The Futile Loop
14 March 2021 | At sea
Here we are, on our way back to Tahiti after a 1400nm (2,800km) six week sailing jaunt. I have already written about our misbegotten trip to the Australs but how did we end up on our way back to Tahiti so quickly? The plan was to escape Raivavae and go back to the lovely atoll of Raroia, in the Tuamotus, and hang out there for a couple of weeks snorkeling before wending our way westward through the atolls.
It started well. We sailed up to Raroia, met a couple of very nice new boats and had a few great snorkels - until - Janaki developed an ear problem.... These have to be taken seriously and there are no medical facilities in Raroia so we made a two day "dash" to Fakarava to see the doctor there. Diagnosis - severe inflammation, and probable infection - steroids and antibiotics needed.
Oh well.... Absolutely no swimming for about three weeks. Hanging about in a coral atoll and not being able to go in the water is a sublime form of torture so we may as well get back in the big city. We need to be there in April anyway to get Leela hauled out and anti-fouled. There we can have access to medical specialists if needed (and pain au chocolat!), exercise in the park, get all our admin done, post more fish pics -sorry , get our Covid shots - Yay! and generally get ready for the journey west.
So, that was the futile loop. A little galling because we could have spent that time exploring the Society Islands in the company of friends. That's the price you sometimes have to pay for 'adventuring'.
It was not completely futile. We made a few good modifications to the rig and honed both our light wind and heavy weather sailing techniques, including using our Assymetric for the first time in several years. It was certainly a very thorough check out trip. We dealt with some of the worst squalls we have experienced and had to motor enough to precipitate the failure of our fuel supply hoses which contaminated both Racor filters with shreds of black rubber - not nice but MUCH better now than on the long passage west. Fortunately we had enough fuel-rated hose onboard to completely replumb the engine fuel system, a messy and unpleasant job but done and dusted and the scars will heal soon . Leela is ready now so we just have to get fit again after spending a LOT of time sitting on the boat.
It is hard to appreciate how big and empty this region is. French Polynesia covers an area the size of Europe but is very sparsely occupied. In 2,800km of sailing and about twelve days at sea we did not see a single other boat or a single plane. Nada. No sign that there are other humans on the planet. A rare but slightly unnerving privilege.
We do have some contact. There is an SSB radio net twice a day and we really enjoy and appreciate the ability to hear other voices and give our position report. It is also reassuring to know that someone is listening out on a known frequency twice a day if we need assistance.
This has been a delightful sail so far. A perfect beam reach in ten to twelve knots of steady wind, a long lazy swell and no squalls. We should arrive tomorrow morning at the current leisurely pace of five knots. The calm may not last. The CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) is forecast to build during the day and substantial cumulus clouds are already starting to pop up at seven in the morning so it will probably be more exciting later today. Light wind conditions, where you need a lot of sail up, mixed with squalls is always a bit challenging.
Oh, and Janaki's ears are improving well - all good.
Anyway, enough rambling. We hope this finds you all well and even vaccinated. We may be slowly coming out of the dark.