On arriving in the Marquases and finding Internet I'd received an email regarding some work back in Europe. As Spirit needs a few more upgrades I was interested in earning some more money, also helps to pay some of the numerous bills that quickly add up along the way. Anyway one thing has led to another and I've decided to head to Raiatea where there is good haul out and storage facilities for boats.
Spirit will be hauled here next week and stored ashore while I head over to Italy for three months. I'll plan to head back in February/March to do some work onboard and will soon get underway again. Waiting out the cyclone season here before making the rest of the trip home.
Never ceases to amaze me how you can't plan a thing when it comes to boats and the water. Would never have guessed a few months ago I'd be heading back to Europe for work and would never have guessed a year ago that the dream of sailing the Pacific would come true so soon either.
Here's a break down of our passage to Raiatea from Hiva Oa.
Day 1 - 27th July
Woke about 0600 and spotted Butch getting the "Racket Roller" ready for departure. After waking Johnny from his light sleep of tree felling we had a nice muesli and fresh fruit breakfast while enjoying a massive 12ft wide Manta Ray swimming around the boat. It was the perfect wake up nature at it best and right beside us. Very cool to see such massive creatures swimming right by in crystal clear water.
After getting the pick (anchor) up we then did the usual pack it all away scenario and got off about 0800. It was a beautiful morning slight breeze coming from the south east but not enough to sail in so we motored out a few miles until it started to fill in some more.
Butch was a few miles in front and on his way. We decided to put in two reefs and go with the full headsail. We're getting too used to having reefs in and find that if we don't we tend to be putting them in during the night anyway and with the small speed increase it's just easier to have them in all the time.
The breeze filled in to around 12-15kts and off we went soon sending the Roller to the horizon behind us. With the breeze being light and us needing to make good time to arrive at the other end during daylight hours we decided to haul up the mid-sized reacher. It wasn't long before we were doing the usual windspeed and making a good 10-14kts consistently.
The first day was just perfect light breeze, cloudless deep blue sky and warm wind on our faces what more could you ask for? Cold beer! Ah and this we had, one each at sunset to say thanks for such a wonderful day.
The wind stayed light all during the night and we made good time. The seas slowly flattened out even more and we had a day with winds of 10-12kts from the south east. Spirit rompt along at wind speed and in the smooth seas it felt as though we were just floating on the ocean with her sitting on 14kts and the windward float suspended above the water like the wing of a bird. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to experience days like these that just go on. Making great time, perfect weather and smooth seas.... Bliss.
Today was more of the same with light airs warm sunshine and ghosting along at windspeed or just above. We managed over 260nm for our first 24hrs or about 10.8kt average.
Tonight the winds have just started to increase as forecast to about 20kts bringing our apparent around a little with the waves now just kissing the windward float every now and then. We're making well over 12-14kts with 15-18kts true breeze just aft of the beam. Stars are out in full force and Raiatea is just under two days away.
Johnny and I put the reacher away earlier and popped out the full jib getting us a better nights sleep with the reduced power and worries.
Gorgeous sunrise this morning with wonderful orange colors and clouds on the horizon with the fingers of god showing through in bright streams.
Had some more wind today with it going from 13-40kts in the squalls. Went right round to 140 apparent but towards the end of the day it settled in at 100-90 degrees apparent and has settled there for most of the afternoon unless a rain cloud and squall come through which makes it vier in either direction.
Have made some good time with the wind on the beam and constantly sit on 10-14kts. Seas have built a little though and the beam waves and occasional small breakers make it uncomfortable.
Have to say the major down point and something you tire of quickly on passage onboard a trimaran is the windward float slapping. It has been great the first two days as the seas were calm and we had enough apparent breeze to keep the float high. But now with the larger seas she sometimes rolls into a swell and then slaps hard on the float. It's not alarming as you get used to it but it does tire you out hearing the boat slam a few times every minute. Not much fun at all and will be glad to pull into a safe and calm anchorage where we and the boat can relax a little.
It's now 0400 I've just come on watch after Johnny and before I went off at 0001 we had put the very deep 4th reef in an furled most of the jib. The forecast change arrived as we were passing the Tuamoto group and while I was on watch I had 4-5 squalls pass with nearly 40kts of wind in the last one.
Spirit took off with the three reefs in and small headsail doing 22kts into the dark. It's a black night out here with nothing not even stars about and doing those speeds isn't fun at all. We were also heading between two of the most western atolls in the group with a large distance between them but it's still nerve racking going those speeds into troughs of darkness. Reminded me a little of the passage down from Newport where we did it for over 1,000nm to St Maarten hand steering, having Rameses (autopilot) really helps.
All day it was one squall after another. We were glad to have put the deepest 4th reef in as the boat without a jib can handle big gusts well this reduced. With the squalls a few minutes to half an hour of constant 32-38kts of wind was experienced. Spirit shot off down waves with a fair amount of water coming onboard at some stages.
Our arrival to the waypoint was for around 2200 at night giving us a passage of about 3 days and 14 hours, which isn't bad for over 850nm. We entered the western passage just south of the CNI yard facility at about 0100 by the time we motored down the lee coast of Tahaa and Raiatea. Picking up a mooring and having a beer by about 0200. Had fun trying to find the mooring in the pitch black but in the end we did ok.
We didn't want to enter in the night but the passage we came in was well lit with leeds and was also over 1000ft wide and recommended as an all-weather entry. We found it to be exactly all that. With the radar on and three independent chart plotters all agreeing it was incredibly simple to enter. No large swells on the entrance even though there was a good few meters running up the shore.
The next day we poped around in the tender and had a look at the entrance and saw that it was indeed as the guides said. There some guys surfing waves and the waves were a solid 10ft at times while the entrance looked tranquil and glassed out.
Spirits going to be based here now for the next few months while I head back to work and maybe home for some time with the family and friends.
Before we hauled Spirit Johnny and I had a few days sailing around the area. I'll post some amazing photos and info about this real soon as this area has to be the most beautiful sailing grounds we have been too so far.