Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tahiti

Hard to believe we have been here a week already!
We arrived last Thursday morning and after several failed attempts to find the place we wanted to go we anchored with little fuss southwest of Papeete.  Sure could have used a map app on the ipod to help us find the marina we wanted to anchor by!!  But all's well that ends well, we had lots of daylight and no pressing engagements, so it didn't matter that we were a little lost. 
We are in a nice anchorage, close to the marina.  The marina has dinghy docks, bars/restaurants, fuel and is within walking distance of the grocery store.  What more could a cruiser ask for?  (okay cheap beer would be nice, but this is Tahiti, nothing is cheap!)
Friday we met with our agent to deal with paperwork, then took the bus into Papeete.  We strolled around town and the market, then hit the grocery store on the way back to the boat.  What a beautiful store!  Almost all the comforts of home.  It is good to know we will be able to provision well for the second half of our trip.

Saturday we had plans to return downtown in the morning, which we did after Dennis worked on the generator again....... Was a fried fuse holder this time.  Kind of scary for awhile, not knowing what was wrong, but all better now.  We were able to pick up fuse holders at the chandlery in the marina which was convenient.  we finally made it to the market downtown.  It is pretty amazing- lots of pearl and mother of pearl jewlry, pareos, wood carvings, crafts, and flowers galore.  So colorful.  On Sundays they have a vegetable market from 0500-0800 (yes in the morning).  The buses don't run on Sunday, but we decided it would be an okay dinghy ride.......I don't quite understand the whole buttcrack of dawn vegetable market thing, but it is pretty much the rule here in FP.  A painful rule I might add.  Sunday we were in the dinghy by 0630.  The vegetable market was impressive though, just about everything you could possibly want.

Monday we met our agent Cindy to go to the High Commisioners office to complete our extended stay visa. Pretty much a typical bureaucratic visit.  Is somewhat of a cultural shock to see government workers in flipflops, but hey even the construction workers wear them!!!  Spent the rest of the day walking to the marine store and the hardware store.  We hit the grocery store on the way home, and then had an awesome dinner on Moondance. 

Josh had been (and still is) a real trooper hanging out with the adults.  The kid boats left Fakarava several days after us, so he had to trail around after us for 4 days.  The kid boats arrived in Tahiti on Tuesday, so he is back to having kids his own age to hang with.

Tuesday was laundry day.  Funny we can only do as much laundry as we have lines to hang it on, so was a 2 day deal this time.  The good news being that there are machines at the marina, so we were able to do sheets and towels and cotton things.  Was/is nice to get all those things really clean.  Met a girl we initially met in Hiva Oa on the dock, and she cut my hair.  She is from Holland and a hairdresser by trade.  She did Josh's hair in Hiva Oa and did a great job on mine.  Feels really good to have the nasty dry ends gone. Tuesday night we had dinner with 4 other boats at a restaurant here at the marina - 18 people total.  Was good fun.  Good pizza too.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I finished up the laundry.  Was an all day affair pretty much as we had to wait for washers.  Got back to the boat in time to make my calorie difficient men some lunch, clean up, have a rest then make dinner.  After dinner we dinghy'd over to the Intercontinental hotel to see a Polynesian dance troupe.  It was Marquessan style dancing and very good.  It is hard to describe the style, almost Native American style.  The men especially made it look very savage and it wasn't a stretch to imagine them prepping you for their dinner!!!!

Today so far has been pretty lazy.  It really is the first day without a morning appointment off the boat.  We are expecting the watermaker guy this morning sometime.  The watermaker is working, but even with new filters the parts/million is 600.  Which is safe, but higher than you would expect.  So we are having it looked at.  This afternoon will be another provisioning run.  We will leave on Saturday for Moorea with the Puddle jumpers, will be at Moorea for about a week, then return here to restock the pantry prior to heading out to the rest of the Society Islands.  It is 1000 and we are still waiting........

more later......

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15 2011

Well, Happy Birthday to me. Sure wish I would get a little wind for my birthday. We are motoring along with less than 5 kts of wind, en route to Tahiti. Would be nicer if we could sail (not to mention less expensive), but oh well we take what we get.

We left the south anchorage of Fakarava (Tekamanu) on Saturday. It was a pretty easy motorsail/sail up the channel. Sort of like following cairns on a hike, only it is on water and you follow the channel markers, staying left or right depending on the color of the mark. The marks by the way usually sat on coral heads, so good things to avoid. pulled into the north anchorage around 1500. Calou called and said it was a Holiday weekend, so the store was closing at 6pm and would not reopen until Tuesday. So, we quickly put our dinghy in the water and went into town for a few provisions. Didn't need much except bread, which they were out of. Bought a couple of Hinanos (tahitian beer) and walked around with Doug and Carla. Another very nice little town. Is very weird to be able to stand on the street and see water on both sides. Different water to be sure, but still.... After our walk (we resupplied our Hinanos) we made arrangements to dive the next afternoon. We watched the sunset from the dive shop dock, then headed back to the boats.

Sunday
Kind of a busy pre dive morning. Made plans to have a pizza party on Phambili (they caught back up to us after going to Tahiti, Borabora etc with family) that night a get together and pre birthday celebration for me.
The dive was excellent. Josh did great. Was my first tank dive in 7 years and the first time I dove with Josh. Technically I was a little rusty, but enjoyed it all the same. We saw big grouper and a huge tuna and of course the requisite sharks (not too close). The coral was beautiful as well. Dennis came up with zero air as usual, and I could tell it had been awhile for me, cuz I had less than 50 bar.
The pizza party was great! We had a large variety (each group brought some). It was my first pizza with peanut butter (thai chicken). Carla made a totally yummy yellow cake with chocolate frosting. MMMMMM!!! Have I mentioned lately, that it is all about the food?

Monday

Dennis fixed the generator. Sounds familiar huh? This time the glow plug wire was routed too close to the engine block, got hot, melted and shorted out. Thankfully mechanic extraordinaire was able to figure it all out and have it fixed by noon. We rented bikes for the afternoon (one speed beach cruiser kind) and toured the Island a little bit. Did a total of about 12-13 miles, which was about all our backsides could handle!!! We stopped for a late lunch at a roullette (read french polynesian roach coach). I had a tuna steak and fries and Dennis had a burger. Again yum. Had a pretty quiet night in preparation for departure on Tuesday.

Tuesday

Didn't quite get into town early enough for bread. Hard to believe they were out of bread before 830. These people are so nice though. The proprietress of the grocery store shook her head in disgust when I told her the boulangerie had no bread, and let me buy one of hers. Wow! Where else would that happen? So, we stocked up on a few more snacks, eggs, premade sandwiches for lunch and called it good. Had the anchor up by 1015 and made it out the North pass by 1120. We were able to fly the spinnaker for a few hours, but the wind died so the motor came on and has been on ever since. After all the wind we have had in the last few weeks, you would think there would have been some to spare for this passage, but apparently not. Was a beautiful night watch - big full moon, no squalls.

Wednesday

So, here we are about 120 miles from Papeete. No wind and pretty hot. We hope to be there by tomorrow morning, and will be there for a week, then will head out with the Tahiti Moorea sailing rondezvous, then will come back to Tahiti for final provisioning before heading out for BoraBora etc.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 10,2011

Okay, so it is hard to keep track of time here, and my typing skills are getting rusty - so yeah, it wasn't the 6th when I wrote that last post........

So, we spent 6 days at Tahanea. It was as I said extremely beautiful. We snorkeled with Moondance on the coral head behind the boat. Pretty amazing! Only saw one shark, but tons of other fish. Probably the best snorkel spot I have ever been at. Seems like we crammed a lot of activity into about 4 days, then spent the last 2 days on the boat waiting for some weather to pass thru. The boys went lobstering twice. The first night's catch was combined for all boats in pasta at the birhday celebration for Antoine (turned 13). The second catch we shared with Moondance. That was a yummy dinner - arrachera (from mexico), fried parrotfish appetizers (caught fresh off the coral head by Josh that afternoon), lobster in garlic and butter and green salad. Yep, it is all about the food!!! Dennis and Doug did a drift dive thru the pass one afternoon. Both said it was fabulous. The weather came the next day, so Josh and I missed our turn.....

June 7th -- had an uneventful trip out the pass on our way to Faaite, our intermediated stop on the way to Fakarava. Had a good sail and were safely anchored outside the pass at Faaite by 4pm. We had heard mixed reviews about the anchorage, but for us it was pretty nice. We were up before the sun on Wednesday. It is only 12 miles from Faaite to the southern pass here at Fakarava, but we needed to catch the slack before 0800. The waves and swell were a little intimidating on the approach to the pass, but once we got lined up we passed the breakers through smooth water. Lots of coral heads to miss in here, so pretty interesting getting to the anchorage. All set by 0900. After breakfast and little naps, we put the dinghy in the water to go exploring. We are anchored on the south side of the pass, the bottom has a lot of sand with good holding. The motus are pretty and the beaches actually have some sand. We went to the north anchorage (a long dinghy ride) to check out what little civilization there is here - 2 dive outfits and a pension. We met Calou at shore, so Josh and Francois were able to hang out for a while. The dock attached to the pension is really cool - kinda like pictures you would see of Bora Bora. The buildings are on stilts in the water, with walkways to shore. The enclosed little lagoon is like their own personal aquarium - full of sharks! So yeah, lots of sharks here. Supposedly the marbled grouper are going to spawn here at the full moon (the 15th) and will be a feast day for the sharks. Sounds like sharks come from miles around to get their fill. We have seen black and white tip reef sharks, and hear there are tiger sharks and grey sharks.

Thursday the 9th was a clean up cooking day on Evergreen. I made banana nut muffins and my first loaf of white sandwich bread. We also cleaned up inside. Was nice to have a clean boat for a little bit. That afternoon we met Moondance on the beach at the leaning palm motu for happy hour and bocce ball. Scattered a little more of Steve to toasts and good memories. Made it back to boat just ahead of the rain!

Friday - got up early today to do a drift dive with the hooka thru the pass. Was pretty nice. No sun, so visibility could have been better, but saw lots of fish and no sharks. I was surprised actually, I expected to see them all around. While Josh and Doug were down, I saw a 4-5 foot manta ray doing flips out of the water. Pretty cool. We also saw medium sized marbled grouper. Tonight we are having a bbq here on Evergreen with Moondance, then tomorrow we will head up to the north anchorage about 30 miles from here. There is a channel that we have to follow, so won't be hard, just have to pay attention. There is an intermediate anchorage that we may stop at, but Josh is anxious to catch up with Calou (they left yesterday for the north anchorage) so we will see.

Overall continues to be much cooler than expected and not as many bugs as expected. Neither are bad things, but I wouldn't mind a little more sun. The water is warm, so it is easy to get into (at least it is if there aren't 6 sharks circling the boat - note to self- don't throw fish guts into the water right next to the boat, the sharks are quick learners and slow forgetters).

Had a big power yacht come into the anchorage on the north side of the pass on Wednesday. We heard they have 27 crew. They of course have a huge tender and jet skis. We planned a bonfire with the other boats here in the anchorage that night, and had to change locations as the yacht's crew had raked the beach in preparation for some "do" on the beach on Thursday. Can't believe they didn't invite us, what with all their comings and goings you would think it would be the polite thing to do, but alas no...... Makes you wonder.... Oh well, I'm sure we have more fun anyway.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

June 6 2011 from Tahanea

Memorial Day - May 30 2011.
Had an early morning walk to the boulangerie (bakery) for bread. Got caught in the rain, so sheltered in the boulangerie for a while and explained to the bakery lady and her friend about Memorial day. We planned a barbeque with Moondance and invited Calou, Callopyge and Charade. It ended up being more of an appetizer and dessert thing on the dock, but was very nice. So, we had added a little bit of US to our stay in Makemo.

May 31, 2011
Spent a leisurely day getting the boat ready for the overnight crossing to Tahanea. It was nice to have all day to prepare, even though it meant an overnight watch schedule. We untied Moondance from the dock about 1615, and Lor and Carol helped us untie right after that. We all blew away from the dock nicely and headed out through the pass. It was not as exciting as coming in, I guess we knew what to expect for one, and it is easier going out into open water. Calou passed us as we were putting up our sails, and we all sailed off into the sunset (so to speak). To get to Tahanea we had to go westish along Makemo (starboard tack downwind) then jibe to the southwest. We left at night because you have to enter and exit passes at slack tides, and entering a new place needs to be done in the daylight, preferably with the sun high in the sky. The daytime slack here at Tahanea was at 0940, and the closest slack at Makemo was at 5 pm. Hence an overnight crossing. Was not too bad, a little rolly, but we should be used to that be now. We were in sight of Tahanea around 0730, just in time for a morning squall. We got all the sails down and motored into the wind until it blew and rained itself out. The pass was pretty benign, all made it through without incident, we anchored and were pretty much settled by 1030.

June 1st
It is beautiful here. Totally deserted tropical island beautiful. The atoll is narrow, so you can easily see the open ocean from here inside the lagoon. The water in the lagoon is crystal clear shades of dark blue, sky blue, turquoise and green. Pictures can't really do it justice. As much as we enjoy being at the dock, we are loving this anchorage. There is a coral head about 50 yards behind us that the boys snorkeled on. They said it is really good.
After naps, we went exploring with Doug and Carla. We found a little sandy spot (beaches are more rough coral than sand) to have some wine and snacks. As the sun was setting we scattered some of Steve Hall's ashes. He would have loved it here, it is a fitting place for part of him to rest. Rest in peace good friend.

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June 6 2011 from Tahanea

Memorial Day - May 30 2011.
Had an early morning walk to the boulangerie (bakery) for bread. Got caught in the rain, so sheltered in the boulangerie for a while and explained to the bakery lady and her friend about Memorial day. We planned a barbeque with Moondance and invited Calou, Callopyge and Charade. It ended up being more of an appetizer and dessert thing on the dock, but was very nice. So, we had added a little bit of US to our stay in Makemo.

May 31, 2011
Spent a leisurely day getting the boat ready for the overnight crossing to Tahanea. It was nice to have all day to prepare, even though it meant an overnight watch schedule. We untied Moondance from the dock about 1615, and Lor and Carol helped us untie right after that. We all blew away from the dock nicely and headed out through the pass. It was not as exciting as coming in, I guess we knew what to expect for one, and it is easier going out into open water. Calou passed us as we were putting up our sails, and we all sailed off into the sunset (so to speak). To get to Tahanea we had to go westish along Makemo (starboard tack downwind) then jibe to the southwest. We left at night because you have to enter and exit passes at slack tides, and entering a new place needs to be done in the daylight, preferably with the sun high in the sky. The daytime slack here at Tahanea was at 0940, and the closest slack at Makemo was at 5 pm. Hence an overnight crossing. Was not too bad, a little rolly, but we should be used to that be now. We were in sight of Tahanea around 0730, just in time for a morning squall. We got all the sails down and motored into the wind until it blew and rained itself out. The pass was pretty benign, all made it through without incident, we anchored and were pretty much settled by 1030.

June 1st
It is beautiful here. Totally deserted tropical island beautiful. The atoll is narrow, so you can easily see the open ocean from here inside the lagoon. The water in the lagoon is crystal clear shades of dark blue, sky blue, turquoise and green. Pictures can't really do it justice. As much as we enjoy being at the dock, we are loving this anchorage. There is a coral head about 50 yards behind us that the boys snorkeled on. They said it is really good.
After naps, we went exploring with Doug and Carla. We found a little sandy spot (beaches are more rough coral than sand) to have some wine and snacks. As the sun was setting we scattered some of Steve Hall's ashes. He would have loved it here, it is a fitting place for part of him to rest. Rest in peace good friend.