A few extra days in the Leeward Islands

We left Tahaa and Raiatia on Thursday and intended to make one overight sail of about 130 NM to Moorea to join the Pacific Puddle-Jump rendesvous on Saturday and Sunday in Cook´s Bay. Right out of the gate it was an uncomfortable slog to windward in 30 knots of wind almost right on the nose. After a few hours of purgatory we decided to take shelter back in Huahine, which was right on our track anyway. It was a good move. The wind just continued howling. We anchored close to the village at the north pass in 15 feet of water, the anchor dragged, but set well at the second attempt.
Richard and Cliff were not impressed with the very rough passage just endured; 15 foot seas and many 20 feet as well. On several occasions we had the lee rail right under the water as we beat hard into the wind under triple-reefed main and full staysail. Richards beach-walkers got sucked and lost overboard through a draining scupper. We left the genoa rolled and did not even bother to unfurl it. Whilst it was rough and we were sailing on our ear, it was not unsafe; Mayaluga loved every minute of it, just what she was built for! She kept us secure, but very wet as we had several deluges of solid water right into the cockpit drenching us all. Fortunately this is the South Pacific so we usually dried off within minutes without getting too cold.
Ashore in Huahine we enjoyed a lunch at the “Huahine Yacht Club”, a fancy name for a bar restaurant sporting a convenient dinghy dock. We strolled into town and were surprised by the relatively modern supermarket, outrageous prices by Canadian standards, but stocked with a good variety of stuff. My eye caught a pile of Tahiti 2018 calendars, one page per month. Great gifts to take home I thought! OMG, every page a naked Polynesian girl – hardly appropriate, except maybe for a couple of friends of dubious taste, that we know! The one item I have not been able to source anywhere so far is a new propane regulator for our BBQ. I walked the streets of Papeete a couple of weeks ago, marine stores, garden stores, supermarkets, Ace Hardware, all without success.
With the wind forecasted on Predict-Wind to continue into the weekend, both Cliff and Richard were not looking forward to us beating back the 130 miles to Papeete directly into the 30 knot winds and high seas, so that they could make their flights outbound to USA on Monday. They made a visit to the Air-Tahiti office on the waterfront and booked direct flights Friday evening to Papeete. They were going to get a return ferry trip from there to visit Moorea on Sunday, which is today.
We said farewell and ferried them ashore with their luggage. Hugs, tears and fond memories remain. It was particularly good to get to know Richard much better, and can now count him as a close friend, as is Cliff from Ontario. Thanks for your wonderful company, your humour, and your willingness to pitch in and help with sailing, cooking, and ritual dishwashing! You two guys have been amazing company! We have laughed and had such a good time. You really became an entertaining comedic team on occasion, by design, because although you are both severely hearing impaired since birth, you can joke about it, and we thought it was hilarious! We are still sitting out the weather here in Huahine, fortunately in “Hana Iti”, a delightfully protected spot on the SW side of the atoll with white sandy beaches and wonderful snorkelling. We are the ONLY boat here. Karin is baking Banana Bread, the aroma is tantalizingly good, and we will pack a picnic lunch and go ashore to swim off the beach in that amazing crystal clear water. We are in about 45 feet of water and can see the bottom quite clearly. I am hoping when we are ashore we will make connection with the old Polynesian granny, “Ramy” that Richard and I met last week when we were here at this same spot. She lives about a mile into the bay. She is missing most of each of her teeth, and based on her smiling squint, probably has poor eyesight as well. Richard and I wondered how much pain she endures from those half teeth, with no possibility of dental care down this side of the atoll. We will take her a pair of reading glasses that we keep on board for just such opportunities, and hopefully she will be able to see close up again.
All being well, we are going to leave here just before first light tomorrow (Monday 26th) and Karin and I will beat to windward back to Papeete in weather that is now settling down to more normal tradewind conditions of 15 knots. Lets hope the seas have settled down a bit as well.
Although it had not actually occurred to us prior to these last few wonderful weeks in Tahiti and its islands, our first order of business back in Papeete will be to research a safe haven to leave Mayaluga in French Polynesia for several months, hopefully on the “hard” in a designated hurricane hole. The chance is however quite slim that a space vacancy is still available; many other cruisers have similar plans. If it is possible, and our insurers agree, then we will come back to British Columbia for 9 months and then return back down here for another sailing season in 2018. We believe we could easily spend three months in the leeward islands of French Polynesia alone, without getting bored. Every anchorage is beautiful in its own unique way, and we have hardly had time enough to enjoy any of it because of our unplanned protracted stay in the Marquesas waiting for engine parts. If this is not possible then we will leave for home via Hawaai by July 9th, after hopefully securing competent crew to help with watch-keeping on this long 20 plus day windward passage.
We are about to jump in and have a salt water bath before heading off to visit Ramy. Yes, we do have salt water soap, and our open-water bathroom is very private. ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link.
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