Migration to Tahiti

The migration from the Gambier Archipelago to the Society Archipelago is about 900 nm if we were to go direct.  However, we decided to head north toward the Tuamotus Archipelago then west toward the Societies which ads several hundred miles and days to our journey.

The first leg of this migration is from Taravai, Gambier to Tahanea, Tuamotus.  This passage is roughly 664nm direct and should take us 5-6 days.  The predicted forecast is for light winds, little rain, long, rolly seas.  We put up our largest spinnaker (200 square meters), since we were anticipating light winds.  We call her “Big Bertha” and she is super colorful   Usually, we take down our spinnakers at night and just run the “working sails” (main and jib) as a “just in case”.  But the winds were super light at 6-8kts and predicted to stay that way all night.

Night 2 – dun dun dun

Matt wakes me up around 2:00am announcing a pending storm.  We need to douse the spinnaker and raise the working sails.  I grab a rain jacket and make a quick trip to the bathroom.  I should have skipped the 2-minute bathroom break.  By the time I got to the deck, the wind gusted to 26 and blew out our sail.  Insert all sorts of explicates here!  We rush to the bow to pull the sail out of the water. 

Yes, Matt could have doused the sail by himself and I could have peed my pants.  Both options would have saved the sail.  Hindsight is 20/20.  But the good news is that none of the sail pieces got caught on the dagger boards, rudder, or prop!  We will try to repair her in Tahiti.  She is 22 years old. Farfugnuggin!  The lower left photo shows you where the sail ripped.

The top two photos show you the huge wind shift and gust of wind.  The bottom right photo is the parasail that we put up afterwards.

On our 5th night, we had a guest on board.  A silly, dirty boobie.  It is so hard to be mad at these birds as it is clear they are tired and just need a place to rest before continuing on their own personal migration.  But man, oh man do they leave a nasty mess!

Part I of the Migration: Gambier-Tahanea

  • Total Miles to Destination:  664nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:  710nm
  • Top Speed: 11.0kt
  • Average Speed:  6.1kt

Notes:  Super beautiful sail with the light wind coming ENE and the seas coming from ENE to E.  The seas were large at 2m, but they were long and lazy and came with long intervals in between.  We ended up sailing 46nm out of our way to maintain the wind speed.

Don’t miss our blog post “Ta Ta Tahanea” where we explore this stunning atoll for the last time.  Coming up next week.

Tahanea to Fakarava

This is the shortest part of our migration.  The tricky part is trying to time the outbound passage through the Tahanea pass with the inbound passage through Fakarava.  Unfortunately, it just does not work out.  So, we decided to leave Tahanea at the midnight outbound slack time with the hopes of arriving at the Fakarava inbound around 9a-10a in the morning. 

Typically, we don’t like to transit the passes at night because you cannot see what the water is doing.  Is it truly inbound or outbound current?  Are there standing waves?  What are the eddies doing?  Too many unknowns.  But we have tracks from a previous transit and a wee bit of the moon light and forged our way out with no issues.

The winds were light at 10-12kts from the East on a perfect beam reach.  We started with full working sails (main and jib) and were making a respectable 5-5.5 kts of boat speed.  At dawn, we lost the wind, dropped all sails and motored.  We hoisted our spinnaker but that only gave us 3kts of boat speed, so we took her down and reverted back to the motor and the jib.  This would ensure we arrive during incoming tide in Fakarava.

Super peaceful and beautiful passage to Fakarava.

Part II of Migration

  • Total Miles to Destination:  48nm
  • Total Miles Sailed: 55 nm
  • Top Speed: 11.0kt
  • Average Speed:  6.1kt
  • Total time at underway: 11 hours

Fakarava to Tahiti

We had light winds predicted for this trip.  We left the North pass at 3:00pm and had 238nm to Papeete.  An expected 2-2.5 days.  Since we did not want to arrive at night we decided to just go with our working sails.  We set them up wing on wing which means the main on one side and the jib on the other. 

We could have flown our spinnaker or parasail but then we would arrive at night – and what’s the point in that.  So, we enjoyed a nice, slow, leisurely paced sail.

Sugar Shack under sail using the spinnaker (this is our medium sized 150 square meters spinnaker as the large one (200m) was ripped on the way from Gambier to Tahanea.

  • Total Miles to Destination:  238nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:  246nm
  • Top Speed: 9.3kt
  • Average Speed:  5.5kt
  • Total time at underway:  1 day and 20 hours

I ended up writing separate blog posts for Tahanea and Fakarava so be sure to read the next few weeks to catch up on our adventures on these two atolls.

A celebration and sad farewell to the Gambier Archipelago. (see passage post).   The migration began 25 Feb. in Gambier and ended on 26 March in Tahiti.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

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