Raiatea 3-4 Sept
03 September 2021 | Raiatea
William Ennis | Hot
Blog1 September 2021
16 44'S:151 29'W
Raiatea 3-4 Sept
We're lying to our anchor in front of the Raiatea Carenage, our home away from home. Ian departs tomorrow and we await a lift for Wings to out of the water and our trip at an end for the season,.
We were underway by 0900 this morning, and motored slowly across the lagoon from Apu Bay to Uturoa. The wind was hitting 20 knots in gusts and was a steady 17 or so, with seas to match. Groceries were on our mind.
The original plan was for me to slowly drive the boat by Uturoa and for Ian and Conni to use the dinghy to the dock in Uturoa. Ian would stay with the boat and Conni would shop. They'd meet back and motor back to Wings and I'd meet them and bring them aboard.
Conni felt that the conditions were pretty bad and she was unsure of dealing with the outboard, so the decision was made for Ian and me to motor to Uturoa. That's what we did. I had all the shopping bags in my dry bag, we both had on life jackets, and we were very careful. Still we were pretty wet by the time that we had arrived at the Uturoa dock.
I marched to the Champion and bought most groceries, then returned to the dinghy and handed off the bag to Ian where he sat with the dinghy. I strolled to the bank for cash, and then to the Liaut, a better grocery store, and bought wine, rum, and a few other necessities, and returned to the dinghy. I contacted Conni via the hand-held VHF and Ian and I jumped into the boat. The return to Wings was wet, of course, but uneventful.
For some reason, on that trip to the Carenage, I glanced aft and saw our dinghy adrift. "Mr. Knot" himself had tied on the dinghy, but I hadn't done a very good job. Fortunately, retrieval was simple, but my next knot was substantially better.
After packing groceries and congratulating ourselves for a daring trip, we motored down the lagoon toward the Carenage. We did stop in Apooiti Bay to check a possible mooring there, but found none and continued to the Carenage area. We found no moorings, but did find a reasonable location to drop the hook, and by 1500, we were set for the night.
Ian's flight times have been changed over and over, so we'll have him at the airport early. It'll be a long dinghy ride, but hopefully not too wet. I'll add an extra gallon of fuel to ensure we don't paddle back. We'll also take a trip to the Carenage tomorrow, and introduce Ian to our other home. There are no workers on the weekends, so it'll be fine.
Finally, the lockdown was extended for another 2 weeks, as we expected. On the other hand, the manager of the Pension Tiare Nui has told us that he will rent our room and car and sees no problem with our staying at the Pension: hot, standup showers, air conditioning, a non-rocking floor. What's not to like? We're very happy with the news.
Saturday, 4 September Ian departs. The morning was the same for us, although Ian slept until 0930. We never awaken him since we know that when he returns home he has a lot of responsibility.
Air Tahiti had finally provided a 1630 departure time, so we considered a 1500 arrival time at the airport was reasonable, and we also considered that an hour transit time was about right, meaning a 1400 hour departure from the boat. We were traveling by dinghy and had about 2 nm to travel, and getting to the airport was an upwind slog.
Since we're at anchor very close to the Carenage, we wanted Ian to see our home away from home. We all hopped in the dinghy and motored to the Carenage to visit our second home here. We're working at the Carenage for almost a month a year, so it's someplace at which we spend a lot of time. We showed him the different TraveLifts, the improvements, and the various boats. In the many weeks we've been gone, the yard has been cleaned up dramatically, with several old eyesore boats gone, probably cleaned of engines and fuel tanks and sunk offshore. At least one true derelict boat was currently undergoing that process, with a hole unceremoniously cut in her side and her rusty engine and fuel tanks sitting on pallets. She's got so many holes that they'll have to transfer to her deep sea grave on a barge. Ian said that it was the first boat yard he'd ever seen.
The weather has been rainy today. Raiatea is high enough that clouds form and today they all coalesced into rain clouds. We would watch it happen when the white, fluffy clouds would settle over the high peaks, then turn dark and we'd see the telltale gray curtain of drenching rain traveling under the clouds as they descended to our side of the island. The rain curtain would travel out to the mooring field and boats would disappear from view for several minutes as they were inundated by the rain.
I was concerned about fuel for the upcoming ride to the airport, so mixed another half gallon of fuel/oil mixture for the outboard tank. I'm sure that we had enough, but being stranded while Ian missed a flight was incompetence. Ian was packed, Conni and I were packed for the trip, and we were all ready. At 1400, we hopped in the dinghy and slowly made our way upwind toward the airport. Both the wind and seas were directly on our bow and to prevent everyone from getting drenched with spray, I kept the speed as low as I could manage.
There is a bright red-hulled sailboat in our mooring field, and as we went by it, we recognized Eho, the exceptional mechanic from the Carenage. We slowed and talked to him. He has CoVid, for heaven's sake! In addition, we thought that we had seen his lovely wife in Apu Bay and when asked about that, he confirmed our suspicions. We wished him luck and motored on.
We made our way out of our little bay, around Apooiti Point to the enormous mooring field for SunSail and The Moorings yacht leasing company. With all yacht leasing halted by the lockdown, the mooring field was completely full, as we had suspected. On we motored until we finally entered the tiny canal beside the airstrip itself. It's shallow but they finally had some channel markers installed, so navigating was a bit easier than in previous years. After 10 minutes of motoring up the calm canal, we arrived at the dock at the terminal. As mentioned, visitors from Taha’a arrive and depart from that island by boat, and the dock is their entrance into the airport building. It's really kind of cool to arrive at the airport by dinghy, at least we think so. Where else could that happen?
We arrived at the dock, tied up and donned our masks. Ian had no trouble at the counter and returned to us, ticket in hand. We waited for a bit, then decided that he could manage and headed back to Wings. We couldn't dodge a few rain squalls, so we both arrived soaked to the skin. It was fresh water, so it was a huge benefit to us!
We hope that our guest had a nice time. So many experiences were simply eliminated by the lockdown but that as out of our control.
For dinner, Conni prepared a can of cassoulet, a French bean dish with sausage and duck. We just sat in the cockpit watching the sun set around us since we were no longer on entertainment duty. The wind had died and the lagoon was calm as the daylight died. At late twilight, there was still some sun illumination, the few boats around us were just dark but detailed silhouettes. It was a beautiful time of the day. Venus was out first, of course. In the quiet evening, we could hear the almost subliminal roar of the surf pounding on the lagoon's surrounding coral reef, two miles away. It's one of the more characteristic island sounds and one of my favorites. Good night.