June 25, 2012
Underway Position at 8AM local: 13°54'S 141°11'W
This morning we are sailing toward the Tuamotus at 7-9 knots under regular sail. Sailing catamaran LightSpeed is finally back on her lines and sailing properly now that we've eaten through hundreds of pounds of food and are no longer loaded down with the passage making crew we had from Mexico. We've still another day of sailing to Raroia atoll. The weather is pretty spectacular with North East winds 100% of the way so far! The predominant wind direction is E to SE, but we've timed the interaction of a huge 1036 High pressure system and are getting N to NE winds. This turns what is a normal beat into a downwind passage!!! All of our weather watching the last few weeks seems to be paying off very nicely.
Not sure of the precise wind speed as our Tacktick wireless wind instruments have been out of service for the last 2.5 months. They stopped working reliably about half way into our 2750nm sail from Mexico to the Marquesas. After giving the instruments a substantial sun filled vacation and plenty of time to recharge in the Marquesas islands (they are solar powered) they still don't work. It seems the mast head wind transducer performance has degraded to the point that it sends signals for about 10 minutes then shuts down. Checking on the internet, this seems a fairly common problem... too bad we are just out of the warranty period. I'm thinking we'll dump the Tacktick instruments and go with something solid state that runs NEMA 2000 so I can plug it directly into my Simrad autopilot. With integral wind data delivered to the autopilot we should be able to take advantage of the 'Wind' feature in the Autopilot that will steer the boat to an apparent wind angle. A handy feature and something that never worked with the Tacktick linked to the autopilot, likely because of the slow rate of data output from the flaky Tacktick.
We are about 2 hours from sailing between Napuka atoll and Tepoto atoll near a position of 14°08'S 141°21'W. From what we understand there is no pass into either lagoon and the only anchorage option is on the edge of the reef. Studying a detailed satellite image of Napuka atoll there appears to be a concrete wharf on the west end in very small basin where the coral has been blasted out. This basin looks super sketchy even for a dinghy landing. Our CM93 chart only vaguely depicts these atolls with a few polygons, so we'll be using the DMJ Quester 'Marine Plotter' software loaded with google satellite images and tied to our GPS as we get closer.
Since we're now running early on our approach to Raroia we might swing close to Napuka atoll and get a visual on the Wharf and scope out the edge of reef anchorage options. Ideally you only navigate around coral shoals during the hours of 10AM to 2PM when the sun is sufficiently overhead to avoid low angle sun glare off the water. If you follow this rule it's fairly easy to 'read the water' depths and avoid the shoal areas. This in mind it looks like perfect timing for a look at Napuka atoll today. We've just spotted the palm crowned atoll of Napuka bobbing in and out of the swell from 8 nautical miles.
That's it for now.
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