Whales in Teti'aroa

A Whale of a Send Off: Passage Teti’aroa to Makatea

Teti’aroa is know for whale spotting, especially from July to November.  We had seen several spouts and watched a few charter boats do the dance around the entrance in search of a whale.  But we didn’t actually see a whale breach the water during our stay.  A little disappointed, we raised the main sail and released the mooring.  It was time to head to a new island called Makatea.  We unfurled the jib and put out our three fishing lines as soon as we left and were crossing the bay.  Then I heard Matt shout “whale.”  I ran back, grabbed the big camera and tried to capture these elusive beauties.

Under full sail with three fishing lines out we had to be careful about maneuvering the boat.  We could not just turn on a dime to go back which was frustrating, but I got a few shots of the mama whale and her baby calf.

Whales in Teti'aroa

Whales in Teti’aroa

We received a send off part just as we were passing Brando island.  A pod of dolphins came to play with Sugar Shack.  We weren’t going very fast, so I am sure it was not much of a sport to them.

Dolphins off Brando Island

Dolphins off Brando Island

Making Our Way to Makatea

We knew it would be a light wind motor sail, but we had hoped for a little more wind than what we got.  Regardless, we had full sails up, port engine running, and three lines out on our way to Makatea.

The moon rose as the sun set in perfect unison.  So gorgeous.

Moonrise and Sunset

Moonrise and Sunset

As we approached Makatea the next morning, we started preparing the boat for mooring.  I was setting the lines for the mooring while Matt brought in the fishing lines.  We caught nothing, zippo, nada during the entire trip!  As Matt brought in one of the lures, we understood why we did not hear the elusive “zing” of the line.  Someone ate our skirt as an appetizer.

Someone ate her skirt!

Someone ate her skirt!

Passage Details:

Miles Traveled:  110 nm

Duration:  20:30

Avg. Speed:  5.3 kt

Max Speed:  8.1 kt

Wind Speed:  8-10 kt

Swell:  .5

Makatea has soaring cliffs that jet into the sky from the sea’s surge.  Making a very imposing sight on entry.

Approaching Makatea

Approaching Makatea

Mooring in Makatea

There is no anchorage anywhere near the island of Makatea.  There are only three moorings that are maintained by the locals.  Lucky for us, there were no other boats when we arrived.  So we had our pick of the moorings.  A fellow cruiser told us that the mooring on the far left (red) is the best one because it is not moored in super deep water (50 meters vs 100 meters).   We circled around and found the painter sunk below the water.  We grabbed the line, threaded our two lines through loop and secured Sugar Shack.    The boat is maybe 8-10 meters away from the surge and the reef – freakishly close!

Surge over reef at Makatea

Surge over reef at Makatea

Long Lost Friends

A few hours after we arrived, we saw a boat on the horizon without AIS.  We could not determine their name so we just watched as they approached.  It did not take long for us to hear the roar of “Sugar Shack.  Hey, it’s Matt and Christine!”  Well they certainly know us….if we only knew them?  They slowly motored up next to us and it was Yves and Martha on Break Away.  We had not seen them since Las Perles, Panama (over 18 months ago).  Sweet!

We let them get settled on the furthest mooring before picking them up to go exploring in town.  We had to navigate the tricky pass that has a big surge over the reef. Lucky for us, Sweetie is equipped with a 25hp outboard.  We timed it between sets and made it in with no problem.  A quick bow anchor and stern tie to dock and we are off.  The photo below shows the surge over the reef between the two poles which is the entrance.

Entrance to Makatea Port

Entrance to Makatea Port

On Shore – Makatea

We found lots of industrial equipment, the le marie (mayor’s office) and a magasin with ice cream and wifi.  We decided to turn back before it got too dark and enjoyed sun downers on Break Away.

Old trains abandoned on the island

Old trains abandoned on the island

The map below shows the trail we will go on during our tour.  See Belvedere and Pot Hole.

Map of Makatea

Map of Makatea

The terrain was mixed between large rocks jetting from the ground to beautiful forests.  I am sure will learn more about this on our tour.

Lots of phosphate rocks on this island

Lots of phosphate rocks on this island

Returning to the port, we see our beautiful boat sitting close to the ruins.

Sugar Shack on her mooring close to the reef

Sugar Shack on her mooring close to the reef

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