Raroia, Tuamotu

Monday 5/30/13 16 02.419 S 142 28.284 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:16%2002.419S%20142%2028.284W Raroia, Tuamotu Posting by Dennis: We left the Baie D’ Hakahau on the May 30 and headed for Raroia in the Tuamotu atolls. The sail was very fast and we covered the 450 miles in just over three days. We caught another tuna the first day out, which Barb was not that excited about because she was a little sea sick. It was the first time she was sick since we left Chile 78 days before. I admit it was pretty rolly having twenty plus knots on the beam will do that. Having the wind on the beam gives you amazing speed, and at night it seems even more so. The first night the seas were at least twenty feet and were often breaking into the cockpit. The wind howled around in the rigging which just adds to the total sensation. We had the yankee out and the main triple reefed, it was a great ride! The tuna we caught just before dark and we made poisson cruz for dinner. The next day we had fried fish sandwiches and then the rest we made tuna salad. Fresh tuna makes the best tuna salad sandwiches. It tastes nothing at all like canned tuna. When we got to Raroia we plunged through the out flowing current, because Dennis didn’t figure the tides correctly, I had the plotter set to UTC time. Once inside the pass we motored along the islands and anchored in front of the village. The spot was very tight with coral heads all around us. We even scraped up against one as we circled around. The anchorage turned out to be terrible because the wind blew across the entire atoll and the boat bounced around badly. We blew up the dingy and got the motor on it, in spite of the back of the boat leaping up and down three feet. Then it was off to shore to explore. We had hardly gotten off the pier when we were approached by a woman who greeted us warmly and insisted that we come to her house for dinner. We were both taken back and basically just said ok. Barb was pretty nervous about it and very suspicious. She also told us about the town. From where we were standing we could see the entire town, one block south was the airport, one block north was the pearl farm, one block west was the stone church, and the pier was behind us to east. The airport was kind of funny because it had a huge parking lot and with only a half dozen cars on the island, it seemed pretty ridiculous. It is surprising just how many pickups there are on these little atolls, from what we can see it is more of a status symbol. There is nowhere to drive to. Anyway, after walking every street in town we headed back to the boat. After a couple of hours of rocking and rolling it was time to head back into the village for dinner. Barb was coming up with every excuse she could, she did not like going to someone’s house she did not even know. But off we went pounding the dingy through the waves. When we reached the pier Tatiana was waiting for us. Let’s just say that Tatiana has a gift of gab. So we learned all about her family and all the things that went on around the town. She cooked us a wonderful meal of steamed jack fish and some fresh poisson cruz, which is raw fish in lime juice and olive oil. By the time we finished that it was ten o’clock and we needed to head back to the boat. So we promised to stop by in the morning and look at some black pearls she had to sell. The next day was so windy that we ended up not leaving the boat at all. We just hung out, read, and did a few little projects around the boat. The next day the wind was not all that much better but we were tired of sitting on the boat and we were ready to leave. So we took the dingy to shore wearing our rain coats, not that they did that much good, walked over to Tatiana’s house were as soon as she saw us we had to have lunch. After lunch we watched her daughter do her traditional song and dance and then Barb was ushered into the other room to look at all the pearls. After her big purchase we said our goodbyes and headed back to the boat. The wind was still blowing twenty knots but we decided to leave, it is always blowing twenty knots. As soon as we started pulling the anchor up the wind went to thirty and it started to rain. By this time we were committed to leaving and the wind picked up even more. Barb ran the windlass and I was at the wheel. I did not realize that the anchor was free and the wind grabbed the bow and pushed it hard to the port. I yelled to barb asking if we were free and she nodded her head yes, so I gave it full throttle and spun the wheel hard over then Barb yelled that there was a coral head just ahead so I threw it into reverse. As soon as I did the wind grabbed the bow and spun it down wind. I tried to back us out of this little hole we were in but couldn’t back against the wind, we were slowly heading for the beach. So I put it into forward and slammed the throttle wide open and spun the wheel hard over and prayed that we did not hit the coral head that was right in front of us. I did not know whether I would have enough power to push the bow around into the wind, but we cleared the coral head and the bow came around and we headed out toward the pass to the ocean and safety. By now the wind was blowing over forty knots and the rain was coming down in sheets. I just headed us for the pass. It was raining so hard that at times I could not see the markers and the wind was on the beam pushing us sideways toward the beach. I just watched the plotter screen and at times we were crabbing sideways at a forty-five degree angle. I was shaking so badly, not just from the cold but from the adrenaline rush and the fear of knowing how close we came to losing the boat. As we entered the pass the current was blasting out and it met the current that was trying to come in it created a very messy sea with waves four feet high and eddies that were pushing the boat this way and that. Once we cleared the pass the current settled down. We raised the triple reefed main and rolled out the yankee. Soon we were doing over seven knots toward the next island, Makemo.

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