Monday, June 30, 2008

Around Raiatea

June 30, 2008—The boat was hauled out last Tuesday by CNI Carenage on Raiatea. It took the workers about 2 hours to get her settled on the metal frame, pulled out with the trailer, and placed in the work yard. The rudder bearings had worn causing the rudder to knock in heavy seas. Silva, a worker from the yard, and Steve came up with a solution to the rudder problem. They injected the bearing space with graphite impregnated polyester epoxy, and while it is not a permanent fix, it will get us to New Zealand. We also needed to have our alternator repaired. The yard was not very helpful with that, so we ended up finding a Canadian who was an electrician. He repaired the alternator in one day so we would be ready to go back into the water on Friday morning. Unfortunately, the boat was between workers sanding the blue bottom paint off of the boat on one side of us and another sanding fiberglass on the other side so the boat was a mess on deck and would require a lot of cleaning.

On Wednesday we rented a car in order buy groceries in town and locate Richard, the Canadian. It was a very small Fiat, but it had quite a bit of zip to it. We ran all our errands that day, so on Thursday we were able to take a drive around the island. The southern half of the island is more remote. The landscape had spectacular peaks and lush green jungle. We stopped at Marae Taputapuatea, which is the largest on the islands. Any marae that was built in French Polynesia or Hawaii had to be started with a stone from this marae. We returned the car in the afternoon, and in the evening, we had dinner aboard sv Grace with Sally and Geoffrey. What a lifesaver that was—cooking on the boat would have been very difficult.

Around 10 o’clock in the morning we got the boat back into the water, and we picked up a mooring ball just long enough to get the boat picked up. We left and headed to the east side of the island to Baie Faaroa. We were able to pick up a mooring ball in the middle of the bay, and we were invited by sv Prairie Oyster to have dessert with them in the evening.

On Saturday at noon we took the dinghy and went up the Aoppomau River at the head of the bay. The river was beautiful and had lots of flowers growing along the shore. There were some plantations along the way so there were banana trees, breadfruit trees, and palm trees along the bank as well. It took us about an hour to make the trip up the river and back. When we got back to the boat, we collected our laundry that had been soaking in buckets and headed to the dock on the shore. Stardust Yacht Charter had a base here but went bankrupt, but there is still water on the dock so we rinsed out our laundry and took it back to the boat to hang it up to dry. It blew pretty hard all afternoon, which made keeping our sheets on the line very difficult. The good news was that they dried quickly.

Yesterday, we left Baie Faaroa and headed back north to the southwestern tip of Tahaa. Raiatea and Tahaa share a surrounding reef so they are only 2 or 3 miles apart and moving between them is easy. Prairie Oyster joined us, so we both headed for Marina Iti, which has mooring balls available. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Marina. It rained almost all night and is still raining this morning so the boat is looking much cleaner. We should be on Tahaa for a few more days before we move to Bora-Bora.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On the Hard in Raiatea

June 26, 2008--We left Huahine on Monday and enjoyed 20 knots of wind on the beam for our crossing to Raiatea. We had some company, the Maltese Falcon, and since we didn't want to make them look bad, we decided to take our time for the crossing (just kidding). We sailed through the pass and then got our sails down and tied up. We continued around the northern end of Raiatea and over to the northwest side to CNI boatyard. We picked up a mooring ball, and when we were all settled in, we hopped into the dinghy and went in to the office to make sure that we would be pulled the next morning. Everything was set. We relaxed for the evening but got up early so that we would be ready to pull into the breakwater when the yard called us. Around 10 o'clock they were finally ready for us. We pulled up to the ramp, and then the yard workers took over. A trailer was in the water, and they had to get the keel centered on the trailer, which turned into quite an ordeal. It took about 2 hours before the boat was out of the water and on stands in the yard.

I will write about our yard experience in the next day or two, but right now I wanted to get some pictures loaded while we seem to have good internet service so we hope that you enjoy them. To see them, click on the link for Picasa at the bottom right.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Traveling About Huahine

June 22, 2008-On Thursday morning, we headed south for Avae Bay using the channel between the island and the reef, which is well marked with buoys. It was a short trip; however, we had a decent rain squall on the way down. I was keeping watch on the bow, and by the time we arrived at Avae, I was drenched but at least I wasn't cold. Avae Bay is on the southwest tip of Huahine, and it is a lovely spot. When we pulled our anchor at Fare, the windlass wasn't working, so Steve had to raise the anchor by hand. Luckily, we had just 80 feet of chain out so it wasn't too hard to pull up. We had talked about anchoring in Port Bourayne; however, the least depth is around 75 feet, which means a LOT of chain. So we bypassed Bourayne and went directly to Avae, where we were able to anchor in 40 feet of crystal-clear water. There was a small resort on the beach in front of us and a few homes.

Friday morning Steve worked on the windlass, thinking that the motor had burned out-not a good thing. After checking the motor and not finding anything, we discovered that the bus bar termination had corroded, so he cleaned it, and then the windlass worked just fine. We ran the generator to charge the batteries, and I did a small load of laundry, which was piling up because we had had rain showers almost every day. Steve needed to relax, so he went out fishing for awhile but had no luck at all. He is becoming quite frustrated. In the evening Scarlet O'Hara invited Island Time and us to dinner. We had a wonderful dinner and stayed until midnight-we couldn't believe it!

Saturday morning we left to walk to the village about 2 miles from the anchorage. We stopped at several maevas along the way. We reached the town and took a circle route going by lovely homes whose properties were beautifully maintained and stopping at the church to listen to a hymn being sung by the congregation. It was in their native language, and it sounded absolutely beautiful. The children were outside the church playing, and they were so cute that we took a picture. On our way back, we stopped in a small shop in which all the items were hand made, and we found some lovely items to buy. We headed back to the boat to get ready to have Gordon and Jenine from Vari over for dinner. We did not stay up until midnight!

On Sunday morning, we headed back up to Fare so that we could cross over to Raiatea on Monday. We did stop in Port Bourayne and dropped anchor and then left in the dinghy to explore the large bay, go under a bridge to the bay on the east side of the island, and then enjoy lunch. The Maltese Falcon (check it out on the Internet) was anchored in the bay. It is the largest sailboat in the world, and it is amazing, although we don't think it is all that pretty.

We continued north to Fare and got anchored just in time to prepare for a large rain squall that was moving up from the south. There were large black clouds all across the southern sky, so we put the dinghy on the deck and pulled down any items that might be blown away, including more laundry. When the squall hit, it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked-we had some wind at 20 knots and also had a nice rain shower that washed off the boat.

When we get to Raiatea, we will have the boat hauled out at the yard so that we can inspect the rudder. The shaft and bearings are worn, which causes it to make noise. That in turn makes us nervous, so we need to fix it before we leave the Society Islands. Other than that, all is well.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Navigating through Troubled Waters

June 18, 2008--We are currently anchored in the channel of Huahine near the village of Fare. We left Moorea Monday afternoon around 4 p.m. We spent the day getting the boat ready to go and were careful to have everything stowed away as the weather report indicated that we would have wind and large seas. Steve and I triple-reefed the main and got the reef tied down nice and tight.

We left at 4 p.m. The pass out of Opunohu was no problem except for avoiding the large cruise ship that was anchored in the middle of the bay. Initially we had relatively moderate winds and sea state; however, as we pulled further away from the island, the winds continued to build and the seas became more confused. We had to pull in the jib in order to get the spinnaker pole out and the lines run. We were on a run, which meant the winds were coming from the stern. On that point of sail, the main is large enough, even with a triple reef, that it blankets the jib, and the jib does a lot of slapping, which in turn drives us crazy and will eventually damage the sail. With the pole out the jib is much more controlled. Getting the pole out, especially in rolly seas, is quite a feat. Once Steve got the pole set, we began moving along nicely. We didn't want to go over six knots because we wanted to get to Huahine around 7 o'clock in the morning. Well, even with a triple reef in the main, and the jib furled in a lot, we were still doing over 6 knots.

The winds were not consistent but would hover around 25 knots. Then the gusts would hit anywhere from 30 to 35 knots. The wind alone would not have been so bad, but the seas were very big and confused because of days of high winds. Most waves were about 12 to 16 feet, but during the night when the wind increased, the waves increased to about 20 feet and some were breaking waves. Also, the waves were close together, which meant that the boat would barely recover from one wave before the next wave was on us. Steve had to hand steer, along with the wind vane, for a time in order to minimize the yaw and the roll. We also had rain squalls, some of which were heavy. Steve and I agree that these were the worst conditions we have had since we began cruising. The only good thing was that we knew it would end in the morning when we anchored off of the village of Fare on Huahine in the Society Islands. We were never scared, but there were certainly times when we became apprehensive with the conditions. We did decide, however, that the boat could take a lot more than we were comfortable with.

We arrived at Huahine right around dawn. As we sailed up the west side of the island, a huge rain squall hit, and the rain cloud was so heavy that we could no longer see the lights on the island. Luckily it moved on before we went into the pass. The pass was fairly well marked so we didn't have any problem entering. We ended up anchoring just outside the channel on the reef side in about 10 feet of water. We got the anchor down at 7 a.m., picked up the boat, and went to sleep since Steve had had no sleep and I had just 3 hours.

Around 2 o'clock we unloaded the dinghy and headed into town. There is a main street that is about 100 yards long where you can shop for groceries and, of course, pick up the usual trinkets. The grocery store is very large, and the prices are better than Tahiti or Moorea. We walked around a bit in order to stretch our muscles and then returned to the boat in the late afternoon. When we got back, I noticed that one of the shade coverings I had made for the dodger windows was missing, so I put on my snorkel gear and went to look for it in the water. I was sure that it had floated away; however, I found it lying on the bottom in the sand about 50 feet from the boat. I couldn't believe it!

Today we decided to go on the Maeva Marae Walk. The crew of sv Liberty, Carl, Yvette, Kyle, and Joel, as well as sv Vari with Gordon and Jenine, decided to go with us. We had to walk about 5 miles to get to the museum, which was very interesting. From there, we crossed to the other side of the road to pick up a trail and went uphill through dense forest and vanilla plantations. We then took a side path that led to the multitiered Te Ana or Matairea Huiarii. The complex has "marae," houses and agricultural terraces dating from around 1300 to 1800, with signs of an earlier settlement from around 900 A.D.

A side path wound through the forest to Marae Tefano, where a massive banyan tree overwhelmed one of the ahu or ceremonial platforms. We continued on and reached the Marae Paepae Ofata. This is a marae (or rock platform that was the base structure for home or other building) that is perched on the edge of a hill and had a spectacular view. From there we took the wrong trail and ended up walking through someone's back yard to get to the highway. We then discovered that we were at the end of Lake Fauna Nui, actually an inlet from the sea, that had a number of ancient coral fish traps, which are still being used.

When we returned to the main road, I noticed a large Dodge pickup pulling out onto the road so I put out my thumb, and the driver stopped. We all climbed into the back and enjoyed a free ride back to the wharf. It was a very interesting day and a very good workout for us all. We stopped at the grocery store, and then went back to the boat to swim and take showers. Tomorrow we will head south through the channel along to coast to an anchorage at the south end. A lot of sailboats are coming in here. Most of the sailboats are ending their time in French Polynesia so we are all on the same track.

We have some very nice pictures that we want to share with you; however, the internet service here is like the "old" dial up services. We hope to be able to upload the pictures before we leave French Polynesia on July 7. Unfortunately, all the pictures will be grouped together; but, hopefully, they will make sense if you have been following the blog.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moorea, French Polynesia

June 15, 2008-Friday turned out to be a very interesting day as we had to stay on board all day to make sure we didn't drag our anchor. We had sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts up to 30 and one gust registered 40 knots on our meter. Everyone stayed aboard to make sure they weren't dragging. We were all close to the shore so there was not much fetch to build up; however, by the afternoon we did have some decent waves coming at the boat. The winds calmed down in the evening, and by 2 o'clock in the morning they had died almost completely.

Since the morning began with no wind and calm water, we decided to head over to Opunohu Bay. We motored in order to make water so it took us just one hour to get there. Leaving the pass at Cook's Bay (did I say that Captain Cook never actually landed in this bay) was easy, and there was a 4-foot swell, but it was not bad at all. Entering Opunohu Pass was also very easy, and we pulled in to the head of the bay and anchored next to sv Liberty.

Geographically this bay is very much like Cook's Bay, but there are very few stores and shops. We can reach one magasine by dinghy in order to get our baguettes and drop off our trash. It is much more remote; however, we really like it here. It is quiet and, as I said before, we have spectacular scenery all around us.

In the afternoon, the locals were holding outrigger races. Some were single outriggers and others held from 6 to 8 people, and there were both men's and women's teams. The wind was blowing out of the bay, so when the contestants were headed for the finish line, they were rowing against some pretty good winds. We really enjoyed watching the competition.

Last night we went over to Liberty to watch a movie, and on the way over our outboard engine started sputtering. We made it to their boat and back, but Steve had to rebuild the carburetor this morning so it is working fine now. We are getting the boat ready to leave tomorrow afternoon for Huahine. All the boats have been watching a front moving through and trying to find a weather window in which to head out. We think tomorrow will be the best day to leave. Since it is about 90 miles, we will have to do an overnight, so we plan to leave around 3 o'clock in the afternoon in order to get to Huahine sometime in the morning.

We have enjoyed Moorea very much. It is a beautiful island with a combination of not only tourist activities but also more remote anchorages. If we had it to do over again, we would stop in Papeete only to check in and out, and then we would continue right on to Moorea. Unfortunately, by the time most boats arrive in Papeete, they have some problem that requires repair or replacement, and that requires time to get everything lined up. We are glad to be done with Tahiti.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

What a difference an island makes!

June 13, 2008—We left Papeete on Tuesday morning around 10 o’clock. The mechanic did not show up on Monday and wanted to reschedule for Tuesday; however, Steve told him that we had to leave.

We went ashore to try to upload pictures, but the service was so slow that it was not worth the time and effort. We then returned to the boat and got her ready to leave. We decided to leave through the northern pass in order to have the best point of sail, and we cleared the airport with no problems. The winds were supposed to be around 25 knots so we put a double reef in the main. As soon as we were out of the pass, we were screaming along with 30 knots of wind. For one short moment we hit 10.4 knots. We made the turn for Moorea, got the sails set, and took off. We did finally have to reef down to a triple and pull in some jib, but it was still a fast ride over.

We entered the pass to Cook’s Bay without any problems and motored to the head of the bay where about 10 sailboats were anchored. We put the anchor down in about 55 feet of water and shut everything down. Many of the sailboats that we have met along the way were in the bay, and it was good to see them again--it was even better to be out of Papeete.

Cook’s Bay is spectacular! The spire of Mont Mouaputa is at the end of the bay with a hole through it near the top resembling a patch of snow. It can be seen from the north and the northwest. Another mountain is on the eastern side of the bay. The hillsides are lush and green and beautiful.

Wednesday evening the Bali Hai Hotel, in front of which all of us are anchored, put on a Polynesian dance. Most of the cruisers in the bay went ashore at 5 o’clock to have dinner, and then the dance began at 6 o’clock. The dancers performed several dances in different costumes, all of which were beautiful and very colorful. As usual they picked people to go up and dance with them, and we were luck enough not to get picked.

On Thursday we rented a motor scooter and drove all around the island—all 36 miles of it. We went up to Belvedere Point, which gave us a panoramic view of the north and northwest shores and both bays. We took a tour of an agricultural school and learned quite a bit about all vegetation on the island. We stopped for lunch in Maharepa and did some shopping. We finished the circumnavigation of the island around 4 o’clock and turned in the scooter.

Horizons asked us to join them, along with Prairie Oyster, for appetizers at 5:30, after which we all took our dinghies and went to Restaurant Te Honuiti. The restaurant is right on the bay, so we pulled up in our dinghies and tied off at the steps. The people in the restaurant were watching us with great interest, and a few stopped us to ask questions. One couple from California, who were on their honeymoon, spoke with us for several minutes, and Steve asked them if they would like to come out to the boat the next day. Unfortunately, they were leaving for Bora-Bora in the morning. We enjoyed a delicious prime rib dinner, and when we all went down the steps to leave, several diners came to the rail to watch us. It was great fun.

We plan to be here for another day or two. We want to move over to Opunohu Bay is just a few miles west of us, and we would like to spend two days there before heading to Huahini. We are keeping an eye on the weather because a front is supposed to move through in the next few days, but we are very well protected back in these bays. We are experiencing 25-knot winds with gusts up to 37 knots today. Everyone is staying with their boats today to keep an eye on their anchors as a few boats have begun to drag. So far we are holding just fine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


June 10, 2008--We thought that you might like to see some photos of our travels; however the internet service is so slow that we will have to try to add more sometime down the road.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Papeete, Tahiti

June 9, 2008—On Thursday, Yvette from sv Liberty and I went downtown to do some shopping. I found a jeweler to set my two pearls into necklaces and two smaller pearls into earrings. We spent some time at the Central Market where we enjoyed crepes for breakfast and bought some fruit and vegetables. It is a very colorful and lively place. The floral head pieces the women make are amazing and smell wonderful.

Friday night we took Le Truk downtown along with John from the sv Iris. We went to the square where dozens of food trucks are set up. There are a variety of foods available, but we decided on Chinese—sort of. I had shrimp fried rice, and Steve had a T-bone steak with French fries. The food was excellent, and it was fun to sit and watch all the people who had came down for the evening. There were a lot of families with small children. Afterward we stopped at a restaurant that had set up chairs and tables outside, and they had a wonderful local band playing music. The bass player was using a trash can with a wooden pole and string attached. There was a guitar player, and the singer was playing a homemade Ukulele. Several other band members joined in throughout the evening. We had a great time and enjoyed the local music very much. Everyone there was having fun.

On Saturday, we went downtown to pick up my pearls, and then we caught a bus out to the Marquesan Exhibition. We never found a wood carving that we really liked, so we went there to shop. We found a nice piece that we purchased, but we also enjoyed just walking around looking at all the crafts. The wood carvings were very intricate and beautiful, and many booths had jewelry made from plant seeds.

Sunday was our work day so we cleaned up the boat, cleaned the waterline, did some laundry, and polished the chrome. The anchorage was very busy with boats and jet skis. They seem to like coming close to the sailboats so we end up rocking through the wakes.

The mechanic will come to the boat this afternoon (we hope) to replace some of our beer shims with good ones. He was sure that this would fix our engine so we plan to leave Tahiti tomorrow and sail over to Moorea, which is about 20 miles. We are definitely ready for some quiet anchorages. We will provision today and head out sometime tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Papeete, Tahiti

June 7, 2008--We are currently anchored by Marina Taina in the channel that runs on the west side of Tahiti. We left Toau the morning of May 31 and had light winds from the stern. We ended up sailing wing-on-wing for much of the trip, which made for a rolly downwind sail. We were out for two nights, the second of which we hardly slept as we were approaching Tahiti and there was a lot of commercial traffic as well as many sailboats arriving from different locations. We arrived at Tahiti around 5 a.m. and had to again slow down until sunrise around 6 a.m. As soon as the sun came up, we headed into the entrance channel to Papeete. At this time of day there were ferries streaming out of the channel, but we were able to enter during a break in the traffic.

The main harbor is straight in from the entrance; however, we made a turn to the right and continued down a buoyed channel. We had to stop at the north end of the airport and request permission from harbor control to proceed. Any sailboat with a mast over 30 feet may hinder a plane while landing or taking off. We were told that we could proceed, but at the other end of the airport we were asked to wait until a plane could land, which was only about 10 minutes. We then continued on around the channel and arrived at the marina where there are probably 200 sailboats and powerboats are either in the marina or anchored in the channel.

We found a good spot, which happened to be next to sv Liberty, and anchored in about 50 feet. We were tired, but we had downed so much coffee that we couldn't have slept if we had wanted to, so we cleaned up and picked up Le Truk (they look much like a cable car attached to a truck cab) to go into Papeete to check in. We got off downtown and walked to customs and immigration to complete the check-in procedure. The best part was that we received our duty-free certificate for fuel, which makes a huge difference in the price of diesel. Next we walked to the marine store to look around and then returned to downtown to eat lunch. We were walking around the market area after lunch and found a dentist's office so we went in. He was able to see Steve at 2 o'clock so we spent a short time at the central market and then returned to the dentist. He checked out Steve's tooth and said all was fine--he just needed to glue the crown back on. We were relieved and especially happy when it cost us just $5,000 CFP or $65. We picked up Le Truk to return to the marina but got off at the grocery store to pick up a few items. Luckily the store is next to the marina so we didn't have a long walk.

By the time we got back to the boat we were exhausted so we showered, ate a light dinner, read for awhile, and crashed at 7 p.m. We woke up at 7 a.m. feeling much better. Steve met with Polynesian Yacht Services regarding a mechanic who was supposed to come to the boat at 2 o'clock so we stayed aboard the boat only to be told that he would have to come on Thursday. We enjoyed a lovely evening aboard Liberty with Jeff and Sally from sv Grace joining us.

Today we headed into town because I had an appointment at 9:30 with a doctor to check some questionable spots on my skin. He was a general practitioner and decided that I should see the dermatologist so he called upstairs and got me an appointment for 2 p.m. In the meantime, I asked him if Steve and I could get the third shot in our Hepatitis B series, and he that would be no problem. We went to the pharmacy to pick up the medicine and then returned to his office. We received our shots, and the doctor charged us for only one visit--$5,000 CFP. We quickly ran down to the marine store and picked up a few items that we needed. We stopped for lunch at a sidewalk cafe that had wonderful sandwiches and then walked around the central market for awhile. We found a good place for Steve to enjoy a beer while I walked back to the clinic to see the Dermatologist. She looked me over and said all was fine--good to know--and I paid another $4,500 CFPs. Steve was there when I walked out so we caught Le Truk and returned to the marina tired and hot but happy to have some things taken care of.

The mechanic will be here on Monday morning to get the engine tuned, so we plan to check out Monday afternoon and leave on Tuesday. Papeete is not exactly paradise--downtown is not very pretty or very clean, although it is interesting to sit and watch the people. The landscape here is just as beautiful as Nuku Hiva with the hillsides green and lush, but there is a lot of traffic and noise. We would definitely prefer to move on down to an anchorage at the south side of the island.

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