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Saturday, March 02, 2013

A rough night anchored off Napuka atoll

March 2, 2013 7AM local (Mar 2 @ 1700UTC)
Anchorage position: 14°10.02' S 141°16.63' W


Still anchored off the SW corner of Napuka atoll after a fitful nights sleep. The sound of crashing surf may be soothing to those sleeping in a beach cabana, but the same sound evokes feelings of terror to the anchored yachtsman. Since we're right on the SW tip of Napuka atoll surf is breaking on the reef along the South shore and also along the West shore. The crashing boom of hollow waves exploding on the coral reef less than 250' away did not make for a good nights sleep. Since we have over 125 of anchor rode deployed if the wind shifted we be right in the line up. We'd anchor further off the atoll if we could, but the the bottom quickly drops off to hundreds and then thousands of feet just behind the boat.

It seemed I spent half the night looking out the hatch to confirm our position relative to a few lights on the atoll. The other half of the night when I was sort of asleep I was enjoying freaky dreams about the boat smashing on the reef. My anchor alarm was set a little too conservatively and it kept going off through the night adding another layer of mayhem to my sleep rhythms. Luckily it was a pretty calm night and the south setting current was steady and the wind light in the lee of the atoll. This morning around 3:30AM a fishing boat heading out for the early bite gave us a close pass and then before sunrise two more boats passed by for a look.

There's a small notch in the reef and a boat ramp providing access to the atoll, but as I write I can see big hollow waves closing out the passage. We'd like to go ashore to explore the atoll after breakfast, but first I need to fortify my sleep deprived brain with some strong coffee, then check the weather outlook for our remaining 300nm voyage to the Marquesas and then decide if we can run the gauntlet of waves to make it ashore. A big morning.

Just a few minutes ago the fishermen stopped by the boat on their way back to shore. Each of the two plywood boats had five adults and a few kids. The fishing was pretty tough as only one boat had a fish, a nice Wahoo. The guys were super friendly, but we lacked a common language so it was your basic very basic conversation sort of a charades with lots of pointing, gesturing and smiles.

We just watched one of the boats run the break in the reef at full speed perfectly timing the sets. Once in the tiny basin a back hoe picked up the boat with straps to bring it ashore.

That's it for now.

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