Friday, May 7, 2010

Katiu, Too Big for You

1/2 mile off western coast of Katiu, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
16 24.6S 144 28.8 W

Our plan worked to perfection. We exited the pass at 8:00 am with a max of 3 knots of current following us out the pass, then we motor-sailed to Katiu arriving at 11:30 to find 2 knots going in, just as expected. We waited half an hour then entered at 12:00 with about a half knot behind us, right on the schedule I calculated using my handy dandy "Visions Tuamotu Tidal Current Guestimator" Excel Spreadsheet (don't worry it will get posted to the documents page as soon as we get WiFi Access so you can play at home. Unfortunately at that point our plan fell to bits as the "anchorage" was only about 80 feet wide by 200 feet long. We tried dropping an anchor and backing into the pier to tie a stern line, but we were afraid we would end up pushed into the pier. Our only other option was to tie side-to the concrete pier, but with a 15 knot wind on the beam we didn't like that idea either. Med moore perpenticular might have been an option, but it would require our anchor chain to cross the pass channel to have enough purchase to keep us off the pier. By then the tide had changed (at 12:10, right on schedule) and we had about 2 knots pushing us out at 12:30 by the time we gave up and left the harbour (not a very long slack current)

Once out of the pass we realized we had only 35 miles to go to Tahanea, but the next tidal option would be at 8:00 at night, so instead we would have to wait till 8:00 tomorrow morning. We sailed under jib alone down to the western side of the island, hoping we might anchor near the alternate small boat anchorage, but when only 100 yards from shore we were still in 250 feet of water, so anchoring was not really an option. Luckily, we realized we had a 5 mile runway of protected water and if we reached back an forth under staysail, we would go slow enough that we could sail 2 hours per leg in rather benign conditions. We set a half mile alarm zone off the beach and will spend the night gybing back and forth. Right now we are making about 1.8 knots boatspeed, dead level, with barely a rock or roll (quite pleasant really, and much better than any anchorage at Easter or Pitcairn. The only real downside is that we have to take watch.

Sometime around 3 am I will roll out the jib and head toward Tahanea with a planned arrival of 7:30 with a planned entry around 8:00 depending on what the pass looks like. I will be sure to take a screenshot of our track after we are done and post it once we get to some WiFi in Fakarava.

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