We decided to pass on the windward side of Ua Pou in order to both avoid its wind shadow and to give us a better wind angle for the passage. We still ended up with very light winds by the island and a big swell rolling us around from the side. Once we cleared the island, we headed about 10° upwind of our course as a hedge against unwanted wind shifts. This started as a pretty uncomfortable crosswind sail, but gradually improved as we curved more and more away from the wind and seas toward our destination.
The sailing was the fastest we have done since leaving Hawai’i and we found ourselves making it comfortably in three days rather than the four we had originally planned.
In the wee hours of the last morning, we passed behind Takumi atoll and the seas went nice and flat. To keep from arriving too early, I kept reducing sail until we were down to bare poles. It was whisper quiet with just the tiniest bit of motion. Maryanne finally got the decent night’s sleep she had been missing in the rougher seas of the previous nights.
At the appointed time for slack water, we entered the pass and found it definitely not slack. The high winds and seas of the last few days had been spilling more than the usual amount of water into the windward side of the atoll. This raises the water level and delays slack water by an hour or two. We decided to give it a try anyway and if we couldn’t fight the ebb to come back later. We were pushing against an 18 knot headwind, which made us just barely able to overcome the 4.2 knot outflow. Whew! Our first atoll!