We extricated oursleves from Polynesia on Monday 13th June with the minimal of bureacaracy and no exchange of money. I think this easy transition will not persist as we travel westwards . We untied the mooring lines from the Bora Bora yacht club buoy at 15.15 and it was straight through the Teavanui pass into the big ocean . We realised within the first few hours that we had definately become lagoon lizards and we were both quite unaccustomed to the swell and the rolling of the ocean ,nothing was still and we were thrown about the boat relentlessly . The wind picked up to force 6 quite quickly and the swell was southerly so going west this did not make for a comfortable ride . The first 24 hours were a struggle coming to terms with ocean sailing again but there was no going back and indeed we did find our sea legs again by the next day.
The wind was the prevailing east to east south east force 4-5 the next day and the swell calmed down and we had some pleasant sailing day and night with the waxing moon lighting our way . It became gradually more difficult to follow our course as the wind became more easterly so we had to jibe. John had rigged new Dashew style preventers on both sides of the boat, from the end of the boom to the foredeck and back to the cockpit . So with this we could change preventers to jibe without going outside the cockpit, a big improvement . In fact there were very few problems on this voyage that could not be helped or solved using the Dashew cruisers bible so thankyou Sam and Gilly for such a practical gift at the start of our circumnavigation.
We continued to roll as downwind as we could and decided that with 3 reefs in the main and varying the size of the big jenny we could manage the changing wind strengths quickly and easily only needing to reef the big jenny which can be done very rapidly on the electric winch if needed . The first squall hit on the evening of 15th June bringing its usual gifts of 30+knots of wind and rain. The squalls continued intermittently the following day dodging them was impossible. By Friday the 17th we had cleared the squalls and had a pleasant 24 hours as the swell calmed and the wind was a steady SE force 5. Another 24 hours and the squalls were around again and as the wind became easterly and light we motor sailed to keep up our speed and direction .We motored intermittently for the next 48 hours and then the wind changed to westerly,rather a surprise but it was light and we could motor into it to keep our course .
Finally the wind became SW force 4-5 so we sailed on a close reach towards Nuie having realised we were going to make a night landfall. As we approached Nuie on the evening of Monday 20th the wind strengthened and we had to decide whether to go north around the island or south,with a SW wind the latter meant a lee shore . Luckily the Commodore of the Nuie yacht Club was in touch with us on e- mail and advised rounding the southern end so we did. Nuie is only 68metres high and it was extremely difficult to see the island in the dark even with moonlight and we did not see the outline of the land until 4 miles off shore. We rounded the southern tip at about 21.00 with a strong southerly wind and by this time quite a big swell. The main town of Alofi is on the west coast and once round the tip conditions calmed in the lee of the island. We dumped the main and sailed up the west coast towards Alofi. The next hurdle was a night entry to pick up a yacht club mooring buoy in front of the town. Commodore Keith was reassuring and there were excellent leading marks to follow but as always in the dark things are never that simple . The main hazard is FADs (fish aggregating devices ) which are large fishing nets attached to the bottom but on very long ropes so they move. Despite our best efforts we did collide with one of these but our rope cutter on the propeller worked brilliantly and were we free in seconds with great relief all round. So we proceeded along the leading line towards the wharf then saw the other yachts in the mooring field to the south.We picked up a mooring easily as they are marked with fluorescent tape so easily identified with a head torch.Time 01.45 Tuesday 21st June and the 1100 nm mile voyage was over.