Monday, August 29, 2011

082911

082911 Monday

Still in BoraBora probably until Thursday. Dennis had lab work done this morning and is scheduled for an xray and ultrasound tomorrow, we will see the Doctor again on Wednesday. Of course today he is feeling good. It is always interesting (in a scary kind of way) to experience health care in a different country. I am pretty sure we could have gone to a free clinic, but we chose to see a private physician. As I said in a previous post, he does all his own stuff. Lab work is drawn in his office by a nurse (male in shorts and bare feet) in the morning before 0800 - as the blood and urine are sent to Tahiti by plane for analysis. The radiologist is only in town on Tuesdays. I guess very urgent and emergent things are helicoptered to Raiatea. There is a big hospital there. So no real immediate gratification here, but we should know by Wednesday.

We had a quiet weekend, finished up the bilge pump project, have a new switch and a relatively clean bilge - all is good. I changed the water maker filters - they lasted over 2 months!! They were not even very dirty when I took them out either. The new membrane is working like a charm. It is so nice to have something work properly, consistently. The generator has been working too. The dinghy motor is still having intermittant problems, but it is due to the fuel, and although a pain in the ass, only a 15 minute fix. The filter in the carburater gets clogged - it happened again this morning and of course we didn't have the tools with us, but boaters being what they are, we were able to borrow a rachet extension and 10mm socket from s/v Double Moon and voila - fixed. The weather has finally settled down - was pretty windy for the last 3 or 4 days - the waves breaking on the reef got huge and the current in the anchorage was really strong. It was flat calm this morning, we had the fastest, driest ride into town ever!

S/v Nina came into our anchorage yesterday afternoon. We saw them come up the outside of the reef, so Dennis and Josh went to meet them in the dinghy as they came through the pass. Was nice to catch up with them. They are on their way to Tonga. Josh and David immediately got together for video games and catching up and Dennis and I spent a nice evening on Nina with David (Dad), Rosemary and their guests Brad and Munie. It will come as no surprise that we had an overnight guest - I'm pretty sure they went to bed about the time my alarm went off this morning. Was quite a shock to the old system to have an alarm go off at 0550. Alarms are certainly one thing I don't miss.

I am going to try to post pictures today, but if I am unsuccessful, Carla is good at it, so you can sort of follow us by following their blog -

www.followingmoondance@blogspot.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

082511

082511 Thursday
Wow, time sure flies. Monday and Tuesday last week we did more of the same in that lovely anchorage. The bilge pump switch broke, so I pulled that out.
Wednesday 8/17 we moved to the east side of BoraBora. It is an interesting trip. We had to weave our way through coral heads and shallow water to reach the anchorage we were looking for. Our charts for the area are pretty accurate and it is well marked, just pretty scary at times; our draft is 6'4" and the shallowest we registered was 7'5". Dennis reminds me that we don't hit bottom until 4'6" on the depth gauge, but still - makes me nervous. We anchored in 16 feet or so over a sandy bottom between the St Regis and Meridian hotels. BoraBora is one of those places that ends up just as advertised. The bungalow/hut/rooms are built out over the water, each one has its own steps to the water, some at the St Regis even had their own small pool. I guess that is what you get for $1000 per night. Doug and Carla went in for drinks at the St Regis - too spendy for us at $25 per drink.
Thursday 8/18 Dennis woke up not feeling well. We ended up going in to town (a long dinghy ride), but did not see the doctor that day as Dennis thought he was better. He woke up feeling bad again on Friday, so we went back to town and did see the Doctor. Such a different experience than in the states. It seemed to be first come first served, so we had about a 30 minute wait. Then the Doctor did all his own work, history, vital signs, urine dip stick - no nurse or receptionist - All for about $42 USD. It has taken a long time for Dennis to feel better. We didn't do too much on the east side as he was laid pretty low. Josh and I did some swimming, and I did some exploring in the kayak. Dennis and Josh played chess and killed zombies on the PS3. Pretty quiet though. Tuesday (8/23) we did some snorkeling. We were looking for the manta rays, but never did find them.
Wednesday 8/24
We had decided to return to our original anchorage, planned departure around 1000. Dennis didn't feel good again in the morning, so we delayed until after 1100. We made it back to our west side anchorage by 1330 - in time for rain and wind. Looks like we will have wind at least through the weekend. We had a quiet afternoon and evening. Carla was in a backing mood and we scored oatmeal raisin cookies - yum!!!
So here it is Thursday, we have been in Bora Bora almost 3 weeks - kind of hard to believe. We are at our turn around point, so from here we will be heading back to Tahiti via Raiatea and Huahine. We will spend some time on Huahine seeing the things we passed up on our way here. Once we get back to Tahiti we will finish up projects, provision and most likely head back to the Tuamotus. So, as soon as we get a good weather window, we will head back to Raiatea. Maybe Sunday or Monday, we'll see. We haven't had good internet connections, and have gotten behind on posting these blogs. I am going to try to get an SSB connection today to send these out......

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081411

081411 Sunday
Well, we have been in this lovely anchorage for a week. We haven't done much but hang out and enjoy. The water is beautiful and over the last week, we have gotten out all of the toys. The sailing dinghy and the kayak are in the water, the hooka is out and the snorkel gear hasn't gotten an opportunity to dry out. Life is good.
Dennis used the hooka to work on the zinc on the prop, and the next day we took it to the pass for a dive. The zinc is fixed, and the bottom of the boat is clean. The dive in the pass was okay, not spectacular.
Josh finished math!!! Yeah! He and I have been doing some sort of PE everyday. Mostly swimming from the boat to one of the channel markers and back. Is good for both of us to get some regular exercise.
Friday morning, Dennis and Josh took the dinghy out the pass looking for a good place to use the hooka. They were not successful in finding a place to hooka, but they did find the lemon sharks. Dennis said they were huge. He got in the water, but Josh passed on that opportunity. There were also reef sharks and Josh spotted a humpback whale.
Saturday was Carla's birthday, so I got up early and baked her a german chocolate cake. From scratch. A first for me. I am generally a box mix kind of girl, but since german chocolate mixes were not available, I got all the ingredients and did it the old fashioned way. Turned out really good. They came over here yesterday in time for the sunset and snacks, followed by cake.
Earlier on Saturday (after the cake was finished) Dennis and I went exploring in the dinghy. Got kicked off a beach. So to spite them we sat in the dinghy and drank our beers - can't kick us off of the water!!! After that we cruised around the motus. Most of the beaches here are private - seems a shame, because many of them have nobody on them....oh well. Dennis let me off at the red channel marker for my swim back to the boat. After minor technical difficulties with my snorkel, I finally got going - whew! even a little current goes a long way when you are swimming against it. I was one tired puppy!
Today (Sunday) we had a leisurely morning. After breakfast Dennis and Josh took the dinghy to town in search of s/v Phoenix - a boat we met in Huahine with a kid Josh's age (Jayce). They were able to find them and it turns out the were coming to this anchorage today. After a late lunch, Josh and Jayce went snorkeling and then hung out using electrons on Evergreen. Jayce will spend the night, and tomorrow we are going on a hike. I have only signed up for the first part, as I have no desire to go on a 6 hour hike.
While the boys were playing the PS3, we went with Doug and Carla looking for the spot where you can snorkel with the sting rays. Lucky for us there was a tour boat at the spot, so it was easy to find. What a thrill to be in the water with these graceful creatures. I asked the local guide about the stingers, and he said as long as you are not aggressive towards them they won't sting, and also keep your fingers out of the water, you don't want to be mistaken for a fish! The rays will come right up to you, so you can pet them. They feel cool, not slimey or scaley, more soft and supple. They are intimidating at first, but after a while you get used to them, they are like cats, rubbing against your legs, coming up for a pet and then going on their way.
So yeah, this is how I dreamed it would be....... Lazy days. Beautiful, crystal clear, turqoise blue water, good company, spectacular sunsets (no green flash yet), swimming, snorkeling, paddling, yeah this is definitely okay.

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080911

Tuesday morning 080911
The move to Tahaa went smoothly. We ended up anchored off TuaTua (a smallish motu with a fancy hotel on it) in about 20 feet of water. Dennis and I went exploring in the dinghy in the afternoon. We were sort of looking for a way to get to the outer reef as well as scoping out beaches and places to snorkel. Josh and Adam hung out again that evening.
Thursday Dennis worked on the generator in the morning . In the afternoon we went to a snorkel spot called the "coral garden". The area is betweent two motus, it is a shallow snorkel, pretty. There ended up being a good bit of current, so Dennis and I walked to the reef side of the the pass and did a drift snorkel back to the dinghy. Was fun. That evening Moondance had invited us all to their boat for Happy hour. Oh the dilemma of what to bring??? I settled on deviled eggs and made enough to for Josh and Adam to share on Loose Pointer. Carla put on quite a spread with fresh garlic/rosemary bread and yummy gourges (sp?). No need for dinner after that. Dan and Katherine (LoosePointer) said they needed to head to BoraBora the next day, so in the spirit of keeping the boys together we decided to move as well. Doug and Carla thought they would stay a little longer on Tahaa.
Friday we were up pretty early getting ready to go to BoraBora. It is only 12 miles away, but the pass into the lagoon is on the west side so, all told it was about 25 miles. We had a good sail over - uneventful. We were happy when Moondance decided to come as well. They had an exchange with our friendly neighborhood does not give way freighter, who finally did respond to their hails on the radio and did give them some room. Moondance has AIS which is a system that lets you identify boats when using your radar, so they had written down the name of the boat the night coming over from Moorea. Our AIS died in Mexico and we were not able to fix it and replacing it was too costly. We hope to replace it in Hawaii. Can be quite a handy little gadget.
We had our poles out and did hook a couple of bonita, I was not able to bring mine in, but Josh brought his in so we could throw it back. Dennis says mine was probably a dorado, but I don't think so. This was just before we needed to turn towards the pass into Bora Bora. Made it through the pass with no difficulty and decided the mooring balls at Bloody Marys were probably the best bet given the strength of the wind. We were all able to pick up a mooring ball and Voila! home. Adam was finishing up homework, so Josh hung out waiting for him while Dennis and I went to check out Bloody Marys. Pretty cool. It has been there for 30+ years and has seen many famous people through its doors. Now including us. Dennis had their namesake drink, which he said was pretty good. So how to describe it? It has the traditional thatched palm roof, sand floors, polished wooden tables with what I think are palm tree logs for seats. Their lunch menu is reasonable (in FP terms) $12 to $15 for a burger and fries. Dinner starts around $33 US. We decided we would come back the next day for lunch. The mooring balls we were on are theirs, and it is on your honor to come to the restaurant for a meal as payment for using them.
Josh and Adam had a sleepover on our boat friday night. Lots of xbox (Adam's) and computer time - not so much sleeping. But I guess that is the point.
Saturday
We got the boys up pretty early - hard for Adam to sleep once we are up as he was on the setee in the salon. I'm not sure either of them were fully awake before the computers were back on. I made waffles for breakfast. I wanted to make them from scratch, but all my flour had little bugs - eeewwww! So those went directly to the trash and I ended up using the mix. We went to Bloody Mary's for lunch. The burgers were yummy as were the fries. After lunch Dennis and I went exploring in the dinghy again. We went to the southern tip of the island. Found a beach bar on the way back, was nice to sit and watch the water.
Adam stayed again Saturday night. We cut them off of electrons about 11pm, and I think I finally chased them to bed around 2am.
Sunday
We were quiet in the morning so the boys could sleep in a little. After breakfast Dennis and I dinghied into town with Doug and Carla to explore. We missed the grocery store but were surprised to find many of the little shops open. Maybe it was because the "Gaugain" cruise ship was in port? Pretty unusual to find anything open on a Sunday. They are very adamant about keeping their day of rest. Probably something people in the US should think more about. What a concept, to actually spend time with your family interacting with each other at home or the beach. That afternoon we went back to our beach bar (which again was amazingly open). We had brought our own stuff with us, but I did buy an icecream. It was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, watching the beautiful lagoon sitting on sugary white sand. Yep, that is the way it is supposed to be.......
Loose Pointer came by the boat later, we swapped a few books and we adults said our "see you laters". Their plan was to leave in the morning for American Samoa via Suwarrow. The boys spent their last night together on Loose Pointer. What a quiet night for Dennis and I! We enjoyed a movie and had an early night.
Monday
Josh had the dinghy and was back at the boat by 815am! Loose Pointer was on their way. About 30 mintues later Josh realized he had one of Adam's game discs still in his computer. So he and Dennis took the dinghy on a mission of mercy to return the disc. They were able to catch Loose Pointer just outside the pass. Dennis said it was an exciting full throttle dinghy ride.
We were also going to change anchorages, but needed to hit town for groceries first. It is still amusing to me the way we shop here. We look at all the aisles, even if we only have a short list. Yesterday we scored progresso soup in cans - clam chowder (Josh's favorite) and a variety of chicken, and better yet, costco brand tortilla chips. So all in all a very fruitful shopping experience.
By the time we got back to the boat, had lunch and prepared the boat to leave, it was almost 3pm, a little late to be moving, but since it was such a short distance and well marked on the charts we decided to go ahead and move. We went maybe the long way around, but it put the sun behind us, which makes it easier to see the depth of the water - in particular we are still keeping an eye out for coral heads or balmies. We had no troubles though, and dropped the anchor on the west side of the motu south of the pass into the lagoon. Once again we are anchored in our own personal aquarium. Dennis and Josh jumped in immediately and called me to the side to see the spotted rays. I got my mask and went in as well, rays were still there. Dennis spent some time working on the dinghy motor - seems the gas has some sort of sediment in it that clogs up the fuel filter and the carburator (same issue we had in Moorea). We watched for the green flash at sunset - didn't see it, still think it is a myth. The sun sent down a golden ball into the sea, another reminder of why we are here.........

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raiatea 080311

Wednesday 08032011

Last Wednesday was a pretty mellow day, sort of. We all ended up cleaning the waterline on the hull during the afternoon Josh did the majority of it from the dinghy (was preferable to homework), and Dennis and I did touch ups from the water. Not exactly as mellow as I had anticipated, but the waterline looks great and it was nice to be in the water.

We left at 5pm for Huahine. We motored for the first few hours, then the wind came up enough to sail. There were at least 6 boats headed for Huahine that night, so the radar screen was pretty busy. I came on watch about 1230 am. We were making about 3 kts. I could see the navigation lights of the other boats all around us, but nothing within 2 miles. Around 0130 I saw a target on the radar about 6 miles out that appeared to be heading in my direction, so I turned the target tracking on, and sure enough on a direct course towards us at about 15kts. For you non sailors out there, the rules of the road out here give boats under sail the right of way and all boats are to avoid collisions, no matter who has the right of way. Well this boat never altered course! I ended up having to head off course by 30 degrees and at 3 kts we don't move very fast. To add insult to injury the boat spotlighted me on its way by. I had tried to hail them on the radio earlier, but no answer. After they passed and I readjusted my course I made a general call on channel 16 to the boats behind me to be aware that this vessel under power was not giving way. Moondance who were on the same course as us about 3 miles behind also had to alter course. That was a real first for me I have had large cargo ships make major course changes in order to get out of the way. Thankfully the rest of the night was less eventful.

Dennis came on at 0630 with Huahine in sight. Shortly thereafter it began to rain. The wind and swell had been increasing since about 400am and by 0700 it was rocking and rolling! At 0900 we jibed around to line up with the pass. Raining hard by now and seas pretty big. Just as I was preparing to call Josh to close a port I can't reach we took a wave - right into that hatch. I bet the look on my face was priceless. No real harm done, but to see a wall of water come in the port, drench me and things across the cabin from me, swirl around on the floor and head into the bilge. Just not any every day occurrence (thank you very much). Given the state of the seas, I basically threw all the wet clothes in the sink in our head and the rug out on the deck to get rained on all to be dealt with after we anchored. Our destination on Huahine was Fare (far-ay) on the Northwest side of Huahine. The pass in was a piece of cake, but anchoring in 20+ kts of wind and current is never much fun. We finally stuck on our 4th try. By then we were all cold and wet - definitely ready for coffee and a big breakfast, okay it was more like lunch by then but it felt like breakfast time.

I cleaned the seawater mess - washed floors and hung the salty clothes out in the rain, made breakfast and had a nap. The wind stayed strong all through the day Thursday and Friday with gusts in the high 20s. We did a lot of heeling in the boat as the current was so strong we never came around into the wind.

Friday we did some exploring in Fare. They have an awesome grocery store. Josh made the comment that we seem to spend a lot of time looking in grocery stores these days. Yeah, the highlight of my day - finding something we haven't had access to. This store has lots of stuff, but funnily enough no loaf bread, only baguettes. Cooked fresh at least twice a day. Fare is not very big, so exploring didn't take too long. We came back that evening for happy hour and dinner at the roulettes.

Saturday we took a pretty long walk - tried to hitchike, but no luck. We were hoping to get to the marae which is an old Polynesisn village/religious place - or in Dennis' words - an old pile of rocks. We were picked up by a "truck" which is a flatbed with a cabin with seats, or in english a bus. No charge for a ride all the way back to Fare. Do they have a regular schedule? No. Once back in town, we saw that the only bike rental shop was actually open, so we made reservations to rent bikes the next day. Then went for a picnic on the beach. Meanwhile, Josh had met the kid on Phoenix (Jayce) and spent the day with him. They had skurfed for awhile in the morning, then hung out in the boat the rest of the day.

Sunday dawned overcast but less windy. Josh was too tired to go bike riding, so we went in without him. By the time we got to the dock it was raining, and noone was at the bike shop. We waited for 35 minutes, and then decided it was just not going to happen. We ended up taking a long walk in the other direction and having Josh pick us up in the dinghy. When we got back to the boat, we decided that we needed to move to a better anchor spot. Which we did. We didn't move far, just enough to be back over shallower water and out of the channel. We sent Josh out swimming with the hand held depthsounder to see how far away the 10 foot depth was. Remember the current? Well, he got a pretty good workout. He never did get to 10 feet, but 15 was pretty far away, so we felt comfortable with our anchor spot. Late Sunday afternoon we met with Moondance to see how they felt about heading to Raiatea Monday instead of going to the southern anchorage on Huahine. We were hoping to catch up with Loose Pointer or Don Quixote (kid boats). They agreed, so we made plans for an early provision run and then crossing to Raiatea. We would try to leave by 1000am for the 20 mile crossing.

Monday. We made our 1000 departure time. Provisioning went well and quickly. I even scored some MahiMahi from a local fisherman - fresh that morning. The crossing went well, about an hour out we put up the spinnaker and had a nice couple of hours flying it. Is so weird to think that we go faster under sail than we do with the motor...... Is quieter too. We had our fishing lines in the water, thinking that okay, the spinnaker is up and we just bought fish so we are primed to actually catch one of our own. Sadly, no luck. We brought the spinnaker down about 6 miles out of Raiatea and finished with the jib. As we approached we were hailed by Adam on Loose Pointer. Yeah! They were still anchored In the lagoon at Raiatea. The pass into the lagoon was pretty straightforward and we found Loose Pointer easily. Anchoring ended up to be a challenge, but we finally set the hook to our satisfaction and settled in. It seems that the lagoon around Raiatea is deep and falls off the reef steeply - not much sand to anchor in. So our anchor is in 30 feet and our stern is over 90 feet. Dan and Katherine invited us for drinks that evening and we had a nice visit with them and Doug and Carla - catching up. While we have been having generator problems, their windlass (pulls up the anchor) just died a sudden death. A new one isn't in their future until American Samoa. Those guys are going to be totally buff by then pulling up the anchor with a chain rode is hard work.

Tuesday. Josh got a good deal of homework done in the morning and the rest of his day was spent with Adam hanging out and doing whatever they do when the hang out and have their laptops with them. Dennis and I went into town (Uturoa) around 2pm. Didn't do too much - checked out the grocery store, had a beer with Doug and Carla, walked to the marina to check it out and came back to the boat. We are anchored quite a way from shore and this is the windward side of the island, so the dinghy rides can be pretty wet. By general consensus all three boats decided that we had enough of this anchorage and would like to go someplace new on Wednesday.

Tahaa is the next little island to the north and does not require leaving the lagoon to get there. So we agreed to head to TuaTua on the west side. Hopefully it will be more protected and have better anchoring conditions. I will let you know. Loose Pointer has already upped their anchor this morning and is at the fuel dock as we speak..... I guess I better finish my coffee and bring this to a close.....