No lie-ins for us this Sunday morning! We are up at six to get the boat ready for an early departure. We’re in Makemo in “the middle anchorage” which is halfway between the eastern and the northwestern entrances to the atoll. Three other yachts are anchored here and last night we agreed to all leave together.
We have to be at the pass by nine am to catch the outgoing tide and it’s about ten miles from our anchorage. The sun rises at six, so by seven we should have sufficient visibility. The only potential issue is our anchor. It is wrapped around several bommies and we may have to dive to get it off. Dive or drive… It’s all hands on deck with the kids on the foredeck pointing the direction in which the chain lies. Seathan manages to drive us off and the dive tank remains full.
Then it is two hours of bommie spotting before we reach the exit. The tide is still going out (so not slack yet) but because wind and tide are going into the same direction the water is sufficiently flat for us to exit. Every minute counts, as we need to get to Tahanea for the next tide gate, which is at two pm. Our destination is 45 miles away so this means we will have to average about nine knots… The race is on.
The other option would have been a night time sail but then we would have to seriously slow down the boat in order not to arrive before sunrise. In a big sea that is quite hard to do and it can be very uncomfortable.
And a big sea it is with short and sharp three metres waves and winds between 20 and 25 knots. Rehua leads the way and we are first to arrive at the entrance to Tahanea. It is just before three pm and we missed the tide gate. The tide is rushing out against the swell. Will we make it in? Do we keep the sails up? We can use the extra power to get through the current but if we have to abort and turn around having the sails up could cause a heap of trouble. We decide to lower the sails and head in. There are whirlpools, standing waves and the sea is extremely messy. But we get through the pass and calm water awaits us inside. We anchor just around the point inside the lagoon and are happy to be here just before the sun sets (which is very early in these regions).
People have asked me how it is possible that we can update the blog while we are in a remote atoll. There’s obviously no Wi-Fi here. We use our satellite phone connection to access emails and weather information. We have a special email address that our family and other friend boats know and we can use it to send emails directly to the blog and then an update gets published automatically. Unfortunately it is impossible to upload photos, as the bandwidth is comparable to the old Internet dial-up connections.