French Polynesia to
October 13-16, 2017
Day 1 – Friday, October 13, 2017
As much as I have enjoyed my stay at Bora Bora, it’s time to move on. At 3:40 PM, I had all of my provisions on board, my course was plotted, weather was checked, and I was ready to head out across the Pacific again. I raised anchor and sailed westbound out of Bora Bora’s lagoon, then I turned southwest toward Rarotonga.
As I got away from the influence of Bora Bora, the sea got rougher and there were whitecaps. The wind was blowing 15-22 knots and this was giving me a speed over ground of 8-9 knots. My GPS reported that I would be at Rarotonga early on Monday. That is faster than I expected. We’ll see if the wind continues at this strength. The forecast is for the wind to continue at this strength all the way to Rarotonga. I am also heading into some overcast conditions, with the possibility of rain. That should be fun because, up to now, I haven’t really encountered any rain.
Setting the helm will be a no-brainer the next couple of days. My bearing to Rarotonga is 237º and the wind is coming from about 095º. I will likely be on a broad reach all the way to Rarotonga and I can just sail on course the whole way.
At about 6:00 PM, I was about 19 nm from Bora Bora. I verified the auto-pilot was on course and then I went below to prepare for my first night at sea in a while.
0408 UTC – 16º 38.873′ S 152º 2.353′ W
Day 2 – Saturday, October 14, 2017
I was up at 6:00 AM this morning. Overnight, the seas had become a bit rougher than yesterday. The wind was now between 20 and 25 knots. At times, Tahiti Dream was reaching almost 10 knots.
1825 UTC – 17º 44.91′ S 153º 50.2′ W
I took my morning position reading a little later than normal, mostly because I forgot to do it. At 8:25 AM, I had traveled 124 nm from last night’s position. That means I was at almost 10 knots for most of the night. There are a lot of whitecaps today and I expect a fairly rough ride. I doubt it will get better.
By early afternoon, the sun had disappeared from view. It is mostly overcast with few cloud breaks. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had rain tonight. The satellite picture shows that it is cloudy all the way to Rarotonga. Not much to do but watch the MLB League Championship Series. Unfortunately, the was easier said than done because the rough seas meant my Inmarsat was losing its satellite lock occasionally. I finally gave up on live TV and decided to watch some TV programming I had stored on my tablet.
At about 6:15 PM, the sea had calm a little, but the swells were still quite tall. During the past 10 hours, I’ve traveled almost 90 nm. That is consistent with my speed being right around 9 knots. Still no rain yet. The sunset was quite dramatic this evening.
0419 UTC – 18º 30.765′ S 155º 8.31′ W
I made some minor course corrections today, just getting back on the course line. As it is getting dark now at 6:30 PM, I verified the auto-pilot was set to follow a course of 238º. That’s where it will stay for tonight. Once I had checked the auto-pilot and course, I headed below and prepared for bed.
Day 3 – Sunday, October 15, 2017
I was up at a little after 5:00 AM this morning. The sea is still quite rough. The wind continues to blow 20-25 knots and my speed is 9-10 knots. This is going to be a fast passage when compared with my other voyages. It looks like the clouds may be a little more broken today. I’ll have to wait for the sun to come up before I can see the sky well.
1618 UTC – 19º 23.8′ S 156º 43.38′ W
As of 6:18 AM this morning, I have traveled 106 nm during the past 12 hours. That’s an average of 8.8 knots. Not as fast as the night before last, but still quite fast. That equates to over 200 nm per day. The GPS shows that I have about 21 hours to go before I reach Rarotonga, which means an arrival early tomorrow morning.
At about 11:30 AM, I started to see some sea birds. I checked the navigation chart and saw that I was not far from my first island in the Cook Islands, Mitiaro. On my present course, I would pass about 5 nm to the southeast. I decided to take a closer look at this island as I sailed by. I turned about 10º to starboard, which will allow me a close pass. Once I’m at Mitiaro, I’ll turn to port and continue to Rarotonga. If I make some side-trips, I should be able to time my arrival at Rarotonga for tomorrow just after sun-up.
I passed the southern edge of Mitiaro at about 1:45 PM. There is not much height to the island. I didn’t really see it until I was right upon it. Beyond Mitiaro is another island, Atiu, which was about 25 nm ahead. I decided I would steer toward a rendezvous with that island before continuing to Rarotonga.
I sailed past Atiu and saw less than I did at Mitiaro. I couldn’t get as close to Atiu because of the reef. These slight diversions helped my time because I’d like to arrive at Rarotonga in the daylight tomorrow.
At 6:12 PM, the GPS reported 12 hours to Rarotonga. I plan to be up early tomorrow morning to plan my approach.
0412 UTC – 20º 9.82′ S 158º 16.9′ W
After I took my evening position report, I watched the sunset and then headed below for my last night at sea before my arrival at Rarotonga. It will be fun being in a new port.
Day 4 – Monday, October 16, 2017
I checked the helm at a little after 2:00 AM. I was still right on course. The wind had calmed a bit and was now 15-20 knots. My boat speed had slowed as well to 7-9 knots. The GPS reported that I had about 5 hours until Rarotonga. That will be just about right for an arrival right at sunrise. I went back below for a little more sleep.
I was back up at a little before 6:00 PM. The GPS reports about 1-1/2 hours to Rarotonga. I fixed a cup of tea and prepared to watch the sunrise.
1600 UTC – 21º 6.56′ S 159º 37.59′ W
At 6:30 AM, I had a good view of the north side of Rarotonga. The sun was rising and the sky was mostly clear. The temperature was mild, 75ºF. I was headed for Avatiu Harbor.
When I was about 1/2 nm from shore, I noticed that the swells were dropping. It’s nice to be approaching the sheltering influence of an island.
At 7:20 AM, I was safely inside Avatiu Harbor, anchored and secured. Time to check in with Customs and start enjoying my stay on Rarotonga.
21º 12.23′ S 159º 47.09′ W