Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] Galapagos and Marquesas out of season. Pluses and minuses.
Hi Porter,toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
I have made two Pacific Ocean voyages, one in 1991; Panama, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Society islands Tonga, NZ, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and on...and another 2002-3.
So a while ago. I will not comment on Ecuador or the Galapagos as it is all rule based and my experience is historical. However I can comment on French Polynesia as we spent a cyclone season in the Society islands in 2002.
I love the Marquesas islands but there are no really good anchorages at all. One tends to roll everywhere. So hanging out for months on end in the Marquesas would not be much fun. Not to mention very limited hardware supplies. I also love the Tuamotus but they are very exposed, so although the anchorages are flat the lagoons are huge and a big chop can develop when the wind shifts.
However I feel that with modern weather forecasting one could safely cruise Tahiti, Morea, Huahini, Raiatea even Bora Bora and Maupiti. You would have to be ready to sail to avoid any storms. Tahiti does not get many. I would say that hanging out in Tahiti/Morea area for a cyclone season is a bit like staying in Grenada for the hurricane season. You should keep a good watch on the weather, be ready to sail towards the equator if required. There are also some excellent hurricane holes, as with Grenada. The main difference is that while Trinidad is a mere 85 miles to the south it is a long way to anywhere north from Tahiti.
Many French boats stay year round in French Polynesia.
Having said that it is pretty wet! We also had two tropical storms packing about 65kn. The first in Bora Bora and in the safe season July 1991. In our anchorage three yachts (out of about a dozen)were washed ashore! In those days we did not have grib files! We had sailed in that afternoon and there was a bloody great swell outside the reef and a dark dirty looking sky. The barometer was steady until dusk when it started to plummet. I felt that something was going to happen so set two anchors por su caso. The wind came and veered from the SE to S and finally SW. Our anchorage was only protected by the fringing reef. It was a long night.
The other was in Rabaul in PNG. It was Christmas time and we were close tot the equator in a safe area. However she blew. We had taken a mooring off the YC that dragged (not doing that again). There was a massive cat 5 cyclone to the south of us by several hundred miles so we got off lightly. It still blew storm force and rained stair rods. Solid columns of water!
The one caveat to the above opinion is that during el nino years Tahiti is more likely to be hit by a cyclone than other years. The other point about an extended Pacific cruise is that you need to be well prepared for weather to change whatever the season, as I guess anywhere.
Amelia (Amel 54 #019)