Category Archives: Passages & Crossings

Beautiful Sunset behind the dock at Hao

A Putt Putt Passage to Hao

It’s like tearing a band right off – do it quickly so it stings less. After a leisure morning of boat yoga, we said “see ya again” to our friends and began our passage toward Hao.  It is only about 450 nm and should technically only take us 3.5 days if the winds were favorable.  However, the weather was predicted to be very light winds which would extend our passage another 1-1.5 days.

It started out as a really beautiful day, 7-8 knots of wind filling our full main and jib.  We don’t often fly with full sails so when we do it is a truly appreciated.  We put out the fishing rods and settled in at an easy 5 knots of boat speed.

However, we completely lost our wind the next day.  We had glass seas so calm we could see our reflection.  It was a true mirror image.  The photo below was taken while we were under way even though it looks like we are at anchor!

Passage to Hao - Calm Seas

Passage to Hao – Calm Seas

We enjoyed several beautiful sunsets and a full moon each night.  It was so fabulous to wake up for the night shift to a bright and beautiful sky.  You could still see all the stars, but Mr. Moon lit our way.

The next day the wind came back enough for us to raise a sail and shut down the engine for several hours.  Saving a little diesel.  Sweet.  But our last day we ended up motoring the entire day and night.  We did slow down on our last night to time our arrival at sunrise and at slack tide (will explain “slack” tide below).

Hao in the Tuamotus

The image below shows the entire atoll of Hao.  The green circle indicates the pass and the arrow indicates the village.  As you can see, the island is long and skinny with the airport being on the northern end.

The atoll of Hao in the Tuamotus

The atoll of Hao in the Tuamotus

Pass to Hao

The Tuamotus are famous for their “tricky” passes into the atolls and the many bombies (coral heads). All of the islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago are “atolls” and the atolls each have a pass to enter into their lagoons.  An atoll is a ring shaped reef with a lagoon in the middle. The pass to Hao is well marked and fairly wide.  However, you have to enter at slack tide.

“Slack” tide occurs when the ocean is the same level as the lagoon inside the atoll.  That can occur between 1-4 hours before or after high or low tide.  Each pass at each atoll is different. If you enter at the wrong time you can have up to a 20kt current pushing out the wrong way.  If you time it right it will either be 0 or it will be a gentle 3kts pushing you in the direction you want to go.  We thought slack tide was between high and low tide (we had no internet to look it up).  We were lucky though.  When we entered at sunrise, there was only a 3kt current against us.

This is a photo of outgoing tide against a 4 meter marker.  This was probably a 3kt current.

Marker at the Hao Pass with a "slight" current

Marker at the Hao Pass with a “slight” current

With both engines running at 1800 RPM we were traveling about 4.5 kts as we approached the entrance.  When we hit the current, we dropped down to 1 kt of forward motion.  Most boats can only travel between 5-7 kts (on average) so if your current going against you is stronger than that, you will never make the entrance.  We got lucky.  There was a smaller monohulls that had to wait 3 days to get into the lagoon as she could not go faster than the tide.

Entering the Hao Passage at Sunrise

Entering the Hao Passage at Sunrise

The Anchorage at Hao

There is an abandoned marina (previously used by the French Navy) that is often used as a free mooring for cruisers.  When we arrived, three monohulls were tied up to the concrete wall.  We decided the concrete wouldn’t do us any favors so we anchored out in the lagoon (all by ourselves).  The top photo shows the main doc and the bottom image is the abandoned marina.

Dock and Marina at Hao

Dock and Marina at Hao

We’ve enjoyed some gorgeous sunsets in our private lagoon.  The top photo is from land looking out of the lagoon and the bottom is a sunset photo taken from Sugar Shack.

Sunsets at Hao

Sunsets at Hao

Passage Details

Departed Taravai in the Gambiers Archipelago Saturday, 18 May at 1030am

Arrived Hao in the Tuamotus Archipelago on Wednesday, 22 May at 0530am

Miles Traveled 460nm

Max speed 8.7

Average speed 5.0

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 pull up full sails.

Passage: Easter to Mangareva

As sad as we were to leave Easter Island early, we were super excited to get to French Polynesia.  This passage from Easter Island to Mangareva, Gambiers is about 1500nm and should take us 12-14 days.

Trip Details:

  • Departed Easter Island on Sunday, 31 March at 10:30am
  • Arrived Mangareva, Gambiers on 11 April at 0900
  • Miles Traveled 1,482
  • Max speed 11.7
  • Average speed 5.6
  • Sailed most of the way, had a few motor sailing days

I know you are already caught up with details of this passage as Matt posted “Real-Time blogs” between 31 March and 11 April.  But here are a few more highlights:

The first 3-4 days were crap!  We got stuck in a whirl pool of confused seas and raging winds.  It was an unbelievable set of days bashing in and day out.  It was uncomfortable and nerve racking hearing our boat smash into these waves and get tossed side to side.  According to our weather forecasts, there was a HUGE southerly storm causing the problems.  We were able to stay away from that particular large stormy beast, but it did cause smaller squalls and poor weather conditions for us.

Storm on passage to Gambiers

Storm on passage to Gambiers

At one point, a smaller storm formed off of our port side, screwed up Otto (our auto pilot), and made the boat do all sorts of crazy stuff.  It took us about 2 hours to get the boat “right” and back on course.  And per usual, this was around 2am.

Storms all around us

Storms all around us

The one that got away

On our 6th night, just before sunset and as Matt was taking a nap, we heard ZING!  We had been trolling for the past 800nm and had no nibbles or bites, nada!  I woke Matt as the reel let out more than ¾ of the line.  It kept on going and going and going.  Damn, a big fish.  It took Matt 1.5 hours to reel this guy in to the boat and he fought him the entire time.  We finally got a look at the fish under water and it was a 400lb Marlin.  Crap.  One: how do we get this guy on board? Two: we don’t have enough space in our freezer for this big of a fish.  We didn’t want to gaf him as that would severely injure or kill him but we did want our lure back!

Matt trying to reel in a 400lb Marlin

Matt trying to reel in a 400lb Marlin

Sucker swam under the boat, got the line caught on either our sail drive or prop and broke the line.  Well, I guess that solves our two problems.  I was riddled with guilt that the poor fish was stuck with our lure in his mouth.  Matt assured me it would rust out within a week.  We did not even get a decent photo of him.

Marlin that got away

Marlin that got away

Another beautiful sunset to end our day

Land a Ho:

For some reason, this passage seemed to drag for me.  Maybe because it was back to back with the other 11-day passage or maybe because of the foul weather, but I struggled.  It was a great relief to finally see the Gambiers on the radar, just before dawn.

Arriving Gambiers

Arriving Gambiers

The feeling of relief was quickly replaced with the feeling of dread as we entered the channel.  It was blowing 35 knots, with choppy seas, and a 2kt current.  We buried the bows at least 2’ in the water multiple times.  Yikes!  Reefs all around us made this a bit treacherous.  However, we arrived with out any issues to an anchorage with white caps.

An anchorage is an anchorage and we were happy to drop 90 meters of chain in 18 meters of water!  Done!  Whoop Whoop!

Pacific Passage to Easter Island

Matt dutifully posted “Real-Time Pacific Passage blogs” while we were at sea.  So, I will not bore you with another rendition of the same passage, but I will give you some highlights.

Technically, this is part II of our Pacific Passage as we started from Valdivia to Robinson Crusoe (500nm) and now from Robinson Crusoe to Easter Island.

The anchor was pulled up at 1030am on 16 March with approximately 1625 nm to Easter Island from Robinson Crusoe.  We anticipated it taking 12-14 days to make this trip.

Sunset Photo

Sunset Photo

A few days we averaged 170 nm a day, but for the most part we averaged 130-150 nm a day.  At the end of the trip we sailed 1,655 nm with a max speed of 13.2 and an overall average speed of 6.2. A remarkable 11-day sail with decent winds.

The only disappointing mishap was a ripped spinnaker.  We were flying our small spinnaker which is good to 20kts of wind.  A squall snuck up on us and as we debated taking it down, POP!

Picture of Spinnaker happy and flying

Spinnaker happy before she wasn't

Spinnaker happy before she wasn’t

Matt and Spinnaker unhappy

Ripped the clew right off the small spinnaker

Ripped the clew right off the small spinnaker

We were thrilled to sail up to Easter island are so looking forward to exploring this mystical island.

This map gives you an idea of where we sailed from Valdivia, to Robinson Crusoe, to Rapa Nui.

Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island

Robinson Crusoe and Easter Island