Last night was a most pleasant evening in Daniel’s Bay. The waves stayed down, and I discovered that Beetle is not the only boat that smacks the water with the transom – so do Oysters! I feel better knowing that I am not the only boat that makes bonking noises in waves from astern.
The gang was up early, up with the few flies that survived Jack’s onslaught with the swatter. For whatever reason, it’s not easy to sleep when little flies are keen to land on you. I went out and transferred fuel from the 3 remaining jerry jugs, which makes Beetle ready for re-fueling at the Total station in Taiohae Bay. They don’t have a fuel dock unless you’re the big supply boat – even the large superyacht that came in couldn’t tie up there. What you do instead is set out a bow anchor and then back in towards the concrete wharf. At some point you through stern lines ashore and someone ties them to the bollards, you take up on the bow anchor to hold yourself off the concrete, and a hose is then passed out to the boat. Strikes me that a much simpler approach is to dinghy over with your jerry jugs and they will fill them and pass them back down to you. Even easier still, for 1000 XPF Kevin will drive you, your jugs, and as many of his jugs as you can to borrow, around to the Total station in his pickup truck, fill up everything in one shot, and he drives you back to the dinghy quay – then you can spend as much time as you like shuttling jugs out to your boat which has remained at anchor the entire time. I think I will try out the dinghy-to-the-wharf model first and see how it goes.
The departure from Daniel’s Bay was much more interesting than our arrival; on the way out the river outflow and incoming swell was creating six foot steep short swells in the narrow entrance, and suddenly I could see all the manta rays cruising about in the river outfall water – lots and lots of them, 6′ or so wingtip to wingtip. I’ve played dodge-’em whales, dodge-’em sea turtles, but never dodge-’em manta rays! Definitely don’t want to smack one with the propeller or rudder, even little ones are heavy, and they’re inches below the surface. At least the manta rays don’t like large dark things like boat hulls coming at them, and they would zip out of the way as we did our crashing motor out through the big swell. In thinking about that entrance, if we’d gone in with that kind of swell you’re definitely committing to the idea that there’s a cove in there to duck into, as it appears as though you’re driving right towards a solid cliff of jumbled rocks and heavy breaking waves.
The C-Map charts do not label land contour heights, which is too bad. The seemingly vertical cliff to the west could have topped out at 2000′, rising to a razor sharp ridge that runs a long way inland. And way way up on the cliff we spotted some white things moving, turns out there is a rather large herd of goats up there. I was able to zoom in with the Nikon camera and long lens, then blow that image way up in software and actually see the goat’s body and legs. I suspect those goats have found a safe place to be as nobody is going to be up there hunting them!
It was also Rob’s birthday on Shindig, only we were departing in the morning and wouldn’t be able to join them for the festivities later in the day. So out we went onto the ocean to make the 3-1/2 mile direct run back to Taiohae Bay. The ocean was grey overcast cloudy, a 10-12′ swell running, 15-20 knots of wind on the nose, and an enormous amount of reflected wave chop – one giant washing machine. We motored long slowly making 3.5 to 4 knots, banging into the chop while being lifted and lowered by the swell. The swell was fine, it was the chop that made things very slow – hitting a 4′ wall of water head on definitely throws spray sideways and does a great job of removing any excess speed Beetle might have had. And eventually we arrived to turn the corner at West Sentinel and into the bay we came. This time we anchored about 900′ closer to the east than the first time, will see if that makes any difference.
So all is good in the world, ready to drop Jack and Torie off with luggage for to make to their hotel, and radio comes alive and it’s the Pearl Lodge telling us that there is an on-going fireman’s strike in Tahiti and the airplanes haven’t been flying to Nuku Hiva for the past two days. Nobody can leave the island and the Lodge’s rooms are all full. Huh. Who would have thought? Rats. That sucks. That’s also could become a problem for Kristen’s Saturday arrival on island – a lot of effort and expense has gone into arranging trips out this way, and I find it difficult to believe that shutting down the airlines is a good way to attract tourists to French Polynesia… Hopefully that will sort its way out, but right now it’s all a big unknown.
For the afternoon Jack and Torie went ashore to have a nice dinner at the restaurant, and I retired to Beetle to read and relaxe. At about that time… the VHF comes alive – Shakedown is 4 miles out after a 49 day passage from La Cruz (yes that’s right, 49 days to get here), and they could use some assistance getting in to Taiohae as it will be black when the get to the entrance, they have a broken mainmast chainplate, and the engine starter motor is dead; sailing is risky, and they have no motor. I ask what kind of boat Shakedown is, particularly how long and how heavy: it’s a 55′ steel ketch weighing 33 tons. Looks like we’re not going to tow that around with my 9.9HP outboard, nor Mayaluga’s as they have essentially the same thing I have. Turns out Beach Flea has a 20HP motor on their much larger RIB dinghy, and he’s been in contact with Shakedown – so Beach Flea will go and asks for help in the dinghy for the fetch. I volunteer, and around 7PM off we go into the dark out into the ocean to see what we can do. We don’t go fast because we can’t see the waves, instead we motor slowly and let the waves push us around. When we arrive at Shakedown we realize it’s a big, heavy duty, somewhat rusty, cutter rigged ketch sailing on staysail and mizzen, they are a good 3/4 mile further out than they though, and they are being tossed sideways down the big swell – no chance we can safely side tie to them out there as they would slide sideways into us possibly drive the dinghy under. We instruct them over the radio to continue sailing and follow us into the bay towards calmer water, which they proceed to do. At their slow speeds they don’t have a lot of steerage, so the boat swings widely to port and starboard but does creep along in generally the desired direction.
About 45 minutes later they are well inside East Sentinel, swell is gone, and we attempt a bow tow but the dinghy is too light to get the boat to change course. So we side tie on the port aft quarter and can use the 20HP outboard as a power source while the big boat steers the course. Off we move into the bay, making 1.5-2 knots. After a lot of back-and-forthing over the radio we get Beach Flea to turn on their spreader lights as we know there’s a large area with no boats near by, we’re also asking Shakedown for AIS positions on the boats, and ask him to turn on his radar so we can call out where the anchored boats are (from our position in the dinghy we can’t really see what’s up ahead in the black). As near the anchorage we ask him for the depth and he tells us the depth sounder doesn’t work but he says the chart shows 35′ of water. We know that none of the boats are anchored in 35′ of water as that puts you too close to shore, and then we realize we’re coming up on an anchored boat that we hadn’t noticed and ask Shakedown to drop anchor straight away. He does, drops out 150′ of chain, we recommend more like 300′ on the Bruce anchor, he does, and he stops. Yeah! He’s in! We untie from Shakedown and go over to roust the folks on the nearby boat and let them know what’s going on – turns out they’ve been up in the cockpit listening to our chatter on the VHF. We explain the situation (no motor, very heavy, very tired, don’t know the bay) and they say they will keep an anchor watch for a couple of hours and if Shakedown starts to drag they’ll move instead of asking Shakedown to do so. Very nice people.
Back to Beetle for me. Jack and Torie radio in from the quay, they’re back from dinner, and Jack was out on the restaurant porch listening to us on the VHF and watching the boat coming in. Maybe a lot of people were listening, there wasn’t much other activity in the bay.
Then it was to bed and get some sleep. Busy busy day and evening!