Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

South Seas Adventures, Log 8-1998, Leg 2

June 29, 1998 0600
17.55 S, 155.51 W, Log 14,551, Baro 1013, Air 82F, Water 78
At sea between Mopelia, Fr. Polynesia and Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Winds E @ 14kts, broadreaching @ 6.4kts

Leg 2 has provided a perfect change from the boisterous conditions of Leg 1. with winds averging 15 kts and always aft of the beam.

Our Leg 2 crew are:
Rick Hill, 32 who is on a leave of absence from Microsoft and is in the process of designing his dream home near Seattle with his wife Lara.

Bruce Harding, 50 something, a retired investor from Banff, Alberta who joined us on Leg 8 in New Zealand last year.

Nicholas Lovejoy, 28 who joined Amazon.com as the fifth employee - now they have 1500 and he is starting a round-the-world trip with his fiance Barbara with this expedition.

Barbara Gordon, 32 from Seattle who worked for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, a non-profit group in Seattle and who plays a tough game of Ultimate Frisbee, according to Nicholas.

Pearre and Page Williams, 43 & 37 from Cody, Wyoming where Page keeps the home fires burning in their log cabin on the river while Pearre commutes to NY & LA making cable television deals. They have plans for ocean cruising, possibly on sistership to Mahina Tiare in the future.

 

The first 1.5 weeks sailing from Tahiti through Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora gave us postcard perfect anchorages and passages, and two huge ono, or Spanish Mackerel right out of Tahiti.

Coral piloting was high on this crew's list of learning objectives, as we threaded our way through the recently-blasted and marked channel to the far side of Bora Bora to enjoy a secluded anchorage off a deserted white sand motu where the snorkeling and windsurfing were superb. We were surprised to find that the Bora Bora Yacht Club was still standing, contrary to reports we heard following one of El Nino's cyclones. Being several weeks earlier than last year we noticed how few crusing boats were about, though the Port Captain in Papeete said there were many boats in the Marquesas and they expected an average season.
"Threading the needle" thru Coral Channel, Bora, Bora

On Huahine, Raiatea and Tahaa we saw evidence of a bizarre tornado, spawned off a weak (max. forecast winds: 25-30 kts.) tropical depression named Alan on April 25th that snaked it's way over the islands for two hours resulting in 17 deaths and 1250 houses destroyed. In talking with our friend Dominique Goche who owns Raiatea Careenage we learned that 13 cruising boats stored for the cyclone season in his boatyard were thrown over and that 19 boats anchored off the three islands were blown ashore.


Raiatea Carenage where 13 boats ashore and 12 on anchor were toppled, blown ashore or seriously damaged.


Robby & Lorraines "Southern Cross" on Tahaa's Reef following Tropical Depression Alan.

It was sad to see boats of friends we had met last year severely damaged, and in the case of Spellbound, a gorgeous Farr 55 from Honolulu, totalled. Several boats were dismasted as they sat in their cradles by winds recorded at 135 knots. The most amazing story was of a 45' German ketch that decided to put into tiny Mopelia atoll in December when they received warnings of Cyclone Osea over the radio.


Amanda in Cyclone-wrecked house, Mopelia Atoll.

They were driven 150 meters into the coconut trees, survived unhurt, while the boat suffered only one small hole. The owners and the island populaton were evacuated after the motu was totally washed over, destroying all but one of the five new hurricane-proof homes and 80% of the coconut trees. The aproximately 20 inhabitants survived by sheltering inside their concrete water cisterns, but on neighboring Motu One, 55 miles north 11 out of 12 people were swept to their deaths as the island was totally washed over.


Dominique Goche. Owner of Raiatea Carenage boatyard.

The sailboat owners insurance paid Dominique to take a crew of seven Tahitians, charter a 55'sailboat, and spend 8 days in which they successfully salvaged the boat and towed it back the boatyard in Raiatea where Dominique is repairing it.

"I still think that New Zealand is the best place for a boat during the cyclone season!"

From Bora Bora our plan was to sail to Penryhn, in the Northern Cook Islands, but light winds and a forecast of less wind changed our course to Mopelia, 135 miles west of Bora.


Barbara & Pearre navigating narrow Coral Passage, Bora, Bora.


Great sailing in Bora Bora's Lagoon.

We were shocked to see how small the island looked, compared to last year. Many of the thickly-treed islets had totally disappeared, with only low rough coral remaining. The houses that were full of pearl farming families from Maupiti, complete with children playing on the white sand beaches were in shambles, some with only the rooves and cisterns remaining.

We found six very hungry dogs who eagerly ate the mixture of corned beef, rice, and crackers that Amanda found in one of the houses, along with a lot of coconuts that I opened. Each house had a large cement cistern, overflowing with rainwater, so we had a chance to wash clothes in buckets. The lagoon proved a perfect spot to practice man-overboard procedures with the Lifesling as well as to learn splicing and going aloft to check the rigging.

Yesterday morning we set sail for the Cook Islands, initially to have a look at the uninhabited Manuae atoll, then on the Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Our winds have been steady, never over 30 or under 12 and this is comfortable sailing.

"Today we are going to work more on celestial navigation and hopefully catch another fish!"

 

We have two new places for you to explore in our web site, SUGAR AND SPLICE which is Amanda's view on the arts and crafts of the Pacific Islands and recipes from her upcoming book, The Galley Companion and LATEST UPDATE which has some late-breaking news of openings on our expeditions.

July 11, 1998 1600
South Seas Adventures, Log 9-1998, Leg 2
21.12S 159.47W, Log 15,012, Baro 1012, Air 81, Water 77
At anchor, Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga

Our landfall at Aitutaki was at 0400, so we hove-to on a course that took us away from the island until dawn, when we sailed around to the lee side to check out the pass into the lagoon and anchorage off the pass. We contacted a boat inside the lagoon who said the passage was still only 6' deep and as Mahina Tiare draws 6'1" we didn't really want to scour the bottom paint off the bottom of the keel and run the risk of getting stuck in the channel. The other option was to anchor off the entrance in 60' - 90' depths with protection from the SE winds, but a large southerly swell was rolling in making the anchorage difficult.


Don Silk, Rarotonga Harbourmaster and author of "From Kauri Trees to Sunlit Seas"

We decided not to stop and continued on to Rarotonga, 142 miles south. Fresh SE trades meant that we weren't quite able to lay the island, so we motorsailed into Raro Thursday afternoon and headed for Trader Jack's, Raro's craziest waterfront restaurant-bar.


Enjoying TraderJack's dinner, Rarotonga

In a replay of last year, a tropical depression showed up on the weatherfax from New Zealand on Sunday, and on Tues. we left the convenince of stern-to mooring and moved out to the middle of the harbor, in anticipation of strong northerly winds.

"We didn't have to wait long for this storm!" All Monday night and Tuesday morning the island was blasted by strong winds, deluged by rain that washed roads out and pummelled by hail the size of golf balls.

Just after dawn on Tuesday the lightning intesified, thunder crashing simultaneously and the wind increased from 30 to 52 knots in a blinding rain storm. Amanda and I were both on deck in a flash and could feel MT being driven across the harbor toward the rough concrete wharf. I thought our anchor must be dragging so in terrible visibility I started the engine and went to 3/4 throttle forward. Amanda quicky pointed that the 3/4" stern line was loose, so I backed off on the throttle. We later found that the 5/8" dacron gasket line around the bollard had parted (7,000 lb breaking strength) so Amanda quickly hauled in the 300' stern line and we swivelled into the next 50 knot blast. A Swan 61 alongside the wharf had their stanchions smashed and just managed to get off the wharf between the blasts and two of the four boats tied stern-to the wharf smashed into it when their anchors drug. Once the wind dropped back to 30 we set our 44 lb. Delta retied our stern line ashore. When I later dove to check our main 75lb CQR anchor, I found that it was totally and completely buried and hadn't drug an inch!

The windy, rainy weather put us behind on our boat chores, so just now on Saturday are we caught up enough to take off on an around-the-island drive this afternoon and plan to hike across the island in the morning.

Our next expedition is to tiny Palmerston and Niue islands.
Amanda has enjoyed documenting, researching and photographing the Cook Island women's traditional handicrafts - look for them in Amanda's Corner "Sugar & Splice" next week!

 

To the next log entry Leg 3:
At Sea, Between Small Tropical Islands

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