Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Rangiroa

Tiputa, Rangiroa, Mon 30 May 2011 19:41 Tahiti Time
I had a fast but bumpy ride from Nuku Hiva to Rangiroa. It took me
about 4 ½ days to cover the ca 580 miles. I arrived at night, so I
hove to about ten miles offshore until the sun came up (I couldn't see
the island until I was about 5 miles away as the highest point is only
3 or 4 meters above sea level—not counting the palm trees). Thinking
back now, the passage is a blur. I guess there weren't that many
memorable events. The wind was never less than 15 knots, and often
over 20, and the swells got up to 8 or 9 feet as I approached
Rangiroa. Unlike my departure from San Diego, I felt upbeat and
relatively confident as I sailed out of Taiohae Bay.
Getting through the passes into the atolls can be tricky because of
the sometimes strong current caused by in- or outgoing tide. When the
wind is blowing the opposite direction of the current, it can cause
good-sized standing waves in the pass. I had read that slack tide is
typically 5 hours after moonrise, and since I had observed the moon
rising during the night, I entered the pass almost exactly 5 hours
after. It was a bit exciting going through the pass. The water was not
smooth, so I don't think I timed my entry perfectly, but I made it
without too much difficulty. Once inside the lagoon, it was such a
contrast to the sea outside—there was no swell, just some ripples from
the east-southeast tradewinds. The anchorage here is much more
comfortable (less swell and thus less rolling) than the one in Taiohae
Bay (at least with the wind blowing the direction it is
now—east-southeast. If it starts blowing hard from the south, I may
need to move). I'm anchored in about 20 feet of water. The bottom is
sand with scattered coral heads. The water is very clear, so I dived
down to check that my anchor was set properly. If you want to look in
Google Maps or the like, I am anchored at 14 degrees 57.92 minutes S,
147 degrees 38.37 minutes West.
I've met a few more of my fellow cruisers here—there's two English
lads—Rory and Gary--on a 40 foot yawl anchored next to me and a group
of four on a large catamaran (they actually left for Tahiti this
morning). Both boats were in Nuku Hiva while I was there, but I didn't
meet them until now. There are about 12 boats anchored here, and one
of them is not a sailboat but a trawler (long-range powerboat). I'm
curious to hear where they came from. Today I snorkeled through Tiputa
Pass (on the incoming tide) with my English neighbors. Rangiroa is
known as a scuba diving destination, and I think Tiputa Pass is the
most popular dive spot. Rory and Gary have a lot of scuba equipment,
so I may join them for some scuba diving too. Tomorrow the plan is to
surf Avatoru Pass (the western of the two navigable passes on
Rangiroa) which is the main surfbreak here as far as I can tell. I
rode my bicycle there my first day on the island and watched the
locals surf. There are more boogie boards than surfboards, but they
ride their boogie boards like surfboards. The vibe seemed pretty

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