28 September 2012 | Tahiti
Distance: 229 miles 2 days
The engine on Ntombi is not powerful enought to motor against the current If we try to go out of Apataki whilst the current is flowing into the lagoon. Laurent calculated the correct time for us to exit through the pass - current flowing out - which is after 12h00. We therefore had a slow sail from Apataki Carenage to the pass to ensure we do not arrive before 12h00. Sailing the 10 miles from the boatyard to the pass took us past coral heads and oyster farms. Luckily we did not have to swerve out for any - maybe it was because we sailed in a direct line to the village where the pass is. The pass is well marked with bouys and it was therefore fairly easy to exit Apataki. Definitely not the same experience as our entrance of the north pass.
Whilst at Apataki Carenage we were told of a yacht that was lost on the reef outside the southern pass. The single handed sailor arrived at Apataki during the night and waited for daybreak to enter through the pass. He went to sleep and the currrent took him onto the reef. We saw the yacht when we were leaving Apataki (see photo in gallery).
We continued in fair winds to Tahiti, passing Kaukura atoll. With modern technology and knowledge of the atolls we were able to sail close to Kaukura before we tacked away and about. It looks as if this atoll has a few more motu's (coral sand with palm trees) than Apataki. We passed the atoll around 18h00 on day 1 when the wind started picking up and the waves as well. It is a pity, because the sail during the day was very nice with low wind and low waves.
We are very thankful that we have maps of all the atolls (not all very detailed) on our way to Tahiti. I can understand why sailors avoided this area in the past and why it is known as the dangerous Tuomotu Archipelago. It is much easier with GPS and maps to find your way around the atolls.
When you look at the atoll, you see a motu (a patch of coral sand with coconut trees) and ocean between them. The ocean is however covering (or not) a reef and you cannot sail over it. Some atolls have only one and some two passes where you can enter into the lagoon. Some atolls do not have a pass deep enough for yachts to enter.
The Society island group contains 12 major islands with a windward cluster of 5 and a leeward cluster of 7 islands. Tahiti is part of the windward group and was previously known as Nouvelle Cythere. It is the largest and best known island of the group. Tahiti has an area of approx 400 square miles and is formed of volcanoes connected by an isthmus. The capital city of Papeete is a modern city of more than 128 000 people built around a coastal lagoon. It is also the distribution center for supplies to all of the islands of French Polynesia. Papeete(the Water Basket) is also the home port to the French fleet.
The wind did not get very strong on the first night, but I was still struggling to sleep. It is normally like that on the first night of a voyage. The swells were a bit higher but not too uncomfortable. During day 2 we had a few rainstorms passing which brought the usual stronger wind with no wind after the rain. I became seasick during the very slow sail with low wind. We changed the sails to cater for the strength of the wind and from then onwards it was a very nice sail. I must admit, I can continue sailing in fair winds like this. Unfortunately we had to slow down again to ensure that we do not arrive in Tahiti during nightfall.
Ntombi is sailing like a horse and not a donkey anymore. The new antifouling made a huge difference and maybe our confidence as well. The log is working and the propshaft is not a worry anymore. We are therefore ready for the rest of the journey to New Zealand.
We passed Tetiaora island, which Marlon Brando bought after the shooting of the "Mutiny of the Bounty" in the sixties, around 2h00. I had another restless night (night 2) due to Tahiti getting closer and the worry is always there that you might not wake up when you do fall asleep. I do not want to land up on the reef like the sailor outside Apataki. At 4h00 the lights of Tahiti was more visible and we started making progress to arrive around 7h00. It was an experience to enter through the pass and see the airplane taking off almost over our heads. We had to ask permission to sail passed the airport because the leaving airplane might take your mast with it. After permission was granted we sailed in the channel passed the eastern entrance of the airfield and had to request permission to sail passed the western entrance of the airfield again. We are still waiting for them to grant us permission.
We anchored at Marina Taina and went ashore to find a supermarket and fresh produce. Interesting enough, the lambrib from New Zealand is the cheapest meat per kilo. Even the local chicken is double the price. The baguette (French bread) is subsidised and costs only 50 US cents. When we went back to the boat, the wind was becoming very strong. Johan realised that there is a problem with the little Yamaha engine on the dinghie. After investigation he found that it is not circulating water to cool the engine. It is however almost Sabbath and he will try and fix the engine on Sunday. Johan used his gas barbeque to cook the lambrib inside Ntombi. He told me ages ago that he cannot wait to get to New Zealand to eat a whole lamb rib. Well, New Zealand just came closer than he thought. The wind called Maraamu (SE wind) became very strong and we were unable to move Ntombi to the "yacht in transit" area as indicated by the Marina office. We can now understand why Gilbert wrote in his book, "And the wind carried us" that there were days when they were unable to go ashore. In a wind like this, we will also not be able to go ashore.
The wind died down during the night and we were able to move Ntombi very early in the morning. We were very lucky to find an open mooring in the indicated area. They are normally very scarce. Eric, an ex South African living on his boat at this Marina came to enquire about Ntombi. He recognised the name as Zulu and was puzzled with the New Zealand registration. He offered Johan a lift to the shops but he obviously could not accept because we are keeping the Sabbath.
We watched Dwight Nelson's sermon on the Chosen - why we are a chosen people. We realised how fortunate we are for God to have chosen us to be His children. I also read the chapter of the "Time of Trouble" in The Great Controversy.
On Sunday morning Johan opened the Yamaha engine to find that the impeller is broken. He asked Eric for a lift if he goes ashore. He took us with to the supermarket and Johan stopped at the chandlery shop for an impeller. They unfortunately did not have one in stock and we will have to go to Papeete to the Yamaha agent, or order one through the local chandlery shop. The windpilot that we ordered from Germany will be sent by airfreight on Monday morning (Europe time).
Johan went with Eric and Daphne to Yamaha agent to buy the impeller and fixed it on Monday. We now have our dinghie working and can get ashore as and when we require. The parcel from Germany will be on a flight on Thursday, 4/10/2012. We will therefore spend a bit longer than anticipated in Tahiti.
We got the package on Friday, installed the windpilot. Whilst waiting for the parcel to arrive we discovered that our inner shroud had two broken wires. We decided to replace all the rigging and that was only completed by Wednesday 10/10/12. Checking out proved to be more challenging and we are therefore only able to leave Tahiti on Friday, 12/10/12. The next stop is in Tonga when we will join the "all points rally' group of yacht to sail to Opua, New Zealand.