Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Passage to Huahine

With the tradewinds forecast to fill back in, we prepared for an afternoon departure from Moorea. The passage to Huahine was about 85 miles, and we wanted to arrive in daylight. After motoring out of Avaroa Pass, we found the wind was still too light to sail more than about 1 knot, so we kept motoring on our heading for the NE corner of Huahine. About 5:30 pm, we decided to heave to for a dip in the cobalt-blue sea. As we killed the engine and rounded up, we realized there was now enough tailwind to sail, so after our swim, we unfurled the genoa and literally sailed into the sunset. The moon was nearly full, but its substantial light was soon dimmed by high clouds. In the distant south, lightning lit up a line of squalls, but we remained in a zone of tranquility for most of the night. The wind gradually freshened, and the seas gradually built and became more confused due to the recent change in wind direction. The windvane was put to its first test of the season, or rather we were put to the test of remembering how to trim the sails in order for the vane to do its job. We backwinded the main a few times, but mostly the helm remained locked off. In the middle of the night, the wind backed, so we jibed to a port tack. An hour or so before dawn's first light, a squall approached, so we rolled in part of the genoa and put in 1, and then a 2nd, reef in the main.
I was feeling pretty beat from lack of sleep, so we put into Farerea Pass on the seldom-visited east side of Huahine. After looking in vain for the perfect place to drop the hook, we settled for a sandbar just inside the pass, and decided we would continue around the north end of the island after a snooze. The last 10 miles to Avamoa Pass and the main town of Fare was a delightful sail with sun and calm seas.
Once inside the pass, we were soon settled at anchor off a postcard-perfect beach. The boat right behind us turned out to be the French boat "Xe," whom we met in the Marquesas last year. We enjoyed a swim, a short walk to the sleepy town of Fare, and an unexpected encounter with the crew of another boat that we had seen in the distance during the passage. We found that they hadn't enjoyed their first night passage of the season any more than we had! Amihai and Orly are an Israeli couple on a Lagoon catamaran named "Shibolet." You don't meet too many Israeli cruisers, so we told them about the other Israeli cat we had encountered last year in the Tuamotus with two men aboard. Turns out it was the same boat. Amihai had done the Puddle Jump with his cousin, and Orly had flown in to meet him in Papeete. They had a nasty encounter with some pit bulls while ashore on Tahiti, leaving them with severe bite wounds which soon became infected. They ended up flying home for treatment, and leaving the boat in Papeete for the season.
Our second day in Huahine has been a delight. There is good swimming from the boat, a nice beach ashore,  lots of quiet paths for walking, and a wide choice of cheap eats in the village. Today we bought a fresh coconut for drinking and later eating, some spring rolls, and a coconut confection unlike any we had yet tried, all of which set us back $4. Cathy was given a large canteloupe from someone who had given her a ride back from a long walk she had taken. Amihai and Orly tried to buy us some fresh fish, but it was sold out by the time they got to the stall. We invited them over for bananas, coconut, and pineapple, and sent them home with fresh pamplemousse. Then they invited us to their boat for happy hour. Orly had little Israeli flags planted in the appetizers - nice! So fun to make new friends, too bad they are leaving in the morning for Raiatea. We plan to spend at least 2 weeks here on Huahine.

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