At sea again
19 June 2016 | On passage Fatu Hiva to the Tuamotus
We finally said goodbye to the Marquesas and as of yesterday morning are heading for another archipelago in French Polynesia, the Tuamotus (the third archipelago being the Society Islands, aka Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc.). In stark contrast to the Marquesas, which are all tall, green, jungle-clad volcanic islands, the Tuamotus are all low, white, palm-tree-fringed coral atolls. These atolls are spread over about 1,000 miles in a NW-SE direction, about 500 miles southwest of the Marquesas. So it takes a multi-day passage to get to the Tuamotus from the Marquesas. Once you're in the midst of the Tuamotus, the atolls themselves are usually a day's travel or less from each other.
Before the advent of GPS, the Tuamotus were called "The Dangerous Archipelago," as they are so low-lying that you can't see them until you're about 8 miles away, and then you're probably seeing the tops of their palm trees. IF they have some. Sailors tended to avoid these islands, not visit them. But now, they're a popular destination on the South Pacific cruising circuit. Each atoll is unique: some have passes into their coral-studded lagoons; others are complete rings of coral with no entrance. Some passes are wide or deep and straightforward to navigate; others are narrow or bent or shallow and difficult to navigate. Some have rip-roaring currents; others, not so much. Choosing which atoll to visit is a decision based on many variables. "Which atoll are you visiting?" has replaced the Puddle Jumpers' "When are you leaving?" as the question of the moment.
When we left Fatu Hiva yesterday morning, we had three or four atolls in mind, as possible destinations. Since they were all hundreds of miles away, we could postpone the final choice until after we looked at updated weather reports along the way, which we've been doing.
Our first day at sea was lumpy and fast. Boisterous 2 meter seas with 20 knot winds made us acquire our sea legs quickly! SCOOTS zipped along at an average of 7 knots for the first 24 hours. I made some corn muffins, which were a hit as late night snacks. We had a lovely sail with mostly clear skies all day and night. Those lumpy seas calmed down at sunset, which was nice....
Today we've had less wind, but we've also had smoother seas. I was able to take a shower on the swim step, which I only do if the motion isn't too rowdy.
We're zeroing in on our atoll choice. I'll fill you in on that next time.