With the 30-knot wind still roaring through the rigging on July 6th, we knew our decision to wait out the “mamaru” was the right one. We’ve talked with other sailors about the decision-making process aboard a boat. The worse reason for making a decision to depart in inclement weather is because you have to be somewhere by a certain time. This is the kiss of death to a cruising sailor.
In our case, we “had” to be in Tahiti because we had scheduled a haul out. On top of all that, we weren’t certain the yard could handle a boat our size so we needed time to get to an alternative yard if that proved true. To add icing to the cake, we (for the 2nd time in our life) had actually purchased a non-refundable ticket from Tahiti to Boise, Id.
It would have been easy to say “Hey, we’ve sailed in 20- to 30-knot winds before, how bad can it be? The difference here is we have no local knowledge. I’d read about the ferocious Polynesian mamaru’s, strong winds and waves that build from the southeast to southwest and blow for up to three days on end. We made the prudent choice of asking a French boat anchored nearby what he thought, he said “stay put.” Decision made, but we’d have to hustle now to make our haul out time since our time buffer was now gone.
|The fulfillment of a lifelong dream.|
|You are kind of stuck taking "selfies" when you are in the middle of the ocean.|
As we rounded the southern point of Tahiti, I saw a disturbing sight and asked Meryl for our powerful Fujion Image Stabilized binoculars. Toward the reef strewn shore at Vaiau Pass I saw a sailboat high up on the reef. Most wrecks look like wrecks. This one didn’t. The sails were still up and flagging in the breeze. We dared not get any closer but kept a close watch on the boat for any signs of life. More about this later.
We paralleled the long reef for about 10 miles, debating which pass to enter into the lagoon at Port Phaeton. We don’t have good cruising guides or information about Tahiti so it’s a little more tenuous for us sailing in unfamiliar waters. We passed the world famous Tea’hupu Reef, one of the most famous surf breaks in the world and host to the upcoming Billabong World Surfing Championships. We continued north and opted for Teputo Pass, which turned out to be very calm and well marked. By following the widely spaced buoys we motored right up to Port Phaeton, a famous hurricane hole located between the big island of Tahiti (Tahiti Nui) and the little island, Tahiti Iti.
We anchored quickly and launched the dingy to go see the yard manager, Yvan, about our haul out. A young, smart Frenchman from Breton, Yvan, showed us the new trailer/lift they had just purchased. According to the marking on the lift it had ample capacity for a boat of our weight. I asked Yvan how many boats they had hauled out with the new lift, “Oh,” he said hopefully, “you will be number two!”
|"We're pretty sure it will fit on the trailer."|
|"We're a little less than pretty sure it will fit on the trailer."|
|Our new home for two weeks after we return from the States.|