We left Ahe in the morning and had to motor following the channel across the lagoon in the teeth of quite a strong head wind. Marie joked that once out through the pass perhaps there would be no wind and after negotiating the pass through the reef that is the way it turned out to be as we set our course for Rangiroa about 83 miles away. Light winds persisted so it was a slow passage but come the dawn we were about 14 miles off Tiputa Pass, one of two entrances to Rangiroa atoll. Land was not sighted till later about 7 miles away, such is the low-lying nature of these atolls which can make approach quite dangerous.
According to my tide table it should have been about 1hr after low water when we entered the pass and so should have had the tide with us. Judging by the rips and standing waves I thought and indeed found out otherwise and the we had wind against tide making for a fairly exciting entrance of Tiputa pass with Sea Bear surfing down the backs of the waves. It turned out later we impressed a few watching cruisers with our entrance. I later found out that apparently the tide turns maybe 1-2 hours after high or low water, although the tides are very unpredictable and sometimes you get days of outgoing tides at the passes with no inflow at all due to winds and southern swells causing water to flow in over the reefs between the motus in the south of the atoll.
Anyway safely through the pass we were in the lagoon and found a peaceful anchorage off Kia-Ora beach. There were quite a few other boats here unlike Ahe and the atoll was much more touristy.
After a few days here I set off for Tahiti leaving Marie behind who wanted to spend more time in the atolls. I exited via the other pass, Avaturu and armed with more knowledge had slack water for exit.
Once again I was bedevilled with very light winds as I made my way west along the north of the reefs before turning between Rangiroa and the nearby atoll of Tikehau and setting a course for Tahiti about 180 miles away. In the first 24 hours I made a measely 65 miles and in the dawn light passed the island of Makatea about 12 miles off on the port beam. The afternoon bought better winds and progress was good. Just before sunset I spotted a sail astern, a rare sight for me on passage but it took a long time to overhaul me. Just before dawn the lights of Tahiti were spotted and later the island was revealed.
I eventually I entered Papeete harbour and moored alongside a pontoon in Papette marina. This is in the heart of the town alongside a busy boulevade and quite some change from the anchorages I have been in for the past months. It has much changed since Moitessier’s day but it was here that he finally ended his epic 11 month and one and a half times circumnavigation of the world.