Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hello Hao, Goodbye Hao

We were all set to arrive at Hao with possibly enough time to make a possible slack current event this afternoon. But due to really crappy weather last night, we missed it.

Just when we were starting to count our chickens, we got a wind switch that drove us more west than we planned. This was complicated by the fact that we had set the spinnaker pole up on the jib, and with the pole up, we couldn't 'harden up' and keep our original course line. We didn't want mess with trying to take that big spinnaker pole down in big seas in the dark. (For the non-sailors, a spinnaker pole is an aluminum pole about 20 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, used to 'pole out' a sail to keep it from flopping when sailing downwind).

We spent the whole night dodging squalls with 25 knots of wind, rain, and wind from the wrong direction. Neither of us got much sleep.

We took the pole down at first light, but by then the damage was done. We couldn't make our waypoint without really bashing into 20 knot winds and 8 foot seas. No thanks. So we took the easy way out, and sailed up the west side of Hao. It afforded enough protection from the big seas to give us a breather, time to take a nap, and consider what we wanted to do. We were close enough to see some tiny palm islands on the rim (called 'motus' in Polynesia).

We had planned to arrive at Hao with winds having eased to under 15 knots for at least 24 hours. But the forecast changed and it had been blowing almost 20 for at least 24 hours. We were pretty sure that, even if we'd made it on time, we would have found a 5+ knot outgoing current anyway.

If we'd really been stuck on Hao, we would have just hove to for the night and tried it in the morning. But it takes the lagoon several days to empty off all the water that washes into it when the seas/winds are high. So it was iffy. And Dave really wanted to go to Tahanea anyway. :)

So we had lunch, plotted a course for Tahanea, and bore off WNW for Tahanea, 230 miles away. Its almost, but not quite, dead down wind. So we will gybe a couple of times to get there (unless the wind shifts). We will have to dodge around a few atolls also. (Thank goodness for our GPS and very accurate French electronic charts).

So we are enjoying a nice downwind sail--no moon right now, but lots of stars. No squalls tonight, thank God. The wind has eased to the 15 knot range and the seas are much better also. ETA Tahanea sometime Monday, in light winds.

Our friends on Visions of Johanna are there, and the big attraction at Tahanea is DIVING!! (The visibility at Hao was very poor, Visions said). We are FINALLY going to do some serious diving in some seriously fantastic atolls.
At 5/9/2010 7:37 AM (utc) our position was 17°45.33'S 141°43.76'W

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