The crossing from Papeete, Tahiti to Huahine island in the Iles sous le vent (the 'Leeward Isles') is only about 90 miles. This is too much to sail in the 12-13 hours of daylight in one day, so we slipped our mooring at the Tahiti yacht club and wound our way out through the narrow channel at 3pm. Assuming 5 knots, we should reach the south east end of Huahine in the early morning, after a brisk overnight passage in the forecasted 15-20 knot winds.
The reality was quite different. A dark layer of squally clouds lay between us and Mo'orea and the winds varied from as low as 2 knots to about the lower end of the forecast range. The seas were big and confused between Mo'orea and Tahiti, as they had been on the two previous occasions we had made this passage. Ladybug rolled through 20 degrees on either side of vertical. As night fell, we drifted and slatted our way into a patch of drizzly calm. After waiting half an hour for the wind to return, we held a conference and decided to motor out of this belt of rain. It appeared that even though we were nearly 10 miles from the coast of Mo'orea, we were in its lee The wind returned after motoring for a couple of hours, once we were well clear of the island.
The remainder of the passage was run nearly downwind, with a following breeze of 10-15 knots from the east. It is not possible to sail Ladybug straight downwind without using a whisker pole to hold out the jib on the opposite side to the main. Otherwise, the main will block the wind to the jib or the jib will collapse if we try to fly it without support opposite the main. At night, with the prospect of squalls, and in rolling 2-3 meter cross swells, I was reluctant to hoist the pole on the wet pitching foredeck. So we tacked downwind, running first to the northwest and then southwest to reach our destination to the west.
At daybreak, I hoisted the pole and we steadied into a lovely downwind run aimed straight for Huahine, with double reefed main and partially furled jib. The steering is quite balanced with this configuration because the jib opposes the forced exerted by the main. Off to port we spotted another sailboat under sail and to starboard a catamaran motoring downwind, both bound for Huahine. More showers passed and as we neared the island, an intense, crisp full rainbow arched overhead.
We entered the pass near Fare but turned south, away from the main village, toward the more sheltered bay of Haapu where our friends on 'Chapter Two' were anchored. En route down the narrow channel we made a snack of the chestnut-like mape nuts we had gathered on Moorea. About half an hour later Rani fell quite ill and was soon making use of one of the ship's buckets. I also felt ill, but perhaps my greater weight spared me the worst of it. So - a warning to those cruisers who have been told that mape nuts are edible - eating half a dozen nuts on an empty stomach is a bad idea!
We plan to spend a week here at various anchorages.