THE TUAMOTUS DIARIES #2, DAY 7
Having spent one and a half years sailing the US and Mexico’s west coasts, we were spoilt by the amount and quality of weather prediction information. Besides, weather there follows quite structured patterns. Take hurricane Blanca, for instance. We knew about it one week in advance and had plenty of time to prepare.
Enter French Polynesia. At this time of the year (it’s winter down here, folks) there are no hurricanes to contend with, no thermal systems like the Santa Ana and the Chubascos, or major storms like the ones that lambast the US’ northwest cost during winter. In fact, the mental picture i had of here, especially the Atolls, was of glassy, transparent waters, and the gentle breeze caressing the palm trees.
Not quite what we have had so far.
It has been almost two weeks since we departed the Marquesas and since then we are yet to see a day of clear blue skies and calm winds. And the most irritating thing is that every time my traditional weather sources indicate the winds will come down, that’s when they blow the most! I won’t get technical on this post regarding the (possible) factors behind it, but in practice, what’s going on is that:
– I still have work to do to find more accurate sources for local weather prediction and also understand the weather patterns here – clearly different to what I was already used to
– there seems to be an appreciable level of unpredictability, particularly here for the Tuamotus, with which we will have to get used to
With unpredictability comes anxiety and discomfort. That’s exactly what we went thru last night.
The time has come to bring Adriana to the village of Makemo, from where she will initiate a long string of flights which shall take her back to civilization for a while (“re-entering”, as she wisely refers to). The anchorage off the village is very exposed to winds from the S and SW quadrants. Do I need to tell you which direction the wind blew last night? It blew, and then it howled, with frequent gusts of up to 30kts. Pesto pitched hard to the wind waves, breaking a (replaceable) component of the anchoring system in the process, and we ground our teeth all night long watching the landmarks and hoping our faithful anchor held us in place during the mayhem, which it did.
Now, the irony of all this is that we are in paradise. The water under us is as clear as glass, even with all the wind waves. Yesterday, when I dove to check the anchor, it felt I was in an aquarium, so many fish there is down there. The reefs around us, which are making us miss a heartbeat every now and then, sparkle in an explosion of colors as the sun light changes over them to the dance of the water. And the sound of the wind on the palm trees onshore is soothing and unnerving at the same time.
It has calmed down a bit now, and Adriana went to shore with Raquel to explore and try to run a few errands, while I stayed onboard with Paulo to stand anchor watch, write this post, and research more about the weather here.
After all, we need to wonder less and know more whether the weather will allow us a tranquil and safe night of sleep from now on.
Have a great Saturday!