On my passsage from Hao to Raroia in the Tuamotus the wind is strong and steady with 18-22kn true from ESE.
The notorious only pass on this large atoll is no trouble at all with still 4kn of outflowing current, but not many standing waves that I can largely avoid by keeping a little to the east side of the main current. From then on it is fine sailing to NW on a beam reach, later wing on wing all through the night with 7-8kn SOG (speed over ground). At first light the S tip of Raroia comes into sight. The waves which had hitherto reached 2 to 2.5m from ENE now mounted to 3m and as I haul the wind to close the pass, Moira reaches speeds of 11kn in the surf , warp speed for my boat. Quite exhilarating with foam bubbling all around the boat!
Again, the Raroia pass is no trouble at all, with 1.5-2kn of current floating me into the lagoon. Then follows a long coral bommie slalom to cross the lagoon. But thanks to the satellite images in Open CPN and the old eye ball navigation that has become quite safe. Thanks, Bruce for making these charts available, visit brucebalan.com/chartlocker
By time the anchor drops next to my friends on Pakia Tea, I have sailed 180nm in 25hrs. After an afternoon nap, Pakia Tea invite me to pizza and a Harry Potter movie. A perfect night, had it not been for my botched attempt at banana bread for dessert, burnt and with a density close to a lead ingot...
The south eastern motus are quite wild with a lot of native vegetation and nesting seabirds, lots to explore! I am spending some easy and happy days here in Raroia with the Pakia Tea family. We treat each other to meals and yesterday I played in the water with Keanu on the kayak and float they have. It feels great to be a kid again and yes, he enjoys it too... Unlike me, he is ready to go again after lunch!
I need to nap when they call me excitedly on the radio. They have sighted some reef manta rays all around their boat. I dash over there and lo and behold, up to nine mantas sail by in slow-motion as we all swim in a huge cloud of the little critters they gobble up. First they turn away some 10m, 30ft away from us, later they come so close I could almost touch their wingtips. Their wingspan measures between 2 -3m, 6- 9ft and their slo-mo movements are magnificent and mesmerising to watch. Tom and I get some great footage I will share as soon as I have internet again. After analizing his manta belly shots he could identify eleven individuals from a database as the patterns of black dots on their white bellies are as individual to them as our finger prints.
What an amazing experience, we are all stunned!
We sail together to visit a tiny coral island in the NE of the atoll with a memorial plaque on it. In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl's Kontiki expedition stranded here. We pay our homage by hanging an old Tibetan prayer flag next to the Norwegian and Swedish one and by crafting a hammock from a washed up fishing net and bamboo.