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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.