Arriving at night

We always tell newby cruisers that it’s not a good idea to arrive at night, much wiser to time pass entries with good light.
But quite often (like yesterday) it becomes clear over the course of the day that we won’t make landfall in daylight–an arrival-bubbly and the thought of a whole night spent in a calm, comfy bed are hard to resist though…

If we know a place and have GPS tracks we usually go for creature comforts and enter at night. Last night we could have sailed all the way up to the main pass of Raiatea and follow our tracks into the lagoon and to an anchor bay from there. That would have meant several miles and hours detour though.
Instead we headed to the closest pass: charted, wide, deep and marked–piece of cake. It turned out though that those markers are not lit at night and pointing Pitufa’s bow in the pitch-black dark night towards the sound of breaking waves, just relying on the chart plotter felt a bit eery.

We made it into the lagoon without a problem (the chart info for passes and channels in the Societies is very reliable) and then slowly motored northwards with Christian on the bow with a torch, to check for buoys and other obstacles along the way. Entering the bay we saw just one anchor light, but shapes of several unlit boats all around. We carefully picked a spot, dropped the hook and by midnight we were sitting in the cockpit with a bottle of home-made bubbly and some snacks :-)

This morning we were quite surprised to see 10 other boats in the bay—-not exactly great seamanship to forget the anchor light in an area with quite some traffic… For the past two months we were just 2 sailboats in the lagoon of Raivavae–now we’ll have to adjust to the fleets here in the Societies again.

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