The Tuamotus Diaries #20, Day 41 – July 8th 2016
Soon Adriana will be back, after a long time away. And while we miss her terribly, it feels like yesterday that I left her at the dinghy dock at Makemo’s village.
Time seems to have sped up, and this is a sign that our days must have fallen under a routine. Routines are hard to get while cruising, particularly when “out there”, like we are now. The days are heavily influenced by the weather, eventual boat projects, and also by whom we are sharing the anchorage with. Still, there is a broad repetitive pattern that settles – grounded mostly on Homeschooling and Meal Times – and some days do end up looking more of less like others.
Yesterday was one of those days that did NOT look like others we’ve had.
It started cloudy and fresh, with a light breeze from the NE, and a bleak forecast. Seemed like we would focus on indoor activities. By mid morning the cloud cover started to dissipate and the wind to die down – contrary to the forecast, so it seemed – and I started to consider moving outdoors.
Accordingly, a barbecue lunch was announced, and the crew cheered. By early afternoon we were enjoying our NZ steaks with mashed potatoes in the cockpit, floating on glassy waters, and sweating to the bright sun and absolute lack of wind.
We all plunged in the water, only to realize it had been a long time since we had last swam – maybe 5 days. And, to remind us of where we are, schools of assorted fish and sharks came to the reunion with us, sharing those crystalline waters.
While in the water, I noticed a large ring of clouds all around us – it was very broad, fringing the horizon. I then theorized that we might be in the middle of some system – the “eye of a storm” of sorts. Maybe the forecast wasn’t that off.
In fact, as the afternoon progressed, a wall of clouds got closer to us from the SW, and it seemed that we were approaching the edge of that circle of clear weather. I came out of the water and started to check that everything was ship-shape onboard, particularly the anchoring system.
Probably less than an hour later the sun had disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds and it started to look a bit ominous. I asked the kids to come out of the water as well.
They were still having their showers when I started to hear a distant roar coming from the SW. I called Raquel to check if I my senses weren’t fooling me, but she could also hear it. We couldn’t identify what it was. Despite the menacing clouds overhanging above us, the water was still as glass. I shrugged my shoulders, theorizing the roar might be the swell against the reef on the SW rim of the Atoll, some 5 miles away, and went inside.
As soon as I reached the main saloon, Pesto heeled quickly to Starboard and started drifting. I waited for the pull of the anchor chain, and it felt like an eternity until it responded. Clambering the stairs back on deck, a strong breeze was blowing from the West, and I needed a few seconds to understand how the scenario could have changed so quickly within just a few seconds. This breeze was the roar we were hearing a few minutes ago. We were able to hear the wind before it got us!
West is the only quadrant that our anchorage doesn’t offer shelter for, and it didn’t take long for the wind waves to build and soon Pesto was pitching wildly, pulling hard against the anchor rode. These are the moments when one never regrets any over-investment on anchor and chains …
The bleak forecast of the morning was vindicated. It was uncomfortable all right, but we were still well within the capabilities of our mighty anchor. Not having much else to be done, we gathered below and I started to prepare a large mix of bread batter, trying to distract us from the shit show outside.
The two beautiful whole-wheat loaves were just starting to bake in the oven when the wind started to veer to the Southwest – a direction from where our anchorage DOES offer protection – and the wind waves diminished quickly. Not late thereafter the wind veered to the South, with even better protection for us, and nearly died down.
The bread came out of the oven and Pierce Brosnam had not yet figured out Electra was evil on “Die Another Day”, and Pesto stood still as a rock by then. We went to bed under a clear starry night, and a faint Southeast breeze which just made minor ripples to the otherwise still waters of Makemo – much to my relief.
This was our not-like-many-others day. I may have missed a heartbeat or two. But we had a cool barbecue. And a nice swim. And my first wheat bread came out a success. And an unexpectedly good night’s sleep.