Tahanea is an uninhabited atoll known for its pristine turquoise waters and manta rays. The motus have pink sand and towering palm trees that drape lazily over the shores. There are three passes to enter this wide lagoon that is 30 miles long by 9 miles wide. This atoll is one of the few bird refuges in the Tuamotus. In addition, to its varied bird population there is an abundant sea life in the passes. With gorgeous turquoise waters, towering palm trees and an active wildlife, this is a piece of paradise. What could cause trouble?
We left the south pass of Fakarava at 0600 and exited the pass with zero problems. It would be a light wind day with means lots of tacks. The passage is only 50nm from pass to pass. We were hoping to make it before sunset without using the motors. With decent winds the first several hours we became hopeful that we would make it with time to spare. However, we lost the wind and realized that we could not make it before dark – even with the motors! Crap. We got to the pass around 1900, hove to, and drifted at 1kt for the rest of the night (11 hours of waiting). Around 0800, we turned around and headed for the pass.
- Miles to destination: 50nm
- Total miles sailed: 92.1nm (did I mention lots of tacks?)
- Total moving time: 25.23 min
- Max speed: 8.3kt
- Average speed 3.6kt (surprising considering we spent 12 hours at 1-2kts)
Here is our track showing all of our tacks and our hove to position over night near the pass.
Trouble All Around
After we made it through the pass, I hailed Mike on the VHF to tell him we had 2-3kts of incoming current (which is not bad). Mike strained to tell me he had caught his finger while taking down the sail. He is single handing, was heading toward the reef, had nothing but his cell phone in his pocket (no service). His radio was in the cockpit along with his shoes. His finger was crushed in a shackle and he was trapped.
Torn between losing his finger or losing his boat. Luckily, he was able to reach his anchor chain and windlass. Using the windlass, he released some of the tension from the stay sail. This allowed him to remove his finger. OMG! We had no idea what happened until he was free and heading toward the pass. He was in need of help, but we had to anchor first.
We dropped our hook between some bommies and attached all 5 of our 8 floats. However, we did not let out enough scope as Matt wanted to help Mike anchor. We thought we could just drop the rest of the scope when he returned. What is scope? It’s the distance between your anchor and your boat and we like a 7:1 scope at a minimum (prefer a 10:1). Which means if we drop in 10 meters of water, we let out 70 meters of chain.
Dragging Anchor with Floats
When Matt returned, we let out the scope, pulled back on the engines, and we dragged. Farfugnugen! We had to raise the chain, remove the floats, and try again. The second time the windlass remote started to fail. I use the remote while hanging off the bow to the floats. Not being able to use the remote forces me to go to the forward hatch to use the wired remote then back to the bow (back and forth and back and forth). Ugh!
While I am trying to work the windlass, I realize that there is something on our anchor. And then Matt shouts at me that he lost port propulsion. WTF! He has starboard propulsion but that makes the boat steer to the side. What a mess. I am still investigating the issue with the anchor. Matt and I switch places so he can remove the coral that was wedged on the anchor. Third time is a charm. Safely anchored, we go back to help Mike.
The next day Matt figures out that the port shifter cable is damaged. Lucky for us we have a replacement (spare). The end pin was disconnected from the cable and no longer working. It took most of the morning, but Matt was able to replace the shifter, shifter mechanism, and cable! You can see our old 19-year-old shifter was a little corroded (but it still worked). We replaced it and will do the same on Starboard.
We took the windlass remote apart, checked the batteries and connections and it started working again. Two problems solved, check and check!
The Tahanea atoll guardian stopped by to have us sign his guest book. Then a local fishing boat stopped by an hour later and sold us yellow fin tuna for $10.
We ended our productive day with a gorgeous sunset.
Coming up next:
- We take the new DJI drone out for its maiden voyage
- Happy hour on Sugar Shack with Rhapsody, Easy, and Imani
- A swim with manta rays
- Rock art
Mike’s finger was severely crushed as was part of his foot (from the windlass). He did not break either, but has lost skin, has blisters and is a bit of a mess. We doctored him up – he will heal fine.