Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Monday, 19 June 2017

Beveridge reef

This morning we could see the wreck of a motor boat away to our left, which we had  taken for a block of coral last night.

Here's the view of the distant breakers across the blue lagoon.

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Desolate sanctuary

With strong winds gusting 30 knots we arrived at Beveridge reef at 13:00 on Saturday 17th June. Invisible until quarter of a mile away, there was suddenly a line of white surf ahead backed by a vivid slash of aquamarine. At night, unwarned, we would have been wrecked in 5 minutes. As it was I had to gybe in a hurry, and sailed along the line of surf about 100feet away, until we rounded the northern tip of the reef and entered more sheltered water. We had been given coordinates for an entrance to the lagoon, but it was so rough that I doubted whether we could safely enter. As we motored round the reef just outside the breakers, the sight was dramatic as the strong wind tore the heads off the rollers.

To my surprise I found that the reef was like a short spiral and we curved round into the lagoon through a wide reasonably sheltered channel. Then we motored into the teeth of the gale to an indicated anchorage position just inside the reef, where the water changed from Bombay Sapphire in 12metres to pale aquamarine in 3metres over white sand.

Our anchorage was secure, if a little choppy and buffeted by the endless roar of surf and wind, and we stayed for the night.

Despite the gale we took the dinghy right up to the reef edge to snorkel, and were very glad we did. The water was so clear that s the vital watermaker has slowed from 90litres an hour to 30litres. So today Mark is running a full cleaning programme with alkali and acid solutions and I hope to see it restored.

Next we set sail for Niue, 120 miles directly downwind in this game, before heading to Tonga. It looks as though this wind will remain unabated for the next week, so it will be a rough ride.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Aitutaki friendship

Emily, Mi'i and Julien with TinTin in the background. Mi'i made Emily this beautiful hat.

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Looking for a reef

We set sail from Aitutaki on 14/6/17 with a wonderful farewell from Mi'i and Richard, who had been so kind to Emily and Julien. They brought us gifts of fruit from their garden in a superb bag woven from palm leaf, and a most elegant hat for Emily in pale green also woven from palm and decorated with lovely red hibiscus flowers. Richard had been in the Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya as well as many other parts of the world, and Mark and I enjoyed our chat with him.

We had refilled the boats tanks from our diesel cans and were lucky to get help from Aquila who took me to his gas station to refill 260 litres and then delivered me back to the dock. People are so kind!

Now after three windy says of sailing in big 4metre waves we are approaching Beveridge reef which has been recommended for a stopover en route to Niue. However it's not an atoll but a semi submerged ring of coral, reputed to have an entrance to a lagoon with great snorkelling. However with the cold wind from the South and vigorous weather and big seas I am reserving judgement till we get there. The challenge has been to time arrival to be in good daylight. Above 7 knots we would arrive on Day3 or we'd need to go slower at 5 knots and arrive on Day4. So far it's been a mix of 5 to 10 knots and I think we should be there mid afternoon on Day 3 in 10 hours time.

We are back into our watch regime with Emily and Julien taking one together. The quality of cooking has been amazing. Last night it was too wet to eat in the cockpit so we had the rare pleasure of sitting round the saloon table. It felt véry civilised even though the boat was surging along at maximum speed in big waves and it was hard to keep the food on the plate!

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Monday, 12 June 2017

in Cook's wake

Now we have set sail for Bora Bora towards the Cook Islands, of which very few offer a safe harbour except Aitutaki where the US military have blasted a narrow channel through the reef which is only 2 metres deep - our keel will have to come up to get in.

I have been reading the Journal of Captain Cook as he made his way to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the sun in 1769. Mostly he notes weather, and navigational issues such as position fixed by the sun and moon and stars. Occasionally a sailor falls overboard and is drowned, but no one gets scurvy due to his insistence that everyone eats the antiscorbutic diet of sauerkraut and where possible fresh vegetables. To get the sailors to eat it he first serves it only to the captains table and then of course everyone wants it. Once in Tahiti his journal becomes much more interesting in his careful description of the people he meets and their customs.

Having read so much about Cook's astronomical observations I got out our two sextants today and Julien and I practiced taking sun sights. However the process of calculating the sight reductions to get our position still requires considerable study and practice.

After three days sailing the wind has come dead ahead, and then died so, much to our frustration, I resorted to the engine in order to keep to arrive at Aitutaki in daylight. After seeing no one for days we were called on the radio by yacht Salty, and spoke to Nic and Donna, who had supped with us a few nights ago. They are not visiting the Cook Islands because the cost of administration is significant, and hence are sailing on awaiting better weather to head west. I have budgeted NZ$500 just for the formalities of clearing in and clearing out of port authorities.

As I write the wind has backed to the south and the engine is at last silent as the boat heels to a freshening breeze, or maybe as Cook put it - a Genteel breeze.

Talking about Cooks, Julien demonstrated an iron constitution by cooking a delicious lasagne in rough conditions, heeled hard over in a horribly lumpy wave pattern. I still find that I get a bit hot and queasy when cooking.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Blue lagoons

We anchored just inside the pass through the reef at Tahaa, by this little motu.   There was a very happy party going on with a floating thatched hut and I enjoyed sketching this to the sound of infectious laughter across the water.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Bora Bora

The Bora Bora Yacht Club turned out to be an excellent spot to moor our dinghy, dispose of our recycling and general refuse, and above all to connect to fast wifi.

As Emily and Julian were going to be off scuba diving we pumped up a second dinghy so that they could be independent. Mark and I had various things to deal with in the yacht club, while it poured with rain, and then after a bite to eat we sped round to the town to find the gendarmerie, where I spent a long time filling in forms to leave the country. With luck they will al be approved tomorrow so. That we can leave on Thursday morning for The Cook Islands. However it necessitated scooting back to the yacht club to photograph and email the documents back to Papeete, to a generally unresponsive harbour master. By the time that was over it was nearly 5 pm.

Meanwhile Emily and Justin met Nic and Donna - all thirty somethings- and we ended up having supper together on board TinTin, which was great. They are absolutely inspirational adventurers, and for the last seven years have cycled from California through South America, crossed Mongolia alone on horseback for six months, and motorbiked from Malaysia to the UK. Now they are sailing from South America to Australia and are keen on getting their on boat to explore further and even raise a family on board. Extraordinary!