It was sad to leave Hao because we did not get an opportunity to explore the island the way we normally would. Neither one of us got in the water, swam, snorkeled or went diving. We didn’t change anchorages or see any of the beautiful beaches. We focused on getting my ankle better, provisioning and doing some internetting. It just means we will have to circle back to this little slice of heaven. So, it was time to lift the hook and begin our route to Tahiti.
And the Fun Begins
For the most part, lifting the hook (anchor) is relatively easy. Matt and I have a good routine down with hand signals that reduce the stress on the boat, anchor, and chain. However, before raising the anchor, we realized it was wrapped around something. We assumed it was a bombie (coral head). It was obvious something was off by the direction and pull of the chain in the water.
When we arrived, we dropped the hook in 12 meters of water 8 days prior. We put out 70 meters of chain and used 4 floats to keep the chain off the sea floor and above the coral heads. Even when you do everything right, bad things happen. We were able to lift 20 meters of chain before the windlass ground to a stop. Matt slowly maneuvered the boat forward, backward, and sideways while I tried to continue to free the chain. After about 20 minutes, it gave and continued up.
Tangled Up in Rebar
Another 10 meters and we saw what the problem was. One of our floats had caught on another float that was attached to two 8’ x 8’ pieces of rebar. WTF! The rebar pieces each had several floats attached to them. What a disaster!
Matt was able to hack one line away to free one of the 8’x8’ pieces of rebar which promptly floated away. We hated that it drifted away as it might become a problem for another cruiser, but there was nothing we could do as we were still attached to the 2nd piece.
After more boat maneuvering and another 40 minutes, we were finally able to bring the last piece all the way up in order to hack the line and release it. This piece sunk. Ugh! Again a potential problem for another cruiser. Our anchor still was not coming up so Matt had to do some more maneuvering before I was able to lift it up. And when she came up, she was slightly bent – out new, stainless steel anchor.
It was truly a frightening experience because each time Matt backed down the entire bow, bow sprit, anchor roller, and forestay lurched forward and then popped back. It felt as if the front of the boat would literally rip off. Luckily, it was more bark than bite.
Leaving the Hao Pass
Finally, on our way, and 40 minutes behind schedule, we pushed the engines hard to get to the pass as close to slack tide as possible. (See blog from 8 August on slack tide). The ideal time to exit the pass was 1500, but due to our anchor delay we approached at 1545. We could see white caps and rough water ahead, but there was an outgoing tide. We approached the pass with 6 kts of boat speed and by the time we hit the center we were going 12kts (so we had 6kts of current). It also pulled us from the port side of the pass to the center where the waves were more violent. But we made it out safely.
The trip to Tahiti is starting off rough, but we were finally on our way. The weather forecasts showed little to no wind, so motoring we go. Two days later we found just enough wind to hoist our large spinnaker. She was flying beautifully for several hours until a rogue wave bounced the boat and collapsed the sail just enough to catch the clew on a cleat on our bow peak – rip. Thank goodness it was only a 3’ tear. We were able to pull the sail down and repair it with rip stop. However, by the time we were done, we lost the wind. It took another 30 hours to get the wind back to fly her again – good as new.
Fishing in the Pacific
We have not had much luck fishing (or trolling) since we came through the Panama Canal (March 2018). We’ve caught several fish, but none that were edible. In fact, it has been well over a year since we caught an edible fish. But that all changed on our route to Tahiti. We caught a small, but fat tuna!
Arriving Pointe Venus After Dark
We managed to time our arrival after dark so we had to change our route from Papeete to Pointe Venus off of Mahina. Normally, we don’t enter a new anchorage at dark as it just isn’t safe. However, our research and charts showed this bay to be wide-open, deep and protected from the wind and waves. We also got feedback from cruisers on our SSB net so we felt comfortable with entering after dark.
- Departed Hao on Wednesday 29 May at 1545
- Arrived Tahiti on Sunday 2 June at
- Miles Traveled
- Max speed
- Average speed
- We had two days of no wind and had to motor, but then we had two days of light wind and were actually able to fly the spinnaker.