Crossing Marquesas - Tuamotu

French Polynesia - Posted On

We leave on the 13th of May Nuku Hiva Islands in the Marquesas, heading to the archipelago of the Tuamotu.

For that time we are only four on board. We adapt the night watching, and this is the opportunity for the others to listen a little bit more about what I have to say about it at last.

12 hours can be divided into four shifts of 3 hours each, instead of two shifts of 6 hours by team of two persons. It is far much better as we can now sleep 9 hours in a row when we organize correctly the day. Luckily I get the one I like the best, early morning from 4 to 7am during which I get to see sunrise every single day, I love it.

Relationship with Delphine is bettering every days. It seems the ursine story went as a good cutout in our disagreement. I feel very much relieved about it, as having long term argument with someone on board is a VERY bad situation to deal with.

However our captain Fred gets more anxious every day as his brother is now not here anymore. He gets scared of everything and prevents us from taking any tiny risks such as fishing for example, no wonder why next to his hook story!

Day 4. No wind at all. The whole sea gets completely flat around us. Some slow and lazy waves are balancing the boat. I dream about jumping in the water for a wild swim but Fred doesn’t want to take the risk… what risk exactly? There’s no wind at all and sharks attacks doesn’t occur like that in the real world. Dreams sometimes are prevented by people’s fear.

Engine is on. “Puff Puff” makes the motor after a few hours. Now is the third time in the day. Fred gets quickly downstairs to pump manually the diesel in. It works again. Few minutes later the problem comes back to shut off completely.

We try to analyze what is happening. Laurent comes up with the memory of having put suspicious diesel bought out from a Russian yacht some time ago. It might be that. Added to that, filters are both quite dirty.

We are now in the middle of the archipelago. Fakarava, one of the main atolls around is not far. We choose to change our plan to stop for the nice smaller atoll just before and to go straight to where we can find more technical help. From time to time we see really low between the sea and the sky line some coco trees, giving us the position of the dangerous atolls nearby.

In front of us now is the famous Northern pass of Fakarava, ‘Te Ava Nui’, standing for ‘the great pass’. It is the greater of Polynesia.

We have to take in account the tide. Either at low or at high tide, there is a time there is no strong current. At other time of the day, the tide creates a strong current that could go up to 20 knots at some points. Much faster that can hold our boat.

Low tide is at 11:21am but it is now 9am. Fred decides to give a look to how strong the current is and we head for the pass. White caps and some medium waves shows quite a good current getting out. After some hesitation, Fred decides to give a try.

Motoring, we get into the waves. GPS speed reduces meter after meter as we enter the middle of the pass. It is still positive even though it is very slow. Nearby, the lagoon is getting closer. The atmosphere on board is quite tensed due to how alert we must be on this critical bit.

Suddenly ‘Puff Puff’ makes again the engine. Panic on board: Fred dives in the engine room, pumping in the diesel, as I deal with the starter and Laurent steers looking at the GPS. Engine stops, starts again, speed is reduced, GPS speed gets negative, motor on, full speed and after some really tensed minutes we finally get out of the pass!

When we get to the village, Fred decides to stop only the necessary time to relax a bit, and leave soon to Tahiti, fixing the engine for good.