Isles du Desappointments, change of plans, disappointment

The very small island group named Isles du Desappointement lies nearly on the rumb line about one third of the way between Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and Raroia atoll in the Tuamotus. They are low-lying and hard to see. We had plotted a course to leave these island to leeward, sailing to the east of them in order to preserve as much of our east longitude as possible. Thus, should the SE Trade winds turn more southerly we could turn and reach towards Raroia. The first two days brought idyllic south Pacific sailing in steady trade winds, flat seas, and blue skies dotted with little puffy clouds. But as the second day drew long in the afternoon clouds filled in and then the squalls began.

We had left Nuku Hiva with water tanks about half full. And soon after leaving Randy began the process of “de-pickling” the water maker [when not used for more than three days it needs to be “pickled” to prevent biological growth inside]. This did not go so well. One small set back lead to another in a series of otherwise incidental failures. After two days of fussing with the water maker, a moratorium was called on further diagnosis. The boat was bouncing and working in the forepeak on an unknown set of problems did not promise great success.

At 1800 (6:00 pm) a decision was taken. We were still well north of the islands on course to pass east of them, but the wind continued to build and veer to the south. This resulted in a course that lead into the Isles du Despointement, not safely past them to the east. The main sail reefed and the jib set, we changed course to sail west across the top of the islands by 10 miles. That would put us safely on their western lee side by morning. But by midnight the wind had increased and boat speed was over 7 knots – too fast for Velic. We hove-to, that is setting shortened sail in such a way that we drifted safely away from the islands.

By this morning the wind had calmed some, but was still from the south; which was generally the direction to Raroia. Combined with a SE swell of 4-6 feet, the course to Raroia was problematic. And, without a functioning water maker, we had only the water already in our tanks. Not knowing if potable water is available in Raroia or any of the other atolls, and knowing that potable water is available in Fakarava, we made a decision: We are now headed for Fakarava, the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago. We should arrive sometime Wednesday. Disappointing because Raroia is one of the navigable but less visited atolls, far from airlines and resort hotels. Also, it was the landing spot of Kon Tiki. Randy really wanted make the pilgrimage and visit the monument.


3 thoughts on “Isles du Desappointments, change of plans, disappointment

  1. Really enjoying your posts and particularly happy to read the water situation is working out. Thinking of you while we sit on the ‘quiet’ shores of Maui.


  2. Much like Kon Tiki, you were at the mercy on the wind and waves and didnt quite end up where you expected. A very appropiate pilgrimage! Enjoyed reading about it “real time”. Next best thing to being there. Thanks.


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