May 25 - Rangiroa

We rented bicycles for 1/2 day at 500 fcp (1000 fcp for a full day) and went into Avatora, about 6mi., to the other end of this motu where the other pass is. There was more vehicle traffic than we expected, and several clinics, a bank with ATM, several good magazin's (stores), lots of dive outfits, a few pearl sellers, a couple churches, lots of small private lodging facilities and a few restaurants. People were friendly and the streets were clean.
We went with a few other folks to snorkel Tiputa Pass, but the current was fast and it was so deep we didn't find it all that exciting. We (Matt is still nursing an earache so he stayed back)then snorkeled the west side of Motu Fara, a small sandy motu just inside the pass, where we were able to tie our dingies to buoys set in the coral. There were hundreds of fish, and our friends had brought pancakes to feed them. It was great fun to have them come up and hand feed right in front of our eyes, but we didn't let the large fish get all that close! A few morey eels swam out from their hiding place, and there were a few sand sharks resting on the bottom. We then took the water taxi (250 fcp pp) over to Tiputa (across the pass), and walked thru that small village for a bit before returning by water taxi to the other side and lunch at the wharf. There are about 8 boats here now, and 3 boats expected this morning on the tide. Weather has been blustery, with squalls coming from the E, ENE and ESE directions. Holding is good; we're anchored in 34', sand, and there are a few low scattered coral heads about. Btw, Sue's managed to upload (on very sketchy internet connection!) several new Picasa photo albums - enjoy!

May 22 - Rangiroa, Tuamotus

S14deg58min/W147deg38min We departed Manihi @ 0730 yesterday, and had a straight down wind sail the 100mi. to Rangiroa (wind was ENE 10-15 knots the entire time). Unfortunately the waves and swell had us rolling quite a bit, so sleep was sketchy. Rich and Jan on sv Slip Away were within sight the entire passage. We entered the pass at 0815 today, and are anchored with 9 other boats. This is the second largest atoll in the world; 40 mi. long and 17 mi. wide at its widest point. The ring is formed by about 240 motus (islets), and we've read there is good snorkeling and a 'Blue Lagoon' to explore.

May 18 - Keeping busy in Manihi

Manihi has been a good spot. There are a multitude of anchorages available, although we've chosen to anchor nearby a motu called Tatetate, at coordinates S14deg27.893min/W146deg02.120min. When the water clears you can see large coral heads abound, so getting our anchor up may prove to be a challenge. Fernando has dropped off fresh baguettes to all the boats daily, and yesterday fresh coconut bread was available. We dropped our laundry off at his place, and met his daughter Wendy and wife Stella. Getting laundry done here is somewhat expensive at 1500 cfp per load, but we had so much to do from our passage here that we felt it was a good investment. Sue still does some of her stuff aboard, and we've started using a hand roller that fits on top of a 5 gallon bucket to squeeze most of the water out of the fabric, as our hands get so tired of squeezing water from everything before hanging stuff up on the clotheslines strung around the boat. Between the clotheslines lines and the lifelines, we look like a laundry scow with our underwear, shirts, sheets and towels flying in the breeze; quite the site! The small stores here sell basic food stuffs, and when the supply ship comes, fresh veggies are available. Fernando has been most accomodating to all the cruisers, and he can arrange snorkeling excursions, spear fishing, a picnic or pearl farm visit for anyone interested. The anchorage now has nine boats here (1 French, 2 Canadian, 2 Aussie and 5 American) with 3 more expected arrivals in the next day or so, and Fernando told us that there were 30 boats here for the Blue Water Rally last year. We've drift snorkeled the pass a few times and haven't found it as interesting as the pass at Fakarava, but worthwhile none the less. For those cruisers headed this way, a stop in Manihi is highly recommended.

May 14 - The Picnic

We had arranged a picnic visit to the Blue Lagoon with Fernando, one of the village chiefs of Manihi, of the northwest Tuamotus group. There were four boats, whose eleven people were picked up by two private pangas shortly after 0830. We traveled high speed the 15 nm with several brief stops along the way for Fernando to point out local places of interest. The "Blue Lagoon" is an area in the most northern and eastern part of the lagoon, and has lovely beaches and reefs around it. The yachties were joined by Fernando's sister Eugenia, her husband John, their son Jean, nephew (sorry, can't recall his name) and their cousin Kelani English, the Hawaiian senator from Maui. We stopped at a small beach where the fun and action began. First off, palm fronds were gathered and a small fire started. Coconut bread was made: water, flour and and freshly ground, grated coconut. Then several of us went along fishing in one of the pangas. While the locals spear fished, we used hand lines aboard with bait of octopus and hermit crab. The sharks were circling as the guys put their catch in a floating basin they trailed behind them. We didn't get anything with the hand lines, but the spearguns found their targets often, and we returned to the beach to find the meal in full preparation. Jean had cut down a small palm tree for the heart of palm salad. Several fish dishes were prepared - poisson cru and grilled fish, as well as coconut bread, breadfruit, salad made with hearts of palm and local plants, and ice cold coconut milk. What a feast! Everything was natural - our dishes were made of palm fronds, and we used coconut shells as well. There were no utensils; we used our hands to serve ourselves and eat. As the fish were prepared, the smaller ones were set aside and our son, Matt, got to "shark wrestle." The object was to bait a piece of line, get the shark to chase and finally grab it, with the intent to sweep him up onto the beach where someone else would grab his tail. There were a few close ones, but the final tally showed the sharks won by a landslide; no shark was captured! Ukeleles, guitar, and local percussion were then taken out and to our delight, all our hosts sang and performed for our group. It was finally time to go back to our boats, and we split into our two groups and left the beach the way we had found it - no debris or evidence of our having been there - just our footprints. As we rode home, Fernando again stopped at a few places, one a small islet in the middle of the lagoon where we took pictures and tasted one of the small oysters that abound here. Eugenia and her husband serenaded us on ukulele and guitar all the way back, with the sun setting in the background. It was a wonderful day, and a chance to experience for a brief time the way the ancient Polynesians lived - the gathering of natural resources and the preparation of meals in a totally natural environment. It was a picnic we'll remember for a long time.

Passage summary

Total nautical miles from Lahaina (Maui) to Manihi (NW Tuamotus) - 2632
Avg. nautical miles per day - 114.4
Avg speed - 4.8
Fish - 2
Total motoring time - 62 hours
Thoughts: Matt: "this was a LONG passage." Sue: "LONG and one I wouldn't want to repeat." Me: "ditto!" We don't find much to recommend this passage unless you're in Hawaii and want to head to Marquiti (Marquesas-Tuamotus-Tahiti). You're hard on the wind much of the time on port tack, hanging on by your fingernails. Fish, for us, were scarce. The boat has to be (as it should be) set up skookum, and you will, no doubt, find leaks you didn't know you had! In our case, total boat repairs will be quite modest, thankfully. So, all in all, we've done it, we're here safely, and we give many thanks for our many blessings and opportunities. For those of you following us along, we hope you've enjoyed the adventure!


Position: S14deg27min/W146deg02min
Day 22's run: 98 nm
Avg speed: 4.1 kn
Wind: E-ENE 15
Seas: E 4-6'
Sails: motored the last 4 hours to stage for going into Tairapa Pass
Ship's log: 2632 nm
We sailed thru the night, slowing the boat down to go thru the pass into Manihi at high tide. This last day's run reflects that, as well as motoring for four hours to keep the boat slowed down enough to make the tide. We were met outside the pass by Fernando, a local who lives here, and he guided us to a beautiful anchoring spot with protection from the easterly winds. We're safely anchored and it will take a few days to unwind and kind of gather our wits after three weeks of non-stop sailing 2632 nm from Lahaina. I'll collate the details of our passage in the next few days and post them when completed. For now, a well deserved rest!

May 11 - Day 22 We're almost there

Position: S13deg35min/W145deg06min
Day 21's run: 126 nm
Avg speed: 5.3 kn
Course: 200
Wind: ESE 15
Seas: ESE 6'
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Ship's log: 2539 nm
We had a comfortable night sailing and this morning it's been blue skies and sunshine. We're happy with slower speeds now, as we have to time our approach to the pass into Manihi for about high tide or the slack tide, which occurs an hour after the high tide. We were given tide information by the gentleman who runs the SailMail station on Manihi, Xavier Michel, which indicates that high tide tomorrow is at 1:28pm. So, right now we have about 87 nm to Tairapa Pass, and about 24 hours or so to cover that distance, which translates into an overall speed we should be doing of 3.6 knots, but we're going much faster than that. Our strategy is to continue at whatever speed the present wind allows us to go to our first waypoint NE of the atoll, which we should reach at about 11:15pm, then slow the boat down to a crawl for the last 35 nm run to the entrance. In that way, should conditions change this far away, we'll be much closer to our waypoint and make any necessary speed adjustments once we've reached it, rather than make assumptions from 87 nm away. Get it? It really does get the crew into some strategic decision making and since we're closing land, in my eyes the most important part of the entire passage is the next 24 hours.

May 10 - Day 21 - Nice sailing

Position: S11deg41min/W144deg18min
Day 20's run: 129 nm
Avg speed: 5.4 kn
Course: 195
Wind: ESE-SE 22-25
Seas: ESE 8'
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Ship's log: 2413 nm
We had a pleasant night sailing and this morning brought a stiff SE-ESE 22-25 knot breeze. We're tracking well to our waypoint. Not much else new to report. Our French flag is ready to be hoisted!

May 9 - Day 20 Another nice night

Position: S09deg42min/W143deg34min
Day 19's run: 130 nm
Avg speed: 5.4 kn
Course: 195 T
Wind: ESE 18-20
Seas: ESE 6'
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Fish: we won't be fishing for a while....
Ship's log: 2284 nm
We made fast miles last night in a stiff ESE breeze. We were all so tired from landing that big yellowfin and had sore hands and backs. Weather's been pretty consistent, we're on track to our waypoint NE of Manihi. All's well aboard.

May 8 - Day 19 Happy Mother's Day - "Fish on!"

Position: S07deg41min/W142deg58min
Day 18's run: 116 nm
Avg speed: 4.8 kn
Course: 195
Wind: ESE 12-15
Seas: ESE 4
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Fish: 2
Ship's log: 2154 nm
Happy Mother's Day to all moms! We had a beautiful night sailing under starry skies in 12-14 knots of wind. No squalls, no lightning, and plenty of rest for everybody. Which was a good thing for Matt, as a fish was hooked at about 1145 and he landed a 26 pound tuna. We can't ID it accurately, but it has two separate, small dorsal fins; one midbody and one aft, dark black/gray/silvery stripes running longitudinally down its belly and lower sides and a black tail. If you know what it is, please email and let us know. So, besides breakfast made for her, Sue gets fresh sashimi and enough tuna steaks to last a long while. We all hope this spell of good weather continues. Newsflash! We just hooked and landed the largest yellowfin tuna we've ever seen, yet alone landed. Overall length 5'3", tail tip to tip 2', girth 40", weight ?? 80-100 pounds?? We had to take the mainsail down and use the main halyard to a loop of line we had gotten around the tail to winch him onto the deck. What a production. And all on a hand line! Happy Mother's Day, Sue!!

May 7 - Day 18 More squalls

Position: S05deg48min/W142deg44min
Day 17's run: 111 nm
Avg speed: 4.6 kn
Course: 175
Wind: 15
Seas: 6-8'
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Fish: two lines are out; no fish so far
Ship's log: 2038 nm
Conditions are challenging. We had calms where we had to motor during the early evening, but at least we ran the watermaker. Then the winds picked up, and the lightning and thunderstorm activity kept us all awake. We used the radar to dance around the squalls, at one point doing a kind of semi-circle around a large cell that was on a direct intersecting course. We had gray skies and more squalls this morning, with sustained winds of 30 for about a half hour, gusting to 38. Nothing like variable conditions, lots of sail handling, a bit of sleep deprivation and longing for a good cheeseburger and fries to keep us all a bit crazy. Are we there yet?

May 6 - Day 17 Then we heaved to...

Position: S04deg08min/W142deg28min
Day 16's run: 109 nm
Avg speed: 4.5 kn
Course: 200 T
Wind: well, we'll have to discuss that....
Seas: as I said above...
Sails: 2nd reef main; jib
Fish: lol!
Ship's log: 1927 nm
The entire night was spent under 100% cloudy skies watching sheet lightning play out, and an occasional bolt from one of the larger cells in the distance. The morning was no different; 100% overcast and heavy rain. I figured we were either in a weak LP (low pressure) system (barometer 1007), part of the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) or just a regular convergence zone our friendly forecasters couldn't see, as these unstable weather areas pop up and dissipate so quickly, often right before your eyes. Well, the winds picked up from the low 20's to high, but the seas started looking a bit different to me; spray driven foam tops from multiple directions, and I said "Enough, let's heave to." Infini had no trouble heaving to on port tack; the main was off to starboard a bit, and the helm turned to windward about 10-15 degrees and tied down. She settled about 60 degrees off the wind, just like the books say it's supposed to happen, and our speed dropped to avg 1.5 knots. I didn't see that "slick" that Lin and Larry Pardey talk about, but the winds were less than 30 and the seas about 6-8', so maybe conditions weren't that severe enough for that. Nearby was thunder and lightning, and it was pucker time. We couldn't determine the direction of anything - was this cell going parallel to us, on an intersecting course, or away from us? Sheets of rain fell as we strained to hear the thunder and try to figure out if the cell had moved. About an hour later the winds dropped to about 16 knots and the rain had tapered just a bit. The radar wasn't much help, as all it showed was a large blob that looked like something ready to eat Chicago, so we figured it was time to boogie on down the road. We put the jib back up and were making good time, just not in the direction we wanted, but at least it appeared to be "away" from the blob. Well, this has been one way to spend an interesting night and morning....

May 5 - Day 15 Dancing with the squalls

Position: S02deg26min/W142deg07min
Day 14's run: 112 nm
Avg speed: 4.7 kn
Course: 175 T
Wind: ESE 15 kn; port beam reach
Seas: ESE-E 6'
Sails: 2nd reef main, jib
Fish: 0
Ship's log: 1818 nm
We had a pretty good night with a few squalls, but daybreak brought gray skies and squall line after squall line. The winds weren't too bad; mostly low 20's in the gusts. I've shortened sail to the second reef in the main sail as Max has an easier time of it in the short, choppy seas we've got, and we furl in or let out the 105% Yankee jib (on a Profurl unit) depending on the wind strength. About 775 nm to Tairapa Pass into Manihi.

May 5 - Day 15 It's good to be south!

Position: S00deg37min/W142deg02min
Day 14's run: 102 nm
Avg speed: 4.3 kn
Course: 180 T
Wind: ENE-ESE 13 kn
Seas: NNE-ESE 4'
Present speed: 5.7 kn
Sails: single reef main, jib
Ship's log: 1706 nm
Well, it's been a long haul to the Equator, and we sure are glad to be back in the southern hemisphere. It seems we've had to motor for 4-5 hours each day in no wind (we're talking like 3 knots!), so our 24 hour runs and average speeds are way down. (We motor @ 1400-1500 RPM's, averaging 4.5 k.) This morning we've found a light ENE wind, but with the flat seas, Infini is moving along smartly. We've been out now two weeks, and it's still another week or so (about 900 nm) to our destination; like I said, this has been a long haul. We're all a bit sleep deprived, down below is hot (86 degrees F), smells a bit "lived in"....and have about five tons of dirty laundry to take care of, but the sun's out, the motor's off and we're sailing....Btw, our Vesper Marine AIS Watchmate went off again last night; this is the third ship we've encountered enroute.

May 4 - Equator Crossing!

Ship's log - 1666 nm
Time - 0125
Position - 0000/W142deg02min
Speed - 3.5 kn
Course - 160 T
Wind - ESE 10
Seas - ESE 2
Wx - partly cloudy; barometer 1009
We've crossed the Equator and had a proper, although subdued due to the early time of the morning, celebration. This is Sue and myself's third crossing, and Matt's second. It's good to be back in the southern hemisphere. We could easily see the Southern Cross constellation right off our port bow earlier in the evening; it was like seeing an old friend we hadn't seen in a long time.

May 3 - Day 14 - More motoring

Position: N00deg53min
Day 13's run: 102 nm
Avg speed: 4.3 kn
Course: 145 T
Wind: ENE 7 kn
Seas: ENE 4'
Ship's log: 1604 nm
We've been in daily radio contact on SSB radio with four other sail boats: Sea Flyer, Reflections, Soggy Paws and Windy City. Like us, they all departed Hawaii for somewhere in "Marquiti" - the Marquesas-Tuamotus-Tahiti area. We've been motor sailing since 4 pm yesterday afternoon, as the less than 10 knots of breeze we've had is not optimal to move our 21 ton boat. That's why we carry lots of diesel! We put up the Code Zero sail today, but in the 6 knots of wind and 1 knot current, even IT couldn't get us moving but, at least the seas are relatively flat!

May 2 - Day 13 More motorting, but good easting

Position: N01deg42min/W143deg40min
Day 12's run: 104 nm
Avg speed: 4.3 kn
Course: 110 T
Wind: ENE 12 kn
Seas: ENE 6'
Ship's log: 1503 nm
We had to motor 5 1/2 hours last night; midnight to 0530, about the same as the evening before, and again, with a strong current trying to push us west and south, exactly opposite of where we'd like to be heading. The early morning was a wall of gray skies. Squall followed squall, but the rain and wind weren't strong. In a NE wind of the early day, we made good progress in our easting, often tracking even a bit north of east; now the wind is ENE, and our track has fallen off a bit. We've applied sail repair tape to the last of the leech tears, the one between the 1st and 2nd reef cringles, so we can at least use the full main again when the wind moderates. We've traveled over 1500 nm - are we having fun yet, or what?!

May 1 - Day 12; there's always some excitement

Position: N02deg41min/W144deg43min
Day 11's run: 99 nm
Avg speed: 4.1 kn
Course: 145 T
Wind: ENE 16 kn
Seas: ENE 4'
Ship's log: 1399 nm
We had a strong equatorial current wrecking havoc with us most of our evening. First, the wind shifted so we tacked but were unable to make effective steerage as the wind rapidly fell below 10 knots. We ended up motor sailing for 5 1/2 hours, something we had discussed and planned in our strategy sessions at the dock; when the wind died, motor to make easting. However, we didn't take into account the strong current against us, and ended up making 2-3 knots for most of the evening until a nice 15 knot ENE wind finally appeared. Unfortunately, it was followed by numerous squalls and our old mainsail just wasn't up to the stress. We had considered having a new mainsail made when we reached Honolulu, and had quotes from various sources made. We also had a local professional sail maker from a reputable loft out to the boat to inspect the sail, and it was his opinion and recommendation that a new main wasn't needed at that time and that we were good to go. Well, we decided to take his advice looks like he was wrong. The sailcloth along the leech has parted, and one of the batten pockets gave way, so we're double reefed with a torn leech fluttering, but the sail is too wet to apply sail repair tape as a temporary repair. This affects our windward ability tremendously, so we're not sure yet where we'll make landfall; it will depend on wind and sea conditions as to what course we can make good with the damage sustained. All's well aboard; no worries. Newsflash - we've completed sail tape repair of about 10' of the leech from the 2nd reef upwards. We'll sail with the 2nd reef in the main to landfall, and plan more intensive sail inspection/repair there and in Papeete.

April 30 - Day 11; we're thru the ITCZ

Position: N03deg49min/W145deg41min
Day 10's run: 121 nm
Avg speed: 5 kn
Course: 140 T
Wind: ENE 16 kn
Seas: ENE 4'
Ship's log: 1300 nm
I think we passed thru the outer most western band of the ITCZ at around 2300 last night. We had a few squalls, one with winds of 40 knots, but otherwise no thunder or lightening. This morning brought partly sunny skies with a few scattered storm cells. We went thru one and recorded 30 knots; it's becoming an exercise in endurance....let the sail out, reef the sail, wait until we pass that next cloud bank that looks threatening...Our goal is to keep the boat moving, ideally in the direction we want to go, but that's not always the case!