Sunday, May 8, 2011

95 Miles to Go

At 1330 on May 5th, we finally left Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas Islands and pointed Rutea towards the Makemo Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The winds was from the east and we were heading almost due south, the skies were clear and the seas calm. It was glorious - near ideal conditions. That held all through the night and the following day. Yesterday, though, it began to cloud over and the wind lightened. Once Rutea's speed got below four knots per hour, we reluctantly fired up the engine. Our guide books say that fuel is hard to find in the Tuamotus so we're trying to be as conservative as we can.

Just a couple of hours before we left Nuku Hiva, I sent out an email to all the boats cruising the South Pacific for whom we have an address that I was going to start an informal radio Net. Surprisingly enough, that night five boats checked in and the next night even more. Last night three boats checked in that I had never even heard of, much less have their email address. There is a certain section of the cruising community that really likes to keep in touch with other cruisers. The social aspect of cruising can be very pervasive, if you want it to be. Of course, there's also those who don't want any part of the community at all.

We're deliberately holding Rutea's speed low right now to time our arrival at Passe Arikitamiro, one of the two entrances to the Makemo Atoll, which is about 10 miles wide and 40 miles long. Here's the situation: As the tide comes in or goes out, all that water is trying to get in or out through one of those passes. If you add some South Pacific trade winds in the opposite direction of the water flow - which can flow at up to 9 knots per hour - you can get some impressive standing waves. All the guide books advise entering the passes at slack water but still, every year more than one cruising boat comes to grief while negotiating a pass. I can tell how hard it is to be patient after a long passage: The skipper and crew are anxious to get to some calm water, drop the hook and probably go for a swim. To sit outside an entrance for maybe up to 6 hours could tempt anyone to just go for it.

Since I completely failed to make any preparations for Mother's Day, I stood Ruthie's watch for her this morning and made a fairly organized breakfast. She commented that she can't recall spending Mother's Day in a more remote part of the world. Happy Mother's Day to all that have delivered babies and then went on to raise and nurture them. You guys must be nuts.
At 5/8/2011 8:19 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 15°12.87'S 142°55.05'W

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