Suvarov and fishing

September 6, 2007

We are still in Suvarov (Suwarrow) in the Cook Islands. We had
hoped to leave five days ago for Samoa but the weather has not
cooperated. It is beautiful here so we are not complaining
about being stuck in paradise. The wind had slowed to less than
8 knots and came out of the north. That brought rain and
squalls, some intense, mixed in with periods of sun. We used
those sunny periods to snorkel all around the lagoon, and took a
long walk along the reef to Monkey’s Island at low tide during a
cloudy morning. Then the wind shifted from the south but still
light. We used up quite a bit of diesel getting here from
Bora-Bora and then subsequentlyunning the generator and making
water, so we do not have nearly enought to get to Samoa without
a few days of good wind.

There is one thing fairly new to us that has become an important
part of our stay in Suvarov, and that thing is fishing. To
illustrate its allure, consider that yesterday, while we were
snorkeling in the most amazing reef, watching colorful fish in
the crystal clear water, Laura turned to me and said “Let’s go
back to the boat and go fishing.” Even Laura is smitten with
the fishing bug. It is not just the sporting aspects of fishing
that moitivate us. It is also that the fish that we catch –
grouper – is quite delicious and is far better to eat than
anything that we have left on the boat. We and our friends on
Risho Manu and Yara are all out of fresh food. Only one of our
two fridges is running and it has only has some cheese, beer and
coke. We had our last apple with breakfast. We have lots of
dried and canned food, but none of it seems as appealing as
baked or barbequed grouper.

It is fairly easy to catch grouper in the lagoon once John, the
park warden, gave us some pointers. From our dinghy, we drag
150 feet of 200 pound test line off of a plastic spool (called a
yo-yo) with a diving Rapala lure attached. No fishing rod or
reel required. Laura steers the dinghy along the dropoff near
reefs. We have found the reef just behind the sailboats is very
productive so we do not have to go very far. We are now
confident that if we spend one to two hours trolling a line from
the dinghy, we will land a big grouper. The other day while
contemplating the options for supper just one hour before
sunset, we decided to go out for 45 minutes and see if we could
catch something (sort of like a last minute trip to Whole
Foods). After 30 minutes, we had a fish on the line and I
started to haul it in while wrapping the line around the plastic
yo-yo. As the fish got almost up to the dinghy I was surprised
by the sudden strength of the tug on the line. I pulled up hard
and found that there were two fish heads staring to me — one
belonging to a large grouper and the other to a shark with its
jaws around the grouper. The shark and I were both shocked to
see each other — the grouper already knew what was up. The
shark chomped down, taking the back 60 percent of the fish,
leaving me to haul in the front 40%. The shark had the better
part by far since grouper heads are quite large and are not
eaten by us. Nonetheless, there was enough grouper left for a
nice supper for Laura and I. However, this fish was not as
tasty as the others, which we attribute to the trauma the poor
fish went through in those last moments. Late yesterday
afternoon, Laura and I caught a grouper big enough to feed us,
Risho Maru, and Yara plus leftovers. The fresh fish keeps the
beans and rice dinners on hold.

The wind is supposed to pick up a bit tomorrow and we may use
the opportunity to start off for Apia, Samoa some 520 nautical
miles away. With the forecast winds, it should take us 4 days
to reach Samoa. We will miss the annual festival that we had
planned to attend but this loss is offset by the wonderful time
that we have had in Suvarov.


Suvarov – 2nd week

September 1st

We are still in Suvarov. It has continued to be a very fun
place with shared dinners on the beach just about every night. A
couple of days ago Jim from “Special Blend” left and we all
thought that would be the end of our big fish dinners. A few
hours after he left however, another boat, “Southern Cross”,
pulled in and before long everyone in the anchorage had heard
that they had caught a 120 pound marlin. The boat belongs to
Cedric, a New Zealander with 2 little girls named Hannah and
Page. Cedric has 3 friends on board with him who are all avid
fishermen. They had caught the fish the day before arriving in
Suvarov and after catching the monster and pulling him up to the
rail, one of them realized that the hook had fallen out and
instead of letting the fish get away the guy tackled the fish
and wrestled him to the deck of the boat. He (the guy, not the
fish) had a nice big wound on his leg as a result. They kept as
much of the fish as they could in their fridge, but
unfortunately had to toss a great deal into the ocean as they
had no room to store it. In any event they brought enough fish
to the barbeque that night to feed the entire group of sailers –
which must have been at least 30 people.

John, the caretaker of the island, is very nice to the sailers
here and always arranges small expeditions to the tiny islands
that are part of this atoll. Yesterday a bunch of us went with
him in our dinghies out to a small island on the other side of
the pass into the lagoon. It is a bird sanctuary and there were
thousands of birds of all different kinds. Many of them were
nesting and we saw lots of eggs and lots of tiny baby birds as
well as the adults. The appearance of humans on the island
throws them all into an uproar which was quite a sight to
behold. We all tried to be very careful about not disturbing
their natural habitat, but just the sight of us got them all up
into the air crying out and swooping over us. On the way back
Mark and I thought we would try some fishing again, and before
long Mark had caught a very large grouper. It was very exciting
to catch him and we brought him back to shore to clean. You are
not allowed to clean fish from your boat here as the fish
entrails attract sharks and none of us want them around the
boats. If you bring your fish to shore John and his sons will
help you clean the fish and then they toss the remains into
water at the far side of the island. John’s 11 year old son
Jeremiah helped us gut and fillet our fish. Just when we
finished up with our fish his dad and mom returned from their
own little fishing expedition. They had 5 or 6 fish with them,
including one very large grouper, and announced that they would
be served that evening at the beach barbecue. That night on
the beach there was another musical festival as well as the
potluck dinner. Singers, guitarists, drummers, and the harpist
all performed. Our friend Alexa sang some beautiful songs that
her husband Peter had written and she also sang an amazing
yodeling song – not silly or loud – but a very sweet, plaintif
type of song – really beautiful.

We had planned to get ready to leave here by tomorrow, but the
weather report for the next few days forecasts very light winds,
so we are going to hang around here a few days longer. We
decided to join another small expedition of dinghies today going
to another area within the lagoon with good snorkeling. It was
nice – lots of parrot fish and beautiful coral. Some of the
group took a walk along the fringing reef between two islands –
you can only do the walk when it is low tide. It seemed too far
and too hot so Mark and I returned to the boat. Almost landed
another grouper, but not quite.

More time in Suvarov

As remote as it is, Suvarov (or Suwarrow) has been the most
sociable place we have been so far. There are about 12 boats
here right now with boats coming and going every few days, but
we know most of them. There is a big pot-luck party nearly every
night on shore – right on the beach, under the palm trees, and
there was a full moon just a few nights ago so it is especially
beautiful. One of the men on the boats is a very keen fisherman,
and he usually supplies the main course – fresh fish that he
barbecues up for us on the spot. Yesterday it was grouper. Last
night some of the musically gifted people who happen to be here
decided to perform and we had such a great time. Our friends
Alexandra and Peter from “Rishu Maru” had a band in Austria –
she is a singer and he is a guitarist and composer – and they
performed for us. Jazzy stuff. Really nice. Gail, from the boat
“Fifth Season” is a professionally trained singer who
accompanies herself on a mid-sized harp! She sang French, Irish
and American songs of all styles. Another guy, Tom, from the
boat “Rasa Manis” is a musicologist who studied in Indonesia and
was there when Mark was there 30 years ago (his boat name is
Indonesian for sweet,pleasant place). He sang bawdy sea songs.
Another group of people with guitars just strummed along as we
all sang some old corny folk songs. So much fun. All we needed
was for someone like Uncle Itz to be here and the singing would
have gone on all night. The caretakers of the island are very
sweet, mellow people and they come to the pot-luck parties every
night (except Sundays) – and they bring fried coconut pancakes –
very much like potato latkes.

Thanks to a timely e-mail from Frannie we stayed up late two nights ago
to watch the lunar eclipse. It was absolutely breathtaking from here.
Perfectly clear night with shooting stars ,
palm trees in the background and warm tropical breezes. We could
watch it through the hatch right in the forward berth of the boat so we
didn’t even have to get out of bed to watch it. Fantastic.

Mark just hopped in the dinghy to go fishing with Peter. He
wants to try his hand at catching grouper. More later…

At anchor in Suvarov

It is now our third day in Suvarov Island in the Northern Cook
Islands. This atoll was discovered by the Russian ship
“Suvarov” in 1814. After the Cook Islands gained independence
in free association with New Zealand, the name was changed to
Suwarrow which is more in tune with the Cook Islands language.
The islands that make up the atoll have been mostly uninhabited
for hundreds of years. There is evidence of some limited
Polynesian settlement long ago, and the discovery of rusted
muskets and two chests of Spanish treasure suggest other
visitors. This place was made famous to sailors by Tom Neale, a
New Zealander, who lived here as a hermit from 1952 to his
death in 1978. Yachts camed to visit him during those years and
he wrote a book (An Island to Oneself) that was published in
many languages. We visited his simple shack on shore which now
serves as a book swap for sailors and an office for the
caretaker family that lives here six months a year.

Tom Neale

The island is a national park and nature reserve, and the
caretakers (park wardens) for the past three years are John and
Veronica and their four young boys ages 4 to 9. They come here
from Raratonga in April and leave about November 1. When they
are dropped off in April they are on their own until the
November pick-up.

John and Veronica

There are no facilities and the only way to
get here is on your own boat. This is now the peak of the
yachtie season as sail boats make their way west from French
Polynesia to Tonga and then eventually to New Zealand or
Australia for the typhoon season. Most boats take the southern
route through the Southern Cooks but the charms of Suvarov and
Samoa, plus the vagaries of the weather, lead an increasing
number to come through here. Most nights there is a fire on the
beach and a potluck in which John and Veronica participate.
Veronica makes wonderful coconut pancakes. The yachties also
give John and Veronica whatever fresh food and gasoline that
they can spare. We gave them frozen hamburger that they seemed
delighted to receive. John and Veronica go out of their way to
be helpful to their visitors, offering advice on places to
snorkel and best times to exit through the pass back to the sea,
leading trips to the other islands in the atoll, and just being
gracious hosts.

Laura and I are enjoying our stay here immensely. We swam
with the sharks yesterday — there is really no choice since
they are everywhere, we see them swimming around the boat.
There was this big black-tipped shark circling around us but he
never got closer than 20 feet. I have some great video of him
(with a nice toothy smile). Unless one has not just speared a
fish, these sharks have no interest in humans. Needless to say,
we are not spearfishing.

Black tipped shark

The water is crystal clear and the coral is beautiful and
healthy. That is what one should expect in an uninhabited atoll
with no other islands around for a few hundred miles, I suppose.
There are lots of grouper and other large fish in the lagoon,
not just the cute little tropical guys. We stayed up late to
watch the eclipse of the moon last night which was spectacular
here. The closest town (Pago-Pago) is about 500 miles away so
ambient light is not a problem. We are a bit closer to the
equator than Bora-Bora but it is still noticeably warmer than
anywhere since Panama. The water is like a bath. Fortunately,
it has been quite breezy so we are comfortable.


Tonight there is another potluck supper, plus those yachties
with musical talents are putting on a variety show. They just
finished a practice on “Fifth Season” and we are preparing to go
ashore for the show. There is always tons of fresh barbequed
fish and other delights. There are currently 12 boats at anchor
here (there were none last week when the weather was bad) and
many are planning to head west for Tonga and Samoa over the next
few days as the weather outlook for the coming week looks quite
good. Indeed, two boats left today — “Barefeet” with Erin and
Chris from our marina in Rhode Island, and “Ariel” a beautiful
gaff-rigged English boat. We had Ian and Cathy from Ariel over
to Sabbatical III for beers last night and heard some great
stories about crazy English sailors. They also offered
experienced advice about passage planning as they know these
waters and weather patterns very well.

We may leave in a few days and join “Rishu Maru” on a 520
nautical mile passage to Apia in Samoa. From there the plan is
to go to Niuatoputapu, the northern most Tongan island. Its
name is too hard to pronounce so the yachties just refer to it
as “New Potatoes”.


Safe Arrival

We arrived safely in Suwarrow today at 11:30 a.m. 4 day 18 hour
passage. Great passage – even baked two banana breads en route.
Only one family lives here. I will describe more in our next
blog as I am too tired tonight to write much. We joined a beach
barbeque tonight with the 5 other boats in the anchorage. One of
them is the boat “Barefeet” which is the boat that is from our
marina in Rhode Island. They began their trip about a month
before we did, and we have been seeing them everywhere since we
were in the Marquesa’s. Another boat here, “Special Blend” is
a boat with a very accomplished Florida fisherman on board and
he came to the barbeque with at least 20 pounds of fish and
cooked for us all. I brought my banana bread. Great fun. We are
exhausted now after the passage and must sleep. Mark has passed
out already having slept only two hours out of the last 24.

En route to Suwarrow

Friday August 24th
2:00 P.M. local time
S 15 51
W 161 03
Heading 280 degrees
Winds 5-8 knots
125 miles to go!

We are in our 4th day now of our 4.5 day sail to Suwarrow. We
expect to arrive tomorrow morning (Saturday). Yesterday we had
good wind for most of the day and sailed with our headsails
poled out – averaging about 7 nm per hour for most of the day.
About 4 p.m. a squall came up and brought some rain, followed by
a drop in wind and a change in wind direction and after a couple
of hours of trying unsuccessfully to sail our course, we gave up
and motored for the night. It has not been the windiest sail,
but at least it has been quite comfortable most of the time –
with not much ocean swell at all. We have both been able to
sleep one six hour stretch each day followed by as many catnaps
as possible. Mark is not much of a napper, but I am really
getting good at passing out for an hour or two at any hour of
the day (talented girl that Laura). Today, Friday, we are
continuing to motor since the winds are still extremely light.

Yesterday Mark caught another fish! We aren’t even sure what
kind it was – only what it was not. Being neither a tuna, a
wahoo, or a mahi-mahi- we are guessing it might have been a kind
of mackeral. Anyways it was really delicious – much better than
the tuna we had caught two days before. And this morning I was
awakened at 7:00 a.m. by a loud cry of “Laura – get up – I’ve
got two fish on the lines!”. Mark had just set out the two
fishing lines and within a minute both had been grabbed. One of
them leapt clear out of the water and Mark could see that that
they were large mahi-mahi – the premier fish that you want to
catch out here. Unfortunately the bigger one bit the hook right
off the first line and disappeared. The second fish, however,
was well snagged and Mark managed to reel him in and onto the
boat. It was quite big – maybe 25 or 30 pounds – and was such a
beautiful fish. Once on board he (or she) was still thrasing
around and was very angry and before we could stun him, he
wiggled out of both the gaff hook and the hook in its mouth and
wriggled off the boat. Mark was so disappointed! I was
disappointed, but also kind of relieved because it was such a
beatiful big fish I hated to kill it.
We are looking forward to arriving in Suwarrow tomorrow. It is
supposed to be beautiful and it will be fun to be there with a
flotilla of boats that we know. Although there about 12 boats
we know of that are sailing this route, we are all spaced out
too far from each other to really communicate except by the SSB
(single side-band radio), and we are doing a check in twice a
day. We have ended up sailing very close to another boat named
Nadezka on the whole route. We have never met them in person,
but since we are only about 20 miles from each other at sea, we
are able to talk on the VHF radio at any time. It has been fun
checking in with them a few times – they even called us
yesterday to give us a heads up on the squall coming through –
as it passed by them before it reached us. They said that there
was a 200 foot fishing boat just a few miles from them which was
quite a surprise as we have seen no commercial boats of any kind
out here.

All is well here.

Leaving Bora Bora and back out to sea

Wednesday August 22, 2007
4:00 P.M.
Position: S15.10 W156.17
Heading: 274 degrees
Avg. Speed: 6.5 knots
Winds from the East North-east at 12-15 nm
Initial miles from Bora Bora to Suvarov: 690
Miles remaining: 390

Here are are in the middle of the ocean once again. We left Bora
Bora just before sunset on Monday the 20th having delayed our
departure approximately one week from our initial anticipated
departure date. On the day we left, we went back into town to do
some final provisioning and went to have lunch in the town’s big
Chinese restaurant. Our favorite gendarme, the strict guy who
checked us out of the country the week before and insisted that
we leave no later than the 14th of August sat at a table right
next to us, just as he did when we ate there last week. Luckily
he must see a lot of middle aged American yachties around here
and didn’t recognize us .

We had delayed our departure because the weather forecast was
not good for last week. First there was too much wind, and then
was no wind for a few days. We waited until Monday because the
forecast looked decent for Monday and Tuesday, and then
excellent for the rest of the week. Our friends on Rishu Maru
will be leaving on Wednesday (today) and will be following us
to Suvarov. Most of the boats we know left Bora Bora about the
same day as everyone was waiting for the right weather to leave.
We have set up a “safety net” with everyone calling in to a
pre-determined SSB channel twice a day. There are about 10
boats participating. It’s a nice system. We have not seen any
boats at sea yet.

Our first several hours at sea were great with moderate winds
and very smooth seas. The winds died down pretty quickly though
and we passed most of Tuesday motoring. The skies were grey
and the seas were extremely flat. It was not bad though, and
the best part of the day was when Mark caught a fish! A nice
fat tuna! It was a lot of work to bring him in and then pretty
disgusting when Mark cleaned and cut him up, but definitely a
very exciting event. We are not sure how big it was – guessing
about 15 pounds or so. Definitely enough for us to be eating
tuna everyday for the remainder of our passage to Suvarov.

Today the winds picked up and we have been sailing since early
morning. It has been a beautiful day with smallish but
increasing swells and a nice steady breeze behind us. We set the
two head-sails, one of which is a pretty red,white and blue
(French colors as well as American), and we are trucking along.
Mark has his fishing poles set again, hoping he can get
another lucky catch – this time maybe we will get a mahi-mahi.


Leaving for Surarov

We are leaving for Suvarov Island(Suwarrow) in about one hour
(0330 Zulu Aug 21). This island-atoll is part of the Northern
Cooks Islands and is uninhabited, except for a caretaker. It is
a national park and fairly popular with sailors. The route will
take us north of Maupiti and Motu One on a course of about 275
degrees magnetic. The entrance to Suvarov is at South 13
degrees 14 minutes and West 163 degrees 06 minutes, about 689
nautical miles from Bora-Bora. The forecast is for light winds
for the first 24 to 36 hours then moderate winds thereafter. We
should arrive Saturday morning local time.


Still in Bora-Bora

We are still in Bora-Bora waiting for the wind to pick up after a weather disturbance came through.  We posted a new slideshow and a short video today.  The underwater photography and video uses our Olympus digital camera.


More Bora Bora

Wednesday August 15th, 2007

We are still in Bora Bora. We had planned on leaving tomorrow,
having checked out of French Polynesia and gotten our bond back
on Monday. When we went to the gendarmerie to check out we told
the big buff gendarme that we would be leaving the next morning.
They are so strict about checking out here that the gendarme
actually said that if we are leaving tomorrow we should come
back to do the checkout tomorrow, not today. We told him that we
would be leaving at the crack of dawn so that would be
impossible, and he relented, but not before asking three times
if we were “definitely” leaving tomorrow and then he insisted on
writing “departure definite” on our papers. Of course we were
not really planning on leaving the next day as there were too
many things to take care of before we left and we had to wait
for the right weather. Some poor guy tried to check out just
after us and made the mistake of saying that he planned to leave
on Wednesday. The gendarme refused to check him out and the man
got fed up and said, “Ok, so check me out and I will leave
today”. That same man is currently anchored next to us (3 days
later), and after talking to him today it is clear that he is
only going to leave when the weather is ok – just like we are
doing. We are actually having beautiful weather but the
forecast is for a disturbance to come up from the south in the
next few days causing unsettled weather, strange wind direction
(north and northeast) and then a couple of days of no wind.
Since we have a 4 day sail ahead of us to get to Suvarov (in the
Cook’s), we don’t want to take a chance with such strange
weather, so we are “roughing it” by hanging around this pretty
anchorage in Bora Bora for a few more days.

We spent most of Saturday (August 11th) doing boat maintenance
(changing generator oil) and doing boat cleaning, but then had a
beautiful snorkel by the reef here. We found a gorgeous coral
garden just inside of the fringing reef with some spectacular
coral, clams of all sizes and colors and lots of fish, including
varieties we had never seen before. Saw some very bizarre and
very big fish that were stuck inside a large fish trap. In the
evening we went over to Rishu Maru to visit and ended up staying
for dinner and dancing on the deck together. We will miss Alex’s
mom Ericka (Ricky), and her sister Sol a lot. We just had so
much fun together these past two weeks.

On Sunday morning (August 12) Mark and I moved the boat back to
the Bora Bora yacht club so we could be closer to town and get
internet access. We spent a lot of time trying to upload a
movie of me swimming with the stingrays to our web site and
taking care of bills and other business. I even got our taxes
(2006) submitted! In the evening we invited Vanessa and Morgan
from the Canadian boat “Mostly Harmless” and Oden and Wee from
the Norwegian boat “Valkurie” over for sundowners.

Monday we were still moored at the yacht club, but went to town
to check out, get our bond, get some groceries, etc. We also
checked out the marine gas dock so that we would be prepared to
use it to fill up our tanks the next day. It is always helpful
to get the lay of the land before approaching a new gas dock and
this one was no exception. It is a very small dock, but looked
easy to approach. The woman who runs the place is exceedingly
unfriendly, but I guess as long as they sell us fuel we will be
ok. In the evening Mark and I dinghied over to the dock at the
yacht club just to have a drink and watch the sunset. A man
with two very cute sons came and sat beside us and he turned out
to be another yachtie from the British boat Clarabelle. They
invited us to play a card game with them and it was a lot of
fun. The two young boys, Tom and John (they call him John-tee)
were so adorable and had the most wonderful British accents. We
really had a nice time with them.

On Tuesday morning we wanted to go to the fuel dock and then
move back to the anchorage by Motu Toopua. We had promised Rishu
Maru that they could have our mooring at the yacht club as they
are hard to come by and they had spent the last two nights
anchored by the motu. We called to let them know we were ready
to vacate the mooring and they motored over to us. Another boat
that we know, Scholarship, was approaching the yacht club right
beside Rishu Maru and saw us leaving. For a few minutes it
looked like it was going to be a race between the two boats to
see who could get to the mooring ball first, but we called out
to Scholarship to let them know we were saving it for our
friends on Rishu Maru. Kind of like getting a parking spot in
Manhattan I guess. Hopefully there will be no bad feelings on
account of that episode.

We motored over to the fuel dock and were glad to see that there
were no other boats there. Just as we were pulling up to the
tiny dock, a small fishing boat raced in front of us and pulled
up at the dock, completely blocking our access to it and giving
us no time to stop our boat. We yelled frantically at him that
we were coming in and that he had to move or we might
accidentally hit him, and he moved out of the way just in time.
Funny because this is a very low key kind of place but we had
two “parking space” episodes in the same morning. We filled all
8 of our 20 liter jerry cans with diesel, topped off our tank,
filled up our gas tanks (for the dinghy) and went back to Motu
Toopua to find a nice spot to drop anchor. There were a couple
dozen boats there, but we managed to find a great spot.

It is Alex and Peter and Alex’s sister Sol’s birthdays this week
and we were invited to their boat for a birthday party last
night. Two other groups of friends on boats that we have not
seen for a long time pulled in today and they were also there
for the party — Yara and Nautilus. We had another fun evening
with lots of food, wine, and then everyone danced on the deck
again. Besides all of their other talents, Alex and Peter are
terrific dancers and it was fun to watch them dance together.

It was a little scary getting back to our boat in the dark. Our
anchorage was about 1 1/2 miles from the yacht club where Rishu
Maru was and it is amazing how long that distance can seem in
the dark. Luckily there were lots of navigational lights in the
channel and all went well. We will definitely avoid any more
long dinghy rides at night though as I was quite uncomfortable
the whole way. It is a distance that we would have covered in
about 12 minutes in the daylight going “warp speed”with the
dinghy planing, but at night you have to go much slower so it
took more than 1/2 an hour.

We had planned on spending today getting ready to leave for
Suvarrov, but after talking to Peter in the morning and checking
the weather forecast ourselves, we decided it would be better to
hang out here for a few more days until the weather disturbance

Bora Bora – August 6th – 10th

We left Tahaa on Tuesday morning, August 6th, as it looked like a good day to sail to Bora-Bora. Our friends on Rishu Maru were also leaving that day so we ended up following them out. It is only a 27 mile sail, which takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on the winds, so we left Tahaa mid-morning. It was a beautiful sail, with the famous peaks of Bora-Bora in front of us, and the more subdued peaks of Tahaa and Raiatea behind us. The sail from Tahaa to Bora-Bora is mostly in a west north-westerly direction and we were pushed along nicely by the swells as well as the wind. When we pulled into the harbor in Bora-Bora we still were not sure which anchorage we would stay in, but Rishu Maru called us on the radio and said that they were at the Bora-Bora Yacht Club (famous among sailers), and had a mooring, and would reserve one for us if we were interested. So we decided to stay there for the night. Our wonderful friend Peter, from Rishu Maru, tied up his boat to one mooring ball quickly and before we had even entered the anchorage was sitting in his dinghy by the free mooring ball waiting to tie us up. Peter and his wife Alex are really some of the nicest people we have ever met. Just after we got tied up we noticed that our Danish friends on the boat Margarita were also in the anchorage. Within a few minutes Anders from Margarita dinghied over to us and invited us to their boat for cake and coffee later in the evening.
We ended up having a very international evening. At 5:30 we met Rishu Maru on shore for a sundowner and met their French friends from another boat. This couple had done a circumnavigation 25 years ago and were now doing their second. Interesting. Then we went over to Margarita for our Danish cake and coffee (forget about dinner that night), where we were joined by some very interesting young men from Norway who were also doing a circumnavigation, but in their 22 foot sloop. I think that is the smallest boat we have seen yet. They were very entertaining, and we hope to see them again.

Bora-Bora is different than all the other places we have been as the harbors are filled with jet-skis and small boats that are constantly shuttling people back and forth from the many luxery resorts- making for a lot of unwanted wakes in the water and a different atmosphere than the quiet islands we have been in up to this point. Even Tahiti did not have as much boat traffic.

In the morning we went to check out the main town of Vaitape. It is not a very nice town – but there are a lot of service there that we need to use – primarily the grocery stores, fuel dock, gendarmerie (to check out of French Polynesia), and the bank (to reclaim the bond we paid when we first arrived in French Polynesia in late April). There are also cheap phone cards and lots of telephones so we used the opportunity to call the kids and other family members.
We left the yacht club at mid-day and motored over to a beautiful anchorage on the eastern side of a fairly large motu(island), Motu Toopua. It is a funny moto, shaped incredibly on our charts like Bart Simpson! The anchorage has beautiful white sand to anchor in, and is pretty close to the fringing reef where there is good snorkeling. Our friends Christian and Pockie, from the sailboat Irie, were in the anchorage with us and came over to watch the sunset and chat. They were the couple who literally threw us several pounds of fresh fish last time we met them nearly two months ago in Nuka Hiva. They are a very young couple who love sailing and have worked for the last 10 years to save enough money to buy and completely overhaul their boat. He bought it for almost nothing, but had to spend hundreds of hours fixing it up. I think he is the kind of guy who could and has fixed practically anything.
Yesterday afternoon we took the dinghy out to a shallow area near the reef as we saw several tourist boats anchored there in the morning and we figured there must be something interesting to see. Much to our delight we found that the sandy bottom there is full of large stingrays – all hanging out waiting to be fed by the tour boats. Even though the boats had left the area when we arrived, the rays were still there and we spent more than an hour swimming with them, and Mark took some great photos and even made a movie with our underwater camera. We hope to post the movie on our web site in the next few days. Rishu Maru joined us for our snorkeling and then came over later to watch the sunset. Their 7 year old son Finn made all of the women adorable little ankle bracelets from shells he had collected.

Time to replace the masthead light

Today we had some boat work to do including taking Mark up the mast to the perpetually broken light we have for the foredeck. Mark had to go up to repair the light fixture and replace a broken bulb, that unfortunately does not just snap or screw back into place. He had to go up with crimping tools and had to spend some time dangling 30 feet in the air in the bosun’s chair trying to put the light back in the poorly designed fixture. Taking Mark up the mast is something I used to have nightmares about, but we have done it a few times now and we are both quite comfortable with it ( well, maybe not quite comfortable, but we can do it when we have to). Then we went for another snorkeling expedition with Rishu Maru. It was a very calm day with almost no surf breaking on the reef, and we had heard that there was great place to dive or snorkel outside the reef. It was absolutely fantastic. We tied the dinghies up to mooring balls placed outside the reef and all jumped in – including Rishu Maru’s 7 year old son Finn, and 65 year old mom Ricky. The water was at least 40 feet deep and crystal clear. Two large black tipped sharks were swimming in the water below us (quite far below us), and the sea-floor was covered in beautiful coral. We swam towards the shallower part of the reef, watching the incredible sea life below us. Peter had his spear-gun with him, but there were no fish big enough to spear – and he wouldn’t dare try to spear a shark. It was a lot of fun. We ended up spending 2 hours in the water and were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to the boat. I am sure bedtime will be early tonight.


New slideshows

We just posted some new pictures.  Go to “slides” from our home page, then select “Current slideshows:Society Islands” . The newest pictures are under “Huahine” and “Tahaa”.

Tahaa – Island of tough anchoring

Monday August 6th We are still in Tahaa and are now moored just outside of the Taravana Yacht Club (previously known as Marina Iti). We don’t usually pick up moorings – first of all because there are almost none anywhere in French Polynesia, and secondly because we generally prefer to drop the anchor. Picking up a mooring here, however, was very convenient as we have found that this is a hard island to anchor in. The coral reef that fringes the entire island is shallow and when it ends the water depth really just plummets, making it difficult to find a place to anchor. The water depth goes from just a few feet deep at the reef to about 35 meters deep without any gradual shallowing. This makes for difficult anchoring as we (and most people) do not have enough chain to anchor in 35 meters, and the coral reef is too dangerous to anchor in. There are a few anchorages here on Tahaa with reasonable depths of 10 – 20 feet in sand, but you have to be careful as the sandy bottom is often littered with coral heads and you have to make sure that neither your anchor nor your anchor chain gets stuck in the coral. You always have to count on a wind change during the night meaning that the boat will, or at least can, swing around, sometimes as much as 360 degrees. This makes it especially important to set your anchor in a spot as clear as possible from coral heads.

We had a few adventuresome anchoring experiences here, following our friends Rishu Maru who are on a catamaran, and can attempt much shallower anchorages than we can. After spending two terrific evenings in the beautiful sandy anchorage in Tahaa (just off of Mahaea Islet ) we followed them to another anchorage just a few miles farther north, near a pearl farm. The lagoon was very deep when we started, but after we left the main channel, we found ourselves over a rather shallow shelf of coral that proceeded for a long way. At times there was less than a foot of water between our keel and the coral reefs. We finally made it to a more sandy area where we could set our anchor, but still there were numerous coral heads dotting the bottom, making it a rather hair-raising place for us. Once we got settled in and swam around the boat to check the depth of the water, and the height of the coral heads, we rested easy. We were also lucky because there was virtually no wind for the two nights we were there, making it unlikely that we would drag our anchor or wrap around any coral.

When we left the anchorage we followed closely behind Rishu Maru as they slowly picked their way through the coral to the deeper pass. At one point they found themselves in an area so shallow that they almost hit the reef. We continued on our counterclockwise circumnavigation of the island to try another anchorage – this time without Rishu Maru, as their guests were anxious to go for a walk on land .

Our trusty “Guide to Navigation in French Polynesia” listed several anchorages around Tahaa that sounded nice and we decided to try one near Tehotu Islet which afforded incredible views of nearby Bora-Bora. As we started heading from the deep water towards the shallower reef area I climbed up onto my little perch several feet above the deck to keep an eye out for coral heads. The water suddenly went from a seemingly bottomless depth to somewhere about 30 or 40 feet deep and was crystal clear. All looked good until suddenly right under us there appeared an amazingly thick cable, suspended just under the water and stretching out through the water just under our bow. It was really quite horrifying as it looked like the kind of thing that if you got caught on, you might have an awful time getting out of. It was very thick and stretched out under the water with several large mooring balls attached to it, all under the surface, but it was unclear exactly how far under the water it was, and for a minute it was not clear at all that we would be able to pass it. We did pass it however, but within another 30 feet there was another, and then another. We had somehow sailed ourselves into some kind of nightmarish cable area that looked like it was going to grab us – like Medusa. We backed out of there as quickly as we could, but it seemed that the cables were spread everywhere and you just could not see them until you were right on top of them. We finally realized that we were in the middle of a pearl farm and the cables were apparently spread from the shallow reef across a wide expanse of open water to another area – maybe 1/2 mile away – where there were floats holding up the other side. We were so relieved to get out of there safely.

Just a mile away we spotted a nice looking anchorage with lots of boats – very close to an attractive hotel – and still with beautiful views of Bora Bora.

View of Bora Bora from Tahaa

We dropped our anchor there – once again very cautiously – as the sandy bottom was littered with large coral heads (see our pictures). Although our keel was close to several coral heads, we seemed to be safe, and had our anchor securely set in the sand so we decided to stay the night. It was a beautiful spot and although the wind shifted around all night, we found our anchor still secured deeply in the nice sandy spot we had dropped it, with no wraps around the coral, and were able to leave in the morning without incident.

So after all that, when we ran into our friends Rishu Maru again yesterday, and they invited us to join them here at the Taravana Yacht Club, with moorings and a restaurant, we were eager to do so. We had a great time with Rishu Maru yesterday, swimming off the boats together, and then all going in to the restaurant on the beach to treat ourselves to sundowners and a nice dinner with lots of toasts to friendship, sailing and good health. The manager of the restaurant is a young handsome boy who reminds us of Ben . They also make the best “poisson cru” we have yet tasted which is quite a treat, and they sell baguettes for $.50 each, so we are having a good time.


Photo from Tahaa


Here we are standing in the water next to our private island, Ilot Moute, one of the motus on the eastern reef of Tahaa. This place has exceeded our expectations. The water is crystal clear, the sea life abundant, the weather perfect, and our company delightful. I am a bit concerned about how Sabbatical III will get out of this anchorage since she almost hit a couple of coral bombies getting in, but that will all work itself out in the end. — M.

From Huahine to Tahaa

From Huahine to Tahaa

Wednesday evening, July 25, we had drinks on “Priscilla” with Tom and Susan from Washington DC whom we first met in the Shelter Bay Marina outside Colon, Panama. The next day we had some great snorkeling and also walked along the beach road checking out the two hotels (we used the dock of Relais Mahana as our dinghy dock) and other establishments. We had a great poisson cru lunch at a small snack (“Snack Avea Parea”) and walked to a marae (temple ruin) on the road to Parea. That evening there was a big potluck party on “Scholarship.” Hosting were Mark and Liz from Phoenix (he is a dentist who continues to practice his trade on the boat for the benefit of cruisers). Attending were “Chiquita Bonita” (Mike and Heather from the US) who were in the Galapagos with us, “Robyn’s Nest” (John, Scott, and Dave from South Africa, Lucy from France, and Chris from Canada) who we met on Isla Isabella in the Galapagos, and Tom and Susie from “Priscilla.”

The next morning all of these boats left for Raiatea, leaving us almost alone in Avea Bay. The wind picked up considerably that afternoon and a series of squalls passed through. The strong winds and squalls persisted for three days, limiting our time off the boat and making snorkeling impossible. While the fringing reef provided us with decent protection from the high seas generated by this weather, we could see huge waves breaking only 1/2 mile away, Avea Bay provided us no protection from the winds. We did get ashore on Saturday and found a beautiful necklace for Laura. It is made from mother-of-pearl made into the shape of a traditional Polynesian fishing hook with a black pearl attached.

Sunday morning, July 29th, the winds moderated slightly and we were finally were able to snorkel in the lee of the low peninsula forming the southern boundary of the bay. We then took the dinghy to shore to check out the Polynesian Buffet at the little restaurant on the beach. We thought that we would just have a look and then head over to the “snack” for light fare. When we landed the dinghy on the beach directly in front of the restaurant we could see that it was packed. There were tables set out on either side with people eating heaps of interesting looking food, and a line of people waiting at the buffet — and all of them were local Polynesians. Plus, there was live music. So we quickly jettisoned the idea of eating light and joined in. We are not sure what everything we ate was but most of it was very good. On our second trip to the buffet we concentrated on what we liked the most in our first plate. Our third pretty trip was mostly sweet stickly dishes made from breadfruit and red bananas. People hung out at the restaurant pretty much all day — the music went on without stop until 10 pm. They did not just eat, there was serious bocce ball playing in the back, some couples danced, others swam with their children. All the food plus the large bottles of Hinano beer kept us glued to our chairs for longer than we expected.

Monday we headed back north to Fare, following the marked channel between the fringing reef and the island. For the first part of the way, which is poorly charted, Laura goes up the mast as far as the spinnaker pole, and sits on the inboard end of the pole to scan the water for coral bombies. We decided to spend the day in Fare rather than go on immediately to Raiatea so that I could fix a problem with the main sail furling, and to do some more provisioning at the excellent market in town. We were too late for good fruits and veggies, but bought some excellent fresh tuna from a fisherman. We had another filling meal at one of the “roulettes” parked in from of the wharf.

Close Encounters with Sharks
In the afternoon, we had time to snorkel in the reef between the two passes into Fare. We snorkeled there the week before and found wonderful coral and abundant fish, particularly under and near a flat metal boat that was permanently moored just behind the fringing reef. There is so much coral that we could not find a way to get the dinghy too close to this area, we had to swim most of the way. Halfway to the moored boat, two 8 foot black-tipped sharks zoomed by us. We knew that there were sharks about, and since these two seemed to have no interest in us, we continued on. A few minutes later we saw another small shark, but we continued on. As we got within 50 yards of the flat boat, an impressive 12 foot shark came our way. We decided to head directly back to the dinghy. When we got to the dinghy we reconsidered again — the day was beautiful, the water clear, and the coral and sea life abundant. We headed back out determined to swim to our destination. Once again, when we were only 50 yards away we saw sharks again. Four of them swimming around with that menacing look that sharks always have. One huge one that I had not seen was just behind a bombie and Laura yelled “Shark!” which was enough to frighten the poor shark away from us. Now we headed back to the dinghy and gave up our quest to get to the flat boat. What we have discovered is that the flat boat is used to feed sharks for the amusement of tourists. The sharks were hanging out in that area hoping for a free meal. Black-tipped sharks are not supposed to be particularly dangerous, but anyone denied an anticipated free meal might get a bit cranky.

Tuesday, July 31, we sailed off to the west in the direction of Raiatea and Tahaa in a dying breeze. I charted three places for us to go with the idea that we would choose our destination depending on the wind angle. It seemed at first that heading on the most northerly course would be best, so our destination became the eastern pass through the fringing reef in front of the island of Tahaa. As it turns out, the wind fell below eight knots and after 90 minutes of slow sailing we turned on the engine so that we could get through the pass in good light. The pass was a bit scary with waves breaking on either side but very well marked. Laura got up on the spinnaker pole and kept watch. Just as we came through the pass into the lagoon we got a call from our good friends on “Rishu Maru.” They were anchored on just the other side of the motu that defined one side of the pass and had seen us enter. This was just the place that Laura and I hoped to anchor except that it was poorly charted and we were concerned with depths and coral bombies. Peter of Rishu Maru gave us all the info we needed to anchor directly behind them. Peter and his wife Alex came out in the dinghy for a reunion aboard Sabbatical III. We had not seen them for almost two months, although we had stayed in occasional email contact. They had Alex’s mother (Ricki) and sister (Sol) on-board for a three week visit.

Risho Maru

That evening we had sundowners on Rishu Maru and caught up on things. Peter’s and Alex’s son Finn showed us the new Legos he had received from his grandmother and Alex prepared her Aztec Love Potion aphrodisiac drink. Last night we had the most intense rainfall that we have experienced from many months. The inside of the boat sounded like a freight train as the rain pounded the deck. The boat shifted during the storm and the anchor chain was totally wrapped around a coral bombie. The water is so clear that every detail is visible even 20 feet down. We used that visibility to good advantage as I maneuvered the boat around in response to Laura’s directions from the bow and got our chain unwrapped.

Today (Aug 2), we all piled into two dinghies to snorkel in the pass. Peter brought his spear gun along in hopes of finding grouper. The current in the pass made swimming a bit difficult but it was worth it. The water was crystal clear and it was most impressive to swim to the drop-off where the bottom drops off a cliff from 20 feet to hundreds of feet of depth. We saw an enormous moray eel and lots of fish, but nothing to spear for dinner. We then snorkeled the fringing reef with just Peter and Finn and saw eels, stone fish, and interesting coral in crystal clear water. Tonight we had the Rishu Maru group over for sundowners on Sabbatical III. The mango juice and rum was a big hit. Tomorrow, our two boats will head north inside the reef to another motu. Current position is South 16 degrees 38 minutes, West 151 degrees 25 minutes.

Snorkeling in Tahaa


Huahine – July 24-25

Huahine – July 24-25

It is easy to understand why Huahine has such a great reputation among boaters. The harbor by the town of Fare is beautiful. As with all of the islands in the Societies that we are visiting (Tahiti,Moorea,Huahine, Raiatea,Tahaa and Bora Bora) it is ringed by a coral reef which makes the water calm and clear, and it faces beautiful lush green hillsides. It is not as dramatic as Moorea as it is not peaked with tall volcanic peaks, but rather soft, green, palm tree and fern covered hillsides, only slightly mountainous. The little town comes to life in the morning with fruit and vegetable sellers. Yesterday a small cruise ship came in and there were some dance performances in the streets for the small group that went ashore. We noticed a small sign on the grocery store advertising a “spectacle” of dance at the local performing arts area. We decided to go, since we had not yet gone to see any Polynesian dance shows – the stuff in Tahiti looked too touristy and was also too hard to get to at night. So after a second dinner of fine dining at one of the local “roulettes” – the trucks that park by the dock and serve food – we headed off to the show. One rather drunk middle-aged surf bum gave us vague directions which made it sound very close. It turned out to be close to a half an hour walk down the main road. Luckily the road was in good shape, was lit, and there was very little traffic. The outdoor auditorium was perfect – just simple benches surrounding a large sand floor with warm tropical breezes blowing through. Nearly all of the people in the audience were local Huahinian and the show was great. There must have been about 60 dancers – all beautiful young girls and really strong and handsome young men. Just about an hour long, with a couple of fun costume changes, and lots of energy. They were probably not as “professional” as you might see elsewhere, but they were really into it, and the dancing, particularly among the women, was just great. It has been many years since we have seen Polynesian dancing, and it is quite beautiful when done without all the fire and hoopla that sometimes gets thrown in for tourists. For refreshments, the highlight for us was the fresh young coconuts – they had big piles of them and for a buck they would lop off the top and you took it away to drink. We were happy to find a whole string of local buses waiting outside after the show and we just hopped on with everyone else for a ride back to town.
Yesterday, July 25th, we moved to the southern-most part of the island, to Avea Bay. To get here you follow a deep water channel that cuts between the outside reef and the island. It is absolutely beautiful. You see the surf crashing up against the reef, but the water inside the reef (where we motor) is totally calm and various shades of blue. On the other side are the soft lush hills of the island, with assorted bays and white sandbeaches everywhere. The anchorage has a sandy bottom and places to snorkel, or walk on the beach, and it has a few restaurants as well. The swell that come up from the south from large curling waves that break heavily on the reef in this bay which faces southwest. This has made Huahine a favorite spot for surfers who live in cheap pensiones and talk among themselves about the wave forecast.


Moorea to Huahini

Huahine – July 22 – 23

We left Moorea on Sunday the 22nd to sail to Huahine. We left Moorea at
4:45 p.m., less than an hour before sunset. It is about an 85 nm sail
from Moorea to Huahine, just a bit too far to sail within the 11.5 hours
of daylight that we get here, so it is best to do this length of sail at
night. That way, assuming that you sail somewhere around 7 nm per hour,
you can reach your destination in the morning – with the sun high
overhead – and with lots of extra daylight hours available to you in
case of a slow passage.

We left beautiful Moorea at the same time as “Priscilla”, another
American boat in the anchorage. We had met Priscilla at the Shelter Bay
Marina in Panama last March just before our transit of the canal. The
people onboard, Tom and Suzie, are a very nice couple – about our age –
from Marion, Mass. We were glad to have someone to buddy sail with, even
though we were at least 10 nm apart the whole way.

Our sail was uncomfortable for the first few hours with no wind, and
lots of swell. By about 8:00 p.m., however, the wind came up, and with
our jib sail poled out in preparation for a downwind sail, things
improved. We checked in with Priscilla a few times on the VHF radio,
and found that having picked a slightly more southerly course than us,
they were having a terrible time. They just couldn’t get a good angle
to sail, and had to motor, with lots of uncomfortable sideways swells.
Mark took the first night shift and I went below for several hours of
sleep – until nearly 1:00 a.m. – when we had a check-in call with
Priscilla scheduled. They were still having a bad time, but we were
just cruising along comfortably. Mark went down to sleep after 1:00
a.m. and by the time I woke him at 6:00 we were just around the corner
from the anchorage in Huahine. We pulled in to the anchorage near the
town of Fare by 7:30 a.m. and were soon down below fast asleep. When we
finally dragged ourselves out of bed it was already early afternoon. It
took another hour or so to get the dinghy and engine set up, and we were
ready to go check out the town.

Fare is probably the cutest town we have seen in the South Pacific.
Very small, but with all the good stuff that we look for: a couple of
restaurants, a great grocery store, a public bathroom, lots of trash
cans, and an easy dinghy dock. We ran into a couple of people we know at
the grocery store, and oohed and aahed over the great selection of
vegetables they had there. We even found a new Melita coffee pot,
something we have been looking for in every store in the South Pacific.
We walked over to the gendarmerie to do our island check-in. You are
supposed to check in at each island, but we normally don’t, as we have
heard that it really only matters that you do an official check-in in
Tahiti, and an official check-out from your last port of call – which
will be Bora-Bora. Some people are very diligent about checking in,
most people don’t do it unless absolutely necessary. We are somewhere
in-between. In this case the gendarmerie was close by and it was very
easy to do, so we did it.

We decided to have dinner at one of the little trucks that parks by the
dock. It turned out to be excellent and very good value. They gave us
so much food that we ended up taking a lot home for lunch the next day.
It is kind of a funny system. You can order chicken, beef, or fish –
which they grill for you on the spot – and one or all of the available
accompaniments. The price doesn’t vary whether you order one or all of
the accompaniments, so we asked for all ( of course). They filled up a
plate with rice, french fries, bread and poisson cru, and then topped it
off with two huge pieces of meat. It was kind of ridiculous, but fun.
Nothing beats truck food. Back to the boat just at sunset, and then an
early bed-time.
P.S. Did I mention that it is pretty here?

Moorea – July 17-22

Check out our slideshows. We have re-organized them, added some labels, and there is a new slideshow for Tahiti and Moorea. To see the labels hold your curser anywhere over the top 1/4 of each picture and the text will show up. Not all slides have labels.
We just got skyped by Robin Ringer and it was so great to hear her and see her! Too bad we don’t have internet access more often. We have been able to talk with Hannah everyday in Moorea using Skype.

Moorea is like a Polynesian Nantucket:
Most people come here by private sailboat or private plane.
Both islands have a renowned fruit juice factory (Rotui Juices: Nantucket Nectars)
All of the hotels are fancy and expensive
Lots of restaurants – all expensive
Great biking
Beautiful harbor (well there are two here and one in Nantucket)

It is like one big huge resort area. We dinghied from Bay D’Oponohu where we are anchored, over to Cook’s Bay a few days ago. It is about a 3 mile dinghy ride. There is a coral reef between us and the other bay that is too shallow to even take the dinghy over , but there is a little path through the reef marked by navigational poles that allows you to go back and forth between the two bays. It is really pretty. It takes you right through the crystal clear water and you can see the fish in the reef as you dinghy by. You also go by the very beautiful thatched roof huts of the Sheraton Hotel which is very picturesque. We found restaurants and two grocery stores in Cook’s Bay, and a few touristy t-shirt and black pearl shops.

Yesterday we rented a car and drove around the island. The rental car agency is very accomodating to boaters and they sent a car over to the beach by the anchorage to pick us up in the morning. We drove around the whole island in just a few hours. The highlights of the trip were a view from Belvedere – a high point which gives you an outstanding view of both bays with the peak of Mount Rotui jutting up between them – and a second view on the other side of the island that looks out over the aquamarine blue of the reef, past crashing surf, over the dark blue of the ocean, and then over to Tahiti. Other than that our drive around the island was kind of disappointing as the road winds around and passes nothing of interest except lots of touristy looking shops and restaurants. We had lunch at a nice Italian restaurant ( $40 pasta anyone?), and bought a few pieces of fruit from one of the grocery stores. Mark was thrilled to find a hardware store open at noon where he could buy a small tube of plumbing cement ($30!). Almost every store, including grocery stores, banks, etc. are closed everyday from noon until about 2:00 or 2:30. We noticed that the big grocery store in Cook’s Bay is open on Sundays, but only from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Guess you have to shop before church starts. We found that the most beautiful part of the island is the part we are anchored in, and the most beautiful view is the one we have from our own boat. By the end of the day we were anxious to get back on board and watch the sunset from our deck. Rain showers came and went all evening and it was very gusty. Late this afernoon we will depart on an overnight sail to Huahine, the next island in the Societies.

Tahiti to Moorea

We are now anchored just behind the reef in Baie D’Opunohu on the north side of the island of Moorea (South 17 minutes 29.57 minutes, West 149 degrees 51.12 minutes). This is a very pretty place with views to the high mountains often shrouded in clouds and to the fringing coral reef that protects the bay from waves. We arrived yesterday (July 17) afternoon after finally finishing up the list of tasks that kept us in Tahiti longer than we had hoped.

On Friday (7/13), we went to Immigration & Customs and the Port Captain in Papeete to do our formal check in (and check out) from French Polynesia. Even though we seemingly did the check-in in the Marquesas, and have 3 month visas in our passports, none of this really is official unless you do it all again in the only official port of entry, Papeete. We took “Le Truck” to town from Faaa along with a German sailor who has been the talk of the anchorage for the previous few days. He lost two fingers in his anchor windlass in the Tuamotus and had to be airlifted to the hospital in Papeete. His wife and someone from another boat then sailed his boat to Tahiti. He was leaving the next day for surgery in Germany and was going in for the customs clearance with his arm and hand covered in a cast.

We forgot to bring with us the piece of paper proving that we had purchased a cash bond, and when our turn came with the Immigration guy we were told to return when we had this paper. It has a hot day and is a real schlep into town, so the thought of going back to the boat and returning was not appealing. We walked into the port district again to return our defective Raymarine Lifetags, a man-overboard alert system that we purchased and installed in Bonaire. The local Raymarine dealer was very nice but took our unit and could not promise a replacement for 3 weeks, so it may be sent to us in Bora-Bora. We had a surprisingly nice lunch at Tom’s Snack Grill, a nondescript place located among marine and auto repair shops in the Fare Ute port district. We then went back to the boat, got our missing piece of paper,and returned for our check-in. Plus we got our check-out paper although that still requires us to appear at Immigration in Bora-Bora within 24 hours of our departure.

Our friends on “Vera” and “Roxi” arrived and we had five nights in a row of “sundowners” and/or dinner together. Sunday, we had a chance to snorkel the reef just 100 yards from where we were anchored and the water was crystal clear with some interesting fish, although the coral looked unhealthy. Monday was to be our last day and there was still lots to be done. We did an enormous shop at Carrefours in the morning. It was the largest single grocery tab we have ever paid. (As an example of the prices, a pack of three medium sized raw chicken breasts on “special” were $25! We passed on buying chicken.) We stocked up on litchi juice, Laura’s new favorite, and paper towels, among other things. Just dragging everything on board the boat took the whole morning. After lunch we picked up repair parts that had arrived for us from Amel in France and then went to pick up our propane tanks that we had left for refilling with the Mobil station near the marina. They did not have them and claimed ignorance of the whole affair. Laura used her “angry” French to finally get some action, but even then it took a second trip and some phone calls before our tanks finally appeared. Without them, we could not have left. All of this took until sundown, and it was too late to haul the dinghy and outboard onto the boat for the next day’s passage. We had a final potluck dinner on Vera, with lots of wine and some bawdy jokes. We may not see Vera again until September in Tonga as they do not have the visa limitation that we do in French Polynesia.

Tuesday morning we filled up on duty-free (but not tax-free) diesel at the bargain rate of $3.75 per gallon (versus $6.75 with duty),and then headed up the Faaa Channel to Papeete and the sea. At each end of the airport runway we halted to ask permission to cross and were immediately given this permission. Both times, we got a radio call 2 minutes later telling us to please turn around because a plane was about to land. Good thing we kept the radio on channel 12. The sail to Moorea was a bit bumpy but fast. The anchorage is quite small and 14 boats are crowded in. The most popular cruising guide calls this the most beautiful anchorage in French Polynesia, so that explains the crowd. Plus, some entrepeneurial soul sells wireless internet service to boats that one pays for with either Paypal, or by visiting the small house of Valerie and Francois on the beach and paying in cash. The signal quality is excellent.

Today, we checked out the Sheraton resort (very posh and snazzy), and then walked up the road to the end of the bay and back, stopping to buy a baguette. Back on the boat before sunset, we opened a bottle of wine to drink with brie and baguette when our Danish neighbors, Anders and Birgit, on “Margarita” stopped by. We had a pleasant couple of hours talking with them. We have seen them repeatedly in various places along our way, but never had a chance to talk at length until tonight. Their youngest daughter, age 16, swam over to join us later. Also on board is their 18 year old daughter and her boyfriend.


New Slideshows

We have posted some new slideshows on our web site covering the last two months of our travels. Important among these slide shows are photos from the visit of Hannah and Mia to the Marquesas.

Spazolas and Birthdays

Tahiti- July 9 -11th

Mark spent most of the day, July 9th, working on the fresh water pump and figuring out exactly how it works and trying everything possible to resurrect it. He only had one page of documentation, and it was in Italian, since it is an Italian pump. He had a maintenance kit that contained replacements for all of the moving parts of the pump. He replaced all the existing parts with the new parts, but it still did not work at more than half pressure. We went to shore late in the day to see if we could find Michel, a mechanic who works at the docks.  When we were there we ran into Karin and Jean-Francois from Intiaq, coming back from the Carrefour with their son-in-law and a huge pile of groceries. Their daughter, son-in-law and 3 year old grand-child are all visiting for a few weeks and they have been stuck here waiting for their luggage to arrive for 4 days. Jean-Francois is always so nice about offering to help on the boat, and despite having his special guests on board, he offered his assistance the next day if we needed. The mechanic, Michel, said he would come by the boat at 6:00 P.M., so we went back to the boat to wait. It was a gorgeous sun-set over Moorea, but Michel didn’t come.

On the 10th, my birthday, Jean-Francois called to offer his assistance. He came over with a birthday gift for me – a Swiss chocolate bar all wrapped up as only Karin knows how to do it – including sprigs of fresh basil from her little on-board garden. Mark had already gotten the pump going at half pressure, and when J.F. came over to help, the both worked on the problem for an hour and a half.  J.F. helped reset the top pressure for the system to one-half of what it is so the pump would shut down when that pressure was reached.  J.F. had to leave as his daughter was very anxious to get going – their luggage had been delivered at 3:00 a.m. and they were all ready to sail to Moorea. As they sailed away, J.F. talked with Mark on the VHF, with Karin translating, still trying to help resolve the problem. I had slipped away to shore to call Ben and Hannah for my birthday.

Later, Mark and I set out for town to try to find a new U.S. made pump, as it seemed that was the best solution. All of the chandleries are a bit out of town, so we took “le truck” into Papeete, but then had to
walk through a very industrial part of town to find the stores. It was the port area, filled with warehouses and trucks and dirty exhaust fumes.The first 3 chandleries we went to did not have what we wanted (of course), so we set out for the 4th and furthest one. After walking a little bit and not finding it, we  stopped at a coiffeur to ask about the address. The proprieter was so friendly – he looked up the phone number of the place, called them, and then told us it was too far to walk and he offered to drive us there. Thank goodness he did, as it was quite far, and we never would have found it. The store was excellent, and they had a very good pump for us – at only twice the price it sells for in the U.S. – a real bargain around here. We bought it and then found a bus back to town, and eventually back to the marina. With pump in hand we stopped at one of the restaurants at the marina ( Pink Coconuts), and enjoyed a delicious birthday dinner. An entreprenuriel young woman with a nice digital camera was taking pictures of the diners, and she took a great picture of us, which we bought as a souvenir of my 54th birthday.

Today, when Mark was putting away some of the spare parts from the Italian pump he noticed that the maintenance parts list included two items called “Spazolas”. These spazolas had not been included in our
maintenance kit as they should have been. Mark opened up the motor that drives the pump to check the status of the existing spazolas, and lo and behold, found that one of them was extremely well worn and suffering from overheating. Mark cleaned up the worn spazola as well as he could, and put it back in, and found that the pump now worked at nearly full pressure. Eureka! We could now shower (which we did!), and then the hunt was on for matching spazolas, since the worn one on the pump will not be reliable. So off we went to town again, to try to find these parts – they are actually carbon brushes, but they need to be the exact right size to work on our pump. We retraced our steps to all the stores we went to  yesterday, plus a whole bunch more – and found only a few spazolas, and none that were a perfect match. We will have to make do with the existing pump, and worn spazolas for now – and will replace the whole thing with the new pump once it fails again.


Tahiti – July 7 – 9

As I write this, Mark is down on his sore knees in the engine
room trying to fix our water pump that suddenly stopped working
this morning. Having no water on the boat is about as bad as
having a broken toilet – so it is pretty high priority for him
to fix it. Unfortunately our boat came with an Italian made pump
that came with no directions, so Mark has to get this worked out
on his own. Quite a challenge, and I am certainly no help at
all. We are anchored out in the harbor, having decided that
there was no advantage to moving into the marina – at least not
until our pump stopped working. We may try to move into the
marina tomorrow so we can at least use their showers and hoses
until this gets fixed. We have been to the town of Papeete a
few times now and we are not too thrilled with it. To get there
you catch “le truck” – one of a stream of badly driven and
rickety trucks that pick up passengers and take them between the
marina area and downtown Papeete. It is about a 20 minute drive
and the road is filled with cars and exhaust and it is a very
shabby looking place (except for the tourist resorts that we
drive by which do look very beautiful). The town of Papeete is
filled with shops and restaurants and entertainment of all
sorts, but we are not really that interested in all the hustle
and bustle -and there are just way too many cars. We had heard
that there were lots of activities going on this month in
celebration of Bastille Day, but the events we have seen so far
have been pretty threadbare – for example, the tourist guide
talks about multitudes of food stalls operating by the
waterfront, but they are just trucks selling very expensive,
very bad looking semi-Chinese food.

One of the pluses of being here is the terrific, huge grocery
store – one of the French Carrefour chain – just a few blocks
away, and we have already been there 4 times trying to stock up
on everything we can. They let you take the carts back to the
marina which is incredibly helpful. It is fun going there just
because we run into so many people we know. All the boaters are
doing a lot of shopping and it is pretty much impossible to walk
over there without running into at least 3 couples we know.
There are a ton of American boats here and most of them know
each other. We are definitely not in the “in group” here – since
we have spent most of our time on the trip so far with a handful
of boats which are all European, but we do recognize the names
of the American boats, and have at least met many of them at
some point along the way.

The Carrefour store is in a mall with several other stores
including a hairdresser – so we were finally able to get
haircuts. The hairdresser was good, but very very quick with the
scissors and I think my head looks a little too much like Daffy
Duck, but at least it is better than before. He went a little
scissor happy with Mark and proceeded to shear off almost all
his hair, plus most of his beard and mustache. I think it looks
good, but it does take some getting used to. It may be months
again before we get to treat ourselves to a “coiffeur” again.

Prices here are absolutely crazy. We passed by some fruit
vendors on our way to Papeete yesterday and they were selling
small watermelons for $15 each. We actually walked out of a
restaurant on the dock the other day when we saw the prices, and
even the local MacDonald’s sells their meals for about $10 each.
Cheap looking skirts in the mall sell for $60 and flip-flops
range from $15 to $40 – and I am not talking about fancy
designer styles either. Wine and beer are heavily taxed, and a
small bottle of coke is about $2.50. It is hard to imagine how
people can afford to live here. Even the fruit, which was almost
free in the Marquesas, is extremely expensive – several dollars
for a small bag of lemons.

Will keep you posted on our water situation…..

Safe arrival in Tahiti – July 5, 2007

Thursday, July 5th

We arrived safely in Papeete, Tahiti at about 2:00 p.m. today.
We are actually staying in a little lagoon just west of
Papeete,Lagon de Punaauia. To get there you have to navigate
through a 4 mile long channel that is bordered by a reef which
takes you right by the airport. You have to call the port
captain and ask for permission to cross the water in front of
the runway before you proceed. There are at least 100 boats
anchored here so it took us some time to find a spot and get
ourselves safely tucked away. We saw Intiaq but it was too
crowded near them to anchor. We heard several people calling on
the radio, and they were all boats we have seen and/or met in
other places on our trip, and all around us are familiar boats.
I guess this is one spot that no one can bypass if they do a
circumnavigation. Papeete is a big town (over 100,000 people)
and we hope to get a lot of work and shopping done – we also
hope we can see some of the festivities that are going on in
preparation for Bastille Day. Our passage here from Taou was 230
miles and took about 32 hours. It was a fast and windy passage.
One other boat, “Madam”, left the little bay in Taou at the
same time we did, and we established radio contact with them
during the trip. They are a French boat – owned by Katherine and
Bruno – who are on their second circumnavigation – their first
one being completed over a several year period, with breaks to
go home and work.

On our last day in Taou it was extremely windy and most of the
people in the harbor went into shore to hang out at Valentine
and Gaston’s guest-house. We had become friendly with pretty
much everyone there, and the afternoon turned out to be a very
fun informal party. Valentine likes to trade the black pearls
they harvest for goods from yachters, and she spent much of the
afternoon with all of us – letting us pick out a higher quality
pearl or two in exchange for goods such as rum or good kitchen
utensils, and lesser quality pearls in exchange for whatever the
heck we can come up with. We gave her a bottle of rum and some
of the other stuff they needed such as toilet paper, soap,
toothpaste and some super-glue. Valentine had Gaston drill a
little hole in the nicer of the pearls I got so I could wear it
right away as a necklace – a nice souvenir of our lovely time
spent in Taou. We were sorry we had to get ready to leave the
next day as we liked all the yachties who were there – and our
friends on Yara had just arrived. Gaston and Valentine are also
truly hospitable people. It is just incredible how welcoming
they are to all the boaters there. They are happy to accept
gifts, but they give a tremendous amount in return. As an
example I had asked Gaston if they had a small amount of
filleted fish that I could cook for dinner. At sunset Gaston
came out to the boat with about 3 pounds of beautifully cleaned
and filleted parrot-fish – and didn’t ask for a thing in return.
– although I did run below and grab a big bar of chocolate for
him. Parrot fish is not something I would normally want to eat
– the parrot fish are so beautiful, it doesn’t seem right, but
that is what they eat here. It was actually very delicious. It
was sad to leave Taou.

leaving for Tahiti

We are leaving for Tahiti at dawn tomorrow (July 4). The winds are currently quite strong but the weather forecast shows less strong winds tomorrow and then they rapidly diminish to essentially nothing over the next two days, and then continue that way for at least the next five days. No wind makes for great snorkeling on the reef, but then we would have to remain here in Toau at least a week more and who knows what the weather might bring then. So it is time to savor the delights of the Society Islands (Tahiti, Huahine, Moorea, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora-Bora). We leave French Polynesia from Bora-Bora, and have only 5 weeks left on our visas.

On departure from Toau, we pass between Niau and Kaukura, and then our course takes us southwest from the Tuamotus on a heading of 231 degrees magnetic all the way to Passe de Papeete, across the harbor, and then down the Chenal de Faaa to the Marina Taina, we were may be able tom get a berth, or anchor nearby in the lagoon or across from the Maeva Beach Hotel. There is a large Carrefours supermarket (our favorite from La Rochelle, Martinique, and Guadeloupe) only 1/4 mile away, and internet access.  as about 120,000 residents, more than half the population of all of French Polynesia. We are told (by Rishu Maru) that you can see a McDonalds from the anchorage (they have an 7 year old, so they look for those things).

After a very rainy and gusty few days, Sunday morning saw high barometric pressure, clear blue skies, and a return to tradewinds from the ESE. We took the opportunity to snorkel the reefs extensively. The coral is beautiful as is the diversity of sea life. Early on we spotted a lemon yellow fish with black stripes that we had not seen before. The fish was smallish and pretty but certainly not the prettiest fish in the reef. Five minutes later we saw another just like it. As I followed Laura through gaps in the reef, I realized that
this fish was following Laura where ever she went — the first fish we saw was probably this same fish. For the next 30 minutes, this fish never moved more than 6 inches from Laura’s or my thighs. We would occasionally bump fish head and thigh. He would always follow one of us very closely. Finally, we returned to the anchored dinghy. Laura got in first and the fish immediately returned to nuzzle my thighs. Then I got into the dinghy and we motored 1/4 mile away to another part of the reef. As we got in the water, he was there again — he was right up to our thighs and began to follow us again. Later, we
took the dinghy again to another part of the reef, and we got in the water, and there he was. We are quite certain it was the same fish. He had followed the dinghy in order to stay close to us. We had now developed a real affection for our little fish friend. The return to the boat took us 3/4 of a mile across an open and deep channel where  predators could lurk, but we hoped that he would follow. I motored at the slowest possible speed, but to our disappointment, he was gone. Someone told us that he is a Sargeant Major” fish. These fish fixate on something, like a snorkel mask, and faithfully follow.

Sunday evening we hosted a “Pride and Prejudice” party with “Vera” and “Roxi” as guests. The weather changed and squalls brought heavy rain. Even though the winds were strong Monday (yesterday), we spend the day cleaning the boat hull. First we cleaned the seaweed and little critters off of and just below the waterline. Then, using the “electric hookah” and a scuba regulator, I dove under the boat the cleaned the prop, rudder, and keel. I kept bumping into the remora fish who attach their heads to the hull bottom in order to eat the crud that grows on it. If they would do their eating faster, I would not have to work so hard.

Last night we had a pot luck on shore. Laura made her famous Indonesian beef (rendang), using the last of our Panamanian beef in the freezer. Valentine and Gaston, our hosts, contributed bread and chicken they prepared over an open fire. Also present were the boats Vera, Roxi, Betsy, Serenade (an Amel), Esperanza, and Ironie. Today is dedicated to preparations for our sail tomorrow and to thanking Valentine and Gaston for their generosity.

We will send an update while enroute.


Taou – June 25th to June 30

We have been in Toau for nearly six days now. We arrived last Monday morning, June 25th at about 7:00 a.m. We were thrilled to be met at the entrance of the anchorage by our friends Michael and Britta on “Vera”. The family who lives here normally comes out to help boats, but they were not monitering their VHF radio at the time, and when we called, it was Vera who answered. Toau is an atoll, and like all the atolls in the Tuomotos, it consists of a coral reef that ranges from lurking just under the surface to as high as a few feet above sea level, surrounding a lagoon. It is considered a moderately sized  lagoon – several miles across. Some of the other atolls have lagoons that are much
larger, like the one in Rangiroa which is 45 miles long and in Fakarava which is 30 miles long and 10 miles wide! Most of these atolls are very sparsely populated, and Taou has only 40 inhabitants. The anchorage is not actually in the lagoon, but in a nice sheltered cove on the northwest side, just outside a break in the reef. The anchorage has 9 mooring lines chained to large pieces of coral and each one is taken by a cruising boat. It is an extremely safe place to be if the winds change direction, and rather unusual, as most of the other atolls have no moorings at all – people simply drop anchor and if the winds change direction one has to pick up anchor and move so as not to be blown into the coral. Gaston and Valentine are a married couple who run the operations here – maintaining the mooring lines, helping the new yachties, and arranging delicious fish dinners several times a week on shore. They also have a small black pearl business.The lagoon is full of fish, including sharks and lots of moray eels are sticking their heads out from the coral heads on the bottom. When the wind is not blowing too hard the water is crystal clear.

We had some very unsettled weather here the past few days with winds shifting to the north, then 36 hours of squalls from the west, and now a “maramu” — strong outherlies and rain. In the Marquesas, the wind never came out of a direction that did not have the word “east” in it. We are lucky to be where we are. We actually had to move to a different mooring on our second day here, as there was a large coral bombie about 100 feet away from the boat, and as the winds started switching around we realized that  ooner or later that big thing would be directly under our boat, and it was very likely to do some serious damage to our hull. This is a snug little lagoon but even then we were getting tossed around a bit. In the huge lagoon in Fakarava (next door) many boats
(including our friends on Intiaq) were suffering since this unusual wind shift left them anchored on the wrong side of things – too close to coral heads and the lee shore of the atoll. Mark chose Toau in part because it would not leave us in danger if an unusual wind shift occurred.

A few nights ago we had dinner at Gaston and Valentine’s seaside “restaurant”. They do not charge for use of the moorings, but the expectation is that you will come to dinner at least once during your stay and they charge a nice fat sum for that. It was a fun dinner – Vera was there as well, along with their very good friends on Roxi (a British couple who are supposed to be doing the circumnavigation with Vera, but who kind of fell behind in Panama when they decided to go hiking for a few weeks, and didn’t catch up with Vera until this week), an American boat captained by a very flower child-like young man, and some Austrian friends on the boat Esperanza. They serve a terrific  meal, but you have to like seafood – there was langostine, poisson cru ( raw fish marinated in coconut milk), parrot fish, and at least 2 other types of fish – plus coconut bread, rice, and a huge coconut cream pie for desert. Quite a feast. Yesterday as we tied up the dinghy at the very nice dock here we were surprised to see a 5 foot long dead shark sitting at the edge of the dock. Gaston had apparently caught it and had left it on the dock . I am not exactly sure what he intended to do with it, but we have seen them making necklaces out of all sorts of fish bones and teeth.

We expect to leave for Tahiti sometime next week, if the weather cooperates. We are in dire need of a real supermarket and a list of things for the boat. We are really going mostly to re-provision and then move on. Our visas expire on Aug 11 and we have to go all the way to Bora-Bora before we leave as that is where our “bond” will be waiting ($2800 in cash that we had to post to get a 90 day visa).


Last few days of the visit of Hannah and Mia

Tuesday, June 19 – Hakahetau, Ua Pou
It was a very rocky night and no one slept well. One of our
friends on another boat said it was the most uncomfortable night
they have had since they got to the Marquesas. I can’t say we
could give it the same bad rating, but it was definitely a
difficult night to sleep. Even Mia, who is normally a terrific
sleeper, had to get up and try sleeping in different places in
the boat because the noise from the waves slapping the boat in
the back, and the side to side motion, kept waking her up. Mark
and I left the girls on the boat in the morning and took the
dinghy to the dock of the village of Hakahetau to make sure our
arrangements with the taxi driver Maurice were all set for
Thursday. Since there seem to be very few taxis here and we
didn’t want to have anything go wrong when the girls leave for
the airport. Maurice was at his house, just a short walk from
the dock, and reconfirmed that we would be all set for Thursday.
Then Mark and I walked over the little “restaurant” we had eaten
at a few weeks ago run by Pierrot and his wife. We asked them
if they would prepare a meal for us and the girls the next day –
and they were happy to agree. One more stop at the tiny little
grocery store in the village then to get a baguette (frozen) and
a bag of carrots (the only vegies available). On the way back to
the boat we met a young Marquesan man named Atai who was very
friendly with us when we commented on his terrific mango tree.
He gave us a few mangoes and told us we could come by the next
day for more fruit and also invited us to dinner . We weren’t
sure what either we or the girls would want to do on their last
night so we told him we would come by the next day to discuss,
and we went back to get the girls. The seas had subsided quite
a bit by then and we decided to go for a snorkel. This is one
of the only places we have seen in the Marquesas where the water
is actually clear enough to snorkel. The other bays are clean,
but not very clear as there is usually sediment from run off
from mountain streams. We had a great time snorkeling – saw a
lot of fish and one large octopus just balled up on the bottom.
It was hard to tell the octopus from the surrounding rocks and
coral – it was so well hidden – but luckily we saw him move a
tentacle as we swam by so we watched him for a while. Another
boater was snorkeling in the vicinity with a spear gun,
apparently hunting langoustine (lobster) for dinner. We stayed
far away from him just in case he couldn’t tell us from a lobster.

The dinghy anchor got stuck on the coral when we tried to leave,
just as it did a few weeks ago when Mark and I were here, so
Mark had to dive down to get it. It was quite deep – 25-30 feet
– and he hurt his eardrum as he dove. We are going to have to
be more careful when we drop our dinghy anchor – it always seems
to get stuck when there is any coral around (which is often). In
the evening we had a great fish dinner on the boat. Our friend
Susan, from the boat “Infinity” came over to look at a weather
forecast that Mark had downloaded for her for her upcoming trip
to Tahiti. Mark and I visited with her while Mia and Hannah
watched “Finding Nemo”. Also of interest (to us at least) is
the fact that the boat “Roxi” just pulled into the harbor. The
people on Roxi are very good friends with Vera, and the two
boats were supposed to have been doing the circumnavigation
together. Roxi, however, kept slowing down for various reasons
and Vera kept on moving ahead (usually with us), and so the two
boats have not seen each other for at least 3 months. We were
glad to finally meet them.

Wednesday, June 20
We tried to pack a lot into the day as this was our last full
day with the girls. We started out by getting up early and going
to shore for a walk to the waterfall. Before starting the hike
we brought 3 empty diesel containers and 1 gas can to Maurice’s
so they would be ready to take with us in his truck on Thursday
when we took the girls to the airport. The only place to buy
fuel on the island is in the town of Hakehau which is several
miles past the airport. The hike to the waterfall is not very
far – only about a 35 minute walk. The path is mostly on a dirt
road which had gotten really muddy after the previous night’s
rain. As we got closer to the waterfall there were an
increasing number of mosquitoes, but nothing too bad as long as
you kept walking (and we were covered in Deet). We all jumped
into the pool at the foot of the waterfall which was nice and
cool, but despite the spray from the waterfall, and the
constantly flowing water, there were just too many mosquitoes
around to be comfortable, so we did not spend too much time
there. We quickly got dressed and sprinted back to the main path
and back to town.

We went straight to Chez Pierrot’s for lunch and washed off the
mud and grime in their outdoor spigot. We were the only ones
there for a while except Pierrot’s wife and his two beautiful
daughters and grandson. The “restaurant” is just two tables set
up on a terrace beside his kitchen, but the food is very good
and the people there are friendly. Just after we got served our
lunches the people from Roxi walked up. They were with 7 other
boaters, all hoping to have lunch there. It is not the kind of
place that can just accommodate walk-ins, as they have to plan
in advance and get their food from the next town (about 40
minutes away), but after a few minutes of negotiation the
proprietress said she could accommodate them all. I am not sure
she would have given us 2 huge fillets of fish each if she had
known so many people were coming, but by then we had been
served. We didn’t get much of a chance to talk to the people on
Roxi, but did have a chat with some of the other sailors at
their table. After lunch we got a large breadfruit from the tree
outside the restaurant and directions on how to cook it. As we
walked back to the boat we passed Atai’s house and he gave us a
few bags of fruit – mangoes, papayas and bananas – in exchange
for some sandals we promised him if he came to the boat later
that evening. Since he is out every evening in the bay with his
outrigger canoe, we figured it would be fun for him to come
over. We got back to the boat, and were all hot and tired, and
even though we wanted to go snorkeling again, none of us had the
energy to leave the boat again, so we just swam off of the boat
and cooled off for a while. Then Hannah gave both me and Mark
haircuts. We have been looking pretty funny with our long hair,
and have given up on finding a hairdresser for at least a few
more weeks, so we figured it was worth it to be Hannah’s first 2
haircut guinea pigs. She did a great job and we now look almost
civilized. After that Atai came by to collect his sandals. We
invited him on board for a drink and some snacks and we had a
good time learning some Marquesan words from him. We ended up
giving him a few extra things – a nice shirt for his wife and a
sailing hat – and he left the boat seeming quite happy. The
girls packed up their bags and we spend the last part of the
evening watching the stars on deck.

Thursday June 21
Up very early for our scheduled rendezvous with Maurice on the
dock. It poured half of the night but luckily it was not raining
when it was time to put everything into the dinghy and go
ashore. We got to the dock at 8:30, expecting Maurice any
minute, but when it was 9:00 and he had not shown up we started
to get anxious. The girls flight was not until noon, but
Maurice had told us we needed to leave before 9:00 in order to
take us to Hakehau to buy fuel and provisions and visit the ATM.
Also, after the problems Hannah and Mia had with their flights
out here, we did not want to be stuck at the dock without a
taxi. Luckily there was a working phone booth near the dock and
I called Maurice’s house, only to be told by his daughter that
he had had some kind of emergency in the morning and he had to
take 2 people to the hospital in the other town. She reassured
me that he would be at the dock by 10:00, but we had lost
confidence in him, and the girls were very worried about their
flight. We asked one of the local women at the dock if she knew
anyone else who could at least drive the girls to the airport
while we waited for Maurice. We thought it made sense for them
to wait safely at the airport rather than 12 miles away, hoping
that Maurice would come. Since practically everyone in the
village is a relative of each other, it did not take her long to
find a cousin of Maurice’s who lived next door with a nice truck
who was willing (for a price) to take them to the airport.
Within minutes we had to say goodbye and leave them with the
hope that before long Maurice would show up and bring us to the
airport for a proper send-off. After they left we were
surprised to see our fruit man , Atai, walking by with his wife
– wearing the new stuff we had given them – and he was clearly
peeved at us. Apparently he didn’t think he got a fair deal was
anxious to let us know. It was pretty uncomfortable, and the
first time we have had a negative kind of experience with a
local. Before too long Maurice showed up and we were on our way
to find the girls. There is a pretty beach outside the gate to
the airport, and when we drove by, we saw Hannah and Mia just
sitting by the beach, reading their books. There is only one
flight a day into Ua Pou and the plane only seats 10 people, so
there is no need for the airport to be open until 90 minutes
before that flight arrives. It then immediately returns to Nuku
Hiva. The girl’s driver was kind enough to park the car by the
beach and stay with them while they awaited either us or the
opening of the gates. We all switched to Maurice’s cab and sat
by the beach for another 20 minutes before the airport opened.
It was a couple of miles further down the airport road
paralleling the runway to the very tiny little airport terminal,
and we were the first ones there. With lots of kisses and hugs
we parted. The trip was altogether too short and Hannah hopes
to come back on our next leg of the journey for a much longer

The rest of the afternoon was spent with Maurice driving to
Hakehau to get fuel (only diesel, they had run out of gasoline),
and of course more groceries. We stopped for lunch at a
restaurant where Pierrot was working as a cook – not his own
restaurant in Hakahetau – but a bigger restaurant in Hakehau.
We invited Maurice to eat with us and were surprised to hear he
had never eaten there before. There are probably only 5
restaurants on the whole island and this one was not a
particularly expensive or fancy one, although it does service
the local College of Ua Pou. Once we finished up our errands
we returned to Hakahetau and Maurice stopped to get us bananas
from a woman at the side of the road and then took us to his
house where his daughters picked mangoes and pamplemousse for
us. We had a huge load of goods to load into the dinghy and he
helped us with that as well. Back on board we stowed
everything away, and put away the dinghy and engine for our
upcoming passage to the Tuomotos – a 3 day sail. There was
hardly time to do everything, but we were anxious to get going
as we had gotten very tired by the rolly anchorages of the
Marquesas. We checked in with Mia’s parents and got updated on
the girls status – and fortunately – everything went totally
smoothly on the way back to Providence. Hannah even managed to
pick up a checked bag that she had left in the Tahiti airport on
the way to visit us. It was filled with granola and almonds so
now she will have some goodies to bring with her to Boston when
she starts her summer biology program next week.


Safe Arrival of Sabbatical III in Toau

Safe Arrival of Sabbatical III in Toau

We pulled into Anse Amyot, Toau just after dawn this
morning. We are now tied up to a mooring owned by Valentina and
Gaston, the Tuamotan family that lives on the north side of this
small indent (“false lagoon”) on the northwest side of Toau.
The wind and seas never did abate as forecast. On the contrary,
winds were 25-30 knots all day yesterday and last night, and
seas rose to 9-12 feet with the occasional 15 footers. Some of
these bigger waves brought significant amounts of spray towards
the cockpit. The rain flaps that we installed kept us mostly
dry if we sat in the front half of the cockpit. The night was
squally with some downpours and wind gusts in excess of 30
knots. Nonetheless, Sabbatical III handled it all very well,
although it was tough to sleep with all of the waves knocking
the boat around. We had to slow the boat down for some hours
yesterday and last night in order to not arrive before sunrise.
We sailed without the mainsail, and with double reefs (and
occasionally triple reefs) in the genoa and mizzen. We never
saw another boat visually or on radar. I hooked two fish but
could not land either one of them. It is still fun to hear the
line unspool off of the reel after the fish bites and to fight
them for a while.

Michael and Britta of “Vera” came out in their dinghy to help
us tie up to the mooring, and then came aboard for coffee,
cereal, and fruit. They said that it has been blowing 25-35
knots continuously for the past two days. Nonetheless, Anse
Amyot is fully protected from the waves (but not the wind) by a
set of coral reefs and motus that extend in every direction
except for a small opening to the west. We are looking forward
to showers and sleep.

Our position is South 15 degrees 48.212 minutes, West 146
degrees 09.114 minutes.


passage to Taou- day 2

Since departing Ua Pou, about 35 hours ago, we have had the
fastest 1 and a half days of sailing since the 2003 Atlantic
crossing. It is 550 nm to Taou, the 450 nm noted in my previous
email is a typo. We have been doing 8.5 knots and above
consistently but we are now consciously slowing the boat down so
that we arrive after dawn on Monday. Winds are in the
mid-twenties from the east. seas are 6-9 feet in ESE swells,
with a few scattered squalls.

We are still steering 211 degrees magnetic from our current
position of S 12 degrees 49.88 minutes, W 143 degrees 10.97
minutes at 1912 Marquesan time. Speed is 7.5 knots.

Michael, please alert the family in Taou to our early Monday
morning arrival. Perhaps they could rig a new mooring for us.


Sabbatical III on the move


Sabbatical III left Hakahetau Bay on the island of Ua Pou,
Marquesas today at 0720 local time headed for the small atoll of
Taou in the Toumotu archipeligo. The trip is charted at about
450 nautical miles. Our route takes us on a heading of 211
degrees magnetic until a point SSE of Takaroa. From there we
will bisect the broad channel define by Kuehi and Fakarava on
the south and Takaroa and Apataki to the nortth. Our final
destination is Anse Amyot on the northwest corner of Taou. We
expect to arrive before dark on Monday. If we arrive late, we
will spend the night at sea and enter after dawn. If we cannot
anchor in Anse Amyot, Taou for any reason, our backup is to
enter the lagoon of Fakarava via Passed Garu. Fakarava lies
only 12 nm. south of Taou. The position of Toua is S 16
degrees 00 minutes, West 146 degrees 00 minutes.

Sabbatical III left Ua Pou well provisioned with 675 liters
of diesel and 650 liter of water. She also is burdened with 50
large pomeloes, 30 mangoes, 100 limes, 120 bananas, and one
large breadfruit. There is nothing but fruit everywhere you
look down below. Scurvy is not an issue. The Tuomotan family
that will host us in Taou has no access to fruit, so some of
this cornucopia is intended for them.

It is now 1020 local time, three hours after departure, and
we are making excellent progress. We are doing 8.8 knots with
single reefs in the genoa, main, and mizzen sails. The wind has
abated somewhat and is now from the east at 22 knots. Seas are
7 to 9 feet in closely spaced swells out of the ESE. The
forecast calls for diminishing waves and wind over the next 3
days — a truly excellent forecast for what can be a difficult
passasge if the weather gets out of hand. Skies are partly
cloudy after a morning squall. Little squall activity is
forecast for the next three days.

We will try to undate our progress daily. We loved the
Marquesas, with the visit of Hannah and Mia being the highlight,
but now feel it is time to get on the road again as our 90 day
visa clock in French Polynesia is running down.

Current position (1038 local time) is S 9 degrees 39.55
minutes West 140 degrees 22.87 minutes.

New slideshows

There are new slideshows posted beginning with Isabella island (Galapagos) and ending with Nuku Hiva, Marquesas as of ten days ago.  No captions yet as we do not have a good internet connection yet.

Day 3 with Hannah and Mia

Tuesday June 12th

Today we hiked over to Hatiheu to have lunch. It is a two
hourwalk up a steep mountain – through lime and mango forest and
then down an equally steep path to the little village of
Hatiheu. There are fantastic views from the top – including that
of our boat in the harbor. It is a well marked trail, used
daily by villagers going between the two towns ( as there is no
other way to get from one to the other unless you have a boat).
Hot, sweaty, and tired, we reached the town just in time for a
really nice lunch at Chez Yvonne – the same place we had picked
up Mia and Hannah just 2 days before. Our friends from the
boat “Caramba” had walked over earlier in the day and were
having lunch there as well. After lunch we decided to do a
little hike up the road to where we were supposed to find some
interesting archeological remains- supposedly just 20 minutes
away. We walked up a very steep hill and then continued along a
beautiful road for at least 40 minutes finding nothing but mango
trees, goats and palms trees. We decided to turn back and when
we reached the town we found out from “Caramba” that we had gone
up the wrong road. Too tired and hot to try again, we joined
“Caramba” who had arranged for a motorboat to take them back to
our bay. Instead of a two hour hike, we were treated to a cool
and pleasant 15 minute boat ride. We all jumped in the water as
soon as we got back in the boat to cool off. Mia passed out
about 8:30 and Mark, Hannah and I stayed up a little later
watching the stars.

Hannah and Mia Arrive

Ready to suntanJune 10th, 2007
We are a week behind in keeping up our blog, but it will have to
wait, as the most important news is now that Hannah and her
friend Mia have arrived safely. We picked them up in the nearby
harbor of Hakehau today where there were dropped off after a 2
hour taxi ride from the airport. They were scheduled to arrive
today, but as of yesterday, we did not think they would be able
to make it. Yesterday it seemed that everything that could go
wrong was going wrong. Mia flew to Chicago Friday night so that
she and Hannah could catch a flight together on Saturday morning
to L.A. – and from there to Tahiti – and finally to catch the
once a day flight to Nuka Hiva. They stayed in an airport hotel
on Friday night and the woman at the desk there stupidly told
them that they only needed to get to the airport an hour before
the 8:15 a.m. flight. Apparently there had been big storms on
the east coast the day before and when they and about 1,000
other people arrived at the airport they found lines snaking out
the door for Southwest airlines – and a lot of swearing going
on. By the time they got to the check-in counter their tickets had been given away and they then had to wait on stand-by for the next flight ( 3 hours later), which they also did not get onto. They finally got onto the 1:30 p.m. flight,
which would not get them to L.A. in time to get the flight to
Tahiti. They would be able to get a much later flight, but that
flight was arriving in Tahiti only 40 minutes before the once a
day flight to Nuku Hiva. We received an e-mail from Hannah
telling us that they probably would miss their plane, and when
we talked to Mia’s parents the story got worse as it appeared
that if they missed the flight to Nuka Hiva on Sunday, the
earliest they would be able to get on a plane would be

Needless to say we were all a bit crazed – plus
frustrated as we can only communicate by e-mail and by satellite
phone. We had several conversations with Mia’s parents, and
tried to make phone calls to Air Tahiti to try to see what could
be done – while Mia’s folks spent hours and hours doing the same
thing from their end, beginning in the morning with the
Southwest Airlines people. By the time we went to bed Saturday
night it looked like there was little chance that the girls
would get to Nuka Hiva and our already short time with the girls
would be truncated from 10 days to just 6. We did not like the
thought of the girls spending 3 or 4 nights in a hotel in Tahiti
while waiting to get onto a plane to Nuku Hiva. We had made
plans for a taxi to get the girls from the airport in Nuku Hiva
and bring them to the next bay over from us called Hatiheu. Hatiheu has a town and a road – although it is a rough and bumpy 2 hour drive from the airport. The bay in which we are anchored, Anaho Bay, has no roads at all. We stay in Anaho because is well protected from ocean swells, which is not the case for Hateheu Bay. We had arranged for a taxi well in advance, as we were told it is difficult to find someone at the airport to drive you anywhere besides the main town which is at the opposite end of the island. Thinking that the girls could not possibly make it in, we cancelled the taxi.

Much to our surprise, however, on Sunday morning we got up and
checked our e-mail right away and found out from Mia’s parents
that the plane from Tahiti had arrived an hour earlier than
scheduled, and that the girls did get on the plane to Nuku Hiva,
and that they should be arriving shortly. We quickly called the
taxi driver – but could only leave a voice message for him – and
pulled up anchor to get to the next bay to be there when and
if the girls arrived. Our friends on Intiaq, and another French
boat Caramba, both offered to help by following up with the taxi
driver by phone, and also by giving us a mobile phone number
that the girls could call when they arrived on Nuku Hiva. We
pulled up anchor and within an hour were anchored in Hatiheu –
and soon after were on shore awaiting the girls at our
pre-designated meeting spot at the sole restaurant in town –
Chez Yvonne. We received a VHF radio call from our friends on
Intiaq telling us that Hannah had called the mobile phone, and
she and Mia were in the taxi and en route. There were a number
of tatooed and bone bejeweled locals hanging around the
restaurant who knew that the girls were on their way (small
town!) and told us they would be there shortly. At 11:30 a taxi
pulled up – and hooray – there were Hannah and Mia – looking
beautiful, tired and thirsty. We loaded everything onto the
dinghy and had a quick lunch on the boat before sailing back to Anaho Bay which is a much more comfortable place to sleep. Our friends on Intiaq greeted the girls with bouquets of balloons (they are equipped for everything on that boat) – and the girls managed to stay up for a few hours before collapsing. We aren’t sure if they will sleep through the night now, or just take a little nap.

Monday June 11
The girls slept from 4:30 p.m. yesterday until after 7:00 a.m. this morning! We all woke up to a gorgeaus, sunny day and spent the whole day on the boat – suntanning ( Mia and Hannah anyways), reading, talking, swimming, and visiting with the neighbors on Intiaq and Caramba.

Hakehau and Hakahetau [delayed post]

[This was sent on June 3rd but failed to post]

Thursday May 31st

Hakehau, Ua Pou
This morning our friends on Rishu Maru and Esperanza left . They
are on their way to the Tuamotus a 4 day sail from here.
Pretty much everyone stops in the Tuamotus when they leave the
Marquesas. They are a large set of coral atolls that lie right
between the Marquesas and Tahiti and are supposed to be very
nice with extremely clear water and wonderful snorkeling and
fishing. We will be heading that way in 3 weeks. We spent most
of the day Thursday trying to get some fruit and buying a few
groceries. There is this odd guy who swims around the harbor
here, just resting on a small surfboard, and asking the sailors
if they need help getting any fruit. We had been saying no to
him, but when we walked over to a house which everyone said was
“the place” to go to get fruit, the swimmer was there taking
down orders. Several other yachters were there – and he said he
would send his buddy up into the hills to get fresh pamplemousse
and bananas and bring them down to the dock at 2:00 p.m.. We
asked for some bananas, and pamplemousse, and then we continued
on our way.

The day before we had gotten about 20 beautiful mangoes in town from someones yard, and we found a gorgeous looking tree outside another house today and asked if we could have some. The woman who lived there was very young and cute and she hopped up onto the fence, and picked a dozen huge mangoes and gave them to us, but with the warning that they probably wouldn’t be too good because they weren’t ripe. We have become used to this, as the locals only eat fruit fully ripened on the trees ( except bananas which everyone picks green). Since we can’t wait around for them to ripen and drop off the trees, we are happy to get the green fruit and let it ripen on the boat. When you pick a hard mango from the tree, an incredible amount of sticky sap comes running out of it and we are sure we are missing out on a lot of yummy sweet mango taste by taking them prematurely but what can we do? We stopped for lunch in one of the two restaurants in the village. The special of the day was chicken paella, which I had, and which I only mention as it is going to come up later in the blog. The waitress at the restaurant doesn’t seem to like us very much but we enjoy eating out since we don’t get a chance to do it very much here so we ignored her rude behavior and enjoyed the food.

We had decided that we would leave for another harbor in the afternoon as the village we were in, Hakahau, was not terribly interesting and we didnt really like the harbor very
much either. The anchorage has a beautiful view, but it is ruined by a cement wall they have running all along the shore, and some construction trucks working on the nearby docks. Just
as we came back to the bay, however, we saw our friends on Intiaq pulling in. We have not seen them for nearly a month since we left Fatu Hiva- so we went over to help them with their
anchor (Vera beat us to it, however), and to say hello. They had just spent the past few days in the nearby harbor of Hakahetau which we were preparing to sail to. I told them that
we had eaten in a restaurant in town that day and Karin totally surprised me by saying, Oh, and didn’t you have chicken paella for lunch? I couldn’t figure out how she could possibly
guess this. It is not a typical dish, I had seen no-one since the restaurant who could possibly know Karin and tell her, and I was pretty sure there was none dribbling off of my chin. How
did she know It turns out that she had been talking to some of the people in the village of Hakahetau, and a young woman had told her that her boyfriend worked at the restaurant in Hakahau and was planning to make chicken paella. So Karin figured, rightly, that was probably a pretty good chance that I was at that restaurant. It was very funny. We were glad to see them, but anxious to move over to Hakahetau, and meet up again with Vera who had just sailed over there.

The fruit man showed up on the dock as planned, but somehow he had messed up the order, and forgot to bring anything for us just for the other boats. So he gave us a small bunch of
bananas for free and said he would bring us fruit the next day if we wanted. We said no, because we were really anxious to leave by then. So at 4:00 P.M. we pulled up our anchor, with Jean Francois helping us pick up the stern anchor, and set off for the nearby bay of Hakahetau. It was a very short distance only about 5 nm, but really stunning. The island of Ua Pou has a beautiful coastline with very huge, very phallic looking peaks jutting up above the green hills. A large pod of dolphins starting swimming with us for the last mile leading to the bay. We hope to take Hannah and Mia here for a few days. We pulled in to the harbor at 5:00 and found that it was empty except for Vera. They invited us over for our second dinner of fresh mahi-mahi.

Friday, June 1, 2007
Today the weather changed and we had a whole day of rain and squalls. Unusual here to have a whole day like that, and there was a lot of wind and swells in the bay. We hung out with Vera on our boat for part of the afternoon, and then just hunkered down to await the storms passing.

Saturday, June 2, 2007
The weather was pretty awful all last night and we were starting to worry about our friends on Rishu Maru and Esperanza. We would not have liked to be out at sea these past 24 hours and we know they are only way to the Tuomotus. Vera touched base with them via their satellite phone, and it has been very rough the worst conditions that Rishu Maru has ever experienced and they have been sailing for 25 years. Vera was supposed to leave today for the Tuomotus, but between the bad weather reports and our discouragement, they have decided to wait until the weather improves. They were really trying to time their arrival in time for optimal tides in the Tuomotus, there are many atolls there that you can (or should ) only enter at low slack tide and in broad daylight so you can see any coral heads that are sticking out. Today would have been the last day in the month that they could leave and arrive in the Tomatoes at low, slack tide, but it is too risky to leave with such big swells and strong winds.

We continue to rock uncomfortably on the boat with this big swell, but we are safe, and there is nowhere else to go right now. Mark and I went into town today as the rain stopped for a
while and we just had to get off the rocking boat. The town dinghy dock is a tough one ? you have to tie a stern line from your dinghy to a float about 30 feet from shore, and then motor
forward to the dock and leap off and tie up to the dock. Because of the big swells in the harbor there were some big waves breaking on the dock, but two local guys helped us tie up
without much trouble at all. We found a very cute, small town, with a tiny little restaurant run’ by a French man and his wife. The restaurant doesn’t have a sign or anything, but a very
friendly local women led us there when we asked her about getting food. The French man, Pierrot, has only lived here a year, but his family is all from here originally, and pretty
much everyone in this little town is his cousin or brother-in-law. He told us to take a walk up to the waterfall for an hour and then come back for lunch, so we did. We had not
expected to walk to the waterfall today. After such heavy rains we thought the path would be muddy and mosquitoey ( which it was), but it was not a long walk ( about 40 minutes each way), and it was nice to have a walk. The waterfall was great with a nice clear pool to swim in. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were eating us alive, despite the Deet we had applied so carefully, so we did not stay long.

When we got back to town (after collecting a couple of dozen limes on the way), we found a’nicely set table at Pierrot’s for us. His wife and daughters and other family members were all
having lunch at the other table and were very friendly to us. He served us a great meal — quiche, entrecote, frites and broccoli, followed by some excellent French coffee and cut pamplemousse. He sat down with us and we chatted — a good chance for me to practice my French again — and it was really fun. We told him we wanted to arrange for a taxi to take Hannah and Mia to the airport on June 20th, and asked if he could help. He drove us to the home of the taxidriver in town, his brother-in-law and cousin Maurice, and we made an arrangement. We parted with an agreement to come back on Monday to pick up some fruit from him at his house. He gave us an enormous pamplemousse and a half a dozen passion fruit and we said goodbye.

Back at the boat, the weather seemed better and we went off for a snorkel. The whole side of the bay here is a coral reef and it was very clear water. We dinghied over to the reef wall and
dropped our anchor to hold the dinghy there while we swam. When it was time to go we could not pick up the anchor. Mark looked down and saw that the anchor was under a piece of coral 30 feet down. He tried to free it, but it was clear someone had to dive down and retrieve it. So Mark dove down and freed the anchor. Before we could pull away though, it lodged itself under another piece of coral and he had to get in and dive down
again. His ears are hurting now.
In the evening we had Vera to the boat for a “Pride and Prejudice” party. We had told them how much we love the BBC movie of it, and they have borrowed our DVD 3 times already to
watch it, so we decided it would be fun to watch together. We only had the energy to watch the first 3 chapters but may finish it up with them at some later date.

Sunday June 3, 2007
Last night and today the swell in the bay continued to be uncomfortable. By about 2:00 P.M. it seemed to be calming down a bit finally. We went for a great snorkel, and then watched a
huge rainbow appear in the sky just at sundown. Our friends Brita and Michael from Vera came by to say goodbye as tomorrow they leave for the Tuamotos. We have so many pictures we want to share, but we have no internet access at all here, and have not
had any really usable internet access except for a few brief hours in Nuka Hiva. We may have to wait until we get to Tahiti to share the rest of our good photos.

From Hiva Oa to Nuka Hiva

We have not written an entry in our blog for nearly a week now,
so here goes. We also found that one of Mark’s entries (labeled
Hiva Oa and Atuana) did not post on time, so if you want to
check it out go back two blog entries.

Saturday and Sunday (May 19th and 20th) :

Last we wrote we were in Hanamenu on the island of Hiva Oa. We
spent two nights there before moving on to the next anchorage in
Haniapa Bay. The two bays are very close together ( about 12
nm), but the wind was right in our face to get there, so we
decided to do a wide tack to get there so we could get some
sailing in. It was beautiful, but just before we arrived in the
bay, there was a huge unexpected wave, or trough that we hit –
we are not sure what- and the whole boat shook violently. The
outhaul on our tightly sheeted mainsail snapped, making the
mainsail flog freely and uncontrollably in the wind. It was no
big deal to furl it in until we could get to the anchorage and
fix things. The outhaul is the line that you use to pull out the
sail along the boom ( and pull it back as well). Luckily Mark
had purchased an extra outhaul for the sail and we knew it was
readily available, and we knew that we would be able to fix the
sail once we dropped anchor. Haniapa Bay is supposed to be the
most protected anchorage on the northern coast of the island,
and while that may be true, it was nonetheless a very rolly
anchorage the nights we were there, but it was extremely beautiful.

The first night we were there we were the only boat in the
magnificent bay. Lots of manta rays in the water – but a
different kind than we saw in Hanamenu. These were brown and
white rather than black and white, and they did not venture
quite as close to the boat as the ones in Hanamenu did. In the
morning, after a rainy night, with lots of uncomfortably choppy
water in the harbour, we took our kayak in to town. The town has
both a wharf and a beach that you can land on, depending on the
tides and the conditions. We started out by taking our kayak
into the beach. Haniapa Bay has a village with about 20 houses
and roughly 100 inhabitants. It is not a poor village and in
fact it rather looks about as much as you might expect a village
in the Garden of Eden to look. It is a rainy part of the island
and everything was so green and lush with hundreds of blooming
flowers, colorful leafy plants, and more fruit trees than you
can imagine. Everyones home was set amidst gorgeous foliage.
Mark took some pictures of the fruit that we hope to post on the
website soon.

Since there were no stores or restaurants, we decided we would
try to buy some fruit or trade with the locals. A 12 year old
boy decided he would be our guide in the village and help us get
fruit. He started throwing rocks and hard mangoes up at the
mango trees to knock some fruit off for us, and snuck a few
papayas off of some trees which were clearly not his. We
decided we would try to get fruit in a less furtive manner and
when we walked by a house filled with people all sitting
together eating lunch, we asked them if we could get fruit. No
problem they said , and asked us what we were interested in.
Bananas, mangoes, and pamplemousse (pomelos) were high on our
list. The man of the house said we should come down to the
beach later and he would have the fruit ready for us in
exchange for a t-shirt and a lipstick that we would give him at
the dock at 5:00. So we continued our walk through the lovely

A few minutes later we saw a very crudely written sign for the
Hanaipa Yacht Club. We didn’t see anyone around, and certainly
didn’t see any structure that looked like a yacht club, but just
a minute later a very funky character popped out of the back
and introduced himself as William the head ( and sole member)
of the yacht club. Apparently he tries to meet every boater who
comes into the bay invites them over for a glass of lemonade
and bananas and has them write something into his scrapbook.
We obliged and enjoyed talking to him on his very mosquitoey
porch. He was an older man (although it is really hard to tell
exactly how old), wearing a very old and worn t-shirt and
shorts, with a fairly long grey beard, tied neatly into a
ponytail in the front. He has apparently been collecting cards
and signatures from yachters for 30 years, and just recently his
home burned down with all of his scrapbooks. He just recently
started a new scrapbook, and we were only about the 20th visiter
to sign it and we recognized the cards of some of the other
boats that had visited him. He told us he would bring some
bananas and fruit down to the dock for us later as well and
asked if he might come see our boat. We arranged to meet him at
4:00 at the dock and continued our walk. Our 12 year old friend
was still with us, enjoying the candies that we had brought
along with us. Then we came upon a beautiful mango tree just
filled with wonderful looking fruit. We asked the owner if we
could buy some , and after filling one of our bags with them ,
we asked him how much, but he said they were free and then he
added a few grapefruit.

We figured by then that we were going to have more fruit than we
could handle so we finished our tour of the town, and went back
to the beach. All of the town was getting together for a party
at the church, but we didn’t feel like it was the kind of event
that we should crash, so we just went to see what kind of fruit
was waiting for us. Our friend had really prepared a bonanza
for us – there were two huge stalks of bananas ( each with about
60 bananas), one huge stalk of plantains, a mountainous sack of
pomellos, plus several papayas and guavas. We couldn’t even
think of carrying it back on the kayak, so we left it on the
beach and paddled back to the boat.

In the meantime, we could see our friend William, standing by
the wharf waiting for us, so we dropped off the kayak, set up
the engine on the dinghy (always a pain in the but task), and
went to pick him up. He had brought some limes, another huge
stalk of bananas, and a very strange looking fruit , a soursop.
William came on board and was more than pleased to have a beer
and some peanuts and we gave him one of Mark’s t-shirts and some
Advil which he needed for his sore back. He was a little
disappointed not to walk away with a bottle of whisky, but very
pleased to have added another yacht to his list of friends.
So, now it was getting late and we had to go get our fruit. We
took the dinghy back to what had been a beach just two hours
before, but which, at high tide, was no longer a sandy beach,
but just some steep rocks. We dropped William off in a hurry and
tried unsuccessfully to hold the dinghy steady so we could pick
up the fruit, which was sitting in a beached fishing boat, but
the surf was too strong. So we headed back over to the wharf
where we thought we could tie up easily, walk the 400 meters
back along the beach to pick up our fruit, and finish up our

It was not that easy, however. We did manage to tie up to the
concrete dock, but it was rolly and hard to tie up and clamber
up the rough sides to the top. Then we started walking back
along the shore, but found that there was a small river in the
way! I didn’t want to cross it, but the alternative was to walk
about a mile around through town, and back to the beach. Since
it really was quite shallow we crossed easily and were finally
able to pick up the fruit that had been left for us. We took as
much as we could carry, but had to leave behind a stalk of
bananas and a stalk of plantains. Mark must have had 50 pounds
of pomelos on his back. Finally back at the wharf, we realized
it was already close to 5:00 and our friend should be by soon to
pick up his t-shirt (which he had changed to asking for 2
t-shirts at the last moment). We waited a bit, but then,
knowing it was getting dark, and that we still had to lift up
the dinghy and engine in preparation for our departure planned
for 3:30 a.m , we decided to just leave the goods for our friend
on the wharf in a plastic bag hoping he would come by soon and
get them. We got back to the boat where we had a clear view of
the dock, but he never came. We felt very bad, but hoped that
the bag would still be there when and if he came by.

Monday May 20, 2007

We got up at 3:30 a.m. to start our trip to Nuku Hiva. The best
time to leave in order to arrive during daylight hours was
between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.. It is really a nice time to sail.
We managed to get several hours of sleep before we pulled up
anchor, and the sky was clear with lots of stars as we sailed
out of Haniapa Bay at 4:00 a.m. It was not long before there
was light in the sky, and we had an easy and relatively fast
sail arriving in Nuku Hiva just about 5:00 p.m. It is another
gorgeous bay , very large, surrounded by green volcanic
mountains. There were a lot of boats in the harbor , probably
30 or more. We were pleased to find that our friends on Vera,
Rishu Maru and Yara were all there, and we found a convenient
place to anchor right near them. Lots of other boats there that
we had seen along our journey as well. We were greeted by
Britta and Michael from Vera, and then Mark and I set up the
dinghy and engine and went into town. The town here, Taiohae,
is the largest city in the Marquesas and is the administrative
capital population- a teeming 1,500. We were hoping to find a
good restaurant, but found pretty slim pickings. The only
restaurant we passed had a couple of very bored looking yachties
who looked as if they had been sitting there for a long long
time. The menu was expensive and the waitress was kind of surly
so we decided we would join the group of locals standing by a
white truck that was clearly serving food. The chef, was a
Chinese man, and he was cooking up a storm, cooking up an
unbelievable amount of food and working so fast we thought he
would have a heart attack before the night was out. His wife
worked next to him, frying up a couple of wok dishes, while he
managed the bbq picking up meat with his bare fingers
from the flame tossing them onto the dishes filled with rice,
pouring on some type of barbeque sauce and a couple pieces of
bread, and slapping on some saran wrap. It really was an
amazing operation. We ordered a couple of dishes and then sat
on the adjoining steps of the local supermarket, enjoying the
food and the scene.

Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22nd and 23rd.

Although the town of Taiohae was very small, there were a few
nice facilities for us there including wireless internet
service that we could get from the boat. We were able to use
Skype to talk to Hannah, Ben and our friend Robin Ringer. We
couldn’t get any video of the kids with Skype, but were able to
clearly see Robin ( who got up at 1:30 a.m. to answer our Skype
call!). Very cool. Other than the internet we just spent a few
days gathering groceries, and visiting with our friends.
Wednesday was a big day in town as the supply ship came in ,the
same one we had seen 3 weeks ago in Fatu Hiva. It was a welcome
arrival as the two grocery stores were pretty much out of all
fresh produce, cheese and yogurts. (You can see that our trip
is pretty much about getting food). The ship brought in some
useful food supplies. There were supposed to be beautiful hikes
from town, but it was so hot that we didn’t do any of them. We
hope to do more hiking and sightseeing when Mia and Hannah come
in a few weeks.

On Wednesday night we hosted a pot-luck dinner on our boat. We
supplied the fresh tuna, and Britta prepared an amazing huge
plate of sushi and sashimi. Alex (from Rishu Maru) brought
chili-con carne, and Gesche (from Yara) brought guacamole and
corn-bread. We had a huge feast while the two kids sat below and
watched “Finding Nemo”.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another supply boat came in this morning so we finished up our
provisioning. I think we freaked the grocery store owner out
when we asked him for 4 cases of diet-coke. It is terribly
expensive here, but it is one drink that we really enjoy when it
is blazing hot out ( as it usually is). We loaded up with
cokes and cheeses, picked up our laundry, got some cooked curry
for lunch, and then got ready to leave the bay. We had to leave
as the bay was not clean enough to make water and our water
supply was running low. Just as we were getting ready to leave
we realized that the new boat that had anchored near us was
“Irie”- a boat owned by Christian and Paukie, whom we had
met just before leaving Fatu Hiva . We talked to them on the
radio and they said they had just caught a 5 foot wahoo ( a
fish), and since they couldn’t possibly eat it all they wanted
to know if we wanted some. We did, but already had everything
put away for the sail and could not dinghy over. They said just
to motor by on our way out and they would toss us a package of
fresh fish. So, they tossed it, we caught it, and now we can
finally say that we have “caught fish”! We then set sail for
the nearby Taioa Bay – known locally as Daniel’s Bay. Daniel
was a Marquesan who lived here forever , welcoming sailers, and
keeping an extensive guest log. Apparently Daniel died last
year, but the bay is still beautiful and calm, and it is a nice
place to spend a few days. Our other boat friends are all here
as well.


Hanamenu, Hiva Oa

Thursday May 17th

We left the Harbor from Hell, Traitor’s Bay in Hiva Oa,
yesterday morning. Five to ten foot swells were running into
the harbor and we were closed in front, back and sides by other
boats. Luckily for us, the boat from Mexico that we had
anchored very close to the day before had left which gave us a
little room to maneuver. It is very tricky to pick up both a bow
and a stern anchor in a crowded anchorage. It is typical to
just have a bow anchor out, and you motor up to it, while
pulling up the anchor chain, and then when the anchor lifts out
of the water you can head out. But with both a bow and a stern
anchor set it can be much trickier. We knew the harbor bottom
was quite muddy and we had seen other boats pull out their
anchors with great difficulty, as the heavy mud makes them very
hard to pick up. There is no electric windlass to lift up the
stern anchor, it has to be done by hand. We let out extra chain
on the forward anchor so that we could move back close to the
stern anchor. I was manning the steering wheel and the windlass
(which controls the release of the bow anchor), while Mark stood
in the aft of the boat, balancing himself against the big
swells, and painfully pulling up the stern anchor. All the
neighbors on their boats came out to watch (which is what we all
do), and the guys on the small boat in back of us, “Namaste”,
were particularly interested as we had to move our boat within
just a few feet of theirs to get a good angle on the anchor.

After a few minutes of maneuvering, and a lot of pulling, Mark
managed to get up the stern anchor. Then it was pretty easy to
just move up to the bow anchor and pull out. We were so happy to
be leaving that place. What an uncomfortable anchorage. We saw
a number of boats there that seemed to be there for the long
term and we just can’t understand it as there are such beautiful
bays all around.

Just before we left the anchorage, we got a call on the radio
from our friends on Vera, who said they were on their way to the
anchorage on the northern side of Hiva Oa ,an anchorage called
Hanamenu. (There are so many bays with the word Hana in them
(guess who it makes us think of?). There was no wind, so we had to
motor the 2.5 hours there, with several rain squalls following
us, and within an hour, our friends were in sight, just a few
miles ahead of us. We both pulled into the bay without
incident. We were the only two boats there for the entire day.
It is a pretty bay with a dark sand beach at the foot of the
harbor, with wild horses and cows on it, and a seemingly
deserted coconut palm plantation. The walls of the bay are
extremely steep and rocky. There is no town, there are no
people. There is not even a path that goes to a road. In the
evening Michael and Britta came over to help us make sushi with
our terrific tuna from the Pearl Restaurant. They came over
equipped with all the trimmings : pickled ginger, wasabi, and
wine. We provided the fish and the rice and the dessert and had
such a great evening. They are very interesting people and
Michael tells great stories with Britta good naturedly
correcting his exaggerations. They stayed late by boat
standards (must have been almost 9:30!!).

This morning they left, which left Mark and I the only boat
here. No one else has come into the harbor today which is kind
of a treat. We went to shore on our kayak, and found a little
path leading into the jungle. There are dozens of mango and
lemon and lime trees and we had a great time picking as many as
we could carry in our beach bag. There are hundreds of mangoes
on the trees, but most of them are way out of reach. We had to
use a long stick to pick the lower hanging ones. So now we are
set with about 30 mangoes (small) and enough limes to make
limeade for weeks. Right near the beach there was a small
fresh-water spring and we swam in it. It was great ! The first
fresh water we have seen and it was so cool and refreshing. We
had yet one more treat today when we saw several manta-rays
swimming by the boat. We had seen one very large one when we
anchored yesterday, but had not seen him since. Suddenly, after
lunch, there was not one, but 5 of them, just swimming around
the boat. They are huge and really beautiful. The largest has a
wing span of about 8 feet, and it is about 5 feet long. They
are black on top and white on the bottom. They swim around with
their huge white mouths open (18-24 inches wide), occasionally
flipping up their wings. One of them came right next to the boat
and did three somersaults underwater showing off his beautiful
white belly. It was incredible.

So, what else is new, you might ask? Not much.

Traitor’s Bay, Hiva Oa and the town of Atuona

[ This blog entry from May 17th was not posted until today, May 22]
Hiva Oa and Atuona

We remained in Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata for another day on
Sunday (13 May). We took our kayak and snorkels to explore the
two neighboring bays to the south which are magnificent. There
is an abundance of interesting sea life and each bay has a beach
to rest on. “Rishu Maru” and “Yara” left Saturday after sunset
for the 100 nm passage to Ua Huka. We have since heard from
them via email that the anchorage is very rolly and it is almost
impossible to land a dinghy on the beach. “Vera” stayed in
Tahuata with us and we planned to sail to Hiva Oa together and
tour the island.

We got up early on Monday morning to pull up anchor for
Traitor’s Bay (Tahauku Bay) on Hiva Oa. The customs boat that
found us on Saturday insisted that we check-in on Monday at the
Gendarmerie in Atuona, the town on Hiva Oa that is the
administrative center of the southern Marquesas. We had heard
bad things about Traitor’s Bay and had not intended to stop
there but rather check-in at Nuka Hiva to the north. But since
the customs boat had directed us to Hiva Oa, we were obligated
to go. Traitor’s Bay turned out to be even more unpleasant than
we had feared. The bay is open to the east and south and is
exposed to the ocean swell. To keep the swell down, there is a
breakwater across part of the entrance to the upper bay. The
problem is there is major dredging and construction work going
on behind the breakwater so that the protected area of the
anchorage is closed off. The water is dirty and brown with lots
of floating junk as a consequence of the dredging, plus there is
the noise of the dredge, pumps and dump trucks for 12 hours a
day. In addition, “Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia” recommends
against swimming because of the large shark population.

There is too little space available for the sail boats that
are directed to Atuona so that they are packed in like sardines
in Trraitor’s Bay. Boats have to set both a bow and a stern
anchor to keep from swinging into each other and to keep their
bows pointed into large swell that rolls into the opening of the
bay and is amplified as it comes into the anchorage. When the
swell hits the western cliffs of the anchorage it erupts into a
30 foot spray of white water. This has been the worst anchoring
that we have ever experienced. There was almost no space when
we entered the anchorage and we had to drop the bow anchor very
close to other boats and with less than 2 meters of water under
our keel. As we dropped back to deploy a stern anchor, the
depth quickly fell to less than one meter. Thankfully, a
cheerful Englishman from Derbyshire rowed over from his boat and
offered to take our stern anchor out another 60 feet and drop
it. It was extremely hot on deck as it was late morning, the
sun was blazing in a clear blue sky, and there was not a hint of
a breeze. We were drenched with sweat once this playing around
with multiple anchors business seemed to be over.

As we started to cool off with a couple of Diet Cokes, we
noticed that the Mexican boat (“Iataia”) next to us was drifting
uncomfortably close to us as the current shifted. They were
there first, so we decided it was prudent to adjust our stern
and bow anchors, working up some more sweat. The young Mexican
couple stopped by on their dinghy on their way to shore and said
not to worry because all the boats get very close depending on
the tide but never seem to make contact. The tidal variation is
a bit over a meter. An hour later, we were less than ten feet
away from the Mexican boat, which is too close for my comfort.
So we got up on deck for the third time to reset our anchors.
As we did, we saw “Vera” with our friends Michael and Britta
come into the anchorage. “Vera” left Hanamoenoa Bay at the same
time as us, and we planned to spend time together in Hiva Oa.
Unfortunately, they had an even worse morning than us. They
started to pull up anchor in Hanamoenoa Bay at the same time as
us (and only 50 feet away) but could get very far because their
anchor chain had wrapped itself around a coral head three times.
Michael had to dive 10 meters to unwrap it. Then, when they
unfurled their genoa jib, it just fell in a heap on the deck.
The halyard had chafed through and they had to motor all the way
to Hiva Oa, arriving more than 90 minutes after us. They twice
tried to anchor near us in Traitor’s Bay but were not
comfortable with the tight space (we really had the last spot
for any boat with a 6+ foot draft), and had to leave and anchor
in the wide open area in front of the breakwater where the roll
was even greater than where we were anchored.

The handsome young couple on the Mexican boat “Iataia” told
us not to bother going to the Gendarmerie to check-in but to
call “Sandra” on VHF radio channel 11 and she would do it for us
and save us money to boot. In my state of heat exhaustion, I
misheard them as saying ”Sharon” instead of “Sandra” and, of
course, no one by that name responded on the VHF. The young
Mexican couple, she always attired in a bikini, and he with red
hair and beard, were always followed around by two large Mexican
men whom Laura guessed were bodyguards. It seemed like a
reasonable guess.

Michael and Britta of “Vera” showed up in their dinghy, and
waited while we got ours all set up and then we all headed off
to what is generously called the dinghy dock. It was a small
pier of rough concrete decorated with a large tractor tire. The
surge pushed the dinghies with great force against the pier and
would knock them to pieces if one did not use a stern anchor on
the dinghy to keep it off the dock. Getting on the dock
required a well timed jump and some upper body strength (not my
strong points) to get ashore after setting the dinghy stern
anchor. I hated to think what leaving the dock would be like in
a few hours.

The town of Atuona is about 3 miles from the dock. We started
to walk in the early afternoon heat and sun on a narrow road
used by huge dump trucks carrying silt dredged out of the bottom
of the bay. They created huge clouds of dust as they went by,
making this a most unpleasant experience. We put out our thumbs
and soon had a ride into town, and quickly found the
Gendarmerie. It is closed from 11:00am to 1:30pm for lunch, but
it was now nearly 2 pm. To our dismay, we were informed that
boat check-in was only done until 11 am. We ran into the
Mexicans from “Iataia” who straightened out my confusion about
Sharon’s (the agent) name and even had her cell phone number.
We called her at a pay phone and she came right by. She offered
to check Laura and me in for something over $400, which we
thought was outrageous. It was not until the next day when we
actually did the check-in by ourselves, did we realize why
giving her $400 would save us money even though there is no fee
to check-in. Non-EU citizens must post a bond (or show a return
airplane ticket) to get a visa. The bond is acquired at the
nearby bank which takes $2800 from our Visa card and charges a
fee for doing so. Then on the day that we leave French
Polynesia, we can get our $2800 back (after checking out at the
Gendarmerie) but only in French Polynesian francs. We can
change these francs to dollars only by incurring the 8% spread
between the buying and selling price for US dollars, plus the
banks commission. All told, this financial transaction costs
over $400, with all of this going to the bank. What Sharon
would have done is put up our bond for us, using our Visa
imprint as collateral. By using the bank, we also had to pick
an island from which we will depart French Polynesia – if we
left from any other island we would lose our bond (we chose
Bora-Bora). At least we got our 30 day visa plus a 60 day
extension making us legal until August 11.

After failing to check-in the first day, the four of us
walked up a steep hill to Calvary Cemetery to see the graves of
Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel, which are only 100 feet apart.
Laura is a big fan of Jacques Brel and a visit to his grave site
made our visit to the “harbor from hell” a bit more palatable.
We could find no place open for supper and wound up with lousy
and expensive Chinese and then had to walk in the dark to the
dinghy dock. The tide had gone out and our dinghies were now
five feet below the dock. Michael and Britta were worn by all
of this and said that they wanted to leave the next day as soon
as they were checked-in. They found the place too trying to
stay an extra day. During that extra day, we had planned in
share in a rental car with them and tour the island, and then
eat at the highly recommended Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge up on
a hill overlooking the bay.

The next morning the swell was even larger. Some of the
waves were huge and as the boats rode up and down the steepest
of the waves, the two young American guys on “Namaste” off our
port quarter would yell “Yee-Ha” as if they were riding a
bucking bronco in a rodeo. The trick now was to get into our
dinghy tied to the stern of “Sabbatical III” as it and
“Sabbatical III” were getting tossed about. After a large wave
passed by, kicking the transom up violently, I put a foot into
the dinghy and shifted my weight off of the transom steps – but
not quickly enough. Another wave hit right after and the next
thing I knew I was doing a backwards flip into the dirty brown
shark-infested water of Traitor’s Bay. Laura was down below and
the ladder was not in place so I had to yell to get her
attention. After a shower and change of clothes (and wallet),
we headed back to the dinghy dock to finally complete the
check-in. But now the dinghy dock was completely untenable
(which explains why there was only one dinghy there). The large
swells made tying up an invitation to a dunking. Laura and I
watched Michael and Britta have a go at it. Britta got off
first by grabbing the tractor tire with both hands and feet and
crawling over it to the dock. Meanwhile their dinghy got caught
under the dock and Michael yelled things in German that I would
like translated some day. Laura and I headed for the rock
strewn ramp used by outriggers. Michael and Britta helped us
carry the dinghy and engine up high enough on the ramp to avoid
being bashed around when the tide rose again.

After checking in, we said goodbye to Michael and Britta
who were retuning to Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata in order to get a
roll-free night, and to go up the mast to fix their jib halyard.
Laura and I were just about to sit down in a little snack shop
when she saw the minibus of the Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge drop
off some hotel guests in town. The bus gave us a ride to the
hotel and we had a fabulous lunch that was no more expensive
than the bad Chinese we ate the evening before. The hotel
manager took an interest in us and offered us some fruit and
fish from the kitchen at a good price. We got 2.5 kilos of
shashimi-grade tuna filet, plus pamplemousse, limes,and bananas.
Later that afternoon, we took the dinghy to a small dock
behind the Mobil station, accessible only at high tide, and
bought groceries from the Mobil gas station store (they were out
of diesel fuel so this was their major business until the supply
ship arrives). They had some decent stuff and it was a lot
easier than returning to the dinghy dock and hitching a ride to
town again, even though we were in desperate need of diet Coke
which they have in town but not at the Mobil store (diet Coke
comes in with the diesel we were told).



We are still in the beautiful little bay here in Tahuata – and
now there are 9 boats here. After a beautiful morning spent
paddling around in our kayak and snorkeling, we saw that a Coast
Guard boat had arrived and they were checking all the boats. It
turned out to be totally painless and easy for us. They came on
board, asked us when we arrived in the South Pacific ( yesterday
of course), asked to see our passports, asked us if we had
firearms on board, and how much liquor, and then told us
everything was ok, and we should just get our papers stamped
tomorrow or Monday at the police station in Hiva Oa. They
didn’t spend more than 5 minutes with us and were very
pleasant. Apparently they went on board some of the boats and
checked every cupboard and cabinet looking for drugs and/or
firearms. If they had done that on our boat they wouldn’t have
found much except cans of tuna fish and dried soup. There is
another boat here that has a family with a 5 year old, a 1 year
old, and the mom is pregnant and expecting in a few months. The
rest of us are absolutely amazed – the thought of doing this
type of sailing while being pregnant and taking care of an
infant is more than we can imagine. They seem to be doing fine
though – so I guess anything is possible.

We are really enjoying this bay – the water is beautiful – it is
calm – and best of all there are no no-no’s (no-see-ums). We had
read that people get eaten alive by them here, but we have not
been touched at all. We are becoming good friends with 3 other
boats – 2 Austrian, and one German. All are younger than us,
but age is not a factor here ( at least to us). One of them
loves Jerry Seinfeld as much as we do.

We heard such a funny story. Apparently there were quite a few
European boats in the Galapagos who decided that they did not
want to sail to the Marquesas ( where we are), because they did
not want to run into lots of Americans. They all decided to
sail down to the Gambiers, which is several hundred miles south
of here. Apparently there was absolutely no wind for people
going that direction, and there is no place to buy fuel in the
Gambiers, so all the boats who went south to escape the
Americans, had a terrible, slow, uncomfortable sail – not enough
wind to sail, but they couldn’t afford to use up the fuel they
had to run their engines because then they would be stuck in the
Gambiers without fuel. Some people who left the Galapagos when
we did are still en route to the Gambiers, making about 22 nm
per day ( as opposed to the 150 to 180 that we made). What is so
funny is that there are hardly any Americans at all here in the
Marquesas – and those Americans who are here ( like the Pitts)
are exceptionally nice. So there is a lesson there – never
change your travel plans to avoid the Americans. You will get
screwed. Ha!


Leaving Fatu Hiva

Position: 09.54 south, 139.06 west

It is Wednesday, and we left beautiful Fatu Hiva this morning
for the 48 mile sail to the island of Tahuata. It was a
beautiful seven hour sail and now we are safely anchored in
front of a white sand beach. There are 6 boats in the anchorage
and we know all of them. It is extremely pretty although not
as magnificent as Fatu Hiva. We hope we will get to an internet
cafe soon to post some pictures, but it is pretty clear that we
won’t find one on this island. We wanted to go for a swim, but
just noticed that there are some jellyfish, so we are chickening
out. Hopefully tomorrow they will be gone.

On Monday we were invited by our friends Karin and
Jean-Francoise (on the catamaran Intiaq) to go by dinghy to the
neighboring town of Omoa. That is the “big town” on the island
of Fatu Hiva, where most of the island’s 640 inhabitants live.
To get there you can walk for 5 hours up a steep volcanic
mountain and down the other side, or take half hour dinghy ride
along the coastline. We opted for the dinghy ride. We each
rode in our own dinghy since the town is still 3 miles away by
sea, and it is safer to have two dinghies out together in case
someone’s engine fails. We followed the beautiful, steeply
pitched shoreline, stopping to look at caves and little inlets
along the way. It really is the most beautiful shoreline you
can imagine. There were fishermen standing along the cliff
beside the dinghy dock at the town of Omoa. Well, it was not
exactly a dinghy dock. Rather, they have a line stretched out
from the rocky cliffs with a mooring ball tied out to sea about
50 yards. You have to tie your dinghy to the line, and then
somehow get up the steep sea-wall steps. Luckily for us, the
fishermen were extremely helpful, and they hopped first into
Jean-Francoise’ dinghy, and then ours to assist us with the
very tricky process. Our friends Karin and Jean-Francoise are
native French speakers, and are just incredibly charming people.
As we walked through the town they made conversation with
pretty much everyone we met  making it a point to stop and talk
to anyone with fruit trees. By the end of the walk we had been
given about 20 huge pamplemousse and had been invited to pick as
many of the carambolla (starfruit) as we wanted from someone’s
tree. We had also been invited to come back the next day for
stalks of bananas if we wished. There was a very nicely
stocked store in town (relatively speaking), and we picked up
sandwich fixings, and then knocked on the door of another store,
which was closed for lunch, but which opened up to sell us a
couple of baguettes. We walked up the beautiful road and found
a nice place to sit and have a picnic lunch. After a few minutes
we noticed a strange smell and then realized we were sitting
just about 15 feet from a pig pen. When we got back to the dock
later in the afternoon we found that the fisherman had retied
the dinghies so that it was very easy for us to get back into
them and head for home. Very nice.
That evening it poured torrentially , but when there was a small
break we headed over to Intiaq for dinner. Karin is a gourmet
cook and she had prepared a beautiful meal for us complete with
huge servings of freshly made poisson cru, mango and grapefruit
compote and several wines and liquors. The main course was odd,
but very good. It was barbecued goat ribs. Almost every day
someone from the village comes by their boat to give them a
gift, and that day it was the goat. I am not sure if I should be
happy or sad that no one comes to our boat.
Yesterday was much lower key . Mark and I just did boat work _he put together the big spare anchor while I mopped up one of
our storage lockers into which at least a half dozen cans of
coke and another half dozen cans of Fresca had leaked during our
trip. We hadn’t realized the extent of the mess until
yesterday, and it took a few hours to clean all the fermenting
sweet soda up. Not too much fun. We just made a quick trip into
the town (Hanavave) to try the pay phone  and called Hannah.
The $20 phone card got chewed up in about 8 minutes, so I guess
we will stick to the satellite phone, which isn’t any more
expensive, until we get to another island with better phone

One week in Fatu Hiva

It’s Sunday, and we are still in Fatu Hiva, still apparently out
of sight of the gendarme. Many of the other boats who came in
about the same time as we did are also still here. Guess no-one
is anxious to leave, and the gendarme is not terribly
consciencious about identifying the new boats. Good. We heard
that there will be a customs boat coming here this week, and
they apparently come boat to boat making sure everyone is
officially registered. We are planning to move on in a few days
anyways. Yesterday was the big once a month event when the
supply boat comes in to Fatu Hiva from Papeete. It also carries
about 100 tourists – and offers a very interesting way for
people to visit several of the islands in the Marquesas if they
do not have their own boats. We went to town to watch the
festivities, but it was actually very low key. All of the
tourists from the boat were shuttled in on small launches and
were milling around the dock and most of the sailers were also
milling around. The locals had set out tables with fruit and
passed out fresh coconut milk, and did a few dances, and played
music. The boat unloaded a lot of supplies, including two
horses which someone apparently had bought from another island.
The local artisans were selling their wares, but they are not
that great so we just had a glass of coconut milk and went for a
walk to look for limes and other fruit.
On the way back to our boat we were called over by our friends
on Vera who had prepared a delicious pasta dinner and wanted us
to join them. It is funny, but in some ways it is like being in
Israel where people are always dropping by or inviting you over.
When we eventually made our way back to our boat we were
called over yet again by our friends on Intiaq. They were
holding up a big dead fish for us. Apparently the boat with the
5 young South Africans that is anchored behind us had done some
fishing that evening and knew we were still trying to get some
fresh fish, so they came by to drop one off for us, and finding
us not home, they left it with our neighbors. It was a funny
present to receive – a big silver glassy eyed fish sitting in a
tupperware container. We were excited to get it though, and
promptly put it in the fridge for dinner the next night.
Today, Sunday, was a pretty quiet day here. I am finding I need
to be more creative with cooking as there is so little to buy,
so I baked banana bread and with the help of some yogurt culture
from a friend, started making yogurt ( still waiting for it to
work). We went into town late in the afternoon for a walk and
to try and do some more trading. We walked over to the house of
our blond, toothless friend that had wanted to get hair dye from
us in exchange for some food or honey. We were just about to
complete our deal – a bottle of hair dye for her, plus some
marking pens for her grandson – when one of her daughters (also
toothless) scotched the deal. She started laughing at her mom
for trying to get hair dye that would make her a brunette, when
what she wanted to be was a blond. Too bad, as we were about to
get some amazingly delicious honey. We ended up just trading the
markers for a half dozen oranges and some green beans.
Afterwards we did manage to purchase a couple kilos of fresh
tuna (for cash) from one of the fisherman, which is now nicely
wrapped and laying in our freezer.
As you may have guessed, we don’t have a clue what is going on
in the real world. We have not seen a newspaper or been on the
internet for a month now, so we are really out of touch… the
last several times we looked, nothing much seemed to have
improved in the world, so we are not that anxious even now to
get caught up. And that is pretty strange, given how addicted
we both are to the NY Times. I am sure once we get home we will
get back on track, but for now we are just being vagabonds.

Barter and Bananas in Fatu Hiva

This is our fourth day in Fatu Hiva. It truly is a tropical
paradise. The island has about 600 inhabitants, and the little
village that we are anchored next to probably has 150 of those
inhabitants. Everyone barters for goods. No one is interested
in money. We only wish we had stocked up on more goods to
trade. The big items to trade to get fresh fruit (pamplemousse
(like pomelos), bananas, papayas) seem to be soap, perfume,
earrings, hair dye, sun-glasses and flip-flops. Getting fish is
trickier, and in fact, we have not yet been able to swing a
deal. The fisherman want liquor, fishing lures, strong rope,
boat fenders, or, strangely enough- bullets! We don’t want to
give them liquor as we have heard that this leads to some pretty
bad behavior among the men (also it is illegal to trade), and we
don’t have spare fishing lures, rope, or fenders. We certainly
don’t have bullets. We are really trying to figure out what
they want the bullets for.

If you walk along the road there are mango trees, but
unfortunately we are a few weeks past mango season, so there is
not much to pick. Apparently you could pick all you wanted if
you arrived earlier. There are lots of lime trees, and you can
also pick your own pamplemousse and bananas as long as you are
careful not to take from someone’s personal yard. Yesterday we
traded one of my button down cotton shirts and a bar of soap for
a big stalk of bananas (about 50) and eight huge pamplemousse.
The lady that we traded with was just standing in her garden –
and we noticed that she had a huge pamplemousse tree, filled
with fruit, and on it she had hung several large stalks of
bananas. She was very shy, and sweet, and seemed quite pleased
with our exchange, even though what she really wanted were
sunglasses, earrings and nail files. When we were walking down
the road, another lady beckoned us over from her house. She was
dressed in her sarong and a ratty bra – I think she was quite
young, but she had a lot of grey hair and only a few teeth. She
wanted to arrange a trade with us. We didn’t seem to have
anything she wanted, and then she mentioned hair-dye. Bingo! A
deal was struck. I happen to have a dozen or so bottles around
the boat and so we arranged to do an exchange for fruit. I think
we will wait a few days until we finish up some of the stuff we
have on board first. When I think of all the old earrings, small
bottles of perfume, beaded necklaces and other valuables I
tossed when we moved out of our house I get upset. I could have
had a veritable boatload of fruit for that stuff.

Luckily, a few of the families do cook dinners for the boaters
in exchange for money ( hooray!). Our second night here another
boat helped organize a dinner party on shore at one of the
houses who apparently do this at least once a week. It was
great. There are anywhere from 15 to 20 boats in the harbour at
any time, and that night, people from 11 or 12 boats came to the
party. We knew almost all of them, and the few that we had not
met before, seemed familiar to us as we had seen their boats or
heard them on the radio. Since we all just made this huge
ocean crossing there is a strong feeling of camaraderie among
the boaters, so it was really fun to have dinner with them. It
was served on someone’s verandah – and the family had prepared a
feast of local food – raw fish marinated in coconut milk ( which
was delicious), chicken also cooked in coconut milk (very bony
chicken), pork with beans (yuck), barbecued bananas, bread,
rice, some type of salad ( no greens), barbequed breadfruit(also
an acquired taste) and pamplemousse for dessert. Some of the
cruisers brought wine. The husband of the family played ukelele
and guitar, and their little 3 year old did an incredible
Polynesian dance. There were several people there that we like
very much, particularly an Austrian couple on the boat Rishu
Maru who are traveling around the world with their 9 year old
son. They built Rishu Maru from wood and epoxy themselves. It
was really fun. It is interesting to note that we were the only
American boat in the group – the others were from Austria (3
boats), Germany, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Canada, South
Africa and Italy.

Our legs are still kind of weak from sitting on the boat so
long, but we have taken a few walks. The anchorage is known as
one of the most beautiful in the world, and it truly lives up to
its reputation, so we are not even that anxious to leave the
boat as the view is so amazing. The walks, however, are
incredible, as it does not take much to get up to a high
viewpoint and then the colors of green, the high peaks, the
jagged pinnacles, the black outcroppings, the smooth green
valleys, are all just simply astounding.

All of the boats arriving here have a thick layer of barnacles
and green scum that somehow accumlated during the voyage. We
took one look at our boat, and groaned thinking about how much
work it would be to scrape it all clean. Very fortunately for
us, however, there is another boat near us – Robyn’s Nest, with
a crew of 5 very young and energetic people who were anxious to
make some money and they offered to clean our boat for us. We
gladly agreed and two of them spent 3 hours bobbing and diving
in the warm water cleaning the boat to perfection.

You are supposed to check in with the local authority (the
gendarme) when you arrive here, and then apparently he gives you
only 2 or 3 days at most before he says you must leave and do
the official check-in at the more populated island of Hiva Oa.
Luckily for us, as soon as we got into the harbour
someone told us that the “gendarme” hangs around the dinghy
dock in the morning and tries to catch all the new boaters and
register them and give them their 48-72 hourwarning as soon as
they come. Since we are not anxious to leave this place, we
have been avoiding him by not going into town until late in the
afternoon. Whenever he finally catches us we will have to
pretend we just arrived. Apparently he doesn’t even have a
boat, and you can’t see the boats in the harbour very
clearly from the shore, so he doesn’t really know who is here.
We have been very straight with all official rules up to this
point on our trip, but we are going to have some big issues with
getting a three month visa here once we do officially check in,
so we want to stretch our pre-check in time as long as we can.
Not a bad place to hang out, that is for sure.

Last night, we had a funny exchange for food, but it was with
other yachties, not with the locals. Apparently word got out
that we have eggs on our boat. Believe it or not, but it is
impossible to get eggs here. So some of the other boats, with
women who like to cook, approached me to see what they could
trade with me to get a few eggs. We were thrilled to find that
they, unlike us, had caught so many fish on their trip that they
didn’t know what to do with them, and it was all in their
freezer. So we ended up trading 8 eggs for a large hunk of
fresh caught tuna. We finally had our fish dinner – and they
apparently made cornbread and mango bread (must be like zuchini
bread). Very funny. We had actually approached a fisherman on
shore yesterday evening and simply could not swing a deal with
him to get fish. Money? No. T-shirts? No. Coffee? No. He either
wanted boat line or bullets, so we just had to walk away.

Our second night here we came into town for a walk and found
that there was a village wide celebration in honor of the Virgin
Mary. Everyone in town was in the church, all dressed up, the
women in their mumus and the men in clean t-shirts and shorts.
They were singing some very pretty songs accompanied by the
ukelele and guitar. We wanted to sit in to listen to the
service, but we were on a mission. As we were taking our
dinghy into shore, another boat had frantically called us over.
They pointed to the boat in front of them, a large catamaran
called Miss Jody, and said that Miss Jody was dragging her
anchor. It looked like Miss Jody was going to be right on top of
the other boat, and then possibly onto the adjacent cliffs in a
very short time. They told us that the crew of Miss Jody were
on shore and asked if we could find them and tell them that
their boat was dragging. We had never met Miss Jody so we didn’t
know what they looked like, but there aren’t too many foreigners
here and we figured we could pick them out from the locals
easily enough. So when we got to shore, and saw everyone at the
church we just kept walking down the road trying to find these
people. We ended up having a lovely walk (our first walk on
land), but after an hour and a half it was getting dark and we
started heading back to town. Just as we got back to town we
found the people from Miss Jody, who had apparently been in the
harbour the whole time, just visiting other boats on their
dinghy, and their boat was ok. Then just a minute later the
entire village approached us, in procession, singing, and
carrying statues of the Virgin Mary, all adorned with flowers.
We joined the group ( along with several other yachties), and
really enjoyed the whole event – as they stopped at 3 different
flower adorned displays in honor of the Virgin Mary and sang
songs and prayers.

P.S. I can not begin to tell you how handy my French has come
in. Not only is it very fun for me, but it is unbelievably

Baie des Vieges, Fatu Hiva

We have arrived safely in Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) on
the island of Fatu Hiva, the most southern island of the
Marquesas. After arriving, Laura recited the blessing for dry
land that her sister Diane sent her (“Baruch Atah Adonai
Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Rokah HaAretz Al HaMayim.” Blessed are
you Lord our G-d King of the Universe who spreads the dry land
out over the water.

The island came into view through the clouds of a squall just
after dawn. It was so incredible that we deviated course to
sail down much of the east side of the island and then around
the southern end before heading north to the anchorage. The
trip from the Galapagos took exactly 19 days (and 30 minutes,
but who is counting?). The last day we sailed in the company
(that is, within VHF radio hailing distance) of “Afriki”, who is
single-handed by Ian, a Canadian (born in Fort Gary outside
Winnepeg) who we met in Academy Bay in the Galapagos. As we
came into the bay, Uva, our German friend from the Galapagos,
zipped out in his dinghy to give us some information on
anchoring. The bay is very deep, has poor holding, and there
are big gusts of wind coming down from the steep mountain sides.
We chose to try for the centerline of the bay, as Uva had
suggested, but the furthest in we could come was 38 meters of
water. We dropped the anchor just as an intense rain squall
began, soaking both of us. The anchor would not hold even
though we put down every link of chain that we have (80 meters).
Uva has 120 meters of anchor rode so this is doable for his
boat. We hauled all of our chain and the anchor back aboard and
circled around looking for another possibility when we saw
Jean-Francoise and Karin of “Intiaq” motioning us over. They
were close to the steep cliff on the south side of the bay.
They said that we should anchor between them and the cliff and
that is was safe to do so as a boat that had left just an hour
before had been there for three days. It was a mere 25 meters
in this place and this time the anchor held. We celebrated with
cold diet cokes, cans of tuna, and crackers, followed by a 90
minute nap. This afternoon we spent some time on Sabbatical III
with Ian and later with Uva and Beatrice, Uva’s wife. We put
away our downwind poles and other gear and tried to make some
order down below. We have not left the boat yet — something to
look forward to tomorrow.

Baie des Vierges in incredibly beautiful. It is a deep
indent on a small island that is just huge cliffs rising up from
the sea. At one end of the bay are a set of rocky pillars that
led the orginal visitors to name the bay “Baie des Verges” (Bay
of the Phalli) because of the shape of these pillars.
Missionaries that followed disapproved and added an “i” to the
name which made it Bay of the Virgins.

We have a lot more to add about our passage and this
beautiful place but that will have to await a full nights sleep,
a luxury that we have not had in three weeks. A photo is
attached that hopefully gives some idea of the look of this bay.
Our location is South 10 degrees 28 minutes, West 138 degrees
40 minutes, and is no longer constantly changing.


Day 19 – Passage to the Marquesas

Position 10.33 South, 137.04 West Heading 255 degrees at about
6 knots
100 miles to go!

It’s Sunday afternoon and we are cruising along – smooth seas
and gentle steady winds. Hooray. It’s about time we got treated
to a good sail. It was a bit rocky earlier today, but we are
getting a nice treat right now. We were contacted on the radio a
few hours ago by Afriki, a boat we met in the Galapagos, being
sailed by a single hander – from, of all places, Winnipeg! He is
just an hour behind us and for a while we could actually see him
on the horizon. I am sure we will see his lights once it gets
dark. That is the first boat we have seen for so long. The
island is only about 100 miles away, It is supposed to be
breathtakingly beautiful, and we are going to sail around the
whole island, going down the southeastern shoreline and then up
the western side to reach the anchorage. We hope to be at
anchor around noon local time. Very exciting.
Love, L

Day 17, Passage to the Marquesas

Friday April 27, 2007 19:00 UTC
Position: 09.35 south 131.36 West
Heading 250 degrees with winds 10-12 knots
Speed 6 knots
About 400 miles to go!

After 3 days of going nearly 8 nm per hour we have slowed down –
with both wind and waves decreased substantially. We are
getting hit on the side by small, but insistent waves, that are
making it kind of uncomfortable again. Apparently there was a
big storm south of us and we are just getting its last remains.
If we could maintain a speed of at least 7 knots we can arrive
in Fatu Hiva by Sunday late evening. If we go much slower than
that we will probably intentionally slow down even more so that
we approach the island at daybreak on Monday. It’s not like
driving a car where you can put your foot down on the
accelerator and achieve your desired speed. We are doing well.
It will be very wonderful to reach land, but kind of sad in a
way to be done with this part of the journey. Now if we could
just catch one single fish, we would be very happy. If not, it
may be time to open up one of our gourmet cans of French Canard
(duck) for dinner.

Day 16- Passage to the Marquesas

Thursday April 26th, 2007 18:00 UTC Position 09.08 South 128.33 West
We have been trucking along now for the past 2 days at about 8
knots – very fast. At this rate we hope to be Fatu Hiva by Monday!!
All is well on-board.

Day 14 Passage to the Marquesas

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
Time: 22:00 UTC, Position 09.24.93 south and 123.08.86 West
Heading 270 degrees at about 7 knots

We are having a good sailing day. Seas are calmer, but wind nice
and strong. Still trying to catch fish.
Now that the moon is waxing and is about half full the nights
are really beautiful. The moon lights up the horizon and the
cockpit of the boat seems illuminated by a strong floodlight
until the moon sets ( right now it is at about 11:00, but it
gets later each night as the moon waxes). When the moon is out
you don’t see many stars, but after it sets they are brilliant
too. I have the 6:00 P.M. to midnight shift so I have been
able to do my night watch without it being really dark at all.
Last night I tried to read by moonlight, but it wasn’t strong
enough. Maybe at the full moon?

Day 13 – Passage to the Marquesas

Time: 23:00 UTC. Position :9.05 south, 120.46 west, heading 244
degrees at 6 knots.

We have not had another stormy day,but continue to have a lot of
swells which make the boat rock from side to side. The swells
are rolling in from the south, and we are heading west
south-west ( mostly west), so they hit us at an angle that makes
it, well, rolly. It is not terrible, just not the smooth,
effortless sail we were expecting. Apparently the sailing
conditions can differ by just very small distances depending
where on this huge ocean you are en route to the Marquesas- I
mean we have friends on boats just a hundred miles away who are
having strong winds, but smooth, flat seas. Other people, 100
miles away in another direction seem to having worse swells than
us. Since the conditions are constantly changing it is hard to
know what to do, except just to keepdownloading weather reports
and hoping that each day ( or hour) brings about the changes
that we are looking for. Today it seems to be pretty good. It
is amazing how used to it we have gotten – I mean we can read
and we can write e-mails- something I am sure we could not do
under these condtions a few months ago. We have a fun
relationship going on with another boat – Intiaq- with Karin and
Jean-Francois on board. They are a French/Swiss couple –
handsome, articulate, friendly a little older than us. They
have a big catamaran, a 47 foot Catana. A 47 foot Catana is way
bigger than a 52 foot Amel, by the way, because they are about
25 feet wide, whereas we are only 15 feet. Makes them a very
comfortable and roomy boat. Catamarans handle swells much better
than monohulls like us because of the broad footprint they have
on the water – makes them very smooth. Anyways, we met Intiaq
in the Galapagos and left from the same harbour in Isla Isabela
at about the same time on April 11th. We were in radio contact
with them for the first few days, but then they pulled too far
ahead of us to get reception. The other way to communicate with
other boats at sea is by SSB ( single side band radio). Intiaq
had set up an arrangement with a few other boats ( all French
speaking) to check in with each other twice a day – just to
report positions and to make sure no-one is in trouble. There is
something wrong with our SSB radio so we can hear them everyday,
but can not transmit to talk to them. Since we are in e-mail
contact with them as well, I wrote Karin and told her our
dilemna. So now, every day, after their standard SSB check-in
with the other boats – which I listen in to – Karin gets on the
radio and just has a one way conversation with me – telling me
the days news – how many fish they have caught ( many), what
they have seen ( a bird), how the weather is, what great food
she she prepared on board, etc. It is really nice. Then I will
e-mail her back some news from Sabbatical III. It is very
comforting to have another boat to talk to like this. There are
at least 25 other boats en route to the Marquesas who also share
contact information on the radio via SSB. We are able to keep
track of lots of other boats – some of them we recognize from
seeing them from other harbours even if we have not yet met the
folks on board. We know of three boats who are sailing
single-handed – one Turk, one Canadian and one Austrian who are
crossing as we do. Can’t imagine how they do it – it is a very
very long journey – and even with two people it is hard to rest
enough. I guess they must just close their eyes, cross their
fingers and go to sleep on and off during the day. We have not
actually seen another boat for 12 days now – but expect that as
we all converge on the same island in the Marquesas we will
start seeing other boats. That will be fun.

Pacific Crossing – Day 11

Saturday, April 21, 2007 Time: 23:00 UTC
Position: 08.29 South 115.26 West
Bearing 264 degrees at 7 knots

The big squalls that we had continued from Thursday evening
through Friday evening . Luckily most of them went away just at
sunset on Friday evening , with mostly clear skies, but
continuing strong winds and seas. It is infinitely better to
sail at night when it is starry rather than pouring rain. We
even have some moonlight last night to guide our way . Today,
Saturday, was mostly clear, with strong following seas and good
winds – 15 to 20 knots. We are not doing much cooking- not that
we are out of food, but simply because we have not had much
appetite. Today I plan to cook chicken as I think we are
getting too thin ( well, maybe I am just dreaming). We have not
even put a fishing pole in the water for three days because the
seas are too rough to start handling 30 pound fish – which we
are determined to catch at some point.

April 20th – passage to Marquesas.

Time: 22:00 UTC Position 08.23 south, 112.39 west. Heading 266
degrees at 7.2 knots – double reefed jib and mizzen ( no
mainsail set now)

We have experienced stormy weather for the past 20 hours. We
have had a series of squalls, one after the other, bringing high
winds, rough seas and heavy rains. We are fine, but tired. We
just had an hour respite from the squalls, but they seem to have
returned. We are hoping they will dissipate before dark.

In 5 hours we should be reaching the half-way mark to Fatu-Hiva,
our much anticipated first port of call in the Marquesas.