80 miles at our planning speed of 5.5 knots is 14.5 hours, and there are only about 12 hours of daylight here right now. So we had to decide whether to make it an overnight or mostly-daytime trip, with arrival at night. I favored the overnight plan, but Dave felt we knew Toau well enough, and the entry was simple enough, that the daylight plan would work. The deciding factor was the wind forecast. If we left in the morning, for the daytime run, we'd have mostly 15 knots. Waiting til evening for the overnight run would possibly change the conditions up to the 'near 20 knots' range.
So we pulled anchor in Manihi at first light (5:30am) and crossed our fingers that our carefully-laid anchor would come up easily. It did. We had used our 'Fishfinder' when anchoring the day before, to find a less-contoured spot on the bottom in which to drop our anchor. It took 3 passes to find the best spot, and then get the anchor to the bottom in that spot, but it was worth the effort.
According to our tide calculations, the tide should have already turned in the pass as we exited. So we were expecting a couple of knots of incoming current--no big deal. But we found we actually had a couple of knots of outgoing current. The only explanation is the higher winds (and waves) push more water into the atoll over the low reefy parts than can get out in the pass on the leeward side. Manihi might be one of those atolls where, in high wind/sea conditions, the current never turns. (But we weren't sticking around to find out).
We trolled a fishing line all day. We got one hit, but the fish got off before we started pulling it in. No more strikes. We are finally eating down the stuff in our freezer and have some room for fish, if we catch one.
We had a great sail--the wind was in the 14-18 knot range, and almost on our beam, so the rough hard-on-the-wind trip I envisioned turned into a very nice fast sail. We reefed our genoa to keep our speed under 7 knots. We got our first squall just before dark (and it's been squally on-and-off ever since, so we made the right decision to go).
Getting in at night, though, was a little dicey. Anse Amyot has a lighted range, but one of the range lights is out. So we had to rely only on our GPS, which we knew was 'spot on'. No moon out at all. With the GPS screen radiating too much light in the cockpit, even in 'night mode'--I couldn't see a thing, but just had to rely on instruments. Dave was on the bow, though, with a spotlight, and he could see pretty well. He told me to keep on coming, and eventually spotted the two unlit entry markers. We fortunately finally reached a boat in the anchorage on VHF before we came in--they saw our lights wandering around outside and turned on their VHF. They put their spotlight on an available mooring that they knew had a floating 'tag line', near them. This made it easy for us to pick up, and in a couple of minutes we were secure. So in the end it wasn't that hard. (Dave thinks it was easy, but I wouldn't choose to do it again.)
Since we arrived, the wind has been blowing pretty hard, so we haven't gone diving yet. We did spend yesterday morning looking over the moorings--checking the chains around the coral heads were still OK, and looking for wear in the lines. Dave has a list of maintenance items to make all the moorings servicable again, which we'll help with over the next few days.
At 5/28/2011 12:55 AM (utc) our position was 15°48.19'S 146°09.17'W