Trip Reports

Huahine Weenies (25-May-2001-19-00):
7:00 PM local time Thursday May 25th. (0500 May 26th UTC) 16 38 S 151 29 W. Baie Haamene, Tahaa, Iles de la Societe, French Polynesia. Temp. 82, Humidity 67%, cloud cover 25%.

Warmest greetings from the crew of Maverick. We weighed anchor Sunday the 20th at Moorea heading for Huahine. We had pleasant conditions and cleared the pass through the reef about 1:00 PM. It seemed a perfect day to sail there. As we have mentioned before, the weather since we left Rangiroa has been troublesome. There's been a big S-curve in the isobars around Tahiti for three weeks caused by various lows passing to the South and the wind has as a result been coming from the WNW. The pilot chart says this happens about 5% of the time, or approximately 1.5 days on average in the month of May, so we feel mistreated to have had the corresponding wet, squally, and unpredictable weather for over three weeks straight and are writing for a refund. But Sunday we had wind from the NE, and since our destination was NW, we could fetch this easily.

By about sundown, though, we had been headed to the extent that it wasn't even possible to lay Huahine close-hauled. We were in fact ready for this since we didn't trust the good-looking weather yet, and as a result had left on the ninety-mile passage at noon, giving us 24 hours to be there early the following afternoon. This would only require that we average a little over 3.5 knots vmg, so we could tack and still make it. But as Mr. Shrode retired that evening and the Captain began his watch, the wind kicked up a notch and some squalls began blowing through with heavy rain. To the west was seen a tremendous amount of lightning. Lightning means thunderstorms, which means a lot of convection, which means unsettled and possibly troublesome weather. The Captain went below to view a weather fax which had just come in, and saw a picture that set off the little alarm bell he keeps next to the bats and photo of Annette Funicello in his belfry. To the west of us, a low. To the east of us, a high. We were in a newly formed "squash" zone, as the meteorologists call it, where winds from a low are amplified by winds from a high. It could get dicey, said his paranoid little mind.

Mr. Shrode was awakened at 0100 and for the first part of his watch saw the wind and rain ease a bit. But by morning, rainy, windy weather revisited us. We were about three miles from our waypoint about 2 miles off Huahine when a blinding squall hit and the Captain decided to heave to until it passed, since visibility is desirable when approaching coral reefs. Looking in our semi-reliable guidebook during this time the crew found that the harbor to which we were heading on Huahine was not an "all weather" anchorage. Let's see, we said. High wind from a direction for which the anchorage gives little protection. Rain. Lightning. Thunder. Heavy chop. If that isn't all weather, it's a pretty good sampling. So after an hour of no letup in the "squall" with the rail being put well under in the gusts, so that we saw little fishies in the galley windows, we decided it may not pass and determined to head for Raiatea, which we were assured had better shelter. We realized that by now, even motor sailing, we would be lucky to reach Raiatea, which was still twenty miles distant directly upwind, by mid afternoon and would still have to find an anchorage. The Captain felt it was not cause for terrible concern if we didn't make it in daylight, but it would be a genuine drag. We would probably get in the pass OK as it is well lit, but we had very poor American charts for the island and reef once we got inside and would face a crapshoot navigating. As we would not, therefore, want to enter the pass after dark, we could heave to all night, which would take us at about two knots in the wrong direction, but we would not be in danger of hitting land. On the other hand, if the squash zone strengthened during this time, that would not be a good thing as it would bring still higher winds. So we really did want to get there.

Stay tuned.

Next report from this location: Tahaa Ha Ha

Back to the Progress Chart | Back to Trip Reports
Progress ChartTrip ReportsPhoto GalleryAbout MaverickThe CrewGlossary & Technical Weather Check