Sunday, July 31, 2016

Running the Passes

Hello from Tikehau!  We are anchored in the beautiful, smaller atoll of Tikehau, Rangiroa's neighbor. We are the only boat here and are enjoying the solitude.  Even though Tikehau is right "next door", getting here was an all day affair.  Over dinner on Friday night, Adrian, David and I discussed and studied the tide tables for Rangiroa, and picked the brains of locals to get an idea of tides for Tikehau. We were told the tides were pretty much the same, so we worked on the Rangiroa tides for entrance into Tikehau.  In theory, you should leave and enter the passes on a slack tide.  Because the water in the lagoons have only the one pass to enter and exit, the tides rip through at incredible velocity, causing rip tides and eddies, and standing waves...fun, fun, fun!

So, again, in theory, we should have left on Rangiroa's slack high tide, which was at 10:00am...however, that would not have given us enough time to sail over to Tikehau and make the 3:00pm slack tide here.  So Saturday morning dawned, and the winds seemed calm.  We decided just to take the boat over to the pass to see what it looked like.  It was about 7:30am when we left, probably around 8:30am by the time we were at the pass.  From inside, it didn't look that bad.  Dave started motoring toward the pass entrance, and the next thing we knew, the boat was swept along in the outgoing tide, and doing 11.6 knots!  Dave says "should we just go?" and Adrian and I just say "yes"!!  While it was a little hair-raising, it only lasted maybe 30 - 45 seconds (but seemed like forever!) because the tide was so strong and just swept us out!  We had to crash over a few standing waves, and then we had cleared that pass!  Phew!!  The first part of the trip over to Tikehau was a bit bumpy, but then as we cleared the top of the atoll and were able to change course toward Tikehau, we had a great reach over in about 15 knots of wind.

We arrived at Tikehau at around 2:30pm.  Perfect, we thought!  We could enter on the 3:00pm slack tide and we would be golden.  Well...Dave's not one for waiting, and while we could see the current RIPPING out, we went for it anyway.  I'll admit, this one had my heart pumping a little (ok...a lot!).  We were full ball on the engines, with Dave keeping the boat in the center of the pass...coral on both sides.  No room for error, or for being swept out the center of the pass.  We were doing 1.6 knots through the water...it felt like we were not moving at all.  I just remember the roar of the engines and the roar of the water, and I was just willing the boat to go forward. EVENTUALLY we made it out of the main rip tide and we were in the atoll!  That was enough for one day...running the passes...not my favorite past time.  But the reward is this:
Cool Runnings at anchor n Tikehau
Today we took the dinghy to shore and explored a bit.  This atoll used to be a coconut palm plantation, so the amount of palms is astounding.  However, it also has a lot of other trees such as pines, making it very "green".  The sand is almost pink...absolutely beautiful!

Pink sand and turquoise water
There is a small settlement here, with a couple of pensions/bed and breakfasts.  There was not a whole lot going today, since it is Sunday.  We were very anxious to find out where we could purchase our daily baguette, and eventually found out that we have to place our order at the bakery in the morning, and then the bread is ready at about 4:00pm in the afternoon  (so no baguette breakfast for us tomorrow!).  We found where the bakery is, it just looks like someone's home (and probably is).  The wind is pretty strong right now, and is forecast to be strong again tomorrow. According to the forecast, it dies a bit on Tuesday, so we will probably use that window to sail to Tahiti.  That will be an approximately 24 hour trip.   Let's hope the weather forecasts are accurate!  I'll have to report on exiting this pass in the next blog update!  Just for the record, it's just me (Gudrun) who has this fear of running the passes...Dave is quite comfortable with them (and I trust his ability completely!).

We were also pleasantly surprised to find a (very slow) WiFi hotspot, so while I have access, here are a few more pictures:
Uninhabited motu in Rangiroa

Updated Hibberd Family Photo!


That's all for now - until next time, farewell from Tikehau!

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you all looking so healthy & happy! The pics are beautiful and I am amazed that you managed to find a wifi hotspot in that tiny place in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean! How do the kids deal with the running of the passes? Are they afraid, oblivious, or just happy that Dad is, "handling it"?

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