Tag Archives: passage

Maupiti to Ilot Tautau (Taha’a)

It was really hard to leave Maupiti, but we needed to start making our way toward Raitea.  We had a great weather window toward Taha’a (Ilot Tautau) which is in the same lagoon as Raiatea.  The day before, we moved to the Maupiti pass anchorage to swim with the manta rays one more time and position ourselves for a quick exit.  On the day of our departure, we had North Easterly winds which were perfect for our short trip.  Up at dawn gave us a beautiful sunrise.

It is only 42nm from Maupiti to Taha’a/Raiatea which is about 8.5 hours.  We left at 0600 to exit the pass in “good conditions.”  We had 2.5 kts of outgoing current which helped us along.  Nice for us as we were exiting, but would be challenging for someone wanting to come into the lagoon.  You can see the large waves breaking on the reef on either side of the red and green markers.

We had a consistent breeze, small swell and pretty skies.  It was an ideal trip that took us 6.5 hours with an average of 6kts.  We arrived at one of our favorite anchorages and dropped the hook in 2 meters of stunning water.  You can see to the bottom and all the way across to the Bora Bora caldera.

Ilot TauTau (Taha’a Resort Island)

We anchored in our favorite spot which is near the Ilot Tautau where the Taha’a Resort is located.  We drop the hook in 2 meters of sandy water and get a beautiful view of the sunset behind Bora Bora.

A few calm days allowed Matt to explore on the SUP.  He left at sunrise and tried to go all the way around Ilot Tautau but the waters got to shallow (2-3”)

Day Run to Raiatea

We made a day trip to Raiatea Carenage.  We will be hauling the boat out to do some work soon and the owner needed to evaluate some fiberglass work.  So, we motored 2 hours from Taha’a to Raiatea.  The owner Dominique said he needed a few hours before we meet so we went to find lunch.  There is nothing around Raitea Carenage except another yard called CNI.  Neither place had a magasin or restaurant.  So, we went to Marina Apooiti where they have several charter companies (Sunsail, Moorings, and Tahiti Charter).  Surely they will have an eatery. 

Lucky for us, they had one restaurant called La Voile d’Or.  There were no customers when we arrived at 1200. We sat down ordered drinks and perused the menu.  Matt’s beer arrived luke warm and he was not pleased.  At 780xpf per bottle it should be ice cold, but nope.  The lunch prices were extremely expensive and they were out of Mahi. So, we finished our drinks and left.  Too bad as it is a really cute place with pretty ambiance.

On the way back we were able to motor sail part of the way and made it back in 1:45. All in all not a bad day trip and we received confirmation that the yard can do the fiberglass repair.

Back to Ilot Tautau to enjoy another gorgeous sunset.

The events on this post occurred in early September 2020.  Blog posts run about 6-8 weeks behind our adventures.

Pleasant Passage: Tahanea to Tahiti

Matt and I got up early, picked up the hook and started our passage.  We were anchored in the SE corner of Tahanea which is about 10nm from the pass.  The first part of our journey was a beautiful sunrise sail with the jib across the lagoon.  We were not in a big hurry as slack tide was at 0830 {the best time to exit the lagoon}.  We managed to arrive to the pass around 0745 and it looked manageable.  So, we ventured on.  We had the fishing poles out and the jib flying as we exited.  With a 2kt outgoing current we made it out with no issues, always a relief.

We had hope to catch a grouper or something as we exited the pass, but no such luck.  After we went through the washing machine of waves caused by the pass, we changed out the sails and raised the parasail.  Our first day was incredible.  We had perfect winds at 15-18kts from the east.  A 2-meter following sea that pushed us along toward our destination. 

All the Excitement Packed into 15 Minutes

Around dusk we were contemplating swapping the sails. A storm was forming on the horizon and we did not want to get caught with our “new to us” parasail up in high winds.  As we are discussing this, a nibble hit one of the poles.  Hmmm…then nothing.  Another nibble, then nothing.  Then another.  Finally, on the 4th bite we caught him. 

We both turned at the same time to see a beautiful marlin dancing across the top of the water.  Unfortunately, we had to let him run with the hopes of tiring him out.  We scrambled to swap out the sails to slow the boat down.  No easy task with the parasail up.  By the time we got back to the marlin he was gone.  He did manage to take a Sugar Shack souvenir with him, Matt’s new lure.

Probably a good thing. Reeling in sailfish is long, hard work.  Then once you get it to the boat you have to be careful not to jab your fiberglass hull with his protruding hard nose.  Matt was disappointed though.

A few minutes later, our jib suddenly started flapping. I am stunned as the working sheet (line), holding the jib in place, was gone!  Yep, gone. How the heck does the working sheet, with a full load, fall off?  We tacked (moving the jib to the opposite side with a working sheet).  Evidently, the knot on the starboard working sheet came undone while under load.  Maybe when we surfed down a wave and the sail luffed, who knows.  This has never happened to us – ever.  Really strange.

Day 2

Our second day had us flying our parasail again but in lighter conditions.  We were losing the wind as it slowly came down to 10-12kts from the east.  It was really fun to watch the apparent wind and our boat speed.  As we surfed down a wave, our boat speed would exceed our wind speed (zoom in on the photo to see the Raymarine screen).

Matt finally crashed hard on the 2nd night.  I took the 1130-0330 shift.  As we neared Tahiti, we started to see some boat traffic.  Always a good sign.  But it was strange that they all popped up at once.  Nice to be in company on a dark and lonely night.  No moon, no stars, and no phosphorescence. 

Arriving Tahiti

Tahiti welcomed us with a fresh wash of the boat.  Rain and gloomy day.  It is always a good way to end a passage with a fresh rinse of the boat.  Even though we did not have a lot of salt water on her as it was a following sea.

We entered north pass just around 1000.  In Tahiti, you enter through a pass that gives you access to a passage between the shoreline and the reef.  All vessels entering the pass must call into port control.  Port Control monitors the traffic in the passage and ensures the boats do not interfere with commercial traffic or air traffic with the neighboring airport.

We travel about 2 miles down the passage toward our favorite anchoring spot in front of the Intercontinental Hotel.

Passage Details:

  • Total Miles Traveled: 285
  • Max Speed:  12.5kt
  • Average Speed 5.8kts
  • Total Time at sea: 48 hours

This post was written in July 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures.  Be sure to see previous posts on Tahiti, go to svsugarshack.com and click on “Society Archipelago/Tahiti”

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.