Wednesday, August 01, 2012

SOCIETY ILES - Tahiti

As we left the Tuamotus, it was a 1-day, 2-night passage to Tahiti in the Society Archipelago. We started out with a nice breeze on a port tack broad reaching doing 6 knots over ground. We reduced sail to slow down the first night. Then about half way, things changed. The winds backed all the way around to SSW and piped up to a stiff breeze making the last 12 hours unpleasant. With the wind on our nose, we did what all sailors hate to do - motored into them - bashing away and barely making 4 knots.

Bruce and Jeannie (SV Jabula) who were within sight of us most of the way, in the end motor sailed by falling off the rhumb line to fill the head sail. This put them in the lee of the big island of Tahiti where the wind change around the island made for a quick sail at the very end, beating us by about 3 hours.

An earlier jesting discussion amongst us needled the gals for never being able to spot land before the guys. So on this passage, the challenge was on. Bruce did everything possible to draw Jeannie's attention to the hazy outline of the peaks of Tahiti by saying things like Is that a boat I see up ahead? but Jeannie never cheered Land Ho! On our boat, it was again the Captain who made the proclamation. I'm sure the challenge will continue.

On this passage, we were treated with the most unusual fish activity. Jordan noticed out of the corner of his eye what at first he thought were dolphins but he didn't see the obvious porpoising. Then we saw churning patches of water of frantic bait fish trying to escape their pelagic predators from below and now trapped between them and the avian predators above. We were going through a huge school of large tuna! They were all around Sea Turtle, and from the bowsprit we could actually see them plain as day speeding past. This rare spectacle kept us enthralled for about half an hour.

Just after noon, we arrived, pulling in behind the reef about 5 miles east of downtown Papeete Tahiti in front of the Yacht Club and dropped the hook in the protected calm (S17°31.340' W149°32.063').

The islands here are ringed with coral reefs offshore providing calm anchorages on the inside. On approach, you can see the obvious change in water colour to a light turquoise. There are various safe breaks or passes through to the inside channel. These channels vary in width from next to nothing to maybe 500 metres (~1,650 feet).

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