On my own for a few days after Gabe left, I did some laundry by hand, dropped off some laundry at Fakarava Yacht Services, defrosted the freezer and otherwise prepared for new crew. My brother-in-law, Pat, arrived with his friend Bill on Tuesday, June 6. We had lunch at the Havaiki Lodge and then spent one night in the rolly anchorage in front of Rotoava. We then pulled up anchor and motored to Hirifa against winds in the teens. It was flat there and we had a good night.
First-day lunch at Havaiki Lodge
Pat and Bill brought a variety of parts for repairs. One was a new hose and nozzle for the stern shower, which Bill and I installed. They also brought a new in-line fuse holder for the refrigeration system and they installed that. The next project was a rebuild of the wind generator, using parts that Pat had procured. They worked on that for a few days, just trying to get out the bolts that held the unit together. The problem was that corrosion made it impossible to get the bolts out without breaking the heads. We finally established that it would need to be taken to a shop where the bolts could be drilled out. So, I ordered a new wind generator to be delivered with the next crew, and Pat packed the old one up to take back to California to work on.
While they worked on the wind generator, I changed the oil and oil filter in the diesel engine. We also tested all the solar panels to measure output, and found some of them quite lacking. (Add solar panels to the list of things to replace in New Zealand.) Pat and Bill also patched a hole in the dinghy and glued the oarlocks back on. (They had fallen off at some point.)
It was quite windy in Hirifa, but a better spot than anywhere else at the time. Bill and Pat did get out on the kayaks and we socialized a bit with some of the other boats. I kayaked over to a boat owned by Bernard, a former work colleague. It was a surprise to meet up with someone from that former context. (Thanks to our mutual friend, Denis, who knew we were in close proximity.)
After a few days in Hirifa, we went back to get groceries in Rotoava. That night was rolly with lots of lightning and rain. The next day we used the dinghy to get some fuel and then sailed back to Hirifa, arriving just before dark, and had a good night. The next day, Friday, June 16, we sailed over to the South Pass of Fakarava and picked up a mooring ball. The conditions at the pass were good so we snorkeled inside the pass. We were able to snorkel the pass a few times the next day as well. The South Pass is a highlight for most people who visit Fakarava, so I’m glad conditions allowed Pat and Bill to experience it.
Fakarava South Pass
The next morning, on Sunday, June 18, we left the anchorage at 6:00 a.m. and motored through the South Pass without incident. We motor sailed in reasonable seas up wind for most of the day. We were heading back to Tahanea, where Gabe and I had started the season. As we got closer to Tahanea, we were able to unfurl the jib and turn the motor off and enjoy a brisk beam reach to the entrance of the middle pass. We took the sails in before entering the pass and had a smooth downwind entrance with the motor. Once inside, we turned left and went to the anchorage near the east pass. We dropped anchor in 45 ft of water. It was a very calm night.
Video of the glassy, calm anchorage in Tahanea
The bottom where we anchored was very hard sand and it was difficult to get the anchor to set. We tried to re-anchor the next day but still weren’t happy with it. We were running the risk of catching on coral. The wind was non-existent so we figured we were secure in those conditions.
Exploring the motu
We took the dinghy ashore and walked around the motu. Then we snorkeled the east pass three times. There was a lot of current so we just dropped into the water and got pulled along. I held onto the dinghy as we went. The trips were fast but the view of the coral was great. Later Bill went exploring in the kayak, Pat painted and I swam
On Tuesday, we still had beautiful, flat conditions and I went up the mast to replace the VHF antenna with a spare. We then took the dinghy up to the west pass and snorkeled that. There was lots of coral and sea life.
After another calm night, we spent another good day in this spot. Tahanea is a very special atoll and it had mostly been too windy when Gabe and I were there. So, I was really happy to spend three idyllic days there, even though it was a relatively short time. The wind was shifting by Wednesday night and we made plans to leave. That night was very rolly, with winds out of the southeast.
The next morning, Thursday June 22, we got up at 4:00 a.m. but waited until it was almost light to exit the pass. We started trying to bring up the anchor at 5:30 a.m., but it took a long time to get it unstuck from a coral head. We finally exited the pass at 6:45 a.m, right before slack tide, with no issues.
Bill at the helm
We sailed fast on a broad reach with the jib up and some assistance from the motor, arriving at the Fakarava South Pass at 2:00 p.m., an hour after slack tide. Other boats had gone in ahead of us. But when we started in, we discovered big waves breaking across the pass. We stayed to the left and out of the breakers, but the swell lifted us high above the pass before dropping us down into it. It was a bit of a thrill. Once inside, the pass was calm and we proceeded to Hirifa. The night was windy but not rolly.
In the morning we pulled up the anchor and sailed back to the South Pass. It was really windy and we had some difficulty picking up the mooring ball, but Cain from Spirit of Argo helped us and all ended up well. It was a windy, rainy day on the mooring ball so we didn’t get to snorkel. We worked on boat projects. The next day, conditions weren’t much better but Bill and Pat did explore a bit in the kayaks.
Video of the conditions in the South Pass anchorage
On Sunday, June 25 we left the mooring ball and sailed back up to Rotoava on a beautiful beam reach. It took a long time to find a place to anchor but we finally ended up in front of the wharf.
Then on Monday, we rented bikes and road up past the airport and then down toward the south east before having lunch at a snack.
Pat and I riding bikes
After spending Tuesday on the boat, we went into town on Wednesday to shop because the supply boat had come in. As usual, it was quite a competition with the cruisers and locals to get provisions. We divided up and went to multiple stores, but came out successfully with hard-to-find items such as produce and yogurt and cheese. These shopping trips are a madhouse but also a chance to meet people from the other boats. We treated ourselves to a couple of meals of salads that day.
The market at the wharf, too bad no picture of the mad crunch of shoppers
Thursday was very windy and we stayed on the boat. Then on Friday we walked to Fakarava Yacht Services to drop off laundry and had lunch at the Fakarava Grill before putting Bill in a taxi to the airport in the early afternoon. We were sorry to see Bill go but I think he’d had a fun adventure. With the relentless wind continuing, Pat and I spent a few days cleaning and doing laundry and otherwise doing boat chores.