Monday, June 9, 2014

Arriving in Tahiti with a Bang!

There is such beauty on the ocean!
Dennis and I have sailed alone for the last 700+ miles and I found it most enjoyable. It was nice having the boat to ourselves. The downside is that we are two ships (or should I say: shifts) passing in the night. When one of us is on watch at the helm, the other one is below either sleeping or doing our pink and blue jobs. That doesn't lend itself to much togetherness.

Our passage from Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago was uneventful for the most part.  There was little wind at times so we had to motor more than we like. And we had to plan our arrival in Tahiti during daylight. This meant two nights at sea instead of one if we had had good wind. As a result, we sailed along pleasantly at 3-4 knots and just enjoyed the ride.
Of course, the only time the wind kicked up was during my night watch! I am not particularly skilled at sail trim and get rather ruffled when we put the rail in the water. It is fine for a short thrill ride, but I would rather be more upright.

I had asked Dennis what I should do if certain situations arouse while he was sleeping. My personal challenge was to see if I could manage alone since I have not done night watches on a regular basis.  The wind increased from 8 knots to 10 knots. That was fine as we actually sail better with 12-15 knots. I enjoyed the extra speed.

Then a small squall appeared in the distance and I knew I would get some more wind. Suddenly we were at 15 knots, then 18 knots. Trillium was so happy to have the wind and took off on a fine run. I was fine, too. Then we hit 22 knots and the rail was in the water!
Land Ho! Tahiti is looking good after two night sails.
This was a real test for my comfort level! I debated about awakening Dennis, but kept my cool and resisted. It became a personal test to see if and how long I would manage on my own. The longer the wind blew at 22 knots, the comfortable I became. In fact, I found it exciting and was pleased that I had not caved in and called him up. The fact is that the wind will drop after the squall passes - and it did. So I chalked up one more accomplishment and relinquished another concern to the wind!
Arriving in Pape'ete, Tahiti harbor is somewhat daunting. It is not so much a harbor as it is a channel between land and a major reef that surrounds the island. The charts made it look like there should be land on the ocean side of the channel, but it is really a reef.  We kept looking for an island to go around in the channel, but it was really an area of reef two feet deep!
Our daily view of Moorea in the west with a sunrise glow.
Once we figured it out, we wound our way for several miles through a maze of channel markers with red on the port side. International markers are NOT red right return! And to confuse you even more, the markers inside the lagoons are different. Once through a pass and inside, the red markers are between the channel and land and the green markers are between the channel and the reef. The direction of the markers flow counter-clockwise around the island within the lagoon. So there is a lot to recalculate quickly once you reach one of these islands.

Upon calling the Marina Tiana for a slip assignment, we found the French accent challenging and could not figure out where they wanted us. We heard fuel dock so I headed in that direction. Then we were told to go across from the fuel dock to get instructions, so I made a course adjustment. In the meantime, the wind was increasing and just forward of the beam.

This was home for a week. I liked being on the end
instead of Med mooring stern-to and climbing off on a plank!
As we were pulling up to the end of the dock for instructions, the wind grabbed the bow and started moving toward the concrete dock. Dennis was yelling "bow thruster, bow thruster" and I was stepping on it.  But nothing happened. It did not come on. The dock is getting closer - as if it were moving toward me, right! The next thing I knew, I had the switch for the bow thruster in my hand - not attached to anything!!! Obviously, it was not going to turn on.

Sunset over Moorea as seen from Tahi
Then it happened: the Big Bang! Concrete wrapped in metal with a sharp corner is no match for a Fiberglas and bronze rub rail. Soooo.  We are waiting for the repair man. I felt terrible as this was my first major docking disaster. I know it wasn't my fault, but you know the feeling of when your new bike got its first scratch or your new car got a dent. Yuck. It is repairable, but a hassle. 

So we are here in the Marina Tiana for a week as we had planned to receive our new sail and have several repairs done. Dennis brother, Joe, and his wife, Barb, will be joining us on their way home to Michigan from Australia. It will be nice to have another little dose of family time. They will sail with us to Bora Bora before catching their flight home.


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