Tag Archives: tahiti

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.

Twinkly Tahiti

I had to show you a fabulous side of Tahiti after our last blog on derelict boats.  We enjoy a live concert called “Rock the Dock” with our friends on Liward and we visit another fabulous lunch surfside.  If you look, not even really hard, you find the twinkly side of Tahiti.

Rock the Dock

Steve on Liward hosted another live concert, but this time in Tahiti. He plays with different locals depending on which island he is located at.  He has done this for years so he knows people everywhere.  In Tahiti, he plays with La Guitune (or Guy) who plays the electric violin!  I’ve never heard an electric violin before, but he played it so amazingly well.  Think of the Charlie Daniel’s Band “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” fiddle playing – truly impressive. I posted a video on my Instagram account if you want to hear him (christine.mitchell4) on 13 November 2021.

Steve and Lili set up a huge pop up tent, powered the speakers and sound system and set up chairs for the many fans.  

The stars for the night.

The fans were plenty. We ended up having well over 35 people enjoying the live music.

SNACK TAHARU’U on the Surf

Steve and Lili took us to a new place to eat called Snack Taharu’u. It is a cute little place located about 20 minutes from Marina Taina. It is situated on beautiful black sand and has a patio overlooking the surf. 

Usually many locals are showing off their surfing talents here, but on the day we went, the seas were super unhappy making it too difficult to surf.  But there were some brave body surfers (can you see them in the 3 photos on the right) and tons of people playing the river mouth.

It was a gloomy day, but we made the best of it.  As did some of the locals who made a shelter out of the drift wood.


On the way to the snack, we stopped at a beautiful marae right off the road.  It was so easy to get to and really lovely.  There are two tikis in front of the marae (spiritual site).

The grounds were immaculately kept and well cared for with a clear path leading you to the sacred grounds.

The marae is the only marae that has been 100% restored.

We had some fun posing in front of the statue.

And some more craziness…

It was time to say goodbye to Tahiti.  We need to make our way towards Gambier and the easiest way to do that is to go through the Tuamotus.  On our last night we had a marvelous sunset over Mo’orea and I was even able to capture the moon.


Derelict boats of Tahiti are showcased on our last blog.   Events from this blog post occurred early November.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Derelict Boats of Tahiti

Yeah, we are in Tahiti still.  Can you feel the sarcasm oozing off the page?  I know, most people think of Tahiti as a truly exotic and beautiful place to holiday, but for us as cruisers it is a congested, city where we have to provision, refuel, and get boat parts.  In addition, we are sandwiched between many derelict boats.

The tourists typically stay in resorts with private, white sandy beaches, negative edge pools, air-conditioned rooms and a full staff to wait on you hand and foot.  We unfortunately do not have the same experience.  Where we anchor, which is directly across from the Intercontinental hotel’s over the water huts, there are lots of derelict boats.  Why do we anchor here then?  I’d like to say it’s because these ugly, abandoned boats make Sugar Shack look like royalty, but that is not why (really, its not). We anchor here because the water is shallow, 2m, sandy, and good holding.  And we can get internet, for free, from the hotel.  Yep, you got it, that is really the real reason we anchor here.

Derelict Boats

Marina Taina is about 1-1.25nm from here.  The airport anchorage, where most boats anchor is another ½-3/4 of a mile away and downtown is about 2.5-3nm away.  Not convenient, but these are our only anchoring options.  The marina is saddled with many abandoned boats.  They move these derelict boats from the marina slips (where they can fill with a paying customer) out to the mooring fields (which they own as well).  And then they are left to die.  It is so sad.

The last time we were here, there was a small monohull tied to another monohull called Voodoo Child.  We returned 5 months later and the small monohull had sunk with its mast sticking above water.  It sank in 2 meters of water so it is no surprise that the mast is above water.

Sunk derelict Boat in Tahiti

Sunk derelict Boat in Tahiti

I swam over to it and got some photos of the inside which has been stripped clean (looters).  You can even see where they tied the rope to a wench and the broken line that is tied to the mooring.

There is a blue boat that is abandoned but still floating happily.  However, when you swim underneath it you find a sea garden on the prop, rudder, and hull.

A neighboring catamaran lost its mast last year.  It is super close to the boat that sunk.  And another mono is left abandoned near those two.

Derelict Boats

Derelict Boats

Takai Boat Sinking

A small monohull on a mooring in front of Sugar Shack looked like it had owners because there was a canvas tent over the cockpit.  But we never saw anyone on the boat during the entire time we were anchored here.  Then one morning we work up to it sinking.  Yep, the entire bow was taking on water.  We took photos, posted it on the local French Polynesia Cruiser Facebook page, emailed the marina, Port Authority, and DPAM.

They responded within 30 minutes and the marina sent 4 people out with a pump to make repairs.  They worked for hours to get all the water out and then fix the issue.  Since we don’t speak French, we don’t know what the issue was, but it has been floating since they left.

We’ve heard that France has strict laws about jettisoning derelict boats. I am not sure what those rules are but evidently, they are strict and French Polynesia cannot take abandoned boats (devoid of batteries, fuel, and harmful elements) out at sea.  All of the marinas and yards have abandoned or derelict boats that they can’t get rid of which costs them lots of money.  It is really very sad.

But, lucky for us, we are still in crystal clear turquoise waters, with sunny skies, green hillsides, and lovely Tahitians.  Always a matter of how you look at it and we chose to look it through rose colored glasses.

Our Yamaha 25hp Enduro gets repaired in our last blog.   Events from this blog post occurred early November.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.