Tales from the Pacific Day 28

What a night! The wind was even more varied than the night before; by the end of my 1am – 4am watch Temptress was making 240 degrees downwind in a north easterly occasionally east north east F2 to 4. Half an hour into his watch Kevin managed to take the boat through a gybe alone as he judged his mate too sleep deprived to even try to wake. Now Temptress was pointing at her destination again.

Ahead not only lies our destination but some distance to the south east a shallow patch where the ocean floor rapidly rises from over 3000m to just 18.7m – a place to avoid as its the only obstacle between there and South America and the swell almost certainly will be kicking it up rough in the area. Our 240 course would have taken us a bit too close for comfort and too far south for our destination anyway.

7am Skipper wakes the first mate “we need to talk,can you come on deck for a discussion?” Sounds formal but I hopped out of bed in my nightie and he explained today’s “bright idea”. How far is it to Atuona and the anchorage exactly? I checked the nav;80.9nm – “so if we could make 7 knots though the water we could be there before sunset today?” I didn’t need a calculator; it would be 11 and a bit hours. 7am plus 11 hours = 18:00 – it would be a close run thing but Hiva Oa is on the western side of the time zone so the sunset is almost as late as it would get on the Equator around 18:00 and it would be light for another half hour or so beyond. However we have an ace in our favour the South Equatorial Current giving us an extra half a knot most of the time. So that is our plan for today – furl up the genoa and motor sail to Hiva Oa at 7 knots. We’ve no shortage of fuel having as yet not needed to top up the tanks from the cans on deck. Not the most glamorous ending to this passage but for Temptress’ sleep deprived crew the possibility of a solid eight or ten hours in bed is all the incentive we need.

Delia’s French onion soup was a hit at lunchtime. Where would we be without Aunty Delia to advise us on culinary matters? At 12:44 whilst consuming the last drops of the soup the cry went up “Land Ho!”. to be precise the little island of Montane to the south east of Hiva Oa formed a dark smudge on the horizon off to port. Almost instantly Hiav Oa appeared on our starboard bow as a low dark bulk. 38nm to go to Atuona.

Eventually during the course of the afternoon the crew gave up all other activities in favour of watching the land. Hiva Oa’s eastern extremities are high black (basalt) cliffs, with the sun behind them it was hard to see they were topped and flecked with green. We watched rain clouds cover the land then move away south. Gradually Temptress drew under the southern coast; steep valleys, waterfalls and eventually on top of flatter land a few houses and planted coconut and banana trees.

Baie Tahauku keeps itself hidden until you are right at the entrance. A catamaran behind the rocks by Point Feki off to the left or west of the entrance. A couple of French flagged vessels were anchored outside the breakwater and inside we could see at least a dozen more yachts and catamarans mostly anchored fore and aft to keep their bows into the swell that works its way around the wall. It was just after 18:30 local time as we entered the harbour. We said hello to Stormbay an Australian boat we’d met in Panama and again to Franz on Kyory, a Swiss gentleman we’d first met in Lanzarote back in 2013 and have been bumping into in odd corners of the world ever since., then we dropped our hooks on the eastern side of the bay across from the dinghy dock. Our fore aft anchoring needs some practise – it took us two attempts to get Temptress vaguely lying bows to the swell but it’ll do for tonight.

The air smells rivery and yet spicey. The hills on either side rise steeply and green with a smattering of house lights. A dog barks nearby and a few car headlights can be seen climbing up or down roads we can only guess at. Time for supper and a couple of beers, the sail cover is on and everything else including putting the clocks back a half hour to local time (UT-9.5) can wait til morning.

Distance run Panama City to Hiva Oa: 3952nm
Time at sea Las Perlas to Hiva Oa: 27 days and & hours

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