Trip Reports

Tahaa Ha Ha (25-May-2001-19-30):
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%.

Perhaps I failed to mention that the new belt for the autopilot failed after only about two hours, so motorsailing for all we were worth to Raiatea, we steered by hand. And after a sloppy, slow ride we got to the pass into Raiatea about 3:00. We had poor charts of the island because the US charts are far inferior in this area to the French. But we stopped at the fuel dock, asked advice from a local cruiser and found our way through the marks without the help of the chart to the anchorage he recommended. To our horror, the only spots available were in excess of 100 feet of water. This is the equivalent, for you Bay Area sailors, of dropping the hook in the middle of Raccoon Strait. 100 feet is eight stories down. But it was getting late, we were very tired, and finding another anchorage with our useless charts amidst a coral reef in the dying light was also out of the question. So we dropped it down there. Kinda creepy, if you ask the Captain, like sending your anchor off to a different universe.

We put out 3 to 1 which is 300 feet for you math buffs. We like to have at least 5 to 1 but let's get serious. That's 500 feet of chain. A very experienced cruiser near us told us that it doesn't matter how deep your anchor is, your swinging room remains the same when you're on chain. There is some truth to this if one can assume less than five knots of wind, but I inferred from his explanation that there also may have been a misunderstanding of the Pythagorean Theorem involved. We smiled and thanked him, but of late thinking about swinging room has become somewhat of a sickness with the Captain to the discomfiture of Ship's Psychiatrist Terry Shrode. At about 1:00 AM the Captain made the calculation that the theoretical swinging radius for 300 feet of rode in 100 feet of water is 282.84271247461900976033774484194 feet, which means that after you set the anchor you need to estimate a diameter of, to round off, 565.68542494923801 feet and make sure nothing is there to hit. But that's not the end of it. (Not to even engage in a discussion of other boats and how one might swing into them, which the Captain will save for another time.) The boat is 39 feet long, so if we add double this figure to the diameter we get 643.685424949238 feet, and this will keep the rudder off the reef. Of course, you must know exactly where your anchor is to make the appropriate judgment. 643.685424949238 feet is, again rounding off, 16.5047544858 boat lengths for Maverick. The Captain awakened Mr. Shrode with this information. He added to Mr. Shrode of the raised eyebrows that due to catenary the actual swinging room will depend on the wind strength, and will probably never reach the above figure, but this added analysis failed to stimulate Mr. Shrode's full attention. The Captain, undeterred, suggested an anchor watch, to which, to be rid of him, Mr. Shrode readily agreed.

We didn't drag that night, nor has Maverick on our watch ever dragged its anchor. We did find, ashore in the Raiatea Carenage, the boat the late Bernard Moitessier owned after Joshua was driven ashore. It was a very funky boat being worked on, I believe, by his girlfriend. And the island itself we found very charming, complete with a rainbow, if that's what it's called, that appeared along the side of a mountain and seemed to lie in the valley next to it instead of the sky where rainbows belong. But we were tired and the Captain was cranky and it seemed unnatural to be in that much water, and we wanted out of there. He wished for three days of settled weather, that's all.

We visited the Moorings dock which was nearby and bought their charts of Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora, and as they are very good, they ease the mind. We saw on the fax that the squash zone strengthened but had moved south and west and was squishing the folks down there. We are now anchored and relaxing in Haamene Bay, Tahaa. We've decided we need some rest and fortunately the conditions seem to be giving it to us. The accumulation of three weeks of unsettled weather and dodgy anchorages and that nasty, short passage to Raiatea took its toll on the Captain's patience and this in itself is a lesson. But the Captain is aware that boats rarely have come to grief because the skipper was too paranoid, although, indeed, their crew very well may.

Next report from this location: French Polynesia for Gentlemen

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