Saturday, May 31, 2008

Underway to Tahiti

May 31, 2008--We are currently underway for Papeete, Tahiti, sailing wing-on-wing with light winds. On Wednesday we left Apataki around 8:30 a.m. We had had an uncomfortable evening as the winds had created fetch coming across the lagoon so that when it reached us, it caused the boat to buck in the waves. The tide was flooding so within the channel markers inside the lagoon, the water was riled up, but as soon as we got into the central channel it calmed down, and we headed out with no problems. We got the sail up outside the pass and sailed all the way to Toau. Unfortunately, we found ourselves again beating into the wind, but at least the winds were decent at 11 to 14 knots so it was not uncomfortable.

We arrived in Anse Amyot, which is on the northwest corner of Toau and joined three other cruising boats. Two families live here with Valentine and Gaston mainly involved with the cruisers. The homes are located just inside a short pass from the ocean. There is a lagoon; however, sailboats cannot go in any further. The locals have boats with outboards, but even they have to pick their way through all the coral heads. Mooring balls have been installed and Dick, who is Valentine's uncle, came out to help us. He then invited us to come ashore. We got the boat somewhat put away and then headed in where we met Valentine and Gaston. They served us homemade beer and a homemade liquor was made with anise in it that was actually quite good. We sat and visited for a couple of hours and then headed back to the boat.

The next morning Dick and Sergio, who is a cruiser from France, came by to invite us to go out to the motu to do pearl farming along with the other boats. We got into the family boats and headed out for a 30-minute ride. The waves were up, and we were soaked by the time we arrived. This was actually a working excursion so we helped to clean oysters after which Gaston drilled a hole through the shell. We were then served lunch, which consisted of Parrot fish that Gaston has just speared, fried rice, and coconut dumplings--it was all delicious. After lunch Valentine began grafting the oysters, which basically means that she extracts the pearl that is in the oyster and then implants a new seed that is made out of sea shell made in Louisiana. That process took several hours. When she was finished we got busy tying the oysters through the hole that was drilled to a line that was then tied inside a plastic cage. The guys took the finished cages out in the boat and Gaston tied them on the line in the water. We finished working around 4 o'clock that headed back to the village. Luckily, the ride back was not quite so wet. We had had a long day, but Valentine was cooking dinner for all of us that evening so we cleaned up and relaxed for awhile. Around 6:30 we went in and joined everyone for cocktails. Around 7:30 dinner was ready so we went inside the bungalow where two tables were beautifully set with flower centerpieces. The lights were low so the ambiance was wonderful. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner of lobster, fish fillets, rice, tomato salad, and coconut bread along with red wine to drink. It was one of the best meals we have had. Dessert was an amazing coconut cake. We were absolutely stuffed by the time we left.

The next day the three other boats took off for other destinations; however, we decided to stay one more day because of very light winds. We wanted to wait one more day for more wind to fill in. We spent the morning doing laundry, cleaning, and checking the rig, and then in the afternoon I baked bread. We went ashore around 4 o'clock to take a break and relax. Valentine gave us a tour of the facilities they have built. Dive groups come over from Fakarava, and the divers stay in lovely little bungalows. The family also fishes and ships the fish over to Fakarava to sell. It is quite an operation, and it requires a lot of hard work.

We went in this morning at 7:30 to settle up with Valentine and to pick up our 4 lobster and 2 fish that we had traded for. Gaston went out to the fish pen
and brought back Parrot fish, which he cleaned for us. Next he went to the lobster pen and picked out 4 very nice lobsters. We gave Valentine, Gaston, and Dick each a present and then returned to the boat and boiled the lobster so that we could put them in the freezer.

We got underway around 9:30 planning for a 48-hour trip to Tahiti if the forecast is accurate. We will see!

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