I must say that right now we’re feeling a little proud of ourselves.
For a while it seemed like we might never make it out of the Society Islands further east to the beautiful Tuamotus. It’s a tricky passage into the wind with relatively short weather windows when they do come about, and when the weather was right we were busy fixing issues onboard Te Mana, and when we were ready the weather was not. A few weeks of false starts were starting playing into our already present nervousness regarding this passage, as it would be our longest yet of 2-3 days. Not long in the scheme of what we have ahead, but long enough at this point in time.
What if we get seasick the whole time? What if our forecasting is wrong and we hit foul weather? What if our navigation is off and we hit a reef, or miss the Tuamotus all together? What if, what if, what if?...
All of these thoughts were starting to come to a bit of a head as we sat at anchor at Teahupo’o, where the power of the ocean could not possibly be more on display. Depending on your frame of mind, that wave is either a thing of beauty and barreling perfection, or a throaty monster that sucks and spits and is nothing short of terrifying. We arrived on a small day, which thankfully made sailing through the pass a breeze, but the swell built over the few days we were there to around 3m, which was more than enough to make the sucky pits double overhead (or more like triple if you were one of the many local 15 year olds - or younger!, who were absolutely charging).
Nick surfed it twice. And although he loved it, came back absolutely wired with adrenaline and said that was enough - which for those of you who know Nick would realize is a little uncharacteristic. I on the other hand felt absolutely at peace with my decision to respect my limits and politely decline, finding sitting on the tender with the other boats in the pass/shoulder more than exciting/scary enough. It really does just suck down out of nowhere and unload onto super shallow reef. Crazy.
The day finally came when we were happy enough with the forecast to up anchor and set out through the pass – finally aiming east for the Tuamotus. The first few hours were rough. Rough as in the sea state that’s for sure, as well as the subsequent fact we both weren’t feeling great. Nick held it together, while I seemed to be on a four hourly vomit schedule. But after we’d rounded the bottom of Tahiti and sailed away from the affected seas (they just get totally messed up near the corners of the islands which is what we were experiencing), the ocean somewhat smoothed itself out, and we both slowly started to feel better. 2 minute noodles, corn flakes, and Pringles chips have never tasted so good! None of which we would normally eat, but strange that this was all we really craved during the whole passage. The 2 minute noodles initially took us more like 30 minutes to prepare mind you thanks to the rocking of the boat, but happy to say that by the last day we had cooking on a moving stove down to a fine art!
I was initially a little apprehensive about night watches, as I guess everything seems harder in the dark. But the nights turned out to be probably our most enjoyable time during this passage, with the stars out in force for the early part of the evenings, before the moon rose and lit our way during the early hours of the mornings. The nights also turned out to be our most physically active time of day (neither of us are particularly well suited to sitting still on a boat), as without the heat of the sun you could move around without feeling exhausted. With the help of a few good playlists we quickly discovered that the best way to pass your three hour watch on deck was to get your groove on and dance like no one was watching. Which thankfully they weren’t.
So after three nights of dancing in the dark, and staring at nothing but the blue horizon during the days, we finally saw palm trees in the distance. We’d slowed ourselves down during the last 24hrs so as to make it to Fakarava’s south pass at the right time for the tides, but found that with the light winds and easing swell the pass was as calm and flat as can be. So once the sun was high enough in the sky to navigate coral safely, in we went, straight into paradise (again).
And here we’ll stay for a little while. Until we’ve had enough of these palm trees, corals, and waves, and decide to move onto the next beautiful atoll in search of more of the same.