Good morning – we’ve got sun and clouds and a bit of wind coming in from port side, 109 miles to go to Pt. Venus in Tahiti.
Yesterday went well, pulled in my dock lines from the mooring ball, raised the mainsail and drifted slowly on down towards the pass. There was a significant variation in when the pass might be at slack water, I aimed to arrive early just in case as the worst thing you can do is miss the slack and then you’re stuck inside the lagoon for another 6 hours, which would make running miles to Tahiti difficult. At 10:30 the pass was a wall of waves, large ones. At 11:15 the waves were all gone, at 11:30 I went through the pass (it’s 48 feet deep on the center shelf) and there was a light washing machine churning of the water, far less than one sees at Pt. Bonita off San Francisco. Out we popped. Points to Fakarava Yacht Services for getting the slack time most accurately, they were better than SHOM and NOAA.
Outside it was smooth low swell, some wind coming in from the ESE at 10 knots, and off Beetle. By mid-afternoon the wind was 10-12 knots and there was enough boat speed to pull that wind forward to just on the beam, there was a current running in my direction, and the low swell was pushing the boat along wonderfully. We were Speedy Beetle for the afternoon an on into the evening. The atoll of Niau went by, it has lights so there must be people there. And then open ocean.
After the radio net the wind stayed darn nice and we trundled along. Somewhere in the night the first couple of squalls, more like rain clouds, appeared, and with the clouds came some additional pressure from further forward, in went a reef and part of the jib was rolled up to keep boat speed in line with comfortable sailing. I do the short-sleep thing with my timer/alarm and would get up to check for AIS targets (usually none), turn on the radar to check for boats or squalls (found one boat, lots of squalls), adjust whatever needs adjusting as regards the sails, and it’s back to sleep. At 3AM I woke up to discover it was raining and the wind had shifted 80 degrees, instead of 120 AWA on port it was now 160 to starboard. Wow! – that’s a big shift. I rolled up the jib entirely, altered course, and then the wind shut down as the squall moved away over the horizon. Bummer. So on went the motor, centered the main, and pointed the bow at Pt. Venus and off we went into the night.
It looks like arrival early Thursday morning is likely, and the reason for chosing Pt. Venus is the bay behind the point is safe to enter in the dark and easy to get the anchor to stick. If I don’t feel like going through that in the dark I can always slow down out here and amble in with the sunrise. Pitufa mentioned the anchorage in Arue, in front of a yacht club there – they said there are 16 boats on the hook and there’s room for me, should Beetle want to come there. That was nice of them!
Looks to be a nice day out here, not as smooth as it was yesterday afternoon, swell is up a bit (6-7′) and the squalls have chopped up the water. It would be neat if conditions return to what they were yesterday, but unlikely. Time for breakfast, and radio net, and I’ll go catch another sleep or two.