Finally back to sea
Fortunately today a bit of clear sky after so much rain.
Ocean that is affected by the strong winds of the past few days and is scrambling to find its favorite setting with the ENE trade wind which should already be stabilized at this time of year, but meteorology is experiencing a period of serious instability, just like discipline, chasing and trying to understand where climate change will lead.
But let’s go back to us, to Ariel, but above all to the new fleet, the “three caravels”, namely Ariel, Milanto and Sea Lover, with respectively Italian, Samoa and Mexico flags and the crews with different origins, Italy (Paolo, Cecilia, Valerio , Lorenzo, Luca), Spain, (Amancio) Great Britain (Mark) and Mexico (Daniel and olta David). A nice group with the same objectives, that is to make a united route to the west by taking advantage of every reopening, at least as far as Fiji, the nerve center of the return, or perhaps as far as Australia, if the borders open.
The organization must live with a schedule that cannot go beyond 3/4 days, given the unexpected changes, often confused and never as you would have expected them. For example, we knew from consular sources that navigation in all the islands of French Polynesia would be free on May 22, while other sources claimed the opposite, then magically on May 23 an official decree arrived that in addition to lengthening our leash, opens the doors of the regained freedom.
So first stop in Moorea, where we were able to grasp its pristine beauty helped by the fact that there is no tourism, except us. All resorts and multi-star hotels closed; hence indigenous population, without screaming crowds. A rare opportunity. A week in Moorea slipped quickly, while the Maramu blew violently, Ariel was floating peacefully protected by the Reef. These volcanic islands, with different characteristics from one archipelago to another, but have a constant, being surrounded by a reef, or a coral barrier, which like a shield protects the lands that have emerged from the violence of the ocean. From a depth of 3000/4000 meters it rises to 300 and then to 30 and finally to zero, where the coral grows for hundreds of meters at sea level.
Nature, and sometimes man, have taken steps to interrupt this reef by forming the so-called “passe”, or real passages to allow the entry of boats, not only ours, but of all local traffic, especially for to live, as well as for tourism. There are some rules to enter the passes, which fortunately are well marked, and for this reason – chapeau – to the cousins from beyond the Alps, some simple but fundamental rules must be observed. Never enter with the sun in your eyes, but always behind you, so it is a must in planning your trip to enter in the morning if the entrance requires a west route and vice versa; then we must take into account the tidal flows, to enter in moments of “tired”, or when the river of water that enters and leaves the pass is less troubled; about portolans,apps and programs made by other navigators help us in this, in addition to the electronic cartography that we rediscover faithful, at least until now.
A member of our group, Amancio, “homo tecnologicus”, is endowed with everything, but when I say everything I omit nothing, world digital cartography, including Russian, Japanese, English, American maps and I don’t go into detail because there is to get lost, and sometimes having too much doesn’t always help, but confuses.
In any case, now that we are alone, without supports of predefined routes by the ARC, the comparison and analysis of the possibilities together are a very pleasant moment. In this regard, after long consultations, and the most technicians will have understood it from our current longitude, we have collegially decided to go back for 250 miles to visit the Tuamotu islands, almost the only ones left on the planet, and the first to disappear with the increase. forecast of ocean levels.
Atolls without mountains, in fact the mountain is below, and the atolls are the calderas of the old volcanoes, where the coral has grown out of all proportion, leaving however lagoons surrounded by sand rings (it is not sand in reality it is coral debris milled over the centuries by force of the sea) and palm trees. In fact, the Tuamotu are famous because they can only be seen when you get there, and you can sense the tufts of the tallest palm trees. We passed it on March 22, when they almost forced us to make a direct route to Pepeete, preventing any stop, when the terror of Covid paralyzed the world. There is no return to the Tuamotu against wind and current, so we waited for a good weather window and here we are, still in the middle of the Pacific, when there are about 100 miles to go to Fakarava, according to many one of the most significant atolls,and above all in a position whereby the restart, with the wind in favor, would allow us to visit others.
The Tuamotu are famous for the breeding of black pearls and for the so-called mother of pearl, a flourishing production in the 1960s that gradually declined after the invasion of plastic, but now it seems to be recovering, so much so that both in Mahini and in Ahe, two atolls we would like to see the cultivation and inseminations of black pearl oysters are recovering. In the next diary I will tell you how it works, as I hope to see it live. It is now 10:40 local time on May 27th and we proceed close-hauled, with a surprising wind angle of 24 degrees, with 15 knots of true wind, to keep Ariel a little on the rope, slowed down and in comfort, because there are 95 missing. miles to finish and we can’t afford to land in the dark. We go up slowly, but comfortable.Extraordinary how in long voyages we come to find sailing compromises that we never would have conceived before. An example is the trident, another is this wrong windward, with the boat hanged, at the rope, but with a truly surprising wind angle, and a heel of 10 degrees and a speed of 5.7 knots. To a pupil I would have said…. rests! don’t you feel that the boat is braking? Today, however, we sail like this. The wrong windward.
see you soon from Paolo & Ceci