Whatever Bob says, we do. If Bob says go, we go, if Bob says stay, we stay. If Bob has no opinion…well, we wait for one. The Bob I’m referring to is a weather guru who lives in New Zealand, sends out a weekly weather synopsis, via email, and for a fee, will route you through the valley of the shadow of death for Bob art with you, kind of deal. Of course if you don’t pay him you just hope he’ll share an opinion about where you want to go.
When we were twiddling our thumbs with confusion in the Pearl Islands, almost as an aside at the end of his email, Bob said ,”Oh by the way if anyone is waiting for a rare weather window to go to the Galapagos, leave today”. We left and had a pleasant sail all the way to San Cristobal. Now I’m not saying, “spend it” but it’s a hell of a sight better than Accuweather or NOAA.
On the other hand you could try old sailors’ superstitions such as never leave for a passage on a Friday, Well, that one’s true but there are many others that just don’t pass the mustard, or is it muster? You see the problem.
The dead pig had drifted past the boat and Huahine Nui was calling us but the weather was abominable with wind and rain, we hadn’t refueled because of it, there were supposed to be pirogue races, we were tucked away in a nice little corner of Taina Marina anchorage, and it was a Friday. Of course the fact that we had recently taken a pasting traversing the same body of water that we’d have to go through to get to Huahine Nui may have had something to do with it.
Suddenly there were rumors that the marina didn’t sell unbonded diesel over the weekend, so Yours Truly was already in hot water for not refueling on Friday, but a quick VHF call to the fuel dock straightened that out. Waiting in the swirling waters just off the fuel dock about a thousand brightly colored racing pirogues descended upon us like a plague of angry but colorful sponsored locusts, and while I don’t know the French word for asshole I’m fairly sure I must have heard it that morning.
But first, one has to negotiate either the southern pass while being entertained by surfers riding huge Pacific combers coming in while you are trying to get out, or motor your way up the chanel inside the reef to Papeete while waiting for clearance from the airport so that an airliner doesn’t clip your mast while taking off or landing.
Actually it’s kind of fun but when we finally got clearance we found ourselves surrounded by exhausted but still angry French Polynesians coming in from the ocean, in no mood to be held up again. Paddling furiously, they were weaving their colorful pirogues around EV and this time I really think I’ve learned the French word for asshole.
Soon the mix-master between Tahiti and Moorea started to toss Escape Velocity all over the place but at least we had decent wind and it wasn’t raining. Oops. As the wind backed around the rains came back and we soon found ourselves slowly altering course to try to keep EV’s jib filled with wind. Sailing directly down wind was out of the question in this slop. Now where did I store my foulies? Squall after squall hit us. They weren’t severe but after each one the wind would drop to nothing, box the compass which we had to fight for up to twenty minutes and then repeat the whole thing all over again.
Two hours into Marce’s night watch a strange set of lights appeared out of the rain and gloom behind us. She began to call the unidentified target, but no joy . Finally a fifty foot French catamaran called but while we couldn’t see each other we quickly plotted our positions and realized that he was a good distance in front of us and we were unlikely to catch him. I tried to get some sleep but that’s when the ship finally called us wanting to know why we were hailing him. It turns out it was one of those huge windjammer cruise things. He had been steering right up our wake for hours and was less than two miles behind without returning our call. I may not know the word in French but it’s asshole in English. Answer your effing radio!
My watch just morphed into M’s, and the wind, rain, and sudden windless pattern just repeated and repeated. There were no catnaps this night, if you’ll excuse the phrase. I had my own unidentified target but he crossed in front, left to right, lit up like Chicago at night from 25,000 feet.
At dawn M. joined me and we felt it was time to gibe over to close with Huahine shore. Shooting the pass at Avapihi in less than a quarter mile visibility would not be fun. Finally the chart plotter said we were on top of the entrance to the pass but you couldn’t prove it by me.
It was a little tense but soon, through the gloom we saw old friends on Fare’s free mooring balls and even the rain let up a little, allowing us to see the reef’s crystal clear water. It is like floating on a sheet of glass.
It’s good to be home.