. Here on Moorea our crew took one day off from teaching to go explore the island on scooters and jeeps, hiking to waterfalls and up mountains.

It's now our last night, and kind of sad, because this has been such a fun and eager crew!


Monika and Marthias in action on the dance floor, Moorea.


Another night of Tahitian dancing, Club Bali Hai, Moorea.

Here they are:

Todd Hatch, 49 a CPA from the Seattle area. Great sense of humor - never stops cracking jokes! Has a gorgeous wife and family who aren't that taken with the offshore sailing idea, so he's checking it out on his own.

Al Maher, 53, a commercial property manager from San Francisco who has sailed with us at least six times so far including Cape Horn to Antarctica. Always ready to lend a hand and a good sense of humor, we look forward to his joining us next year for the Panama Canal.

Monika Praesser, 54 and Matthias Prasser, 61 are live on Lake Konstanz on the German-Swiss border. Matthias works for Siemens and has offices in Texas and Germany. Monika is very excited about her first grandchild which will hopefully be born next week to her daughter Antje who lives in Ireland. Monika and Matthias race their 30' sloop on Lake Konstanz and look forward to purchasing a HR 42 and circumnavigating once Matthias retires in two years.

Peggy Herman, 43, recently retired from a publishing company, is enjoying gardening and preparing their Hans Christian 48 for ocean voyaging with her partner,

Quentin Rhoton, 53, the "master blaster" who sailed up from Auckland with us on Leg 1.

Remember in the last update when I mentioned how exciting it has been to meet folks who completed our weekend Offshore Cruising Symposium and are now out here living their dreams? Well the book that we started is constantly making the rounds now! It seems that nearly every US cruising boat we're meeting has either completed the weekend course or come to one our West Marine programs.

Leg 2 crew depart in the morning and after a week we'll be greeting our Leg 3 crew in Papeete, sailing for Hilo, Hawaii, via (weather permitting) Tikehau.

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