08 July 2010 | Entrance to Papeete Harbor, Tahiti
No sooner than we left the lee of Rangiroa in the Tuamotos, the seas and wind completely negated ALL weather reports(except my friend, Clyde:'get in by Thursday'). Before we knew what happened, we were in 25 knot winds and rough seas. We were taking it all on the beam - on this tack we felt the full force of the wind as opposed to racing before the wind where ones boat speed is subtracted from the wind speed. We battled through this caldron in the dense black of night, all night. Banging Shearwater hard ... water everywhere - enormous waves covering her every few minutes.
Morning came and as the light revealed this ocean and its angry face, it became evident that we faced now the challenge of stopping Shearwater before the Tahiti Harbor entrance which, coincidentally was exactly on the same course - 200 degrees. The seas now had built even more, frothing at their highest points. A few particularly big waves from the side would slam Shearwater and for but a few moments she would seem to stagger sideways, stunned in her tracks, then shake it off as a boxer shakes of a stunning blow.
As the winds now built to sustained 30 gusting 35, the problem became...how to get the sails down for I feared damage due to the violent luffing that would take place the moment of heading into wind.
Where was their a quieter sea? Was there a lee somewhere?
I made a few calls on the radio as to knowledge of the entrance and to whether any shielding from the wind. No response.
Land was closing in. Examining the chart and picking a spot further up the coast, a small little bay, I was hoping that there... there might be some small respite from this onslaught, enough to get those sails down.
I hated to be be rushing directly to shore in this search.... now only half mile off... Shearwater unchanged but reaching 15 knots sporadically... hunting for less wind and realizing that if anything went wrong we were now very close to land. A myriad of emotions ...amazement, anger, frustration, fear and cursing the gods!....plied those fleeting moments.
I studied the windspeed indicator and made the decision that as soon as I saw a '19 knot' I would instantly head her into wind.
I riveted my eyes on the readout....25......24......30......32......closer and closer to shore, waves still pounding our side.....27....24......22....and then......18 knots!.... we turned the rudders hard and gunned the engines into wind....rushed to the front, let the halyards go and wrestled the dacron monsters to the ground, tied them up....and... we were done.
We now could enter the harbor as calmly as ever, as though nothing at all had happened and, as I called Harbor Control for permission to enter.....I smiled at my now apparent coolness.