Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Pass Passed

After finally retrieving our hook from the coral crevasse of the lunch anchorage at the Ahe entrance, the overnight crossing from Ahe to Rangiroa was anticlimatic. The winds were light, a bit variable, and more than sufficient to get us from waypoint A to waypoint B. In fact, last night our most serious dilemma was trying to figure out how to slow down.

Yes, after years of bitching about the incredibly slow speeds of our condomaran, last night we were confronted with the peculiar dilemma of trying to figure how to make her go slower. Ahe and Rangiora are only 80 miles apart. Since you have to leave on atoll on a slack and then wait until a slack before you can enter the next atoll, it is an overnight, roughly 16 hour journey. The problem is that with 15 knots of wind up her tail, Don Quixote was feeling frisky. She started out of the gate eager for a run at a brisk 6.5 knots on the spinnaker. Clearly that would have us shooting right past our destination and on to Tahiti. So we changed her shoes for a slower jib/main combo thinking that that heavy boots would slow her down.

Well, they did. A little. Now she was catering along at a mere 5.5 knots. Not wanting to repeat our mad dash to the finish line of the last atoll, we allowed her to keep the bit in her teeth through most of the evening until my graveyard shift starting at 2AM. At this point, however, we had 12 miles to go and 8 hours to do it in. It was time to hobble our girl. I furled the jib, double-reefed the main, and sat back smugly waiting for her to become a big white double-hulled rock in the light early morning breezes. No can do. She was now lumbering along downwind and down surf at 3 to 4 knots. Unless we wanted to smack into the atoll, she was still going too fast.

DrC's solution was to heave to. Hove to? Heaving to? Weird verb/adjective. Hard to know how to say it. So around we go into the wind with our butt to the atoll, sails all katty whompus at a slight angle to the waves. Now we were traveling at a mere 1.8 knots crab stepping sidewise relative to our destination but still closing the gap. Well hell. Apparently Don Quixote actually doesn't have multiple speeds. She has one speed. Go. She doesn't go fast. But apparently, she doesn't go slow either. We drifted along hove to (still doesn't sound right) for a few hours before turning around a few hours after dawn to blow like a fat white coconut down the waves towards the pass entrance.

We got there a little early, but DrC had the can't hardlies. So into the pass we went against the ebb tide. Entering Passe Tiputa today just prior to slack was not precisely easy, but it wasn't the hair raising, nail biting, E-ticket roller coaster of our entrance into Ahe. Let's just say that transiting an atoll pass is considerably easier in 12 knots of wind than it is in 28 and leave it at that. I also like going into a current rather than with it as you get a lot more rudder control. Tiputa is wide, well marked, and deep. Other than a rather spectacular rip off to one side, it was pretty smooth. The trip was highlighted by dolphins doing gymnastics in the standing waves for all the world like big grey jet skis playing in the surf. Welcome to Rangiroa!

No comments: