Sitting out the Maramu

After we had left Bora Bora, we slogged in two tedious days of sailing very slowly, as close-hauled as possible in light winds to Raiatea and then on to Huahine. On the way to Huahine we considered heading on straight to the Tuamotus, but the weatherforecast predicted fickle winds, so we decided to stop once more. We were lucky to do so, because 4 miles off Huahine the genoa suddenly flapped wildly–the clew had ripped out of the giant foresail! We quickly lowered the sail and contemplated the damage. The clew is held by 4 robust straps that are sewn on to 9 layers of dacron (heavy sail cloth), but the thick nylon thread had disintegrated in the tropical UV-light and the whole thing had just ripped off. We didn’t know what to do. The weather forecast showed a 2 day long weather window, if we missed that we’d have to sit out another week in Huahine in strong southeasterlies (these winds are called ‘Maramu’ in Fr. Poly). Should we try to repair the damage? Stow away the wet, sa
lty sail and put up the smaller foresail (yankee) or our spare genoa?

Christian frenetically started repairing, while I hitched a ride ashore to buy fresh veggies for our time in the Tuamotus. After 4 hours of hard work trying to find the existing holes in the layers of heavy fabric, he had only managed to restitch one of the 4 straps. No way we’d be able to head out the same day at this progress. In the meantime the sail had dried, so we provisionally folded the heap of chaotic sail on deck (impossible to fold the 60 square metre big thing with the dinghy stored on deck in passage-mode), emptied the forecabin to get into the sail locker, got out the yankee, put it on the roller and stuffed the genoa on top of everything in the forecabin. Wheh.

We then quickly prepared the Bonito we had caught underway in jars in the pressure cooker and by 9 o’clock in the evening we were ready to set sail again. A breeze had just set in, so we sailed into the night, destination once more the Tuamotus. The wind turned out to be much stronger than predicted, so we only took 1 and a half days for the 190 nautical miles and reached Tikehau still in the afternoon (when the wind had got lighter we already feared having to spend the night waiting for daylight off the island…).

Tikehau only has one pass which is notorious for its strong currents, but we were lucky. After being tossed around by some big eddies at the entrance we made it into the lagoon against 3 knots of current without further complications, spent a night next to the pass and then motored across the lagoon to the southeast corner, to find a safe spot to sit out the gale-force maramu winds that were predicted for the next day. Good that we hadn’t delayed, the maramu set in with a bang 10 hours earlier than predicted. Now we’re sitting snug behind the lee side of a motu, with the additional protection of a reef east of us while it’s blowing 30 knots (54 km/h) and the lagoon behind us is a boiling witches cauldron of whitecaps.
It looks like the maramu will be followed by a phase of lighter northeasterly wind that will hopefully blow us further east along the Tuamotus. From now on we won’t have time to linger but will have to use every available weather window to head on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.