Sunday, February 24, 2013

Underway for Fakarava atoll

February 24, 2013
Position: 15°49.6'S 146°18.5' W
Time: 12:30UTC (3:30 AM local)
Sailing From Rangiroa atoll to Fakarava atoll, French Polynesia, South Pacific

We started our day with a beautiful and fast close hauled 30nm sail up the Rangiora lagoon. Flat water, a fine breeze and lots of boat speed. Arriving at the pass we sailed right out on an ebb current and are now making our way toward Fakarava atoll, 140nm distant. The course demands our attention as we're weaving between 4 other atolls. And will be passing within less than 4nm of Arutua atoll, 5nm of Kaukura atoll, 8nm of Apataki and 3nm of Toau atoll all during hours of darkness. The scary thing about these atolls is there is very little land mass in the form of motus to provide a radar return. Waves crashing on reefs within a few miles of the course is unsettling. Add in intense squalls with brilliant lightning and pounding thunder rumbling the hulls and one gets a little worried. Even a near strike could blow our navigation electronics back to the stone age, leaving us to navigate like the original Polynesian voyagers in their Vakas.

Aside from the beautiful weather for the morning sail we've been battling some monster squalls and had some lousy luck fishing. The squalls have been huge at 6-8 mile wide and full of nasty strong winds that have whipped the sea into a wild frenzy. To be on the safe side we strike our mainsail for the big squalls and sail on jib through the chaos of gusts and confused seas.

On the fishing front we managed to hook up with three huge fish. The first almost spooled our big Penn reel and it was literally smoking hot and smelled of burning plastic as we raced to drop sail to fight the fish. By the time the jib was furled and main was hastily dropped only a tiny bit of line remained on the reel and then the line went limp. After reeling in 600 yards of line we found our lure missing as the result of broken swivel. Whatever it was it was too big so the Long distnace release proablly saved us more than a hour of fighitng the fish to just release it for being too big. After raising sail and getting underway it was less than 20 minutes until the next fish sent us racing to drop sail, this fish was huge as well as it broke the 50 pound mono main line. A third attempt at catching had yet another fish break the 220 pound stainless leader on the last of my favorite lures. So, my three most favorite lures are lost and no fish to show for it, just lots of unneeded practice of striking and raising sail.

My 'z' key on my laptop broke a few months ago. What a pain. I have to rely on spell check to add the 'z' by typing a word like freny which it corrects to frenzy adding the damn 'z'. The only problem is that for some words spell check just can't guess correctly so I have to misspell another word and copy and paste the missing letter. Often I just rewrite my sentence with an alternate word to save the hassle. Recently, I've switched to my wireless keyboard and guess what keys aren't working? Yes, it's the 'z' key again and now 'x' is on strike as well. If they convince 'y' to join the walk out I'm, throwing the keyboard overboard. Ahh, the joys of a boring 3am watch. Trying to stay awake by writing a blog post to stay awake so Kathy can get some more sleep before I hand over the watch.

I'm calling it a night as it's almost morning and I'm looking forward to 3 hours sleep as Kathy takes the helm for a while.

That's it for now.

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