09 Jun Passage to Kauehi, Iles de Tuamotu – Wednesday, 6 June 2001 to Saturday, 9 June 2001
Passage to Kauehi, Iles de Tuamotu, 522 nautical miles 15.56 South, 145.10
Wednesday morning Don and I were drinking our morning latte in the flying bridge, our morning ritual, and discussing life in general. We planned to pull anchor and head off for the 45 nm trip to Fatuiva, but decided instead to begin the three day passage to the Tuamotus. We were ready for a change. Since it would have been a six and a half hour passage to Fatuiva, the boat was close to being ready for the longer passage. Donna commandeered the galley and quickly cooked up a large noodle dish and a large rice dish. Food was flying in all directions, she was working so fast. She always prepares a couple of meals before we leave on a passage, in case the seas are too rough to cook while underway. We are all on different meal schedules, as well, and anyone can nuke a bowl of food in the microwave anytime they want to eat. Don and I take the late morning and early night shifts (0600-0900/1800-2100 for Don and 0900-1200/2100-2400 for me) so we usually eat around 1800, our regular dinner time and sleep through the night. Rob and Donna, on the otherhand are on watch the late afternoon and early morning shifts (1200-1500/0000-0300 for Rob and 1500-18000/0300-0600 for Donna) and sleep during the day. They eat dinner at midnight or 3am. All four of us spend our time doing two watches during a 24 hour period and spend the remainder of the day eating and sleeping. If the motion of the boat is not too bad we can read or work on the computer during our off time during the day. At night we listen to books on tape or study French by listening to tapes.
The bad news is that this passage was sloppy. The wind was blowing 15 to 28 off our port beam, which in itself shouldn’t have been too bad but the distance beween the waves was short and the boat rolled in a jerky, fall-off-the-wave motion that was very uncomfortable. The waves of up to 14 feet banged against the port side of the boat, over and over again. If we tried to read or work on the computer in the pilothouse, we felt like puking. We could read if we were down low in the boat in the guest stateroom or laying down on the sofa in the main salon. The rule of the day (and night) was to never move about the boat unless one hand was free to hang on. We walked about in a funny little duck waddle. Often it felt like one step forward, one step back, two steps sideways, one step forward. This is the passage form of exercise. Oh well, you get used to it and it works muscles that you didn’t even know you had. In addition, you exercise all night in bed as the jerky motion of the boat tosses you about. One night Don and I slept sideways in our queen size bed. It’s a good thing that we are short and can fit crossways.
We arrived this morning at 0500 and we hung out until 0630 so we could enter the pass in the reef in daylight. We dropped anchor right inside the pass and again waited until the sun was high before we crossed the large lagoon to anchor near the village of Tearavero. This atoll is exactly what I imagined the South Pacific to be: a coral reef encircling a large lagoon, white sand beaches, coconut palms and on top of it all, a beautiful blue sky. Welcome to Paradise. Here we will break out the water toys: snorkle, scuba dive and paddle and sail the kayaks.
There is only one other boat anchored off the village, Chewink, with our friends Cabot and Heidi Lyman and their 23 old twin sons, Drew and Alex. We met them briefly in Haanavave on Fatuiva. Because they have a beautiful boat, Don went over to introduce himself and to visit with them. As it turned out they knew our guest on board, Neil Rabinowitz, who had done some photography for them at their shipyard, Lyman-Morse in Thomaston, Maine. This is their second voyage to French Polynesia; their first was a three year voyage around the world when the boys were nine years old and the twin’s older brother was 12. In the afternoon they take us ashore and introduce us to their friends in the village, who they met on the previous trip, Xavier and Tania Chebret. Xavier is the lay priest and ex-mayor. They also introduced us to Edward and Rosina Temere. Edward is the current mayor, one of four school teachers in the village and the music director at the church. We ask permission to record the singing in church the next day and are greeted with a warm welcome. We then walk the village and I take pictures of the church in the late afternoon light. We go to Saturday evening mass at 1830; Heidi and Drew go with us.