Tag Archives: hao

Hanging out in Hao

We decided to rent bicycles during our stay in Hao since we were pretty far from the main village.  We found one place who wanted to rent us electric bikes for 3000xpf a day ($30) per bike.  WTF!  No way, then they came down to 2000xpf per day and we still said no.  So the local proprietor of the pension (hotel) we were at using their internet said she could find a couple of bikes.  Ok.  About 90 minutes later she came back and said ok I have two bikes for $800 ($8) per day.  

They have two wheels so they must be bikes

You know what they say “beggars can’t be choosers.”  My bike was missing a pedal, had no handle grips (so my hands turn orange from the rusty handle bars), no brakes and a bald back tire.  Matt’s bike had a wobbly, flat back tire, no brakes and a chain that was too big and kept falling off.  Both bikes were so old and rusty that there were no repairs to fix our issues – but they got us from point A to B.

Lovely rental bikes

Lovely rental bikes

Hoodoo, Matt, and I decided to ride our bikes to the North end of the island past the airport to the pass.  We were not sure if there is a path that goes the entire way, but we are going to give it the ole college try.

Hoodoo has folding bikes that are pretty rusty but they get them to where they need to go.  So, we hope on our bikes and head out. 

We were totally surprised to find a nice paved path the entire way to the pass.  It was a 7.2mile bike ride, one way and we were rewarded with a beautiful cool breeze by the pass.

Hoodoo at the pass

Hoodoo at the pass

A new boat came in and tied to the basin behind Hoodoo.  They came from Panama and should not have arrived in Hao as their first stop as FP is technically still closed.  Anyway, they begged and asked for forgiveness.  They were each fined and are quarantined to their boat for 14 days.

Making the Lemons out of Lemonade

So, we decided to have a BBQ on the dock, in front of their boat to welcome them to FP.  It was super wonderful as they are from Spain and played amazing Spanish music. 

Beach BBQ

Beach BBQ

A few hours into our evening a couple of local folks came by to join us.  Then it was a “band off” where the locals would play a song then the Spaniards would play a song.  Super unique and amazing experience.

The next day, one of the Spaniards gave a yoga class from his boat.  It was a sorry a$$ attempt with a bunch of misfits, but we stretched our bodies and gave sun salutations.

Nake – The Heart and Soul of Hao

Legend has it that you have not visited Hao until you have visited Nake.  We could not miss out on the opportunity to see if this was true.  Sea Jay, Hoodoo and Sugar Shack all left the confines of the old military basin.  It was a beautiful, sunny day with a strong 20kts of wind coming from the East. 

We hoisted the main sail and unfurled the jib.  It was a blistery sail with us pushing 7-8kts most of the 26nm to the Nake which is the southernmost point of the atoll.

A little over 4 hours later we dropped the hook in 5 meters facing a pretty beach lined with palm trees.  

Hake in Hao

Hake in Hao

There was not much to do or see ashore and there was a very unpleasant odor so we headed back to the boat.  We headed to a new anchorage called Orare which was a little sand bar that stuck out from the motu into the lagoon.  Much prettier spot with better water.

We went for a walk around the motu.  Matt wandered off by himself so I ended up exploring with Yanell and Missy.  On our way back we found signs of Matt.

We found a little area where some locals piled rocks together to make a BBQ pit, table and sitting area.  Really pretty spot.

Main Village of Otepa

We anchored outside the quay just off the main village of Otepa.  This would allow us much better access to the “village, magasins, and internet.”

Hao at dusk

Hao at dusk

This is one of my favorite shots.  We were onshore at the quay looking out at Sugar Shack at anchor during sunset.

Hao at sunset

Hao at sunset

We only stayed one night as we wanted to meet the supply ship which was scheduled to come the next day in town.  The hook was dropped near the village so I could do some internet and try to get our blog up and running again. It has been dark for months because I did not have internet to upload photos and posts. Le Mairie (the Mayor’s Office) offers free internet on the weekends and from 4-9p on the weekdays.  I camped out and made some friends.

Beautiful sunrise over Otepa in Hao.

The Taporo ended up not having any fresh produce, no flour and no beer.  So we basically waited for over a week for nothing which was disappointing.  We decided to move to the pass anchor spot to be prepared to depart at the first opportunity.

Pass Anchorage

It took us several attempts to find a safe anchorage by the pass.  There are lots of reefs, bommies and unsuitable spots.  We finally found a spot to drop the hook.  We were looking for a good weather window to head NW to Tahanea.  Unfortunately, these winds were not in our future.

There are several small motus near the pass.  The bottom photo shows the red and green markers of the pass.

A strong maramu was predicted and we wanted to leave before it came.  We made what some might call a “rash” decision to leave.  Up at dawn we headed out the pass during slack tide.  Not sure you would call this slack tide as there are standing waves bouncing Sugar Shack all over the place.  It was not as scary as others, but certainly not as pleasant as most.

We were given a beautiful sunrise

Wouldn’t you know it – the 2nd supply ship, with the fresh produce was waiting outside the pass as we left.  Some people look for gold at the end of the rainbow, but in these remote islands, we look for the supply ship.

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures.  See previous post on Hao.


Disaster Strikes – Maramu

One of the reasons we decided to tie up to the old basin was because there was a maramu (storm) in the forecast and we wanted to avoid a disaster.  The four boats in the basin took all of the necessary precautions – or so we thought.  Let me paint a picture.

The old military basin is an upside down “U” shape with the entrance at the opening of the U.  The wall on the right, facing the lagoon is taller and has a 42’ mono and Sea Jay 50’.  The taller wall proved to be a life saver for these two boats.  The opposite side of the U, where we are, faces the shore.  The wall is at an angle where we are tied up and then it straightens out where a mono and our friends on Hoodoo are located.

Preparing for a Maramu

Holding us to the dock were (2) bow lines (one from port and one from starboard bow peaks), (2) spring lines and (2) stern lines (port and starboard).  In addition, we had (4) large, round A4 fenders and (2) F4 fenders between us and the dock and al of the fenders were touching the water when we went to bed.  Everything was secured and stowed on the deck and bow.  But we did leave up our sun/rain shades to try to prevent a flood of water coming into the cockpit.  We also left out our cushions which are “secured” to the boat.  

We’ve been through several maramus and we were not expecting a disaster.  Normal water level is shown below.  The tide flooded the basin so much that the bottom of Sugar Shack’s Port hull threatened to land on top of the dock.

Maramu Strikes

Fast forward to 11:30pm at night when Matt and I are woken up by a horrible bashing noise, winds blowing over 42kts, thunder, and lightning, and pounding rains.  We jumped up and realized SS was banging (not rubbing) against the concrete wall.  The lagoon was filled so high that it flooded the basin raising the water level at least 1.5 meters.  That in and of itself would not have been bad if it was not accompanied by a meter swell which tossed SS almost on top of the dock several times. 

It took Matt, Yanell, Missy and I everything we had to keep her safe.  In the pouring rain, we added (4) more F4 fenders between the boat and tried to push SS off the dock.  About an hour later the storm subsided and we saw the damage — a rather large 1/4” dent that was about 1 meter wide with lots of scratches.  Nothing we can do in the middle of the night.

Maramu is Not Done with Us

Then at 0230 another, stronger storm hit.  We had lowered all the fenders and placed fenders floating in the water to prevent SS from continuing to bash against the concrete.  What a disaster! Running between SS and HooDoo to make sure all of our boats were safe.  If you can imagine the rain falling so hard that it actually hurt our faces!  We could not wear hats because the wind would blow them off.  It was terrible.  Unfortunately, SS took the brunt of the storm because we were closest to the entrance and on the slanted part of the dock.  We blocked the majority of the waves and storm from Queen B and HooDoo.  (Nice of us, right?)

Around 0400 the weather calmed enough for Matt to go out in the dingy to put an anchor out in the middle of the basin.  He then attached it to our starboard mid-cleat to pull the boat further off the wall.  Around 0430 we finally got an hour of sleep.  By sunrise we were evaluating the damage and trying to figure out what else we can do to prepare for Thursday’s storm.  We added a stern line from starboard to a mooring pulling the stern further away from the wall and adjusted all the lines and fenders again. Luckily Thursday night was only 30-35kts of wind, little rain, and no flooding.  We scared it away with all of our preparedness.

The Damage

We almost lost one of our 2-meter cockpit cushions and a sunshade.  Both caught up by the lifelines and saved.  We had one sunshade tear before we could get it off and we lost 2 fender covers.  But the worst damage is the hull which could have been a much bigger disaster.  We don’t think there is structural damage.  We have a thin layer of fiberglass, then honeycomb, then fiberglass.  But there is about a 1/4” dent with lots of scratches that stretch across 2 meters of the port hull.  We will have to repair it when we are hauled out (Tahiti or NZ).

Sea Jay lost a small cockpit cushion but found it the next morning as a local was carrying it and walking away.  Lucky them.  HooDoo and Queen B have some small scratches on the hull that will buff out.  Yesterday we spent the day adding anchors and lines to all the boats to keep them off the dock making the basin an obstacle course but will help us avoid further disaster. 

The good news is that we are all safe and unhurt.  The boat can be mended.  We are lucky.

Weather Predictions Get it Wrong

Matt took a screen shot of Predict Wind’s screen which showed what was predicted and what came through.  Unfortunately, it does not give minute by minute updates. In addition, it never accurately showed the wind strength, amount of rain or correct wind direction.   But it gives you an idea of how “off” weather predictions can be. In and of itself that is a disaster. 

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures. 

Our New to Us Parasail

Downwind Passage: Gambiers to Hao

After we left Rikitea, we headed to Taravai for one last visit with our friends Herve, Valerie, Alan and Ariki.  We needed a day of rest before our downwind passage. Plus, it is a good excuse for a beach BBQ and volleyball.  Stefan had left us with several fish that we cooked up on the grill along with chicken and lots of sides.  We loaded up on my tasty fruit from Herve’s garden and wore ourselves out with a few volleyball games.

Our friends on Sea Jay (Fred and Chris) and on Hoodoo (Yanell and Missy) were planning on heading to Hao in the Tuamotus as well.  It’s funny as we are all American catamarans and we all left at the same time.  Strange coincidence.

Leaving Gambiers

We got up early to begin our 3.5/4 day downwind passage.  But evidently, not as early as Sea Jay and Hoodoo.  They left about an hour before us right after dawn.  I had to stop to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and give a proper goodbye to this amazing archipelago that has been so good to us.

We left at 0700 and could see our friends up ahead of us with their head-sails.  Sea Jay is in the front with a large spinnaker and Hoodoo is just behind them with their parasail.  Hoodoo is a 38’ Leopard whereas Sea Jay is a 50’ St. Francis custom boat.

We started out flying our large spinnaker.  This is our largest downwind passage sail and reaches from the top of our mast to the waterline.  She is very colorful with blues, green and pink.  We can fly her in light winds up to about 10-12 kts.  She is an asymmetrical kite which means we cannot actually go directly down wind.  We have to go slightly off course to fly her.  But the good news is that the weather forecast had us going east off the rumb-line anyway.

Our Large Spinnaker

Our Large Spinnaker

In the middle of our first night we had shifty winds and big seas.  We were seeing 3 meter seas in 8-10 second intervals.  Good that there was plenty of time between waves, but bad because they were large seas.  The wind picked up, as it usually does late at night.  We decided to do a sail change.  We took down the large spinnaker and put up the parasail (another downwind passage sail).

Our New to Us Parasail

Our New to Us Parasail

New to Us Sails

Reminder…last February, in Nuku Hiva, we purchased two “new to us” downwind sails.  A small spinnaker and a parasail.  We had never flown the parasail before – well except one time in the lagoon when we taught ourselves how to set and take down while sailing in the lagoon.  The small spinnaker is about the same size as our small spinnaker which is in need of repair.

First 24 hours of passage down

In the first 24 hours we managed to fly 3 head sails (large spinnaker, small new spinnaker, and the parasail) and our jib.  In other words we were up most of the night doing sail changes trying to accommodate the wind and ensure we do not overpower the sails and blow them out.

We caught up to Hoodoo within a few hours and then lost them from view a few ours later.  Sea Jay kept to the rumb-line (direct path from Gambiers to Hao) and we veered east.  We lost them on AIS and out of view by sunset.  Lucky for us we have communication via our satellite systems.  Great first day of our passage. 

  • Miles Sailed:  136
  • Miles to Go:  324
  • Max Speed: 9.7kt
  • Average Speed: 5.4kt

Day 2 of our Downwind Passage

We started our day changing back to the small spinnaker as we had winds of about 15-16kts and 3-meter seas.  This sail can hold its shape a little better in higher winds.  We did do a few sail changes to accommodate a pending storm, but came back to the small spinnaker.  This is a really pretty blue spinnaker that dances just above our bow sprit.

Our New to Us Small Spinnaker

Our New to Us Small Spinnaker

We were both tired today as neither one of us got much sleep the first night of this passage.  A few naps and an attempt to fish all day netted zero fish on board.  Maybe tomorrow.  We did have several birds stop by for a visit.

  • Miles Sailed:  153
  • Miles to Go:  171
  • Max Speed:  11.5kt
  • Average Speed:  5.7

We had an expensive day today.  We were flying the “new to us” small spinnaker while the winds were blowing 12-14kts with no problem.  All of sudden we heard a “pop” and down went the sail. It tore from the top all the way down the seam to the clew.  Crap.  Into the water like a heavy water logged fishing net.  Of course, we had multiple fishing lines out as well. First things first, reel in the lines, then secure the sail that was remaining on board.  We determined that most of the sail was under the port hull so we started the starboard engine and put it in reverse.  This caused the sail to float in front of the boat (instead of under).

We successfully got the entire sail onboard and stowed it.  We will have to take it out while at anchor to see what happened.

Photos taken once we got to shore.  We think the rip started from a small tear on the leading edge and under pressure tore straight across all of the panels near the top.  

Small spinnaker ripped

Small spinnaker ripped

Once the top portion was separated from the bottom it ripped the bottom opposed leading edge off from the seam.  This second rip happened while we were trying to secure the boat and get the sail down.

After that big blow out we were a little gun shy to fly another head sail.  So, we decided to raise the main and fly the jib.  However, we could not get the main up past the first reef.  After a diagnosis, we discovered the main halyard (the 100-meter line that lifts and lowers the 300lb sail) had a section where the cover had separated from the inner coil.  It does not decrease the strength of the line but it did prevent us from raising and lowering the main.  Since it is pitch dark out we will have to fix this in the morning.

Passage Day 3

The next morning, Matt was able to sew the lower portion of the main halyard but he could not reach the top portion until we lower the sail.  It will need to be replaced when we get to Tahiti, Argh!

The winds have shifted to the East and the swell has gone down to 2-2.5 meters which is a nicer ride.  The skies are blue and the sun is out.  Would be nice if we could get a little more wind to fly the head sail.

Passage Day 3.5-4 

We decided to slow the boat way down after we realized we would not make it in time to enter the pass during slack tide (when there is little to no incoming or outgoing current and swell).  So, we dropped the main and reefed the jib to avoid having to drift once we arrived.

Why is it that you go “fastish” when you want to go slow and you go slowish when you want to go fast?  As it turned out we arrived at the pass at 2200 which meant we had to circle or drift for the next 11 hours.  We ended up drifting about 8nm out, came back and went out again.  Waiting for sunrise and slack tide. 

Hoodoo arrived around 0500.  Then we both drifted until 0900 for slack tide.  Entering the pass is always a challenge as you never know what you are going to get.  Hoodoo was closer so they went first and we followed.  We both saw about a 3.5kt outgoing current which was not terrible.  It was in fact rather easy with auto pilot steering the boat.

Arrived and Tied Up

Sea Jay helped Hoodoo tie up and then they all helped us.  Love this community!  The last time we were tied up to a dock, where we could walk off the boat to shore, was back in Costa Rica after our lightning strike (over 2.5 years ago).  This will be a treat!

Tied up at Hao Basin

Tied up at Hao Basin

A small mono, Queen B came in the day after we arrived (they left the same day we did but it took them 36 hours longer than us).  They decided it was best for them to squeeze in between Hoodoo and our boat.  We had told them they could medmoor (stern tie to the wall) yet they squeezed their entire boat sideways in.  It took both Hoodoo and us to secure them and a few choice words.  They are French – nothing else needs to be said!

Here is a link to another boat’s passage from Gambier to Hao.

Not the ideal downwind passage we had hoped for, but we made it safely.

This post was written in May 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures.