Huahine – hunting for a safe anchorage

An easy overnight sail of some 70 miles brought Temptress to Huahine. As we departed Mo’orea we spotted on the AIS a familiar name Rhumb Runner. Chris was one of our line handlers through the Panama so we called them up on the VHF to find Chris and his crew were heading up to ISLV for a few days whilst waiting for parts to be delivered to Tahiti. 
Our plan was to enter the reef encircling the two island that comprise Huahine at Passe Farerea on the eastern side of the island and just after sunrise/low water we made an easy entry. Tides in the Society Islands are solar derived not lunar as the islands are both close to the Equator and in the middle of the Pacific. Hence though there are a few minutes variation over the months high water is roughly midday and midnight, low water is at 6am and 6pm. The tidal range is small around 30cm at Springs however the best tide does affect the currents and a few passes require slack water to enter or exit.
Once inside the pass Temptress turned south following the marked channel between Hauhine and a long wide tree cover motu. It soon became apparent that despite how it looked on the chart there would be little protection from the brisk easterly trade wind that had been deflected more south easterly and accelerated by the steep sides of Huahine Iti’s Mount Puhueri. Reluctantly we turned around from the turquoise waters and nosed into the big bay that divides Huahine Iti’s from Huahine Nui to the north. The waters were dark green, so it was deep, some 40 metres or more. Even a few metres from the wooden wharf by the village Temptress depth gauge registered 30 metres! Far too deep to anchor even if we put out all our 80 metres of chain.
Where to next? A quick look at Charlie’s Charts, the pilot guide we have relied on in these parts and at the detailed Tahiti Yacht Charter paper chart of the island made the decision for us. Round Huahine to main passe for the town of Fare on the north west corner beyond the airport. As we exited through Passe Farerea we spotted on our AIS Rhumb a Runner leaving the passe they’d headed for, one up from us, Passe Tiare. Later we learnt it got very shallow very quickly even as they were entering so they turned around and made a similar decision to us.
Disappointed we unfurled the genoa once more and enjoyed a pleasant sail north. Just as we reached the top and were debating a gybe our trolling line went rattling out. Something big. Staying on our current heading Kevin slowly reeled in our biggest catch yet a metre long wahoo, it was the first time we really need a gaff hook and the gardening gloves to avoid those wicked looking teeth in the long slender jaws. This long cylindrical fish is a white fleshed member of the tuna family and very tasty. Its colours are amazing when first landed; vertical bright blue stripes tinged with purple on a dark shiny grey background. 
How to process it into fishy meals was another matter! Far too big for our fish chopping board or even to bring into the cockpit Kevin tied it via its gills and jaw to one of the wind genie supports before gutting it. Then buckets of seawater washed away the gore and he set about filleting it. Two heavy fillets of white flesh overflowed our usual large plastic fish box plus another bag containing the last 20-30 cm of the fish before the tail which I later turned into four nice round steaks. 
Once cleaned up with the fish stowed away in the fridge our attention turned back to the matter in hand finding us a safe anchorage. Inside the passe off Fare a sand and coral bank had a few moorings spaced out sufficiently for us to find a spot in four metres or so to anchor. Rhumb Runner took a mooring on the town side until they discovered the cost and came over to anchor close by.
Later that afternoon one side of Mr Wahoo became three large meals bagged and stowed in the icebox and the other we invited Chris and his three crew to share that evening. The trimmings made a large bowl of delicious poisson cru for starters; just add coconut milk, garlic, onion, tomato and some crunchy veg like cucumber, pepper or grated carrot, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, leave to marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge. The main fillet was cut into two inch chunks, laid on a bed of thinly sliced onion. I dotted the fish with ginger paste and butter, poured over a small glass of white wine and baked for fifteen minutes or so. Rice and tinned p&cs (peas and carrots) completed the menu. Rhumb Runner provided nibbles and beer and a great evening was had by all. You can’t beat fish that fresh!