4-20-09We had a great sail from Fata Hiva to Hiva Oa, much better than the hard bash in the windward direction getting to Fata Hiva, several other boats admitted, including us that it was rougher than anything along the big puddle jump.
Arriving in Atuona, Traitors Bay now for the 3rd time we shocked to see how crowded it was, it seemed like 2ce as many boats now jammed the small bay all using bow & stern anchors to keep from hitting the other boats, but that didn’t stop a number of them from bumpin’ into each other while trying to anchor or haul anchor.When we got there we set our bow anchor & was about to attempt to set our stern anchor.It was a tight squeeze in between another sailboat & the old fuel barge but a courteous cruiser came along in his dingy & offered to drop our stern anchor, much to the annoyance of our French neighbor who seemed to be boiling.When we were set we were farther away from the other two boats nears his.We saw him while walking to town the next day, we smiled & waved while he just looked grumpy & annoyed; this seems like the stereo typical French attitude we’ve been warned about, luckily this has been the only case we experienced so far.
We had gone back to Hiva Oa because we had forgot to ask for our visa extension; we had been told we can only stay a total of 90 days, you get 30 days when you first check in plus anther 60 with the extension.We’ll when we requested an extension they gave us an additional 90 days which gave us a bonus of the three weeks we have already been there, so now we can take our time as we meander our way through out French Polynesia :-)
It was still a bit rolly in the anchorage despite the double anchoring hassels, so we didn’t get a great night of sleep amongst the hordes of boats all crammed in around us so as soon as we got back from the gendarmerie we got out our can opener &shoe horn & got prepared to leave.We had put all of our fenders on frenchies’ boat side along with our dingy just in case we’d be bumpin’ him as we retrieved our stern hook.I had been trying to get his attention for a while when I saw him get into his dingy I hailed him over to let him know that we were leaving & he may want to stand by to fend off the boats or just let out some of his stern anchor line in case we get close.He was grumpy in his annoyed uptight French attitude persona, speaking only in French he said “not reasonable”.Luckily his friend spoke English & was a reasonable fellow & he persuaded mr. uptight to help us retrieve our anchor in his large hard dingy (his choice of tenders is obviously an attempt to make up for his small flaccid one :-)This process is fairly easy using our big boat but to haul a very well set 45lb anchor with 25’ of heavy chain but to haul by hand is a challenge but we managed to pull the hook from the muck.Just a few hours earlier another boat set it’s bow anchor out in front of our boat, we discovered their anchor chain attached to ours as we hauled it all in.We couldn’t remove it with our boat hook but they came out in their dingy & free us; we were glad to ‘flee that anchorage’ after a short 24 hour stop :-)
4-21-09 We had a nice down wind sail around to the NW corner of Hiva Oa, the wind kept wrapping around the island which allowed to be down wind just about the whole way.Interestingly there was only about a mile of no to low wind in the wind shadow of the island, after that the wind began to blast from the other direction but by this time we just a couple of miles away from our anchorage at Hanamenu Bay.As we were anchoring Avatar & Camelot were hauling anchor so we had the place to our selves for a day & a half.It was a bit rolly despite setting bow & stern anchors but the seclusion was a welcome change from the main town’s anchorage.The next morning we rowed our dingy to the beach where there is an abandoned village.We saw coconut trees abounding with lemon, lime & a few other fruit trees.The main attraction that day was the waterfall tumbling down to clear pool, surrounded by fragrant flowers, palms & ferns.We splashed about in the pool enjoying a fresh water rinse & drinking from the sweet waterfall.Although we were often swarmed by clouds of nat like bugs, it didn’t seem like we were getting bit but later that night Robin discovered about 100 bites while Bobbie & I didn’t have any; they must have been nonos.
4-23-09We hauled our anchors & left Hanamenu at bound for Oa Pou (I’m curious how this island was named, perhaps the explorer stepped on something stinky as he got out of his boat & exclaimed, “Ooh, a Poo!” :-)Bobbie has been reading Harry Potter books to us along the passages since leaving Mexico, we had the first 4books & read them all on the long passage, then borrowed book 5 from Bravado.Bobbie finished book 5 in the early morning, we then heard Bravado on the morning net saying they were located on Nuka Hiva, a position we were actually sailing for do to the wind. Well it turned out that we would have to gybe the boat down wind to reach Oa Pou so we decided to just sail straight to the main bay of Nuka Hiva & trade in our Harry Potter book with the next one with Bravado:-)
The anchorage was huge so the 40 or so boats could fit fairly easily but we had just come from a crowded main town anchorage so after an uncomfortable rolly night we sailed over to DanielsBay, located at
08deg 57S, 140deg 10W, one of the most beautiful anchorages in the Marquesas; we wondered why no one else was here that morning.By the rendezvous of three kid boats Bravado, Whisper & Hipnautical took over the place.The next day Bravado took off for the Tuamotus & we took the hike to the waterfall with Whisper; it’s amazing how well Robin can hike with friends, other wise a beautiful hike is more like a death march for him :-OAlong the hike we met a local Marquesan armed to the teeth for wild boar hunting, he was sporting a boars teeth necklace with boar spinal cord disks, he had 1” diameter boars’ spinal cord disks inserted in his large pierced ears (he would surely be a hit in the Los Angeles punk scene :-) He was sporting a vast collection of Marquesan tattoos;a very intemadating presents if not for his quick smile & cheerful disposition.He had a very large wild boars head slung over his back which he showed off his ‘trophy head’ as he put it with large tusks curling out of his jaws.The hunter had a large caliber shot gun with an ‘illegal in the US’ pistol grip for fast & easy shooting from the hip slung across his back, a number of various large knifes for dispatching with the wild boars.Thru our limited languid talents & lots charade like hand gestures we learned that he uses his dogs in the hunt.When a boar is spotted or more often when smelled first by the dogs, the dogs are sent out to over take the boar & chase it back towards the hunter.I assumed that he would then use the shot gun to easily dispatch the boar but he explained that it was much more sporting to take down the boar with a large dagger & besides shot gun shells are expensive & hard to get.He was on his way back to his house to get his horse to retrieve the heavy boar.
We went on towards the waterfall.The 2.5 hour hike was possible the most interesting hike so far here in the Marquesas as we made our way past ancient history.The path was made centuries if not millennia ago.Piled rock kept the path from washing away, piled rocks formed bridges thru & over flowing streams, piled rocks also formed the base for house structure &piled rocks also made walls to separate ancient property boundaries of long gone jungle villages.We came across pig traps,a deep hole of about 4’ to 6’ lined with large rocks in a sturdy arrangement that has lasted thru history, some of these pig traps are still in use today.The top is covered with palm frounds, a thin line or stout fishing line is tied across from nearby trees over the pig trap, ‘pig food’ is baited to the line, when the pig comes along to get the pig food it falls into the hole unable to get out.Halfway to the waterfall we got a great view of the top of the falls.Breath taking view of the worlds 3rd highest waterfall & the highest vertical drop waterfall in the Marquesas.Arriving at the bottom of the waterfall one is in total awe of the grandness of the massively tall vertical cliffs, with deep gorges & crevasses.A beautiful long wispy tailed white bird can be seen flying joyfully throughout the high vertical verdant cliffs in & around the waterfall.The waterfall is so high that you can’t see the top of it from it’s base.A large series of pools are formed in the stream as you approach the powerful waterfall.Deep cuts & chasms are cut into the rock from the power of the falling water.Despite the warning of falling rocks most of our group couldn’t resist a cautious swim towards the falling water; an extraordinary experience of a lifetime.
On our way back we met up with the wild boar hunter again nearly back to his house with his horse & the boar.He invited us to his place where he lived.His wife worked at the hospital in the main town & came to old family hut on weekends with their two kids.
The huts & homes in this small village have been passed along to family members for countless generations, perhaps millennia.The village is certainly a picture of paradise with calm ocean bay lined with coconut palms swaying in the gentle breeze, a fresh water river flowing thru the village supplying everyone with sweet pure water.Each home/hut has a large yard with numerous fruit trees, fragrant flowering trees & bushes & well manicured grass lawns; weed whackers rule here:-)All have chickens running about for eggs & meat.Lots have goats tied up or roaming around.Quite a few have some cows munching on the grass on the outskirts of their large yards.There were a number homes with pigs way in the back of their property & there quite a number of horses too.
4-26-09The next day Scot & I from Whisper went ashore to the beach here in DanielsBay, the sight of the legendary ‘Daniel’.Daniel had lived here in the secluded beach front palapa for over 60 years, for decades I had been reading cruising articles about others that have been coming here to this very beach shack.The beach shack is still here but Daniel died of old age a few years ago.The TV show survivor was filmed here & as we walked about the area we understood the challenge they faced.There were herds of huge stout land crabs with large menacing pincers abounding the grounds, clouds of swarming mosquitoes ravishingly sucking our blood, clouds of swarming nonos bug adding to the itch factor, millipedes & many other icky yucky crawly things adding to the ambiance.There were also lemon, lime, mango, banana, breadfruit & a few other un-namable fruit trees to soften the hard of the bug ridden ‘paradise’. Our legs soon looked, as Scot put it, like Lego toy pieces, so bumpy you could expect to be able to snap Lego pieces into the bumpy bug bite patterns :-O
4-27-09Today is to be the last day of rest here in the calm relaxing DanielsBay, one last good peaceful rest before we embark on the 550 mile passage to the Tuamotus.The winds around the Marquesas have been strong & steady; something to rely on for getting around without burning our hard to get diesel fuel but we are getting reports from the weather grib files & other cruisers in route to & in the Tuamotus that the wind is very light.We couldn’t get duty free fuel in Hiva Oa & prospect of backing up to the back porch steps of the small Mobile gas station there was intimidating & they say getting fuel in Nuka Hiva is even more challenging; we are about half way thru our supply.We ran out of our 1st bottle of cooking propane fuel yesterday, it lasted 7 weeks; we will need to fill our other bottle by the end of May.They don’t have propane here, only butane & it requires some odd connection adapters.We should be Tahiti before we run out but we hope to get the fill along the way in the Tuamotus.I will make waypoints for the atoll Makamo where our kid boat buds are.Also I will be standing by with waypoints to Kauehi to where kid boat Bravado is currently heading.There is generally much excitement amongst us cruisers getting ready to make the passage to the Tuamotus.Historically it has had the name ‘the dangerous atolls’, for they are all just a bunch of very low lying atolls no higher in elevation than the highest palm tree.This group of atolls has claimed the destruction of countless vessels since the first explorers plied these waters.With the introduction of Global Positioning Satellites - GPS the average cruising sailboat can now cruise fairly safely thru these atolls; even so each year boats get into trouble.Boats can get into trouble if they’ve drifted off their originally set course, this can happen more easily than the arm chair navigator can realize (we’ve all started out as arm chair navigators until…tomorrow:-O )A one million dollar catamaran with the latest expensive navigational gear crashed to pieces a few years ago.Their bad fate was in part due to spending a few hours drifting while repairing a piece of broken rigging.After drifting along during the repair, the current had moved them a few miles off their charted course, they then resumed course but didn’t not account for the drift; in the night they didn’t even see the coral reel as they rode a ‘Black Wave’ onto the deathly trap.Well it’s time to get out the charts & double check our routs.
A sobering news flash:On Sunday 5-3-09 S/V Emily Pearl had struck a reef about 7 miles west Taiohae, the main bay of Nuka Hiva; we had been anchored by Billy’s boat when we were there nearly two weeks ago.Not sure if he had gotten out a distress call.At some point between the main anchorage & where is vessel was found sunk in about 45’ of water he had made a call on his short range VHF radio, reports are that it was heard but he did not reply to the response for what ever reason.Divers determined that he or his dingy was not attached to the boat.At this time 5-7-09 Billy has not been located after an extensive search & rescue with boats & helicopters.Seems odd that he would have faltered so close to shore & not been able to make it to land for the winds had been fairly calm.
5-02-09We're in our first atoll Raroia, located 16deg 00S, 142deg 00W, the atoll Thor's raft Kon Tiki ended up on after their long drift across the pacific from South America.The passage took us 4 days & 6 hours, we timed our arrival the guide book, almost one hour after slack high tide & the pass was not turbulent with current.Atolls are a world away from anything we've ever sailed in before.An atoll is coral reef parameter of an ancient sunken island; nothing is left from the original island.Some atolls don't have any pass to enter, some have a few passes, this atoll has one pass.The current that passes thru the pass can reach speeds of over 10 knots, which is faster than most sail boats can motor so one has to time their entrance with the slack tides.Also, there are coral heads that grow up from the bottom which can easily rip a hole in a boat.Luckily the water is so clear that they are fairly easy to see.We arrived here Saturday & spent the last 4 days just off the main village of about 100 people.
We made friends with a few friendly locals & they took Scot from Whisper, his son Tim & Robin outside of the pass to spear fish.Sharks are a way of life here, the locals have lunar charts which help them determine when the fish populations are active & plentiful, at this time the sharks have plenty of fish to choose from so they aren't desperate & not as likely to attack us; the day we went there were plenty of fish to choose from for both us & the sharks & there were plenty of sharks.There were a bunch of the lemon colored black tip sharks, less lethal but also less predictable.There were lots of big grey sharks with huge jaws, they are very lethal but seem to be more predictable.Predictable doesn't mean they won't attack us but if we played by the rules we shouldn't get bit.It was breath taking to actually see these sharks under my fins, they are patrolling the waters oblivious to us & even all the other fish but when one of the local dudes spear gun a fish they immediately go straight for the speared fish in an alarming hurry & chomped it right off the spear; it was totally freaky :-OSo now do I sprint out of the water as fast as I can or ...well I just sort of hang out, all of the sharks soon resume their sort of predictable meandering around & I relax a bit but still not about to shoot a fish.
The spear gun has a powerful rubber band or two & about a 2’ long metal spear, the spear is propelled out but is attached to the gun with about a 12’ line.The local dudes, Ramon the Bob Marley look a like with very long dread locks & his brother Gills now with a buzz cut were working the hunt with their friend Fayoh, the jolly Rasta dude with below the waist length dread locks working the boat, keeping close to divers when they ascend with a fish & quickly grab the spear & place the fish in the boat.Soon after the first fish going to the shark, the other brother hits another fish & I see how it’s done.The moment the fish is speared the diver is heading to the surface & quickly pulling the speared fish up & out of the water while the other brother covers him with his spear gun ready to strike jabs at any shark that come in pursuit.After seeing this operation a few times I get the inspiration to join the hunt, I dive way down & nail a nice fish, the fish immediately dives deeper, as I try to pull him in before I can even start to surface a couple of big grays are torpedoing towards my fish & hit it quickly; with the 2cd bite they’ve taken my fish just a few feet from my feet :-O
What a totally freaky experience, the adrenalin is in full flow but very soon after the fish is gone, again the sharks resume their meanderings, oblivious to their surroundings…seems ‘predictable’.I soon go after another fish, I shoot, a near miss but the action got the attention of a nearby shark, it came up & nibbled the spear…wow.I dive down for another fish but when I’m about to shoot a few sharks have now turned in for the hit…so I pull out & head up.Mean while the brothers have taken all the fish they feel they can safely take & with much urgency they jester for us to quickly get in the boat.
We motor over to the other side of the pass, passing thru some very turbulent waters with 3’ waves forming some raging rapids; keeping in mind that we’ll have to navigate our big boats thru these waters.There was much intense comradely excitement regarding our first real shark feeding experiences.We reach our next spot &get in; the sharks here have not yet gotten into a frenzy yet.Rasta bro gets a fish & soon I see a similar fish swimming by Scot & I point at it.I love dumb fish & curiously it swims towards by me; curiosity kills the fish to, I nail him & quickly pull him in while I surface, keeping him out of the water while a bro is coving me.I feel it’s all fun & games but there is a deadly seriousness in the bro while he’s covering me; this is for real.The other brothers have gotten a few more fish & the attention of sharks are getting to the frenzy level.I now dive down for a choice fish, hitting him while fairly deep, this fish dives down taking the spear down with it & immediately there are 3 to 4 sharks in hot pursuit.By the time the first shark takes a chomp 3 to 4 more sharks are in a frenzy to get my fish.Another shark takes a mighty bite & swims away with it & my spear & me being pulled quickly even further down & out, with about 7 sharks in a frenzied pursuit of my fish.They can have my fish but I’m not about to loose my spear, I’m being pulled so fast I feel like the line would break any moment.Finally the shark takes off with ‘his’ fish & the others are frantically trashing around looking for some left overs; unnervingly they thrash up nibbling the empty spear & make their way aggressively past my flippers & towards me.I still feel amazingly calm like it’s just a bunch of over zealous puppies searching for the hidden dog biscuit but these puppies are at least as big as I am, some much bigger.My guarding bro is now at the surface bashing the water with one hand while keeping a loaded spear gun aimed at the sharks in case they take a bit.It would be a lot of trouble if they did take a bite, it would be like trying to remove a juicy steak from a half starved Doberman pincer.Soon it’s time to get out of the shark frenzied waters.
We had our friends over that night for drinks & conversation.They speak French, Tahitian & Tuamotu but not much English.Scot, Mary & Bobbie speak a bit of French & when I get on a roll I can make enough charade jesters to tell a story or make a point.We all had a great time & really enjoyed the fascinating friends we’ve met.We talked about politics, there’s a lot of hope & optimism with Obama; it’s encouraging to hear US political hope from someone so far away.We talked about religion,obviously the Jah Rasta Farian influence has some fun aspects :-)There is also a big Catholic & or a Christian presents here but these guys have an open minded point of view that that takes in all theology including a strong sense of their original Tuamotu ideals being-“Life is like a tree, one sprouts, blooms, prospers & then after a rest repeats as necessary before being one with the ‘light’.“We have a lot in common.We have met a lot of very cool locals out here & in the Marquesas.
5-06-09On the advice of our local buds, both Whisper & Hipnautical has moved to a totally uninhabited part of the atoll.Scot & I on our own boats took a position up the mast to the first spreader to keep a watch for coral heads as we made our way about 5 miles towards the NW of the atoll.This atoll like most, do not have a completely connected parameter.There are a number of small islets called motus with shallow coral filled waters isolating them from the next.The only road here in the main village is less than a mile long; the few cars here never get out of first gear.We have our own motu & are enjoying this wonderful piece of paradise.
5-7-09Robin & Tim from Whisper made a cool ‘Lord of the Flys’ campsite & beach fort.They constructed a lean to with long wood branches & tied palm frowns for shade.They erected a flag pole & placed a conk shell & a cruising pinnate on top to declare this beach theirs.They collected lots of firewood & even dragged a huge dead tree over to the fire ring they dug in the sand & lined with coral rocks.At sunset we all got together, settled the troopers in & enjoyed the campfire for a while before we got kicked out of their private motu.As we were leaving it started to sprinkle, but the troopers held their fort.But about we got the call, the rodents & land crabs were taking over & the boys wanted to retreat to the boat.
6-20-09I’ll try to remember the so many places we’ve been since the last ship’s log entry, my ‘new’ computer died soon after arriving in Fakarava.We had been using the new one to do internet & radio emails, ship’s inventory & location data base, composing the ship’s log & much more.The whole computer is fine except for one little function…the ‘on’ function; but without that the whole computer is trash.I’ve removed the hard drive & installed it while in Papeete Tahiti so now I can resume the ship’s log.
5-10-09With our wind generator not working I climbed up once again to confirm my wiring & make some tests to report to the manufacturer so I took some more picks up the mizzen mast.This was a very cool spot, way off the beaten path.The sunsets were great & the short walks to open ocean side were awesome.Bobbie found some tiny abalone shells & made some cool earings & gave a set to Mary from Whisper.
5-11-09We unwrapped our chain from a coral head & hauled the anchor early just after sunrise & bashed out the pass around .We had a nice fast passage to Fakarava, located 16deg 20S,145deg 30W & made it there just before sunset a day & half later; we expected it to be a 48 hour passage but we got lucky & only had to spend one over nighter.Back in the 1800’s the city near the south pass of Fakarava had been the cultural center for all of the Tuamotus atolls.There are many old ruins of it’s past glory & even a number of buildings still standing today like an old church from the mid 1800’s.Only a handful of Fakaravaians live there now, a few harvest some coconuts twice a year, fishing is a popular career.There is a very rustic & quaint hotel that features beach huts by the sea.Mind you the only water is from rain caught by the roof gutters & electricity is by generator & some solar panels. But if peace & tranquility is what you’re after this is the place, far far away from the normal tourist hustle & bustle found just about every where else.
We had a great party on the cat Carinthia & we all played music, sang songs & we all made up a song to a Bob Marley tune we called ‘I shot the Shark, but I did not shoot the Manta Ray’… I guess ya had to be there :-O
While there in the south pass we did our first pass dive.We took a pair of dinghies out through the pass with an incoming tide.We then drift along in the tidal current & watch the fish go by along with the many types of sharks patrolling the pass area looking for a meal.By now I’ve swam with the sharks a number times but still it’s not something that gets easier with experience.This pass was amazingly clear with multi colored coral & tropical fish like an aquarium… & or course the very numerous sharks.Now the sharks don’t typically take notice of people or the other fish swimming by them but when they do start to take notice of you, you’d better take quick notice of them because once their curiosity is aroused a feeding frenzy could soon occur.The sharks have these mean looking diamond shaped cat eyes or giant snake eyes; it gives you the creeps when they look at you, when normally they don’t seem to notice your around, which the way I like it. The black tip reef sharks are about 3 to 6 feet long, they are easily scared away by just moving towards them or making a threatening gesture; they still have big jaws full of rows of teeth & are made to bite so one can’t be too sure about these sharks, even though they are the tamest.The 4’ to 8’ grey sharks are quite a bit more intimidating, they are not scared away by threatening gestures, in fact that just makes them even more interested in you & once they’ve circled you twice they are very close to feeding frenzy time.So basically floating along enjoying view, diving down to check out the multi colored living coral & the aquarium like fish, when we see the big grays’ take notice we move closer to the dingy, if they begin to circle, when hold on to the dingy, if they begin a second circle we just hop into the dingy until they leave :-ONear this pass is a small restaurant on a pier just above the water.They filet their fish & through out the remains into the clear waters below to the hungry sharks waiting for a hand out.They’ve been doing this for years & the sharks show up in droves.
The wind got to be blowing strong for a couple of days so I rigged up my wind surfer & got to shread in 25 knot winds :-)Atolls are great for windsurfing, the wind has nothing to slow it’s self down because the atoll is lying so low above the sea level; in fact the coral rises just a few feet above the water with the palm trees giving it’s only sign of land from the sea.
We enjoyed the southern pass anchorage for days before we boldly motored about 15 miles up to the center of the atoll to a totally uninhabited motu.This was our 2cd trip inside an atoll, the first time I rode halfway up the mast looking for coral heads, this was our longest passage inside an atoll but we are getting more acquainted with spotting the dangerously sharp & rock hard coral heads.The clear water & isolated beauty made this a place to be remembered in our dream log in later years when we’ve settled down somewhere again.We all took a walk along the shore, Robin & I played sword fights with sticks he expertly found for the sparing activities.
After a couple of daysin this remote & isolated motu anchorage we set sail to the northern end of Fakarava & actually sailed the whole way, another first for sailing inside an atoll.The electronic charts are amazingly accurate but we are beginning to notice that when it displays a safe depth of 33 to 16 feet on an approaching mark we often actually see coral heads sticking out of the water or just slightly below the surface :-OSo we always keep our eyes on the look out.
We anchored in front of a couple of very posh tropical resorts with internet :-)But unlike the laid back resorts in Mexico, these only broadcast the website that will except your credit card to buy very slow $10 an hour internet access; buy it by the 5 hour block & it’s half that but still it’s so slow it relates to about $50 an hour for what we’re used too… but hey it beat smoke signals :-OIt was here where I down loaded the very important radio email programs we use to send email & receive weather info thru our ham radio.I also down loaded the drivers to use my external wifi antenna but was too cautious to install them, the last time I did that with this old computer it shut down the ability to even use wifi :-OSo there I would sit in the cockpit pointing the computer at the posh resorts hacking away.Also I’m trying to get a !@#$%^&*(... Email out to the computer company to see about getting my ‘new but just barely past warranty’ laptop serviced by them… Appearantly they don’t believe in email for what ever reasons.I will vent my frustrations further or espouse their greatness later if & when I ever get in contact with them.They only except !@#$%^&*( phone calls & the older laptop has defective mic inputs so the Skype headset won’t work to make the Skype computer phone calls; Skype is our only way to make a phone call on the boat.
I got to fill my scuba air tank at the dive shop by our anchored boat.I had used up all the air back in Fata Hiva Marquieses loaning the tank to dive on some ones tangled anchor & then looking for an important boat part I dropped in the water. The couple that runs the dive shop had cruised on their boat for many years & when they ran out of cruising funds they opened up this dive shop in paradise.I hope when we run out of cruising funds we can find such a cool gig in paradise.
We then moved up a few miles & anchored right off the main town where we could buy supplies & have a nice dinner ashore.We brought the bikes ashore for ride on land which was a treat that made the two hours of bike maintenance worth while; the tires have many leaks from all the thorns we got back in Mexico.
5-24-09We sailed over to Toua15deg 55S145deg 53W.This is a very sparsely populated atoll with absolutely no tourist activities.We enjoyed the remote beauty of the anchorage in complete solitude.The visibility was great in the anchorage & the view from our boat was dream like.Robin & went to shore to do some exploring where we found two abandoned fish camps & seasonal coconut harvesting shacks.The fisher men come & go through out the year & twice a year they come to harvest the coconuts but this day there is no one around.
The next day Bobbie & I snorkeled one of the passes.The coral formations were spectacular & the fish life was amazing but so were in the big mean looking grey sharks.In the pass we floated along with the dingy enjoying the view but the sharks were nerve wrenchingly interested in us.The are the types that usually make their attack after the 2cd circle :-OThey would break off from where ever they were or going & come to check us out, while we would try to relax & not try to act nervous since the can sense that.They have these mean cat or snake like eyes with diamond pupils that just makes your blood run cold :-OAt this point we begin holding on to the dingy, by the time they’ve made their first circle we just hop in, not wanting to see how far we can push it.After being ‘harassed’ by these sharks on a few drifts thru both sides of the pass we dingy over to a very cool spot way off to the side & around a sandy hook where the coral formations were quite unique & the water was very clear & less than 12 feet deep.We only encounter a couple of sharks here but they did not express much interest in us so we were able to relax & enjoy the views.
5-26-09We sailed over to Apataki located 15deg 34’S, 146deg 25’W.We had great sailing over from Toua & kept the main sail up through the pass.After getting through the pass we set the roller furling genoa sail & blasted along at 7 to 8 knots towards a secluded anchorage 4 miles south of the pass.We anchored in front of an uninhabited motu isle & were the only boat there about half the time we were there for 2 or 3 days.Kayaking was great & exploring the motu was cool.There was a couple of vacation beach huts set up with solar panels & rain catchers; someone’s personal piece of paradise.
5-28-09We sailed over to the middle of the eastern side of the atoll & were welcomed by the pearl farmers of Assam’s pearl farm.They helped us grab a mooring ball, free of charge. We soon went ashore & they showed us their pearls.We traded three of our music CD’s for three pearls, we bought a couple more & they drilled small holes in them so we could make our own necklaces.Mr. Assam must be in his 60’s, he’s a famous icon in the cruising guide books as his pearl operations, chicken ranch & cruiser friendly hospitality has gained him a legendary status amongst the cruisers.He’s been at this place for over 30 years.His wife, a cute grandmother type could be seen tending to her flower & fruit gardens & later seen driving the huge bull dozer tractor :-)Their son & his wife, who are about our age run most of the day to day operations including the pearl farming, the chicken ranch, they sell chickens & eggs.They’ve just opened up the first ‘marina’ on the atoll by dredging out a lagoon with their tractor, it has a 7 foot depth & a great place to park your boat while you fly back home or to business obligations.In two weeks from the time we were there his new boat hauling hydraulic trailer was due to arrive, at that point he will also be in the business of hauling & storing boats on the land.He will dig a pit for the keel & the boat could be left for long periods in the safest manor without fear of being tipped over by a big storm.
The next two days the wind picked up to 20+ & got to windsurf with the atoll.Atoll windsurfing is the best, with no land to slow down the trade winds.Mr. Assam’s grand son, age 21 is a kite sailor.He’s got great gear & we shredded the wind & water together for hours.Bobbie got to do some windsurfing too & even though it had been over a year since she got right back into the saddle.
One night we had a happy hour on shore with Assams, very cool family & a few other cruisers that were also anchored & moored near by.Thankfully their English was better than my French & we enjoyed some mutual cruiser talk.Turns out that even French citizens can’t just start living anywhere they please in French Polynesia, they can stay about a year & then must leave for at least a year; that’s why French Polynesia still looks as un-crowded as it has for time immemorial. Before happy hour grandma Assam was catching fish to feed their pet nurse shark, a 7 foot beast that calmly settles near beach & waits to be fed.Grandma Assam cut pieces for fish on top of the sharks head while it patiently sits there & not until she gives the command to eat does the shark make this violent & aggressive sucking sound & chomps down the fish.After happy hour we had a nice home cooked meal with the Assams.We had fish, steak & crab.I asked where the crab came from, expecting that it would have come from crab traps in the lagoon but I was told that the grandson uses a pellet gun to shoot land crabs…delicious!
5-30-09We sailed up to the northeastern corner of Apataki to another secluded & remote anchorage.Again Robin & I went in to explore & found another abandoned fishing shack & seasonal coconut dwellings.This time we notice some of those tasty land crabs.
5-31-09I had a great birthday here in this very remote & secluded Apataki anchorage.I got a big machete jungle hacking knife; Robin was absolutely stoked that ‘we’ had the big sword like knife & wanted to go right out to the jungle & start hacking away at anything.We remembered those tasty land crabs we spotted the day before so off we went; I brought along my Hawaiian pole spear as well.We ended up catching a large number of these crabs & had an ‘all we could eat’ fest that night.
The wind continued to be very strong the next day when we had planned to leave, we had gone to shore & checked out the ocean side of the atoll.The wind was blowing about 25 knots & the seas were crashing violently on this windward side, we agreed to just stay put another day & enjoy another night of the calm flat anchorage.
6-02-09We hauled the anchor & made for the pass about 12 miles across from our anchorage for our passage from the Tuamotus to Tahiti.When we hit the pass we had the wind at our back & the tide coming in.The current was very violent & had standing waves, back flows, cross flows & bizarre eddies swirling around at constantly changing directions but we just powered on thru & our big old heavy cruising boat just plowed right on thru.The wind was strong & at our back & with a double reefed main & partial Genoa out we were still making around 8 knots; that’s real fast for a sailboat & it meant we could get to Tahiti in only one knight instead of the two night we expected.But soon the wind slowed & the seas increased slowing us down & basically became an uncomfortable rolly passage; Robin lost his cookies & mom was upset :-OWe ended up making landfall in Tahiti at sunrise after a two night passage.We pulled into Venus point, a historic spot where Captain Cook anchored back in around 1769 ish to make some important astrological observations.
With the island of Moorea in the background & native out rigger canoes paddle by each day it was a very cool welcome to the big island of Tahiti.While just two miles south of us began another 8 miles of very crowded, cramped, over populated, industrial, noisy, touristy mess, we enjoyed the most beautiful anchorage we’d seen in Tahiti.While numerous other cruisers constantly complained about how very crowded, cramped, over populated, industrial, noisy, touristy mess it was down there, with police sirens & guard boats telling cruisers not to anchor down there; no one took our advice to come up a few miles & enjoy paradise.But after a few days the wind & swells clocked around so the anchorage became a bit rolly so we too were drawn to the very crowded, cramped, over populated, industrial, noisy, touristy mess, that was to be found just a bit south of us.We got lucky & got a rare mooring ball in front of the Tahiti Yacht Club that featured hot showers, laundry & two beach front bars.
As a special bonus, the wind generator parts we were hoping to get but could not confirm if they were on their way because of the rough radio connections we’ve had in the last 6 weeks were actually personally delivered to our boat by the yacht club!I was able to repair the wind generator with the complete replacement circuit boards supplied by Air X Marine wind generators.I have to say that the support from Air X Marine wind generators was impressive, after 1.5 years most products are well beyond their warranty, but they have a 3 years warranty & got my parts was out here in $$$ French Polynesia which included absolutely every thing that could have possibly been bad with the unit include all new mounting hardware for that special feel good confidence in mounting those fast moving propeller blades just above our heads.The replacement went smoothing as I followed the 8 page replacement instructions which were at first read very intimidating but soon found that all that detail was there just to make it very straight forward.The next day Bobbie hauled me up the mast & the reinstall went great, soon the wind picked up & we were making wind power again!If only my new laptop could be taken care of so smoothly, the manufacture’s web site does not allow for email, with my new computer down, my older one can’t use the computer phone calls because the mic/headphone jacks are old & worn out so I have not been able to get any help what’s so ever but…I’m finally contact the manufacturer with the miracle help from my computer wiz Ron, the hub master that helps me keep in contact with those keeping track of us.Ron got me the personal email of the companies CEO.I’ll leave their name out until I get some great help or more frustration, in ether case I will shout out great joy or tell the world other wise.
We met the principle of a local school & he invited us to a special 25 year anniversary performance with all the kids doing special dances.We enjoyed about 3 hours of well rehearsed programs & performances.Later that night we attended a huge Tahitian dance performance in a small stadium with an impressive stage show, big loud PA speakers & large video monitors.It too ran about 3 hours, that was a big day & saw lots of butt shaking :-)
The day we were going to leave we got a call on the VHF radio from another kid boat we had met in Mexico a year & a half ago.So Chris came over from Candein for a few hours, ended up spending the night.Robin & I took him back to his boat the next afternoon & Robin got to spend the night over there.I ended up talking the folks on s/v Candien about their fascinating travels, as they’ve been out here in the south pacific for over a year a head of us.They also talked about how they accidentally hit a reef in the middle of the night; their electronic charts showed them to be in over 9000 feet of water, later checking the paper charts those revealed Duke de Gloucester reef right in their path; a sobering reality that one can never be to cautious.I was riveted so much by the conversation it was tough to pull away & dingy back to my boat & it was getting dark.I wasn’t too concerned because I had made the 15 minuite dingy trip from the yacht club to the main harbor 3 times now & I assumed that all those channels markers near the reefs were lit at night; that was not the case.It took me 1.5 hours to feel my way back in the moonless night desperately trying to avoid the thick & shallow coral banks the whole way back.
6-15-09We motored over to the main harbor & to pick up Robin, at the last minuite he asked if Chris could come over to Moorea with us for a few days & then take the ferry back; turns out it’s cheaper by far to take a high speed catamaran across from Moorea that a 4 miles taxi ride :-OAfter picking up the boys we motored past the airport, the air traffic controllers had us stop to let an airplane land without hitting our mast :-OWe fueled up the boat’s fuel tanks for the first time since leaving Mexico over 4000 ago.We then set sail for Moorea, had a nice peaceful sail over to Cooks bay.Along the way I was coming down with a bad cough & flu like symptoms while everyone else felt fine.That night Bobbie started feeling a bit tired.By the next day Bobbie was not feeling good with a headache, body ache & fever which got worse over the next few days, the next day & night her bones ached so badly she cried; Dengue fever is often referred to ‘break bone fever’.She felt a little better after 3 days when she & Robin took Chris back to the ferry but was wiped out the next two days Robin started to get the cough flu thing but was still fairly energetic.Bobbies symptoms by now fall convincingly with Dengue fever, the mosquito transmitted flu like virus.Most people experience fever, head ache, skin rash & mild digestive issues for about two weeks & then it fades away.
6-20-09We motor sailed to the next bay over where the Pacific Puddle Jumper & Latitude 38 was putting on a big party for us puddle jumpers.It was a blast & was neat to hear English spoken in a public venue :-)About 40 boats sailed from Papeete Tahiti to Moorea, we had planned on joining the fleet but we saw how tricky the med mooring style maneuvers required to tie up the main harbors quay was & the fact a lot of our kid boat friends had moved on to Moorea, so we followed them& met the fleet at the anchorage in Moorea.There on the beach they had native dancing, announcements & a fair amount of Tahitian rum punch. The next day there were lots of beach games including the 6 man outrigger canoe races, an event I had been looking forward to for years.Robin got to participate in the banana stalk relay races but was surprised how much the giant double stalk weighed :-OHe could barely lift it much less run around a huge race course with it.We also learned how to properly husk a coconut, something that had been puzzeling every one I’ve come across here in the tropics.I’ve tried a power drill, an industrial sized saws all, a machete, a dagger, a boulder, a tree… & spent nearly an hour working at it.The skinny local dude husked one in less a half a minuite with no effort at all & now I know the secret.
The next day Bobbie, Robin & his friend Jack from the s/v ‘All the colors’ took a long dingy ride out to where the giant sting rays come to feed & play with the tourists.It was a sting ray that killed the Aussy crocodile hunter & I’ve had the big fear of those things even more after he met his demise. But this experience gave me a new found sense of confidence that they won’t go out of their way to attack & they are quite graceful as they make their way like huge butterflies thru the water.
Bobbie is slowly but surly feeling better, the break bone fever & terrible head aches are pretty much gone, she is just tired & weak.We’ll staying put here in this absolutely beautiful anchorage for two more nights then go back over to Cooks Bay so we can visit the museum & take the long hike we were all to sick to do last week.After we’ll be making our way to Ile Huahine 90 miles away located at