At 70 nautical miles, Tahuata was the longest crossing of this expedition. I prepared everything the evening before, so I could have a running start at 2 am. I wanted to start in the middle of the night to arrive close to sunset in Ua Pou, my next island. For a few hours I slept on board Dick and Monique’s boat with everything packed and ready in the water, they also fed me and we had nice evening talking about the boat life, which I’d enjoyed about a decade ago. At 2 am, I started paddling in the rain with a light breeze from the back. It was pitch black, but soon after I was surprised by an amazing full sky of stars, which I used to set my course to save looking at my compass every few minutes. At one point the sky lit up and I saw one of the longest shootings stars I have ever seen.
It is surprising how fast you get used to the movement of the waves without seeing anything. When the sun came up at 5.30 am there was a good breeze, so I rigged up my windsurf sail. This lasted all of ten minutes when it started to go down and down until there was nothing left. I derigged it and went back to paddle again for the next two hours. It looked like it was going to be a very long day, and perhaps night…
But then suddenly the wind picked up and life was good again. My routine is paddle or windsurf for an hour and then take a quick break to eat and drink something, check my position and course and to be sure my tracker is functioning correctly. And so the hours go by. At sunset I was an hour away from the point of the island and two hours from my destination.
With the moon up, I kept windsurfing. Windsurfing in the dark is not easy but this was made even harder with the waves bouncing back from the cliffs. It is always exiting to enter an unknown port or bay in the dark.