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Passage to New Zealand

On Thursday, November 9, we (along with several boats) pulled up the anchor at 9:00 a.m. and headed to the pass to leave North Minerva Reef. Outside the pass, we put up our mainsail with two reefs and then unfurled the jib. On port tack, we aimed for a waypoint just west of South Minerva Reef. We were on a very close reach at first but later the wind came more from behind and we sailed on a beam reach. Once we passed South Minerva Reef, we aimed for a waypoint that our router, John Martin, had provided, which took us slightly west of the rhumb line to Opua, New Zealand.

This shows our track as we leave Minerva Reef

Day One was eventful from a boat-issues standpoint. First, the pin on the autopilot RAM sheared off and we lost the ability to steer with the autopilot. Johno hand-steered for an hour while Pat went down into the lazarette and replaced the pin. Next, a familiar groan associated with the rudder stock resumed. We had not had problems with it for some time. We opened the port and lubricated the area associsted with the groan. When we did that, we noticed that the four bolts that hold the stock were loose and there was a lot of play. We tightened those bolts.

The seas were big and the wind was in the high teens or low twenties, so the boat was heeled over and bouncing around. Dinner flew off the stove and ended up on the floor but I served it anyway. Later that night, the line that held the anchor in place snapped, and the anchor was riding about four feet below the bow, trying to crash into the boat with every wave. We ran forward to secure it.

For the first twenty-four hours of the passage, we logged 161 nautical miles, which is very good for Aldabra. That’s an average of 6.7 nautical miles per hour. On Friday, conditions stayed very much the same, big seas and ample wind. I had been sleeping on the port-side settee while we were heeled over and I must have put too much pressure on the table because the legs came out of their bases. Everything on the table went flying to the floor and everything under the table shifted from the port side to the center of the boat. While Pat was on watch, Johno helped me put the table right and reorganize everything, and then I tied things more securely. Rather than risk dislodging the table again, I started sleeping very comfortably on the starboard settee.

The bilge pump was going on regularly for seconds at a time. We were taking on water, most likely at the bow. It was not because of the anchor mishap, fortunately. We were taking on water through the anchor windlass opening and perhaps from underneath the bow roller. None of it was threatening the safety of the boat but it would need to be investigated in New Zealand. Coincidently, other boats around us were reporting water coming into their boats. This kind of passage is going to expose issues that might go undetected in more benign conditions.

Johno is rarely seen all bundled up but the passage was getting cold

Pat in his foulies

Bundled up

During the night on Friday, conditions intensified a bit. We had 25-30 knots of wind. It was wet and cold, with fish flying into the cockpit. Johno had to hand steer on his shift. Dinner ended up on the floor again but was still served. We also occasionally lost our GPS info for up to 20 minutes, which meant that we lost our position relative to the other boats on the water.

Johno’s shot of sunrise on Saturday morning

On Saturday morning, our mileage for the previous twenty-four hours was 159 nautical miles. It was a very windy day with very big waves. We continued sailing with a double-reefed main and a bit of jib pulled out. At one point, we were heeled over so much that the forward sink overflowed into the boat because water was being forced back into the boat from the thru hull.

Going into the evening, we were starting to sail more upwind. We slowed the boat down to manage for that wind angle and the big waves. At some point, we suspected that the anchor had come loose again. When we went to the bow to investigate, we noticed that the furling drum was bent forward because we had over-sheeted the jib. Afraid that we had damaged the forestay or the furling system, we furled the jib and sailed for the rest of the night with just the main. We also noticed that waves had broken two stanchions on the port side. We removed the full jerry cans of fuel from the stainless-steel rack on the port side, and secured them in the cockpit to take the stress off the broken railing.

On Sunday, November 12, the morning brought mellower conditions. We had sailed all night with no jib, but Johno had run the lines so that we could put up the storm jib. As soon as I woke up, we ran the spinnaker halyard up to the bow to back up the forestay. Then we hoisted the storm jib. The winds and the seas built during the day. We reached the intermediate waypoint that our router had provided, and started heading for a new waypoint that he thought would help us avoid an unfavorable current. It was slow going with the reefed main and the storm jib. During the previous twenty-four hours, our mileage was just 125 nautical miles.

On Monday, November 13, during my midnight to 4:00 a.m. shift, the winds were subsiding. I had to run the motor to keep us on our line to the waypoint and to keep us above 4 knots of boat speed. I would keep the motor in gear during light winds and put it into neutral when squalls would pass through and bring stronger winds. Our mileage for the previous twenty-four hours was 119 nautical miles. Later in the morning, we ran a new furling line for the regular jib and started using it instead of the storm jib. That helped our boat speed as we sailed all morning. In the afternoon, we motor sailed for several hours.

Sunset out on the water

Johno took this sunrise shot on Tuesday morning

Tuesday started out very mellow with lighter seas and winds. Then the winds and seas started to build. We started sailing on just the reefed main and no jib. It was another 119 mile day. The wind stayed strong all day and into the night. Eventually we tacked over to starboard. Slowly, as we got closer to New Zealand, the seas started to flatten a bit. We turned the motor on before midnight to stay on course.

On Wednesday, November 15, we got to the entrance of the bay at 3:30 a.m. After being in remote locations for so long, it was interesting to listen to all the radio traffic. There was one boat chiding a tanker because it failed to respond to a radio request when they were on a collision course. And then the maritime authorities of New Zealand managed a rescue, which kept me engaged for more than an hour. Johno took the helm at 4:00 a.m. and we continued through the harbor to Opua.

It took us about an hour and a half to get to the quarantine dock. We didn’t quite know where we were going so we ended up on the quarantine dock for superyachts. But the Customs and Biosecurity officials were fine with seeing us there. It took the better part of the day to check in, but we had a good experience with both sets of officials. Later that afternoon, after we were checked in, we took the boat into the marina, and Steve and Sharon from Szel helped us with our docklines. That night, we went to the Opua Cruising Club for drinks and dinner and met up with boat crews we had made the passage with as well as crews we hadn’t seen for some time. It was great fun.

The marina in Opua is very nice. On Thursday morning, Pat and I took advantage of their exceptional laundry facilities and did several loads of laundry, while Johno went for a hike. That evening, we returned to the Opua Cruising Club for another fun night of socializing with all the friends we had made over the last several weeks.

Johno took this on his hike in Opua

The next day, on Friday morning, we checked out of the marina and cast off our dock lines at 9:00 a.m. We motored out of the bay and then sailed downwind, with winds in the high teens, to the entrance of the bay that leads to Whangarei.

Sailing through the Bay of Islands

The scenery on the way south was gorgeous and we had a lovely sail, anchoring in Urquhart Bay just before dark, along with the sailboat Taku. We had a late dinner and slept well before pulling up anchor at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday to motor up the river to the marina in Whangarei. Midnight Breeze was right behind us and we went through the drawbridge together.

Aldabra going through the bridge opening on the way to the marina in Whangarei

After getting settled into our slip in Marina Whangarei, we took showers and then joined some other cruisers at The Judge restaurant in town. We had a very nice visit with Dale and Katrina on Womble, who we hadn’t seen since we were in the Tuamotus in August of 2022.

From Sunday until Wednesday morning, we worked on the boat during the day, getting ready to leave it for a few weeks. During the evenings we visited with cruiser friends, including Dale and Katrina on Womble, Richard and Caroline on Midnight Breeze and Jamie on Szel. Right before we left, we moved to another slip.

Our marina in New Zealand

Then, with our boat projects completed, we hopped on a bus for Auckland. Once there, we took a cab to a hotel at the airport, spent the night and caught our planes back to the States on Thursday afternoon. We arrived early on Thursday morning, just in time for Thanksgiving festivities.

Passages, Places

Passage to North Minerva Reef

On Wednesday, November 1, we sailed in nice conditions out of the pass on the western side of Tongatapu and then continued on course to North Minerva Reef in nice conditions until early afternoon. At about 2:00 p.m., the wind went light and shifted direction. We shook a reef out of the main and furled the jib so we could motor sail for a while and charge the batteries. About an hour later, the wind picked up and we shut off the motor and unfurled the jib. We put the second reef in the main. We sailed through most of the night with two reefs in the main and the jib partly furled. Johno unfurled the jib completely during his watch at 4:00 a.m. 

Night sailing on the way to Minerva Reef

On Thursday, Novembert 2, we continued sailing with good speed with a double-reefed main and a full jib. In the afternoon, we couldn’t hold our course, we were being pushed to the east. We jibed over and sailed for three hours before jibing back. At that point, we had a perfect angle for continuing on to Minerva Reef. After my shift ended at 4:00 p.m., Johno started hand steering and got the boat moving very fast. He clocked 10 knots of boat speed at one point and was having a great time sailing. At 8:00 p.m., Pat took over and we slowed the boat down for the night by furling the jib a bit. Later, we took the main down and just sailed with a reefed jib. When I came on watch at midnight, I calculated that we could go a bit faster and still get to Minerva after daybreak, so I unfurled the jib completely. My shift was uneventful except for hailing one boat that didn’t have AIS and was on a collision course with us. We sorted that out and sailed smoothly until arriving at the entrance to the reef. By that time, Johno was on watch and he furled the jib and took us in through the pass. We anchored on the northeast corner with Szel and Blue Beryl, Amae, Elixir, Blue Marine and Jollity. Midnight Breeze, Susimi and La Vida anchored on the southeast corner but joined us the next day. It was a windy day inside the reef.

Getting ready to enter the pass at Minerva Reef

Saturday, November 4 was a cold and gloomy and windy day. We went to lunch on Blue Beryl, enjoying Ota Iki and sashimi. That night we had lobster for dinner, which Alex had given to us.

On Sunday, many of us took our dinghies over to Pogeyan, and Richard escorted us outside the pass to snorkel what he calls the Blue Lagoon. Richard and Michelle have been coming to the Minerva Reefs for years and are very gracious hosts, showing all of us newcomers where to go. That night, we had a huge potluck on their boat. There were 38 people, having a great time visiting and eating.

Potluck on Pogeyan

We had thought that Monday, November 6 would be our day to head for New Zealand, but the weather routers postponed it. Instead, Johno and Max from Elixir and Isabela from Blue Beryl went lobster hunting and brought back ample lobster for dinner.

Successful lobster hunt

Johno and his lobster

They repeated the hunt the next day, taking lots of other cruisers with them. Again, we enjoyed a lobster dinner. Before their Tuesday hunt, most of the boats in the anchorage (we had now moved to the southeast corner because the wind had shifted) went in their dinghies with Richard to explore the reef while it was exposed by the low tide. We all stood around on the reef and visited, our first time walking in several days, and possibly our last time walking for a week.

Hanging out on the reef

Boats anchored at Minerva Reef

Boats anchored at Minerva Reef, taken from the top of the mast on Aldabra

We all had lots of conversations about when to leave, and even thought we would leave for New Zealand on Wednesday. But on Wednesday, the weather routers agreed that Thursday would be a better day. So Wednesday was spent on the boat, a very gloomy, windy, rainy day.

Passages, Places


On Sunday, October 15, Johno and I arrived at daybreak at the entrance to the Phia Passage on the eastern side of Tongatapu. We took our sails down and motored quite a long way through the passage until we arrived at Pangaimotu island. Many cruising boats were anchored there and we joined the crowd.

Pangaimotu near Big Mama’s

The anchorage is in front of what was once Big Mama’s restaurant, before the Tsunami. Now Earl and Mama offer services to cruisers who anchor there. They will shuttle people a mile into town. They offer their BBQ, tables and chairs for cruisers to picnic. And they help out in many other ways.

That night, after we had afternoon naps, we joined many cruisers, included Blue Beryl, Szel and Second Set in a potluck BBQ at Big Mama’s. We met new people, including Kristel and Philipe on Amae, and remet people such as JB, Ana and baby Olivia. We had previously met JB and Ana in the Marquesas, before Olivia was born.

On Monday, October 16, Johno and I went to shore and joined up with Alex and Yvette from Blue Beryl on a walk to find the offices where we could check into the island group. We first went to the Port Authority office to pay the port fee. Then, we went to the Customs office across the street. There we got the paperwork that we would need for when we cleared out of the country. From there, we walked just over a mile to town. We checked out the public market and then had lunch at Friends Café, in the oldest building in the city.

Friends Cafe in NukuAlofa

After walking back to the dinghy, we motored the mile back to the anchorage. On Aldabra, we baked brownies that we took that night for a pizza dinner on Blue Beryl with Amae and Szel.

On Tuesday, October 17, we took 10 jerry cans and boarded Second Set for a ride to the wharf. Chip had permission to pull up to the wharf and, with the help of local “fixer” Olini, shuttle jerry cans of fuel from the gas station to the boat. We then syphoned fuel into Second Set and refilled the jerry cans to take back to Aldabra. Amae was there with us to do the same thing, and Jamie on Szel was there for moral support. We then all returned to the anchorage on Second Set and took our filled jerry cans back to our boats. Later that afternoon we had beers on Second Set with Chip and Kristina. It was really windy.

On Wednesday, it was still really windy so we stayed on the boat all day. That night, we had drinks and dinner on Szel with Jamie and Fiona, a delightful evening. Blue Beryl was on their own that night because Yvette was flying out early the next morning and the new crew, Fred and Isabela, were joining the boat.

On Thursday morning, we took our dinghy over to Szel and tied it on, joining Jamie and Fiona for a trip to the harbor. With much help from Johhno, we got Szel secure inside the harbor, anchored with a couple of lines to shore. Johno and I then took the dinghy to the dinghy dock and walked into town and had lunch at Friends Café. Jamie and Fiona joined us a bit later. From there, Fiona took a taxi to the airport to fly to Australia to see her son. And shortly after that, Jamie’s new crew, Steve and Sharon, arrived from the airport. While we were in Friends, we started meeting people. Karenza, whom we had met in Neiafu showed up on her way to the airport to go to Fiji to join a boat. We also met Uili Louisi, who runs a climate change NGO. Our trip back to the anchorage was very wet because the winds and seas continued to be whipped up.

On Friday, we stayed on the boat and did some projects. Johno cleaned a large portion of the boat bottom, which would need to be very clean before arriving in New Zealand. We then had drinks and appetizers on Yuva with Jim and Perry to celebrate Jim’s birthday. We had a lovely evening with them.

On Saturday, October 21, Johno and I took the dinghy back into town. We shopped and had lunch at Friends. We saw the folks from Traveller, Saorise, Amae and others. Jamie and Steve and Sharon from Szel joined us later. We walked the mile back to the dinghy with our provisions and stayed on the boat for a bit before returning to shore to pick up Pat, who was coming from the airport by taxi in the late afternoon. After Pat showed up, we helped Szel tie there lines at the wharf and then headed back to the boat so Pat could get settled in.

On Sunday, the day to be discreet if you are going to work on the boat, Johno and I worked on cleaning the boat bottom. I used one scuba tank to clean the keel and rudder and another to clean the prop and shaft. Johnno and Pat replaced a diode on the windass motor. That night, we joined other cruisers for a BBQ at Big Mama’s, which included, Amae, Sea Wind, Yuva, Taku, Midnight Breeze, Susimi, Pangea, Traveller Saorise and Tin Lizzy.

Looking out at the anchorage from Big Mama’s

Cruisers at the potluck

With Pat on the boat, we were ready to head to New Zealand, but the professional weather routers were telling us it wasn’t time yet. So along with the other boats, we waited. On Monday, we sewed new telltails on the mainsail and finished cleaning the boat bottom. On Tuesday, we stayed on the boat all day and made preparations for a passage. On Wednesday, we went to shore with two dive tanks to get filled and one propane tank. We were successful with the dive tanks but had to wait to get the propane tank filled. Next, we walked the mile to town so Pat could see it. We stopped at the post office so Johno could send a postcard and Pat could buy a stamp. We then had lunch at Friends before stopping by the market.

Shopping at the market

Walking with our grocerie along the waterfront

That evening, we had drinks on Szel with the Blue Beryl crew. Pat and I were home by 10:00 p.m. but the party itself went well into the night.

Party on Szel

From Thursday through Sunday, we just waited for the illusive weather window. We all found ways to amuse ourselves, some projects, some exploration, some reading.

On Monday morning, October 30, we got up early and went to shore to check out of the country. We started by walking to the fuel station to get a couple of jerry cans filled. And we went to a bakery we had just found out about. We bought all kinds of yummy things. Then we went back to the dinghy to drop off the jerry cans and got the propane tank to refill at Tonga Gas. Once that was taken care of, we went to Customs to check out of the country. That completed, we walked back to the bakery to buy more goodies and then went to Friends for one last smoothie. We bought a few last-minute provisions and then took a taxi to the dinghy. Once again, the ride back to the boat was choppy and windy and we got drenched.

Final lunch at Friends

On Tuesday, October 31, our weather window still had not materialized so we went back to town again to shop at the bakery and the market and the butchery. We had lunch at Friends and then returned to the boat. That night was very windy and one of the boats in the anchorage was dragging and about to hit another boat. Paul on Susimi alerted us by radio, and Johno and I got in the dinghy and woke up the dragging boat by pounding on their hull. They managed to get their boat moving forward just in time. We were never able to wake up the boat that was about to be hit.

On Wednesday, November 1, we were all set to leave the anchorage at the recommendation of our weather router. But it was super windy and we weren’t sure it was a wise decision. Szel left at 6:00 a.m. and reported adverse conditions outside of the pass. But by 10:00 a.m., the winds had abated and we pulled up anchor. Several other boats left around that time, Amae, Taku, Blue Beryl, Susimi and Midnight Breeze. Following a bit later were Elixir, La Vida, Blue Marine and Kaia.

Leaving Tongatapu

Passages, Places

Tonga’s Ha’apai Island Group

On Wednesday, October 11, Johno and I arrived at the Ha’apai group of the Tongan islands and were anchored in the Haano anchorage at about 4:00 p.m., after a couple of attempts to anchor. We saw whales on the way as well as once we were anchored. Sea Wind, with Lars and Suzane aboard, came in a short while later.

Looking from the boat to shore in the Haano anchorage

Looking from shore out to Aldabra and Sea Wind in the Haano anchorage

We had a quiet night in the anchorage. The next morning, we explored the beach and snorkeled on the nearby reef. On our way back to the boat, we stopped by Sea Wind to meet them. We had seen them in Neiafu but had not become acquainted. Later that day, Rowan and Jenny on Pole Pole joined us in the anchorage and we stopped by to meet them as well.

Johno’s shell find on the beach, two of the shells are homes to deadly creatures

On Friday morning, October 13, we pulled up anchor and motored to Pangai, the main village of this island group, to check in with Customs and Immigration. We anchored outside the harbor and took the dinghy in. We walked to the office and took care of the formalities. On the way back, we stopped at a couple of small stores before heading to the dinghy and back out to Aldabra. We pulled up anchor and motored to the anchorage near Tofanga Island. Johno explored on land while I hung out at the boat.

On Saturday morning, we both went to shore and walked around the larger of the islands in front of the boat. After returning to the boat, I went in the cold water for a bit and Johnno snorkeled around for a much longer time.

At noon, we pulled up the anchor to head to Nuku Alofa in the southern island group of Tongatapu. We had wanted to spend more time in the Ha’apai group, but when we looked at the weather coming up in the next several days, we realized that we would be late to pick up Pat in NukuAlofa if we didn’t start that day. We chose the midday timeframe because we wanted to clear the island group in the daylight. The winds were strong and favorable and we were out of the hazard zone by 5:30 p.m.  Because the winds were so strong, and we were going so fast, we realized that we would get to Tongatapu several hours too early. So, during the night, we  slowed the boat down to a snail’s pace so we would arrive at the pass after daylight.

Passages, Places

Passage to Tonga

On Tuesday, September 12, Blue Beryl and Aldabra motored out of the Suwarrow pass and around to the west side of the island before we turned and put up our sails. From that point on, we went 118 miles in 24 hours. Conditions slowed us down and we motorsailed.

On Wednesday, September 13, the seas were big and on the beam, with considerable wind. We had two reefs in the main and and the jib was furled partway in. The night was fairly mellow and comfortable. Thursday was an uncomfortable day but the night wasn’t too bad.

On Friday, we logged 135 miles for the previous 24 hours. At 4:00 p.m., we had 336 miles to go to the northen tip of the Vavau group, where we would turn a corner and head around in protected waters toward the pass into the island group. We sailed in big seas that day but we were pretty comfortable, 5-6 knots of boat speed in 14-17 knots of wind. We had a reasonable night and were able to stay on course.

Saturday wasn’t a bad day. We logged 126 miles in the previous 24 hours. The seas had abated a bit and the winds were in the low teens during the day.

On Sunday, we had logged 128 miles in the previous 24 hours. The winds and the seas started picking up. By midday, conditions were intensifying. We had an intense night, sailing with no main and a tiny bit of jib out. It was one of those uncomfortable sails that you just want to be over. We rounded the tip of Vavau at 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The seas were still big but within about 5 miles, the island started protecting us and the seas flattened out, evening with strong winds brought on by a cape effect.

Because we had just crossed the international dateline, Monday was now Tuesday for us. So it was on Tuesday, September 19, that we entered the pass, just behind Blue Beryl, who had slowed down and waited for us to go in with them. Both boats wound our way to Neiafu, the main town in the Vavau group. Several other boats were at the wharf waiting to check in because it had been a three-day weekend, so we each found a mooring ball, expecting to wait until the next day to check in. Kristina from the sailboat Second Set came over on her dinghy and helped us find a mooring ball. We were moored by 9:00 a.m.

Although we hadn’t checked in, we went ashore that afternoon to get money from the ATM and drop off our laundry at Bubbles. We looked inside a couple of the grocery stores, then stopped by the Basque Tavern for a beer, along with Alex from Blue Beryl.

That night we had a very nice dinner at Kraken with Blue Beryl and Szel to celebrate our arrival. The next day, we got up early and took Aldabra over to the wharf to check in. We stayed there for a few hours while we took care of the check-in formalities, picked up our laundry and got some fruit at the nearby outdoor market. Then we returned to the mooring ball, ready to begin our visit to Tonga.

Passages, Places

Passage to Suwarrow, Cook Islands

On Monday, September 4 at 10:00 a.m., we pulled up anchor at Penhryn Island and headed across the lagoon to the pass, exiting closely behind Szel and Blue Beryl. We all put up our sails and headed to the island of Suwarrow, also part of the Cook Islands. Although we were officially checked out of the Cook Islands, we had permission to stop over in Suwarrow, which is a national park, with just two rangers living there.

As we started out, the seas were bumpy and the winds were in the mid-teens, sometimes higher. We were making good time but the winds were moving from our beam to aft of the beam, putting us on a broad reach. At around 4:00 p.m., we put a second reef in the main and furled the jib in a bit. Blue Beryl sailed passed us right then. It was a bump night and none of us slept much.

On Tuesday, September 5, the seas were still bumpy, with 2-2.5 meter waves, and the winds were getting lighter. By noon, we had made a 138-mile day. We took the second reef out and wind started letting us point more directly to Suwarrow. We could still see both of the other boats on AIS.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the winds stayed light all day, aft of the beam. I took the reef out during my watch on Wednesday morning, but we ended up motoring the rest of the way to Suwarrow.

We got to the anchorage a little after noon on Thursday. John Blair from Ballyhoo stopped by to say hello. We then put the dinghy in the water and went ashore to check in with the rangers. Harry and Tana (my spelling). The process was easy because of our check-out in Penrhyn. We gave them a six-pack of Sprite and a six-pack of Coca Cola. We had heard that they were craving it so we bought some when we were still in Tahiti. To thank me, she gave me a grass broom she had made.

We had dinner that night on Aldabra with Blue Beryl. It was nice to be anchored in flat water.

There were quite a few boats in the Suwarrow anchorage, and the rangers told us that they had been so busy checking boats in and out that they had not had time to do their ranger work. So on Friday, we went ashore with some of the other cruisers and helped clean up an area between the beach and the rangers’ house. Later that evening, the rangers hosted us for a potluck with all the other cruisers. We had fish that Alex had caught and coconut crab that the ranger had caught. Other people brought tasty food and it was a nice evening.

Grilling coconut crab

The rangers, Harry and Tana (my spelling)

Tom enjoying the beach party

Alex grilling fish

The group of cruisers at the beach party

The next day, Saturday, September 9, we mostly stayed on the boat. I helped Tom patch a hole in the dinghy. Linda and Alex worked on sorting through and upgrading our fishing gear.

On Sunday, we transferred some fuel from jerry cans to the diesel tank. I tried to clean the boat bottom, but it was so bad I only got the waterline. I baked a cake and later we went and swam with manta rays on a nearby reef. That night we celebrated Yvette’s birthday on Blue Beryl, with Szel and Aldabra.

Alex and Jamie posing with the pizza Alex made for Yvette’s birthday

On Monday, Alex brought over 30 gallons of diesel fuel, to get us to Tonga if we  had to motor much. Tom fixed the location of the boom bales to improve our reefing system. Several boats left the anchorage, heading to either Fiji or Tonga.

Aldabra and Blue Beryl were the last two boats to leave the Suwarrow anchorage

Even though we had not been in Suwarrow long enough to explore this paradise, the winds were threatening to keep us there for more than a week unless we left right away. So on Tuesday, we went ashore to say goodbye to the rangers.

Saying farewell to the rangers

After we said goodbye. Linda and I walked to the other side of their motu, which faced the pass. We watched as Szel went through and took a few pictures of the island.

Szel heading toward the exit of the pass

I then baked some bread and cooked some sausages and we pulled up anchor around 2:00 p.m. Szel had already left in the morning and Blue Beryl left right before we did.

Passages, Places

Passage to Penryhn, Cook Islands

On Saturday, August 26, Blue Beryl left Bora Bora on a very windy morning, and Aldabra and Szel left about 1:30 p.m. We were headed to Penryhn Island, part of the northern Cook Islands group. Szel is a very fast SunDeer 64 and she left us in the dust immediately. Blue Beryl and Aldabra were pretty even at times, although Blue Beryl headed to the left of the rhumb line and Aldabra attempted a more direct course to the island. We passed them during the first night and then lost AIS signals for both Szel and Blue Beryl by morning. We kept up with the two boats on a What’sApp group chat.

At the beginning of the passage, the seas were lumpy and the winds were in the high teens. In our first 24 hours, we averaged about 5.5 knots.

On Sunday, the winds were down in the low teens and the seas were flattening out a bit. We were having a comfortable sail with speeds around 6 knots and sunny skies. We continued to have no sign of the other boats and we were starting to be pushed to the west.

By Monday, we were in a slow slog with light and shifty winds. We ran the motor several times when the winds got too light. That night, we had some good wind but it was coming from directly behind us, which is not favorable for Aldabra. With swept-back spreaders, we can’t let the main go far enough forward to optimize for downwind sailing. Thus, we carried on by sailing a little bit to the left of our course or a little bit to the right of our course.

On Tuesday, we had wind but still from behind. We decided to try to put up two jibs, one on each side, with the main down. Linda drove while Tom and I spent a couple of hours working on getting the spinnaker pole up and the boom out and each jib in place. Right as we completed the setup, the wind shifted and nearly died and we had to take everything down. We motored for a while with no sails. In the evening, we put the main back up but we were motoring with the sail slapping around.

Yvette sent us a picture as she celebrated her birthday underway

Wednesday was a frustrating day with lots of motoring. Finally on Thursday, August 31, we arrived at Penryhn and went through the pass in the late morning. There was a lot of current but we managed to navigate into the pass and then take the long way around, in the lane for larger boats, to arrive in the anchorage in front of the town. Szel was already there.

Almost immediately, a boat showed up with the local authorities for Customs and Health. After we filled out the paperwork and paid some fees, they left and the Biosecurity guy came onboard. We filled out something for him and paid his fee.

The anchorage was very windy and choppy and we stayed on the boat that night. Blue Beryl showed up later in the afternoon and came for a visit in the evening. The next day, we went ashore to continue the check-in process, but we also ended up checking out as well. Andrew, the Customs officer, checked us out of the Cook Islands, even though we would be staying in Penryhn for a few days and then going to Suwarrow. It simplified everything for us and would make our entrance into Tonga less complicated.

After we checked out, all three boats went over to the village on the far side of the atoll. Anchoring in the late afternoon. Aldabra and Szel stayed on our boats but Blue Beryl went to shore to a warm welcome by the villagers.

Aldabra in Penrhyn

Rainbow in Penrhyn, with Aldabra and Blue Beryl

The next morning, Alex, Yvette and Tom went to shore. Alex and Tom worked on a couple of motorcycles that hadn’t been running for ten years. They got them running. Yvette went with the wife of the pastor to her house so Yvette could do her laundry and have lunch.

Alex and Yvette riding a newly repaired motorcycle

Linda and I went to shore a bit later than the others. We first stopped by Szel and invited Fiona to join us, which she did. We got to shore and started walking around, not really seeing anyone. Fiona and I got separated from Linda and found the guys working on the motorcycles. Meanwhile Linda met a family and went to their house for a visit.

Once we all found each other again, we visited Yvette and the pastor’s wife, giving the pastor’s wife a bag full of gifts, mostly for the children. After returning to Aldabra, we found things on the boat that were needed by the family that Linda had befriended so we went back to shore to give them to them.

Dinner that night was on Szel. Jamie had caught a sailfish and he seared steaks for us. We also had rice, tuna sashimi, tomatoes with feta cheese, and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It was a very fun evening.

Fiona sent us this pictue after Jamie caught the sailfish

Dinner on Szel. Not everyone in the picture

On Sunday, September 3, we all put on whatever we had that was white. (Tom decided that he didn’t have anything suitable, so he opted to stay on the boat.) The rest of us went to shore in our all-white garb, stopping first at a house that had lots of hats. Some of the hats the women were wearing were not white enough, so they loaned them white hats. Then we proceeded to the church.

Tom took this picture of us getting ready to go to church in our whites

We went inside the church, which was very beautiful inside and sat down in the back. The women were practicing their singing from their seats in the pews. After a bit, Alex went outside and figured out that the children, in another building, were practicing their singing, and it was beautiful. So we all went over and listened until right before church was to start. We then went back to the church and sat in for the sermon. The pastor was very welcoming, said that we were now family, and blessed our journey.

Because of the strict rules about behavior on Sundays, we went back to our boats for the rest of the day. Alex and Yvette did go back to shore in the evening, after the restrictions were lifted, and had a very warm goodbye from the islanders. They also returned the visitor’s book that we all wrote in.

Photo we left in the Penrhyn village visitor’s book

On Monday, we didn’t end up going to shore to say goodbye. Instead, we prepared for the passage to Suwarrow. At 10:00 a.m., we started across the lagoon to exit the pass, shortly after Szel and Blue Beryl. We all put up sails and headed to Suwarrow.

Inland Travel, Passages, People, Places

Huahine/Raiatea/Tahaa/Bora Bora

As we sailed away from Tahiti on Friday, August 11, we weren’t sure where we were headed. We could sail over to Moorea and spend the night. Or we could do an overnight to Huahine. (Yes, we had checked out of French Polynesia, but we planned short visits under the radar to some of the other Society Islands. By checking out in Tahiti, we could have Tahiti Crew take care of the process.)

As we sailed in the vicinity of Moorea, we decided to just keep going to Huahine. The first hours of the passage were in 18-20 knot of wind and big seas. Conditions mellowed out during the second half of the trip.

On Saturday, August 12, we arrived in Huahine around 10:00 a.m.  We were lucky to find a free mooring ball in the anchorage near the pass and close to the town of Fare. Naps were the first order of business. Before that, Sarah and Bob from Rhapsody stopped by and we made plans for dinner. We went ashore around 4:00 p.m. and walked around before meeting Sarah and Bob for dinner at the Huahine Yacht Club. The cocktails and the food were good and it was a fun night. Rhapsody left the next day.

Linda and Trevor enjoying their welcome drinks

Tom took this picture from the Huahine Yacht Club

Huahine Anchorage

On Sunday, we had a lazy day on the boat. Trevor and Linda swam out to the entrance to the pass to see a whale. Blue Beryl came in and anchored near us. We barbequed steak on the boat and played cards that night.

On Monday, we went to shore and made arrangements to rent scooters on Wednesday. Dinner that night was on Blue Beryl. Tuesday was a holiday in French Polynesia and nothing was open. We stayed on the boat all day.

Dinner on Blue Beryl, Linda took the picture

On Wednesday, the crews of Blue Beryl and Aldabra rode scooters around the island. We rode for only three hours but it was a great way to see the whole island.

Sharing a coconut on the scooter ride

Trevor and Linda


Yvette and Alex

Stopping at a lookout

A view of another bay. That’s the cruise ship Wind Spirit

After lunch at the Huahine Yacht Club, we took the boats (Aldabra and Blue Beryl) halfway down the island to a different anchorage. It was a windy, rainy night and we did only a little bit of exploring the next day before picking up the anchor and going down to the anchorage at the end of the island. There were a lot of boats there. It was really windy. But Trevor and Alex got to kiteboard, and it made them very happy. After they were finished, we pulled up anchor again and went back to an anchorage near town.

Trevor enjoying a dinghy ride

We liked Huahine. The town of Fare had a nice vibe and it would have been easy to stay longer, but we had a lot of ground to cover and none of the crew had unlimited schedules. So, on Saturday, August 19, we left the anchorage at 7:00 a.m. and sailed to Raiatea. The winds were in the mid-teens and we sailed on a broad reach with just the jib. We arrived around noon and picked up a mooring ball across from town, got in the dinghy and headed across the channel to shore.

We got ice cream bars at the grocery store and started a bit of a search for motor oil for my next oil change. I should have bought it in Tahiti, but I forgot. The gas station was closed so we walked down to the operating base for Dream Yacht Charters to see if we could use the mooring ball we were already attached to. At the base, we were told we needed to provide a 6-pack of beer. So we walked back to the grocery store, bought the beer and then took the dinghy to the base. Once we presented the 6-pack to the base manager, we were told that they could no longer allow us to use the mooring ball. He told us that it was prohibited by local authorities. He got on the computer and showed me where we could anchor. I gave him the 6-pack anyway and headed back to the dinghy. We returned to the boat and headed north through the east channel and up to the east side of Tahaa to an anchorage on the reef. Blue Beryl joined us there, as did a few other boats.

On Sunday, we continued north on the east side Tahaa and rounded the island from east to west. Then we headed south down the west side of Tahaa to the Coral Gardens. It was quite windy but we found a decent place to anchor next to the reef. Blue Beryl arrived a bit later and we snorkeled the Coral Gardens in the afternoon.

The Coral Gardens are a small pass between two motus on the outside of Tahaa. You can walk up one motu and then slip into the water and follow the current through the coral. It is quite picturesque. I went down, then swam back against the current to go down again.

On Monday, August 21, Aldabra and Blue Beryl left Tahaa and sailed over to Bora Bora. We left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived in the early afternoon. It was a nice sail, with the spinnaker, until our spinnaker halyard broke and the spinnaker dropped into the water. We gathered it onto the boat and continued on in through the pass. After wandering around a bit, we attached ourselves to mooring balls in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club.

Aldabra in Bora Bora

The sailboat Szel with Jamie and Fiona was also on a mooring near us. Linda and I took the dinghy over to see them for a visit. Later that evening Aldabra and Blue Beryl had drinks and dinner at the Yacht Club and Jamie and Fiona came later and sat at the table next to us. We chatted a bit before we left and they had their dinner.

Dinner at Bora Bora Yacht Clug: Alex, Tom. Trevor, me, Linda and Yvette

On Tuesday, August 22, Trevor went up the mast to retrieve the halyard that had frayed and broken.

Trevor up the mast

Then we followed Blue Beryl as we motored around to the back side of Bora Bora, through very narrow, shallow channels. Trevor drove and we picked our way through, sometimes within an inch of touching the bottom. In a catamaran, the trip would have been a breeze, but with a deep keel, it was quite nerve wracking. In the end, we arrived at a beautiful anchorage. We explored the motu on foot and in the water, and had a dinner party that night with Blue Beryl on Aldabra.

Crusing around the island

The next day, we had a swimming race between the two boats. Alex represented Blue Beryl and Trevor represented Aldabra. Trevor was handicapped in two ways. He was wearing his snorkeling mask instead of swim goggles. And he was wearing his swim trunks. Alex, with no swim trunks and with swim goggles beat Trevor by a small margin. But they were both completely spent.

After the race, Aldabra headed back around the island, following our track from the day before. After picking up a mooring ball in front of the Yacht Club, we took the dinghy to town to find out about a ferry for Trevor to get to the airport. After sorting that all out, we found a restaurant for lunch and a gas station to buy motor oil. Then we went back to the boat so Trevor could pack. Linda took him back to town later that afternoon so he could take the ferry to catch his flight back to Tahiti. He then spent the night in the Tahiti airport and caught a flight the next morning to San Francisco. (Once home, Trevor began his job search and rather quickly landed a job in his field.)

We had a quiet night on the boat. Then on Thursday, Tom and I went to shore early to hand over our laundry to Julie, a very nice woman who picked it up in her car. Back at the boat, we did some cleaning and reorganizing, along with paperwork to enter the Cook Islands. We had dinner that night at the Bora Bora Yacht Club and retrieved our laundry from Julie while we were there. We also took showers there and dropped off our trash.

On Friday, August 25, Linda and I took the dinghy into town to fill up a jerry can with gasoline and buy 2-stroke oil and some groceries. It was a windy day and we spent the rest of it on the boat, stowing things and otherwise getting ready for a passage. Alex came over and inspected the rigging and gave me a report on areas of concern.

At his suggestion, we connected the inner forestay and the starboard running backstay. We pulled the port running backstay back to a car on the rail because it was getting chafed on the spreader. It was a very windy and rainy night and we stayed on the boat.

On Saturday, August 26, Jamie of Szel and Alex and Yvette of Blue Beryl came over for a weather meeting. We all decided to leave that day for Penryhn Island in the Cook Islands. We were now saying goodbye to French Polynesia.

Passages, Places

Transition in Tahiti

On Thursday, July 27, Johno, Trevor and I motored from Moorea over to Tahiti in light air. We couldn’t get a slip in Marina Papeete and the free anchorage near Marina Taina was crowded, so we anchored in a good spot in the airport anchorage. Friday was a rainy day and we took the dinghy over to the dock at Marina Taina and caught a bus to the airport, where we picked up a rental car. We drove back to Marina Taina, where I dropped off paperwork to renew my Carte de Jour at Tahiti Crew. We also dropped off used motor oil, recycling and trash.

Our next stop was the Tahiti Museum. I try to take everyone to this place. It’s newly reopened and offers a myriad of displays about the migration of people to Polynesia as well as the cultural history of each of the island groups. Afterwards, we had lunch at Casa Bianca at Marina Taina and then walked over to Carrefour to buy groceries, a luxury after so many weeks in the Tuamotus.

Saturday was super windy and we didn’t leave the boat. On Sunday, Ludo Martinez, a welder, came out to the boat to talk about rewelding a cross-piece for my davits.

Davits with broken weld

Then we went back to get the car and drove to Marina Papeete to talk to John Blair on Ballyhoo. He was offering to give us his slip as he departed from the marina. Because the marina is first come, first served, the way to get a slip when it’s really crowded is to coordinate with someone who is leaving. John also told us about a couple of airplane wrecks out near the airport anchorage and we resolved to check them out. We had lunch at the brewery restaurant not too far from the marina and then went back to Taina and parked the car before heading back to the boat.

On Monday, we snorkeled on the smaller of the wrecks. As we were looking for the larger one, the wind and seas came up and we bailed on that one.

Wreck of small plane near the airport anchorage

Johno in the wreck

Trevor in the wreck

Someone built a desk at the wreck

Trevor at the desk

Back at the boat, the wind kept building, gusting to 35 knots. We stayed on the boat for the rest of the day, asking John Blair to postpone his departure from the marina, which he did.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, August 1, we pulled up the anchor and headed to Marina Papeete, arriving shortly after 6:00 a.m. John was out of the slip but idling in the marina so that no one could get past him to take the slip. We headed on in and one of our new dock mates helped us with lines. It was a tight fit. Due to a slight lack of communication, the bow sprit bumped into a rubber bollard, with no damage to either boat or bollard. We finally settled in and got the lines tied off. We were in our new home, the main attractions being real showers and water to wash the boat. It was the first marina Aldabra had been in since leaving San Diego. Because of the marina’s proximity to downtown Papeete, it also offered an easy way for any of us to go exploring.

After taking real showers, we walked around the downtown market and went to the fabric store where Johno found fabric he liked and Trevor eyed some he might buy later. Afterwards, we walked toward Marina Taina and then caught a cab so we could retrieve the rental car from Marina Taina. As soon as we got the car, we toured around the island.

View from the beach on the far side of Tahiti Iti

Hanging out at the beach in Tahiti Iti

Later, back at the boat, which was quite visible to anyone walking along the waterfront, we had a surprise visit from Jeff from Infinite Grace, whom we had met back in Aratika. He had flown from Rangiroa for an urgent dentist appointment. It was nice to catch up with him.

On Wednesday, August 2, we used the car again to tour around the island. After dropping our mainsail off  to be repaired at the Tahiti Sails loft, we drove to Tahiti Iti and went up to the lookout there.

On Thursday, August 3, we drove Johno to the airport at a very early hour. Then Trevor and I went to Marina Taina and did laundry. It was so early that we had no competition for the machines. Afterwards, we went back to the boat in Marina Papeete. Trevor then walked around town and I joined him later for a second walk. We had dinner at a restaurant near the marina with Don and Gloria from Windswept, also from the Santa Cruz area.

Aldabra at Marina Papeete

The view from Aldabra at Marina Papeete

Friday, August 4, was my birthday. Trevor and I snorkeled on the larger plane wreck. While we were there, Alex and Yvette from Blue Beryl stopped by in their dinghy. Later, when we were back on the boat, they stopped by and we made plans for dinner. Trevor and I washed most of the boat exterior before taking a few down hours before dinner. At around 5:00 p.m., Alex and Yvette joined us and we walked to the brewery restaurant. We had a very nice dinner and some beers, and they gave me the gift of a blue beryl stone. I was very honored.

On Saturday, we all went out to the big plane wreck again. The plan was for Trevor to use my dive gear, but when he got into the water, the regulator had a leak. He dove with just his snorkel gear while Alex and Yvette used their scuba gear. Afterwards, Trevor and I worked on washing the bottom of the dinghy. That night, the restaurant in front of the boat played really, really loud music all night.

On Sunday, August 6, Trevor and I made final preparations for our new crew, helped Blue Beryl with their dock lines as they came into the marina to get water, and met up with some new friends from California, Doug and Michelle on a catamaran in the marina.

On Monday, August 7, Trevor and I took the car early (4:30 a.m.) to pick up Linda, his mother, and Tom, my friend from Mexico and San Diego. I’ve grown close to Tom and his partner Helen over the last few years and was excited that he and Linda were going to be on the boat for the next leg of the journey. We took them back to the boat to get settled and then we went with Alex and Yvette and Doug in the car to see about getting my regulator fixed and to get our cooking gas tanks filled. My only choice was to buy a new regulator, which I did. Then we had to drop off the cooking gas tanks at a different location from what we had planned. Afterwards, Trevor, Alex and Yvette took the car to tour the island while I hung out on the boat with Tom and Linda. We all had dinner that night at the brewery.

The next day, Trevor and Tom worked on installing the Starlink system that Linda had brought in her luggage. Trevor swapped out two refrigeration modules that Linda had brought and he installed new fans for the watermaker feed pumps.

On Wednesday, August 9, we left Marina Papeete around 7:00 a.m. and headed over to Marina Taina.

The waterfront view at we went from one marina to the next

Our welder had arranged for us to have dock space so he could work on the davits. It was a tight squeeze to get in, but with his help along with a couple of other guys, we got the boat turned around and situated so he could work. We were right at the entrance to the docks, in front of the Casa Bianca restaurant. Ludo thought that the work would take two days, but he was finished by noon. Linda and Trevor took the bus back to Papeete to get the rental car and then did some touring while Tom and I worked on the boat.

The next day, Tom and Linda went to the Tahiti Museum while Trevor and I shopped at Carrefour and brought two cartloads of groceries back to the boat. It’s not a long walk between the store and the marina. Later, we all went downtown to look around and picked up the cooking gas tank. Back at the marina, we put the mainsail back on the boat and had dinner at Casa Bianca.

On Friday, August 11, we checked out of the country, with the help of Tahiti Crew. We also took delivery of some duty-free wine and liquor and checked out of the marina. We took a final run to Carrefour and then took the boat over to the gas dock. Unfortunately, they closed for lunch after filling up the boat in front of us, so we had to wait until after 1:00 p.m. to get diesel fuel. Finally fueled up, we were out of the pass and headed toward Huahine by 2:30 p.m.

It felt funny to say goodbye to Tahiti, knowing that I would not be returning. It isn’t my favorite place in the world, but I had spent considerable time there over the last year, and was growing quite used to it.

Passages, People, Places


Johno and Trevor arrived in Fakarava on July 3. Johno was on Aldabra last year from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus, along with Trevor’s twin sister, Dana. This was Trevor’s first time on the boat in the South Pacific. He had just graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was able to fit this trip in before some serious job hunting in mechanical engineering/robotics. They joined Pat and me on the boat and brought lots of goodies, such as a new wind generator, some new components for the refrigeration system and food treats.

On Tuesday, July 4, we picked up the anchor and went to the fuel dock.

Sitting on the boat at the Fakarava fuel dock with Trevor and Johno

We then sailed down to the Fakarava South Pass. We anchored at about 2:00 p.m. and snorkeled the pass before joining a Fourth of July picnic set up on shore by our friends Bruce and Alene on Migration. It was nice to see Bruce and Alene and to meet some new cruisers. On Wednesday, we sailed over to Hirifa in 25 knot winds and anchored in that more protected anchorage. I baked banana bread while Pat, Johno and Trevor installed the replacement wind generator. (We’d had so much wind since arriving in the Tuamotus that I was constantly aware of how much we were wasting it by not having a working wind generator to charge the batteries.)

Installing the new wind generator

The next day, Trevor and Johno took a really long walk across multiple motus and sand bars to explore a distant motu, three miles away. They did a lot of wading and were quite spent and sunburned when they finally returned.

Trevor on the long walk

While they were away, I was planning the itinerary for the coming weeks in the Tuamotus and measuring the watermaker output, which was way under capacity for no apparent reason. Bruce and Alene from Migration came over for dinner that night and it was great to see them again. We spent the next day cleaning the boat bottom. On Saturday night, we had a nice dinner on shore at Eliza’s, with a few other boats.

On Monday, July 10, we left Hirifa a few minutes before 7:00 a.m. and sailed back to Rotoava, arriving shortly after noon. It was a nice sail with 12-18 knots of wind. We went ashore to drop off a cooking gas tank to be refilled, and we bought some groceries. The next day we rented ebikes and toured around the atoll before having lunch at the snack that Pat, Bill and I had been to previously. After picking up the cooking gas tank, we went back to the boat to endure a windy, rolly night.

Exploring the outer beach of Fakarava during the bike ride

On Wednesday, July 12, we picked up the anchor at 5:00 a.m. and motored over to the north pass of Fakarava. We exited the pass at 6:15 a.m. at slack tide, with very mild current. Outside the reef, we put up the sails with two reefs in the main. We had a fast sail on a beam reach with winds in the high teens. We arrived outside the Aratika pass at noon, right behind Infinite Grace, a boat we hadn’t met yet. Once we were inside the pass, a squall came up and we had white-out conditions while trying to navigate across the lagoon to some mooring balls in front of the village. The visibility soon improved and we got ourselves across and attached to a mooring ball by 1:30 p.m. It was a rainy afternoon and we stayed on the boat.

On Thursday, July 13, we took the dinghy to shore and walked into the village. There we found the town clerk and paid a nominal fee for two night’s mooring. We were in Aratika at the suggestion of Bruce and Alene, who had done a lot of research to find a Tuamotu atoll that wouid be celebrating the annual Heiva festival. Many of the other atolls were sending their community members to Tahiti for the celebration, so they were not celebrating on their home turf. Aratika is a tiny community and we looked forward to meeting people and participating in the celebration. Infinite Grace was there for the same reason and Migration would be following the next day.

We walked around the windward side of the atoll to check out the beaches there, and we talked to Tea, who owned a restaurant that would be serving dinner during the celebration. He told us that the first event would be that night, a Mr. and Mrs. Aratika competition. After spending the rest of the afternoon on the boat, we returned to the town center in the evening, chatting with Jeff and Michelle on Infinite Grace, Bruce and Alene on Migration, and Yves and Marta on Breakaway. Then we watched the 3-hour competition before having a late-night dinner at the restaurant. The competition featured about five women and four men who modeled a variety of outfits, such as traditional, casual and evening wear. The two winners were announced after a rather lengthy and confused deliberation by the judges. It was fun to be there with all the members of the community and to see all the children running around and playing. We got back to the boat around midnight.

The women doing a final pose in their traditional outfits

The men in their final pose in their traditional outfits

The next day, we slept in and did not go into town for the scheduled parade. Instead we repaired a rip in the mainsail and Johno and Trevor snorkeled on the reef. We ate dinner on the boat and then went back to town that evening for the dancing competition, which included just women. Evidently the men were too shy for that. But we really enjoyed the women dancers and the evening was not a long one.

Actually there was one young man in the dancing competition

The singers and musicians

The cruisers visiting Aratika for the festival

The next morning, on Saturday, July 15, we left the mooring ball and exited the pass. We were a couple of hours before slack tide and the current was strong but manageable. It whooshed us out very rapidly.

The current as we left the pass

We sailed west across to the False Pass of Toau on a nice beam reach and were on a mooring ball shortly after 2:00 p.m. We talked to a very nice Dutch couple on Dina Helena. They were on their way to the Marquesas and had come from Patagonia and the Gambier. Johno and Trevor got out snorkeling on the reef near where we were anchored.

On Sunday, we all snorkeled near the southwest side of the anchorage, crossing the reef to look for mantas. It was a calm day and the snorkeling was great.

Johno up the mast in the False Pass

Johno’s view from the top of the mast in Toau

On Monday, we left the mooring ball at 5:30 a.m. and exited the pass, heading to Tikehau. During the day, the winds were in the low teens and we sailed with the spinnaker. We took it down before nightfall, but didn’t tie the sheet off properly. That night, with winds shifting, we needed to jibe to avoid hitting Rangiroa. Later, the winds picked up significantly and we needed to reef. As I pulled in on the furling line, I must have caught the spinnaker sheet, and the spinnaker ended up in the water, being dragged behind the boat and making it nearly impossible for Johno to steer. Trevor and I managed to get the spinnaker back up on the boat and we realized how lucky it was that we didn’t lose it altogether. We finished reefing the main just as the wind started calming down.

The next morning, as we approached the pass to enter the Tikehau atoll, we discovered that our old friends on Blue Beryl were anchored there. As we entered the pass around 11:00 a.m. they approached the anchorage near the pass and we met up in that anchorage. It was pretty windy but we had a nice dinner together that night and got caught up on their lives since we’d last seen them.

The next day, Blue Beryl exited the pass, heading over to Rangiora, and we sailed over to Motu Mauu to see the mantas that frequently hang out there. We anchored in pretty marginal conditions, high winds and very choppy. But we got the dinghy in the water and headed over to some mooring balls near the motu. After snorkeling for a bit, we followed a tour group and indeed got to see a giant manta. People would dive down and try to engage it and it would just hang out, unbothered by the attention. It was quite spectacular.

Trevor with the giant manta in Tikehau

Johno with the giant manta

After that splendid show of nature, we pulled up the anchor and headed over to the anchor near the village, where it was a little bit more protected from the wind and waves. We went ashore and walked around the village We found a pizza place on the other side of the motu and ordered a few pizzas. Then we walked to the airport just to see how far it was. After returning to eat our pizza, we went back to the boat.

Eating pizza in Tikehau

The next day, Thursday, July 20, Pat made omelettes and packed. It was a gloomy, windy day. We went ashore and walked with Pat to the airport, where he flew to Tahiti and then on to Los Angeles. On Friday morning, I went ashore to look for a bakery, but the woman had no baked goods because she had no flour. With the weather making it difficult to enjoy Tikehau, we decided to head over to the anchorage near the pass for a quick getaway the next morning. Once we got there, however, it was so choppy and windy that we decided to just leave that afternoon. We put the dinghy up, had lunch and headed out of the pass. The exit was smooth. We put the sails up and headed for Moorea in 14 knots of wind.

On Saturday morning we had light winds and sunshine for the first time in three days. The swells moderated a bit and we sailed most of the day on a close reach. The winds got even lighter as we approached Moorea. For the last twenty miles we used a motor assist, arriving at the entrance to Cooks Bay around 10:00 p.m. Because I had been in there so many times, I thought it would be easy enough to do at night. But everything is different at night and entering was a bit disorienting. We just followed the charts and the buoys into the bay and then started heading deeper into the bay. It was too dangerous to motor among the boats because we couldn’t really tell what was what among the anchor lights. We ended up dropping the anchor in deeper water, behind the fleet and then celebrating our arrival with a beer. I think we all slept well after our overnight sail.

On Sunday, July 23, we all slept in. I then started taking care of business I needed to attend to and Johno and Trevor went for a walk around the bay. The next morning, we picked up a rental car and drove around the island. We had lunch at the restaurant at the Timpanier Resort.

Enjoying the view in Moorea

The next day, we took the rental car up to the Belvedere and hiked the three coconuts trail.

Hiking in Moorea

Afterwards we had lunch at my favorite taco truck but she had run out of the good food so I was a bit disappointed with the cuisine. On Wednesday we took the car around to the other side of the island, looking for waterfall hikes and an illusive steep hike that Trevor and Johno wanted to do. We found the waterfall hikes but never found the steep hike.

Waterfall hike in Moorea

Afterward, we had lunch at the Polynesia hotel in Cooks Bay and then returned the rental car.

Johno and Trevor enjoying a soak and a beer in Moorea