Apataki Carenage: Our home amongst the Palm Trees
1st December 2017 –23rd February 2018
Leaving the protected anchorage, well the mooring field, of Anse Amyot on the atoll of Toau at 0615, the mainsail was hoisted and the jib unfurled. Ahead of us was a short 21 mile hop across to the south western pass of Apataki, where we needed to arrive by 0930 to catch the stand of the tide. An easterly wind of 15-20 knots pushed us along nicely ensuring that we made our deadline on time.
The Apataki pass is nice and wide with plenty of room to maneuver if things go downhill. Just as we arrived, the Friday morning plane from Tahiti touched down on the skinny airstrip which parallels the reef’s edge. The passengers would have had an excellent view of us dropping our sails as they descended to terra firma.
Once inside the lagoon we fired up the motors for the final 9 mile hike across to the eastern side of the lagoon where the boatyard (carenage) is located.
Not long after eleven we were anchored just offshore from the haulout ramp, so we jumped in the dinghy to get the lay of the land and meet the family who run the boatyard. Years ago they ran a very profitable pearl farm, but as running costs increased and the pearl industry took a dive they changed tacks and branched out to the boatyard business. It looks as though that was a very good move.
Pauline, Alfred and Tony, their son, run the business and the yard and have two employees as well. Alfreds's parents are now more on the sidelines and run the chicken farm and the copra entity. But it’s all hands on deck including the oldies for every haulout and launch.
All work and no play
Our haulout date was set for the morning of Dec 6th, so over the next couple of days one by one, bar the engines of course, our onboard systems were put into hibernation mode. Sails were taken down, folded and placed in their bags for storage below decks, awnings were given a thorough clean and folded away, fridges and freezers taken out of service and the interior walls washed down with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water to prevent mould spores growing in our absence. Engine and genset oils were changed and our watermaker decommissioned for the season.
The only sail which didn't make it below decks was our mainsail, which we flaked and encased in two heavy duty tarps secured with strong lines to the boom, The boom in turn was then lowered onto the coachouse roof and tied down to prevent movement and reduce windage on the off-chance a cyclone should accidentally wander over to the Tuamotus.
Rain rain go away
Our friends on Lumiel were hauled out a day or two before us so we had a ringside seat to watch and learn the proceedings.
The evening before it was our turn to haul the heavens opened with an almighty deluge and we both said a silent prayer that there be no encore performance from mother nature tomorrow.
Alfred expertly backed the hydraulic trailer down to the waters edge as Liam tweaked GWTW into position close to the ramp. Tony and his helpers were already in the water waiting with lines to toss up so as to stop us drifting sideways as the trailer was positioned under our bridge deck.
Within 30 mins we were ready to go. The tractor revved it’s engine and a slow procession towards land began. It’s always a nervous time for us as our home transitions from water to the hard stuff, but thankfully it went without a hitch.
We stopped briefly for a quick bottom wash and scrape to remove any slime or barnacles still clinging on for dear life to our hulls, then it was one last trundle to our designated parking spot for the summer.
And what a spot it was. Only a boat length away from nature’s big blue swimming pool and just a tad more to the shore side shower and restroom facilities. The yard’s wi-fi signal could be picked up from our cockpit, big bonus there, and the water hose to fill our tanks and wash down our decks was within easy reach. Palm trees swayed just behind our transoms and distant sound of waves crashing on the eastern reef was music to our ears.
All in all we were pretty happy with our little slice of rented terra firma come the close of business that day.
Onward to the land down-under
December 8th rocked around and I woke up to discover I was a year older. Just how does that happen? But no time to dilly dally or have breakfast in bed, we had to move our packed suitcases down to the dock for the boat trip back across the lagoon to the airport. We were Sydney bound via Papeette and Auckland.
But before we could put our brains into holiday mode, we had to turn the lights out, or so to speak on GWTW, check and recheck that all was in order, lock the doors and bid her au revoir for two months plus change.
She was all hunkered down and we felt she was in great shape if bad weather came her way during our absence.
And so with one final look back at her as we took off in the speed boat across the water to town, she really did look very content in her little slice of paradise at home amongst the palm trees
In the words of a wise old rabbit ...That’s All Folks !
And so ended our 2017 cruising season. Looking back, this past year has been a real adventure from the moment we slipped our lines way back in Brunswick, Georgia USA in January, to when we were lifted from the water here in Apataki Tuamotus, French Polynesia on December 6th. We have visited five countries and a whopping six and a half thousand miles of open ocean have passed beneath our keels. Me thinks it’s definitely time for us and our girl to have a well deserved rest.
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