Friday, October 21, 2011


Thursday 10/20 - Well we have been here for 2 weeks on Toau, and plan to leave today for Rangiroa. We have been pretty much boat bound since Saturday as we were scrunched between a high and a low. Which means it has been rainy and windy. Valentine is happy as the rain has filled up their tanks and she has been able to do laundry. We have only been off the boat twice since saturday, so would have preferred a little less rain. But, we got some projects done and Josh has done a good bit of homework. Since Dennis won the battle with the generator last week it has been running well, so we have had lots of power, good thing since the whole solar thing has been off line with no sunshine. The trip to Raniroa is about 100 miles, so we will leave around 4pm to time our arrival there with slack tide around noon tomorrow. It is still pretty windy, so we should have a good sail and may arrive early, seems weird to thing about slowing the boat down....

Our feast last Tuesday night was all we expected and more. Valentine served 2 kinds of raw fish - traditional poisson cru and hot and cold sashimi - grilled tuna and grilled lobster, rice and bread made with coconut milk and chocolate cake for dessert. What a lot of work! Including Valentine and Gaston there were 11 people.

Since then we have done a couple more snorkels, the fish here are amazing. On one a saw not 1, but 2 octopus. Josh has done some more spearfishing, even though Valentine and Gaston tell us to just go get fish from the fish trap.... We did two hooka dives, one outside of the reef which was okay and one on a coral head on the way to the Pink Sand motu. That one was pretty nice, cool coral formations lots of fish and even a lemon shark to check us out. We did that one with Doug and Carla and then afterwards met Valentine and Gaston on the Pink Sand motu for a picnic lunch. Ever the busy people, by the time we arrived they had many piles of dead palm leaves and trash burning, as well as more tuna on the grill. The Pink Sand motu is very cool, small but has lots of soft sand around it. I guess they harvest copra there. One of there dogs entertained us by chasing small reef sharks in the shallows. Gaston says he quite often catches them too!

We had another potluck/bbq last Thursday, seems to be the Thursday thing to do. By then we had 2 different boats in the anchorage, so got to try some different things. The couple from s/v Irene (Finnish boat - made me feel like I was in Crystal Falls) made smoked fish on the grill and a Finnish salted raw fish dish, I made potato salad, Carla made canneloni, Valentine had bread and rice and of course fish, and s/v Evan (a couple from Madagascar with a 3 yr old boy and a 9 yr old girl) brought mac and cheese and a chocolate torte for the little girl's birthday which was that day. I think I could live here.....

We have also done some exploring with Doug and Carla. We went to a motu north of us one afternoon, and to the west of the pass right here by the anchorage. We walked the whole way around that one, picked up several bouys for Valentine and Gaston. The bouys wash up on the motus and Valentine and Gaston collect up the good ones, send them to here family on Apataki who then resell them for them. Her nephew came on Saturday and took the 600 they had collected back with him to Apataki.

Monday when we ventured off the boat we walked around the main motu here. There is actually a small pension here, and my understanding is that it is currently closed because they have no means of transporting people back and forth from Fakarava. They used to have a 22 foot boat that they used, but the motor died. They will be getting a new motor soon, partly financed by the bouys that they pick up. They have quite the managerie here as well, 5 dogs, the requisite chickens, pigs and a pet frigate bird named UmuUmu. The fishing boat that brought the Tuna last week came again (sadly no Tuna) and brought them new coolers and chicken. Valentine shared the chicken with us, she said it was too much for them, and I also think they don't have enough freezer space to keep it.

We ventured off the boat again yesterday, mostly just to get off, but also to see if we could burn some trash. They had family here from Fakarava and they had gone fishing. Wow - amazing number of parrot fish, they filleted some, and strung some whole. They will take it to Fakarava and Tahiti to sell. Valentine again shared some fish filets with us - yum. Josh and Doug cleaned the bottom of Moondance yesterday as well.

We will spend the rest of today prepping the boat for the trip to Rangiroa and will go in one more time to say good bye to Valentine and Gaston. We will miss them, but will have great memories of our time here.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tuesday 10/11/11

Saturday was a great day. We left around 1100 for the motu. It was quite the dinghy parade. Gaston and Valentine had their big yellow powerboat to guide 4 dinghies thru the coral across the lagoon to the pearl motu. Before we left Gaston jumped into their fish traps and speared 4 fish for our lunch. The fish trap is incredible, the number of fish - Wow! hard to describe. We were looking forward to lunch!!! The motu is small, but was pretty littered with trash and very overgrown. With Gaston and Valentine we had 13 people. The place looked totally different by the time we left. Valentine says that when the seas get big, the waves break across the entire motu, hence all the trash. We not only picked up garbage, but also raked up seeds from an tree that reminded me of a Russian Olive. Gaston cut down lots of trees with his very sharp machete. We separated glass and plastic, but everything else got burned. Gaston cooked the fish whole over a fire, and everyone contributed a variety of other things to constitute lunch. After lunch we went snorkeling. I didn't see any big sharks, but Josh and Dennis saw some big grey sharks and black tip reef sharks. The only one I saw was about 2 feet long. Sadly the only down side of the day was that the generator was still not working.

Dennis got up and started working on the generator again. It seems the new pump cannot handle pumping the hot water to the waterheater and back, so Dennis bypassed the waterheater. So, the generator was working again, but no hot water. Once that was taken care of, we went for a snorkel by the fish traps. Again - amazing numbers of fish. The fish swim in the trap, then can't figure out how to get back out. This was some of the best snorkeling ever. We saw an eagle ray, moray eels, grouper, an octopus, along with all the usual small reef fish. Josh was beside himself to use the speargun, so when I was done snorkeling, I followed him and Dennis around as they went hunting. Dennis was the first to have success with a 2 foot or so grouper, I finally had to make Josh quit for lunch, but after lunch he went back out with Dennis and got a good sized parrot fish. While they were out after lunch, Carla, Doug and I went in to look at Valentine's pearls. She was willing to trade food/clothes/household items for them. In the end I thing everyone walked away happy. I got a necklace, 2 baroque pearls and some 8-9mm pearls, and Carla got a bracelet a some more 9-10mm pearls. We were meeting for a rematch of risk that evening too. When we all gathered on our boat for the risk game, Dennis was just finishing up making the day's catch into tempura... YUM!!! We called the risk game at 8pm, took note of what/who was where and will continue another night. All in all a busy but very good day.

Ran the generator a long time to give the batteries a good charge. In the meantime Dennis continued working on the old pump, and finally got it working. He will reinstall tomorrow. Was kind of a cloudy blustery day, so we spent the day on the boat. I made bread - which turned out pretty good. Carla made cookies which she shared -yum!!! A power boat came in early in the morning and gave Gaston and Valentine some yellowfin tuna which they shared with everyone in the anchorage. Again yum!!! I think yesterday's time in the water caught up with Josh, because he ate his way thru 3.5 tuna steaks, salad, bread and 1/2 a pan of rice...Anyone interested in signing on as cook on my boat????? :)

Well the generator is winning the battle again today. I trust that Dennis will persevere and win the day, but it is not pretty. The generator drew first blood and right now is ahead....... Fortunately for me the watermaker is in a cooperative mood, so I was able to change out all the filters with little difficulty. We are supposed to be having dinner on shore tonight, we are looking forward to it. Valentine's feasts are stuff of legend... I'll let you know.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Saturday 10/08/11

Well, here we are in Tuau. We made it Thursday around 1000. There are mooring balls here, so we caught one of them, tidied the decks, cleaned up our cabin - we took 2 waves through port holes, then had naps. That evening Doug and Carla came over for drinks to celebrate our anniversary. Must be time to head back to the states, we are out of California wine!!!! Friday Dennis spent the day on the generator - again. Not entirely sure what is wrong. The high temp alarm went off, but it wasn't overly hot. The problem seems to be on the fresh water coolant side (that's where we just installed the new pump). Anyway, still are not sure what exactly the problem is or was, Dennis is putting it back together even as we speak, so we will see. Last night all the boats in the anchorage got together for a bbq at Gaston and Valentine's place. They are the only family that live here on Tuau. They fish and have a pearl farm and maintain the mooring balls. It was a great bbq. Everyone brought meat and side dishes. Gaston set up the bbq -- they use coconut husks instead of charcoal - and grilled the meat for everyone. We also brought in our trash and burned that. Besides Moondance, there are 2 other boats. A couple from Florida who have been cruising for 11 years, and a couple from Germany. So it was a good group of people. I am hoping to trade some food and sunglasses for pearls. Today we are going with Valentine and Gaston to a motu across the lagoon. We will help clean it up, have another bbq (Gaston will cook fish) and do some snorkeling. Hopefully the generator will behave and it will be a good day.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday 10/05/11

Last Friday was Doug's birthday, so of course we had a little celebration on Moondance. Carla made yummy stuffed cannaloni (sp?) and cake and I brought a big salad. We played dominos - again Doug is the supreme winner of the universe, kicked all of our respective butts. I also brought the second to last bottle of California wine. Yum!! The last bottle is for tomorrow - Our anniversary. I will also break out the last arrechera from Mexico. Saturday morning we decided to go snorkel with the rays again, I needed to use the phone, so we planned to stop at the post office at the little town on the way. Well, sadly if the post office parking lot is locked up (which it was), the phone booths are locked up. Our next stop was the Intercontinental resort - but no public phones there either. We knew there was a phone in Haapiti, so we dinghied onward. Of course it is past the rays, which were jammed with people and tour boats but what do you do. It was a quick call to the internet provider, actually talked to a person and resolved my issue - voila! Decided against snorkeling with the rays, too crowded and would have been a cold ride back to the boat. Saturday, I cleaned the decks and the inside of the dinghy - finally. They needed it, and it is a big improvement. Sunday Dennis and I took Doug and Carla's bikes for a ride on a loop from here (Opunohu bay) to Cook's bay. It was a really nice ride. The ride up through the valley with pineapple plantations was hard, but beautiful. We had lunch at the park at the head of Cook's bay - with the locals. Then headed on back to Opunohu Bay. Sunday night I made lamb for the first time. It turned out good, despite the grill going out halfway through. We may not be catching any fish, but the meat here has been good. Woke up to a major rain storm Monday morning, rushed around closing things up. It pretty much rained all day. Rinsed everything off, and gave the towels hung out a good rinse. We had been talking back and forth with Moondance about the weather window, and finally decided to leave on Tuesday. We made a last minute run to the store and left around 1230 on Tuesday. The carnival cruise ship was back at anchor in the bay, and the little town was filled with tourists. The locals had set up all kinds of booths with jewelry and crafts. I saw some of the nicest jewelry yet - sadly still too expensive, but very beautiful.
Tuesday's sail was good, we had to motor some, but the wind finally filled in and we are still sailing. We can see Moondance off our port side. They passed us while we were motoring, but we caught up and passed them under sail. We have been making good time, so will probably make Tuau (two wow) early tomorrow morning. We have heard lots of good things about Tuau, so are looking forward to our time there.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

093011 Moorea continued

Well its the end of September and we are still in Oponuhu Bay on Moorea.  We have been pretty quiet.  We are working on converting Moondance's dvd's to electronic files.  They have 4 books of dvds, so it is taking all of our computing power to get it done.  My little computer will only rip them, it isn't big enough to compress them, so ripping is my piece of the pie.  Dennis and I did go exploring with Doug and Carla on Monday.  We took one of the rare buses as far as it would go to the west, looked at all the shops and had lunch on the beach.  We caught another bus from there back east to Maharepa.  It is one of the main towns here on Moorea.  We needed an ATM, which they had and of course we had to check out the market.  I scored some smarties (not what they are called here, but you know what I mean) for Josh.  He didn't realize we were actually leaving Tahiti on Friday and didn't stock up.  From there we hitched a ride to the "Jus de Fruits".  It is a fruit juice factory and distillary.  They make boxed rum punches and maitais, flavored rums and liquours.  We tasted quite a few and ended up buying a bottle of vanilla flavored rum cream liquour - quite good in my coffe even as we speak.  From there we were able to hitch another ride back to our dinghy.  All in all a pretty fun day.  Josh was happy with his smarties too.
Tuesday we invited Doug and Carla here for a game of Risk.  Four and a half hours later we declared Doug the winner with the most countries.  Whew!!!  Talk about a marathon.  Definitely fun just long.
Wednesday Josh and Dennis cleaned the bottom of the boat and I procured fresh shrimp for dinner. Josh says the hull is as smooth as a baby's butt now.  We will go fast, fast.  Was a pretty hard job because of the wind and current, but they got it done. The shrimp came from a farm at the head of the bay. Doug and I dinghied over and picked up a kilo each.  I made ours into a creole type of scampi over rice for dinner - yum!!
Josh was going to help Doug with their bottom on Thursday, but between generator issues and more wind they decided to put it off.  We had problems with a fuse on one pump, then the freshwater pump crapped out.  Thankfully we had the spare new pump (thank you Corinne), so it was just a matter of replacing it.  Of course it wasn't as straightforward as it should have been, but by the end of the afternoon we were back in business.  We will see what today brings.  It is still pretty windy and a little cloudy.  We are looking at a possible window to leave here on Monday or Tuesday.

The Hike to the top of Bora Bora by Josh

The hike to the top of Bora Bora (aka THE true hike true hell)

As you can guess I did a hike, real surprise there. My family and I were in Bora Bora and we heard about a hike to one of the peaks. My dad being a seasoned hike from hell picker says, “Let’s do it”. The reasons why I did it: I would never hear the end of it if I didn’t go; My friend Jayce who I had recently met was going to do it; We heard some 11 year old girl had done it (that’s why I would never hear the end of it) and I liked a challenge. Bora Bora had three peaks, the highest peak was all cliffs and even with climbing equipment it was volcanic so the rock was crumbly and you couldn’t climb it. The second highest was thirty-five feet higher than the smallest peak. We went to the smallest peak which was 2300 ft high, so it was still really high.
The people going on the hike were my mom and dad, Jayce, our friends Doug and Carla, and I. We all got up at 8:00, to me it felt like 6:00 and it could’ve been for fast I was moving. The fun of it all started before we even got on land. From the anchorage to town and the trailhead was about a mile or two and we had Jayce in our dinghy. With the added weight it was too much for the sacrificial rubber ring on the prop. We were trying to get on a plane and all of a sudden we were going much slower. The ring was there so if something like that happened you don’t lose the gear box and the prop. You still have to replace the prop but it lets you go slow to get to where you’re going. We still went to the hike and Doug and Carla would stick with us on the way back. What a great way to start the day.
 We got to the dinghy dock and got some more food from the store. We got all set and on our way, at first we were along a road through some houses then it turned into the trail. We heard that is was a good idea to get a guide so we wondering how we did that when a local guy standing on the side of the trail near the start just started walking with us, problem solved. My mom and Carla only went for the first tiny bit of it and then turned around to get to the store to get some beer before it stopped selling alcohol. The guide we had was probably around 60 to 65 years old and wore cheap $2 flip flops and he was just casually walking. My friend and I were 13 and 14, had good shoes on, and were doing everything we could to keep up with him. Since we really couldn’t keep up with him he waited for us. My dad and Doug were slower than us so at one point we went ahead because we could easily see the trail and we were careful. I would say that the first part of the trail was around 45 or 50 degrees steep and some places where they had ropes were about 60 to 70 degrees. The second part of the trail was steeper or it just seemed so because we were so high but I’m pretty sure it was steeper.  There were a lot of trees on the side of the trail so there were roots and oh my god I love roots because they were sturdy handholds and sometimes like ladders. On the first place with ropes we were freaking out like “are you sure it’s THAT way” but it wasn’t that bad. During that hike I am pretty sure I broke the world record of how many times you could say the word terrify in any form. I’m sure Jayce wanted to strangle me because I was saying it so much.
When we finally made it to the top it was all worth it by far. We were 2300 ft off the water and had 330 or 340 degrees of clear view around us. We met some people on the way up who said it wasn’t good it was amazing and I would say it wasn’t amazing it was absolutely spectacular. Just below the top we ran into a couple who were from Detroit and had gotten engaged a few days before while they were in Bora Bora. The couple joked that for their honeymoon they would go to mars to top Bora Bora. We spent a pretty long time up there to rest and just look.
When everybody finished taking pictures we all thought “crap now we have to go back down”. In my opinion it was longer and worse because I slid on my butt down a lot of it. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I stepped down and my leg visibly shook, so next time I sat down to rest I stuffed my face with some peanuts that I brought and it got better. The food may have made me feel better but it didn’t make anything less terrifying. I find it funny that we thought it was scary going up the ropes, until we had to go down them. Jayce and I had gone ahead again and we stopped every once and a while and waited for my dad and Doug with the guide. As we got farther down it got easier and we were going faster so we went on ahead. We were so happy that we were done that we went straight to the store and bought some water and snacks to tide us over until we got back to the boat. Overall it took Jayce and me 5 hours and took my dad and Doug 6 hours.
Doug said it was the hardest hike he had ever done, for me it was the scariest I had ever done and right up there with the hardest. Over the summer my dad earned the title of, “not allowed to pick anymore hikes” and only one of them was harder. When we got to the boat we all jumped in the water to clean off and cool off. I took the next couple of days off from doing anything. I decided that no matter what, I wasn’t doing any hikes for another two months and banned my dad permanently from picking hikes.

Here is some visualization

                                                          70 deg     60 deg           45 deg