As we neared the pass a couple of hours later, another boat on his way in saw us on his AIS and called us to ask about conditions there. We were planning on leaving at the tail end of the ebb. We traded estimates for slack water and theirs was four hours later than ours. When we got there, we found just a slight current pushing us out, so I radioed them and told them to hurry while it’s still mild. They sped up to enter an hour after we left and called back to report they had made it in just as it was getting rough.
We had nice, mild sailing for the next couple of days. The wind and seas gradually decreased until it hardly felt like we were moving at all. That was comfortable for the off watch, but it soon became clear that our initial plan of slowing down in the night to avoid getting there before daylight was not going to be necessary. In fact, we were becoming increasingly concerned we wouldn’t make it by nightfall. There were some pretty strong headwinds and rain forecast for the next day and we weren’t really looking forward to trying to pick our way visually across to the protected side of the lagoon through it.
We ended up making it in and to the other side of the lagoon in the last of the good light. We nudged our way into the crook of a sandbar shaped like a “7” and dropped anchor on the edge of a sand shelf in 3 ½ meters of warm, turquoise water.
Finally, we were ready to start our vacation from our permanent vacation. When we entered the pass at Tahanea, it had been 357 days since the last time we did it and we had sailed 15,780 nautical miles to get right back to the same place. That’s just over a quarter of ALL of the miles we have sailed together in the last sixteen years. We both agreed that was probably a bit too much. It was the result of a simple math problem: a lap of the South Pacific is almost 16,000 miles long and if we didn’t want to get snowed in in Chile or take our chances with tropical storms, we had to do it in a year. Now we were finally in a nice, flat lagoon and I promised Maryanne we wouldn’t have to do anything we didn’t feel like doing for at least a week and a half.