Returning to French PolynesiaI've been delaying writing about our multi-leg trip back from the Cook Islands to French Polynesia in part because I prefer to post entries in the order they occurred even though they are delayed. We haven't even finished our logs of French Polynesia and so far we've written nothing about our adventures in the Cooks.
The other reason we haven't blogged about our plans was because, frankly, we weren't sure we would make it.
Not that we thought something bad would happen but we thought there were at least even odds that we would have to turn back. We had never set out on a windward ocean passage and as we asked around for advice we were mostly met with wide eyed looks and statements like "but that's the wrong way". A few French boats gave more specific, but so very Frenchie advice such as "just don't put the rail in the water" (um, not even a possibility) and "it will probably take two weeks, but you'll make it" and "I have a friend doing that route but not until the November" (in the hurricane season).
As we slowly close on Bora Bora, on our second and final leg, we begin to allow ourselves feel that we are actually going to get there. We fell in love with French Polynesia and it looks like we are going to get a chance to savor it again.
There are a number of factors working against sailing SE in this part of the world:
1) The winds are primarily from the SE quadrant (i.e., noserly).
2) The swells are primarily from the SE quadrant.
3) There is a light west setting current which widens tacking angles.
4) The distances for our legs are too large to complete an entire leg while taking advantage of an unusual wind direction (e.g., NE) which is, alas, always too brief.
Still, there are a number of factors we have working for us:
1) Estrellita is a Wauquiez Pretorien. Some cruising boats go to windward. Some don't. Pretoriens do.
2) One of her crew was called "Ti-Fou" (lil'crazy) in a former life. The other has been known to commit to other grueling, senseless endeavors such as dissertations and marathons.
3) We have a lot of free time. While limited by the impending hurricane season, if a windward passage takes twice as long as a downwind passage, so be it. We are not Moitissier. Passage making isn't as fun as exploring islands, but neither is it so painful that we will change our cruising desires to minimize it.
Back to my night watch...