Day 621: Secret haven

The crew of Egret find a secluded anchorage for a spot of exploration

Position: S22 11.58 W139 32.92 (Approximately 620nm SE of Tahiti)
Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here 

The crew ofEgretfind a secluded anchorage for a spot of exploration

Monday 2 June
Well, mis amigos, things have changed. As we were getting ready to leave Rikitea, Antoine came by to say goodbye. We told him we weren’t stopping at the island that we had hoped to on the way out due to the overcast weather (which wouldn’t allow us to read the water through the coral heads to the anchorage) and wind putting us on a lee shore. He smiled and told us about a favourite secret spot with easy navigation, a secluded bay with no people, three different beaches in the bay with three different coloured sands and in the lee of the wind. So that is whereEgretwent.

Antoine was right, the bay had three beaches with three different coloured sands (white, tan and light orange). Our anchor (TK) rocketed down in 55ft of clear water and 275ft of chain and a big pull later we were off in the dink to explore.

The only problem was that the beaches are all protected by a shallow offshore reef, but with a bit of perseverance we found a tiny pass and poled our way in with the engine tilted up. Frank went off coconut hunting and Mary and I went exploring. Frank found a coconut. We found an underwater; fresh water spring bubbling up into a foot of seawater. We saw stingrays lying next to each other, a tiny blowfish scooting along in a few inches of water and an inland stream that we followed into the interior of a natural coconut grove.

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Tuesday 3 June
This morning we went back and explored more. We discovered a tell-tale sign, two short pieces of line wrapped around near shore branches about 2ft apart. One line had a dried leg bone attached. Either a local (from Rikitea) or a cruiser had helped themselves to a goat. We saw the same thing in more graphic detail on another island with two relatively fresh goat hoofs (only) tied the same way. We pottered a while and then made our way back and preparedEgretfor sea.

With numerous low lying atolls along the rhumb line we opted for a safe and longer route to Papeete, Tahiti. We added about 50nm but so what? More time to fish. Our turning point was the small atoll of Morane (Google Earth S23 09.53 W137 07.44), however we made such good time, averaging around 6.5 knots at 1350rpm that we arrived just at daybreak, even after slowing down. I had hoped to be able to troll around the 100m line and see if we couldn’t pick up some fish for the freezer but it was not to be. We have a couple of more chances coming up with the three Duke of Gloucester Islands and a couple of small atolls before that.

Speaking of Duke of Gloucester Islands (Lles du Duc de Gloucester on French charts or DofG), C-Map charts show the islands in text only? they are not charted. If you were navigating strictly by electronic charts and using C-Map you could very easily end up shipwrecked if your watch did not pick up the islands on the radar. Very few sailboats run radar continuously so it is doubly dangerous for them. We are fortunate to have Map Media charts as well, running on a split screen using Max Sea navigation software (MM Charts show DofG islands). We don’t have paper charts of this area and we really should! In addition to the split screen navigation we are running both radars, one set at three miles – one at six miles. If and when the seas lay down we’ll switch to six and twelve miles. You have to be vigilant when rain showers move through like they did just a few minutes ago. Rain squalls and surf on reefs look the same on radar if the rain is concentrated into small areas and is not fast moving. The southernmost DofG island, Nukutepipi, is located at S20 41.96 W143 03.28 if you want to check your charts. Interestingly, C-Map was much more detailed in the Gambier Island Group than Map Media. This is a perfect example of why you need to use every aid to navigation.

Wednesday 4 June am
So what will today bring? We have mixed 1.5-2m swells givingEgreta bit of motion but it is not uncomfortable. The wind is aft of the beam at 18 knots. The baits are out, breakfast was great as usual and life is good for theEgretcrew.

Thursday 5 June am
Daybreak. An uneventful night at sea, the best kind. The seas laid down to gentle swells, the wind is actually a bit cool (we are entering dead winter in the southern hemisphere) even though we are only five days south of Tahiti. You’ll see from OMNI Bob weather forecast we have a bit of weather coming but fortunately it is short lived. What will today bring? Who knows. Ciao.

To: Captain Scott – M/Y EGRET
1725Z 04 JUNE 2008

Captain, thanks for the update.

Overall, the pattern has not changed. High pressure to your east/south will continue to move eastward through Thursday-Friday. As it does, ridging will tend to ease toward Tahiti, but the ridging will also weaken. This weakening ridge will bring a gradually weakening ESE-E to ENE-NE wind/sea pattern.

However, as the high ridge weakens and exits, a cold front will move north/east through Friday to Saturday. This northern half of this front (north of 30S lat) is also expected to weaken as it pushes across 30S and is not expected to cross 20S lat through Saturday/Sunday. As a result, the wind/sea/swell pattern should weaken as the front approaches, become variable as the front nears, then return to a freshening SSE-SE wind/sea pattern.

We do note that the cold front will move eastward across 150W through Saturday 7 and will be replaced by a stronger area of high pressure that is expected to move steadily eastward and pass well south of Tahiti through Sunday-Monday.

The strength of this high ridge will be enough to redevelop and enhance SSE-SE wind/seas across the Tahiti waters during Saturday 7 and continuing on Sunday 8 before easing Monday 9 as ridging from this high tends to extend NW across the area.

Expect along the direct route to Tahiti, as safe nav permits expect:

Wednesday 4: SE-E 10-18kts, waves 1-1.5m. Swells SSW to SSE 1-1.5m, tending more SE-ESE 1-2m toward Wednesday night-overnight. Swell periods 8-10sec.

Thursday 5: Range ENE-NNE 10-18kts, 1-1.5m. Swells ESE to E 1-2mtrs, 9-11sec. Winds should ease to 08-15kts with lowering waves 0.5-1.m during Thursday PM.

Friday 6: Tending to become variable during the day, E-NE to NNW-Var 05-12kts. Waves 0.5-1m. Swells confused to SW 1-2m, however the SW swells will become more dominant during Friday pm. Swell periods 8-11sec.

Saturday 7: Variable winds 05-10kts, waves 0.5-1m early Saturday am. Tending to freshen/become S-SE 10-18kts, waves 1-1.5m toward mid to late morning, then freshening SE-ly 20-25kts, gusty with waves 1.5-2.5m through Saturday pm. Swells SW-S 1.5-2.5m, up to 3m very possible through midday.

Sunday 8: SE-E 18-25kt, gusty. Waves 2.0-2.5m. Swells SSE-ESE 2.0-2.5m. Wind/seas may begin to ease toward Sunday/eve-night while remaining SE-E.

Picture 1. Secret beach.



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