We arrived at Makemo after 4 days of easy and pleasant sailing. The weather forecast promised no wind and for once we got exactly what it promised. no wind. Two days of absolutely no wind. Even more no wind than the doldrums where there would at least be the occasional thunderstorm with an accompanying squall. These are the times when we think of the sailors who would be stuck for excruciating weeks in weather like this. Then we have a sip of rum (something you should always do before commencing any kind of activity) and turn on the engine. After roughly two days of motor sailing the trade winds reappeared beam on with almost no swell. Perfect conditions to lie in the trampoline with a book or a cocktail.. or both.
An atoll is a lot of water surrounded by reef. Most atolls have just one or two passes that allows water in and out. In the case of Makemo, the atoll is 70x10km and when the tide goes in and out, that is a lot of water to transfer through a very narrow passage. In some passes, the current can be up to 8 knots.
The pass into Makemo atoll is fairly easy, but since this would be our first attempt at this maneuver, we wanted to go through at slack tide when the current is at its minimum. True to our style, it was poorly planned but well executed and looked good the whole way. Upon arrival, we had a quick glance at the pass and since there were no standing waves we pushed forward. The tide program that was used had given us a time for high time that was 1½ hour off (it was a Mac program) so, as it turned out, we were entering at the maximum current of 4-5knots. The water looked like a giant whirlpool and Skimpy was being tossed from side to side. At times we were only advancing 1knot but slowly, meter by meter, we made our way into safety and the calm water inside the atoll.
Our anchorage is located a couple of hours of smooth sailing NW of the pass. The depth inside the atoll is 20-40m but with little isolated and unmarked reefs coming straight up to the surface which keeps you alert the whole time. When the anchor was finally cast behind a little reef, a barrage of cocktails, champagne and beer was emptied while we gazed upon the beautiful beach. It looks like something straight from a sunscreen commercial, unfortunately without the tanned girls.