02 September 2022 | Apu Bay
William Ennis | Very hot, windy
Tuesday, 30 Aug
We departed Bora Bora at 0900, but had enjoyed seeing friends the night before. We had befriended a couple from England here: Jeff and Doreen. We've come a long way but they've REALLY come a long way! We grabbed a cold shower at the Yacht Club, then had burgers and cocktails with them. We were up and moving early on Monday morning.
Weather and conditions between Bora Bora and Taha'a are never good, but they were as good as we could expect: 15 knot winds and 5-6-foot seas. Of course, we've been working trying to get our old fridge working and sometimes, after several hundred (no kidding) on/off cycles with the breaker, it manages to come on. We get ice where we can, but always hope for our fridge to survive. I was the lucky one on Monday, sitting down at the main panel switching the breaker...on-off...on-off...ON! Usually, Conni is the fridge-whisperer. We reached Tapuamu on Monday night and found a good mooring. We launched the dinghy and made our way to Pari Pari Rhum Distillery. As usual, we took the quick tour, bought a bottle or two of rhum, then headed back to Wings. Later, we made it into the tiny village of Tapuamu. Tapuamu has a single store and a gas station, but we managed to find everything on our wish list: baguette, yoghurt, sandwich bread, instant coffee (we drink it cold), and ice and gas at the gas station. We were set!!
We prepared the boat and dinghy for an early departure on Wednesday morning. Motoring to Haamene was uneventful other than the abysmal weather, even inside the lagoon. 20 knots of wind and heavy chop in the lagoon? It's not often that we see that, but it adds to our suspicion that climate change has come to the South Pacific.
Wednesday, 31 Aug
Conni's favorite bay in the Society Islands is Ha'amene, and she's right that it's ridiculously picturesque. It's a municipal hub for Taha'a, so there are offices for the entire island, as well as an elementary and high school. There's a small store and a few "snacks" or food stalls: not much. Taha'a is not a tourist destination.
We did find the mooring that we usually use, and it was still in decent shape. As I've mentioned many times, a well-maintained mooring is safe and they make it easy to moor and depart.
We splashed the dinghy and prepared to dine at our favorite restaurant in the Society Islands: Taha'a MaiTai. The owner, Bruno François, is a Cordon Blu-trained chef, who met a Taha'a woman in Paris and moved back with her. We have been concerned that his business had suffered because of CoVid restrictions, but he said that things had been OK with take-away food and a loyal local following. We were pleased for ourselves and for him.
Our meals were delicious and when I have some Internet, I'll post some photos. Toward the evening's end, he visited each of his dozen tables, and on visiting ours, he remembered us! How cool! We talked for a long time and finally departed after one of those one-time special evenings. Thanks, Bruno.
Thursday, 1 Sept
On our second day in Ha'amene, we were surprised to see WildStar, a big Tartan ketch, with Bonnie and Bob aboard and two friends. We've mentioned these two that we met in Avea Bay on Huahine. We didn't join them for another meal at Taha'a MaiTai, but did recommend it to them. Their guests, Jean Pierre and George, live in Paris, so they were excited about the opportunity to dine at MaiTai.
We had visited the village that day, grabbing a few groceries, but no ice was to be had. Neither of us could prevail upon our fridge to start, so we declared it dead. Task one for next season is to install a new fridge. It is astounding to us how it's changed our energy balance, though. Previously, even with our big batteries, we ran the generator every other day to keep up with the fridge demand, as low as it was. Now, our two solar panels give us spare energy and we can keep everything charged. Yes, we want another fridge because of the variety of food we can keep, but it'd be a different world without it.
On Thursday morning, we loaded the dinghy and headed for Raiatea.
Friday, 2 Sept
It was howling! Even at the far end of Ha'amene, the winds were 25 knots, causing us to creep out of the bay against it. We persevered and finally made it across the lagoon to Raiatea: Taha'a and Raiatea are in the same lagoon. Our original plan was to dock at Uturoa, the main village, and grab ice and some groceries, but the wind would have trapped us against the dock, not something that we will allow ever again. Been there, done that. We decided on staying in Fa'aroa, a bay so long that it almost bisects Raiatea. It has no services, but we thought that it might offer some protection from the wind.
We pushed toward it for a few hours, turned into the bay's mouth and headed in. Usually, Fa'aroa is long enough to shelter from almost any wind. Now we know: it's not shelter from an East wind. We found a mooring but the water was dangerously shallow. We tried to anchor, and still felt exposed. Should we drag anchor, we'd ground. We both decided to pull the hook and find other accommodations. At 3PM, we headed out against the wind, so another painful slog to windward.
The only bay that might offer protection was Apu back on Taha'a, so we headed there. It's a long haul, but in the direction toward Apu, the wind offered some propulsion that speeded us to Apu in 2 hours! Wow!
Our fear was that no moorings would be available since it was so late in the day, but on rounding the point, we found the bay had many still open. We snagged one inside the wind line and snugged in for the night. Instead of spending a dreadful night at anchor in Fa'aroa, requiring an anchor watch since the consequences of dragging anchor were so dire, we spent a fairly calm night on a mooring. The mooring ball somehow got caught on our bow, so at 10:30PM, I had to go lasso it, drag it around the bow, to keep it from banging the bow every few seconds. The collisions sounded like hammer blows on the hull, so I had to do something.
Other fugitives from the wind here in Apu included crews from several boats whom we have met: Ocean, Nanook (Canadian, as you might guess), Winsome, Sailing Teatime, and a few others. Hi, friends.
It appears that our fridge is, as the Oz coroner decreed, "Not just merely dead but really most sincerely dead!" C'est la vie, I suppose. We get pulled from the water on 7 Sept, so we have only 4 days of no cold food, but last night our supper consisted of all the cheese and saucisson (sausage) that Conni had purchased for our cocktail hours. She also prepared two cocktails that were delicious but without ice. I've been reading the manual for the new fridge and I'll have to replace the old wire with new marine wire of larger diameter, but that's the main problem. Otherwise, it'll be a simple replacement.
Another failure is our water maker. The actual membrane through which salt water is pushed under pressure, separating the fresh water from the brine, resides in a strong steel tube. The end caps must be removed to replace the membrane and after several weeks of trial, we still can't get the end caps off. We've contacted the designer and he's been unable to suggest any methods that don't require supplies that are simply unavailable to us. I'll determine exactly what we need and be a lot more prepared next season, but we're both miffed at our inability to complete this job. I think that the designer should have warned us of this possibility and suggested some of the obvious parts that would have helped, but we're here and I'll have to bring things from the US. Sigh.