Saturday, May 8, 2010

Enroute Gambiers to Hao in the Tuamotus - Day 3

Just another 500 mile passage!

No one warned me that the Pacific was so big and the islands so far apart. I long for the Bahamas, only 75 miles from home, with lots of islands only hours apart, and enclosed by a big protecting reef. (And fish you can actually eat!)

Dave keeps telling me that the Bahamas are crap, and he'll never pay $300 to go there (that's the entry fee they enacted for boats over 40 feet a few years ago). And he says... wait til you see the diving in the Pacific. Well, I'm still waiting. (Though our friends on Visions have been diving at Makemo in the Tuamotus and raving about it).

And we'd never get around the world hanging out in Marsh Harbor!! (or Double-Breasted Cays).

Anyway, I digress. We left the Gambiers 2 days ago, in pretty rough (for us) conditions. The wind was blowing 18-20 kts and the seas were about 8 feet. If we hadn't been going on a broad reach, I would never have been able to get Dave to leave in those conditions. But he is learning that wind is good!! (even if it does get the boat all salty).

It has been relatively easy. The biggest challenge has been getting our autopilot to steer well on a broad reach with the big genny up and a small triple reefed main. Dave likes to have the main up for a steadying sail and a 'last resort' sail in a squall. But it makes us unbalanced and Janet (the autopilot) doesn't like broad reaching with that sail combo at all.

Every time we get things set up so we're going where we want to go, the wind speed changes a little and we have to rebalance all over again. (Let sails in and out, tweak the heading on the autopilot). Add in the 'dark as hell' factor at night, where you can't see what your sails are doing (or the weather coming at you), and it makes life interesting!! When Janet doesn't like the heading we've picked, she responds by veering back and forth about 100 degrees... luffing the sails because we're too far upwind on one extreme, and because we're too far downwind on the other extreme. Tweak the heading 5 degrees, and she's happy and settles right down and steers properly.

We are threading our way between many small atolls, but unfortunately, none have passes that would let us go inside, and it doesn't seem possible to drop a hook on the outside in most conditions. (At least we have no guidebooks or cruiser accounts of anyone who has done it successfully). So we are going direct to Hao, which has a big pass, marked entry, and for which we have detailed charts.

We have about 180 miles to go--about 25-30 hours more at our current speed.
At 5/7/2010 6:34 PM (utc) our position was 20°04.16'S 138°41.62'W

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