Daysailing through the Societies

Most cruisers on the way west and hundreds of Tahiti/Raiatea-based charter boats visit the Leeward Islands of the Societies in daily hops sailing from Huahine to Raiatea and Tahaa (only about 20 nm), on to Bora Bora (another 15 nm) and some continue then to Maupiti (25 nm). We usually avoid daysailing as the preparations for a short ocean passage are just as time consuming as for a long one (deflating dinghy/kayak and storing them on deck, securing all the stuff on and under deck, drugging the cat so that she won’t get seasick, etc) and the effort just doesn’t seem worth it for a day. We therefore considered skipping Raiatea and Tahaa (we were there a long time last year) and Bora Bora (which has a reputation for mass tourism and private beaches/motus) altogether and to sail straight from Huahine to Maupiti. The problem with Maupiti is that it has a narrow and tricky pass facing south, which is only navigable in calm conditions without southerly swell. Sailing somewhere and h
aving calm condition’s a bit of a contradiction and during winter there’s almost constantly a swell coming from the south, so in the end we decided to split the trip into three legs just like everybody else.

On the first passage from Huahine to Raiatea on Thursday we had strong southeasterly winds on the beam, a quick, but rough ride and caught a Bonito just before sailing through the wide pass on the east side of Raiatea (despite its width quite impressive with high seas from the stern and huge breakers all along the reef). We then continued under sails through the calm waters of the lagoon up to the sister island Tahaa and spent the night in Tapuamu (where we spent a week sweating with dengue fever last year). The next day started rainy and squally, but we set out anyway and sailed goosewinged (the mainboom on one side and the foresail poled out on the other side) with gusting winds over to Bora Bora. Once again the fishing line straightened out just two miles from the pass and Christian pulled in a medium-sized yellow fin tuna. The wide pass was also easy to enter despite 2 knots of outgoing current and a howling cat sitting between the feet of the helmswoman demanding tuna sa
shimi–when she smells fish blood she goes into a feeding frenzy like a small, furry shark.

Today we’re enjoying a day in the turquoise lagoon of Bora Bora, just scrubbed the propeller in the crystal clear, calm water and later on we’ll put some jars with fish meet into the pressure cooker (sooo much easier in an anchorage…) to have preserved food for days with less luck fishing. If the swell goes down to 1 m as predicted by the forecast we’ll motorsail with light northerly winds to Maupiti tomorrow, if it remains too rough we’ll explore some more of Bora Bora.

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