May 27, 2002

Message from Raiatea: An Update

By Lois Joy

We are back in civilization at last! I have access to the marina manager's computer, and the world of the internet again. Sorry, my readers, for the delay; now with access, the Pacific Bliss website is being updated, and we will continue to transmit the stories and photos of our adventures on Voyage 2.

Our passage from San Diego to the Marquesas took 21 days, a total of 3252 nautical miles, according to the log from our knotmeter, which reads a little high. We arrived at Hiva Oa, Marquesas on April 14. The stories of our passage can be read in the "Passage to the Marquesas" section of the Log and Journal.

We explored the Marquesan islands of Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Ua Pou, and exited from Nuku Hiva on Monday, May 6th. We rested one day in Comptroller Bay, made famous in Melville's book, Typee, bound for the Tuomotus. But a forecast of high swells coming in from Tahiti from a New Zealand gale caused a change of plans and we waited out the weather in a wonderful, protected anchorage, called Anaho Bay, on the north side of the island, where we experienced our best snorkeling in the Marquesas and caught octopus (see posted story). More stories and photos are to follow in the "Exploring the Marquesas" section of the Log and Journal.

Finally, on May 13th, with a better weather forecast, we pulled anchor again, bound for the Tuomotus. We had an uneventful night under a small cradle moon, traveling within sight of our buddy boat, Makoko. But by the 14th, there were problems already. Their gearbox failed, and they could not go beyond 1000 rpm. This did not bode well for entering passes in the Tuomotus that can experience 7-9 knots of current and high swells, requiring lots of engine power. We changed direction from our planned landfall, Ahe, to Rangiroa, the largest of the atolls.

But back luck seems to happen in threes: the first day, Makoko had lost all the fresh water in one tank, necessitating running their watermaker steadily. By the third day, we looked back from Pacific Bliss to view an agonizing sight: Makoko's largest sail, their genoa, was flailing into the water. We waiting, bobbing in the swells for an entire afternoon while Claudie repaired the tear and it was successfully hoisted again. Makoko had only reverse gear by then, so we changed plans again to sail directly to Raiatea, to a shipyard where a new gearbox would be delivered.

Sailing outside the farthest island to skirt the entire Tuomotus chain, we experienced continuing bad weather: squalls, thunder, and lightning for two days and nights-not pleasant at all. No sunsets or sunrises. Just one group of clouds after another. When we wanted wind, we had none. When we needed only a light wind, so that we would arrive to Raiatea at dawn, we had winds of 18-20 knots. Try to slow down Pacific Bliss in that! She was going 3 knots with no sails, so we actually had to put her engines into reverse from time to time during that last night. We made plans to tow Makoko through the pass and into the lagoon. Fortunately, we had the right amount of wind, from the right direction, on the morning of our arrival and Makoko was able to sail through the pass and most of the way to the carenage (shipyard). We arrived on Monday, May 20th, at 1000. Our planned three-overnight, 500-mile passage from the Marquesas to the Tuomotus had taken 7 days and 943 miles-to the Society Islands.

We stayed at the Raiatea Carenage for two nights, moored outside the yard. On Wednesday, the yard pulled Pacific Bliss onto the hard, where she had the zinc anodes and one scupper replaced, and the grounding plates cleaned. Then we moved one bay over to Apooiti Marina, where we are now nicely med-moored to a jetty outside the harbor, within walking distance of a seaside restaurant, where we will celebrate our anniversary tonight. Mornings, we have only a short walk to a Chinese grocery that sells fresh baguettes, a French newspaper, and chocolate croissants! Life is good here-quite a change from the more rugged and primitive Marquesas, where we had to struggle for even one baguette.

Plans: We will make a few day sails to Tahaa with Jean-Claude and Claudie, who are still docked at the shipyard waiting for parts, then on Friday we plan to sail on to Tahiti (one overnight). From there, we may fly to Easter Island for a quick visit and possibly to Tikehau, Tuomotus, where Gunter spent some time in the '70s windsurfing.

Our Crew: Doug flew out of Nuku Hiva, Marquesas to check on his boat, Basta, and other personal matters. Armin is still sailing with us, and will fly out of Papeete.



Log and Journal