Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bye Bye Bora Bora, almost

It's been a great couple of weeks, but it's time to move on. 

Friday night we got great pizza from a roulotte (mobile kitchen) and a bottle of wine from the grocery store across the street.  We then went down the quaiside parade ground for Heiva, the traditional Tahitian dance and song performances.  There were about 100 performers, male & female dancers, singers and musicians and throngs of people milling around.  Just as the show started, it rained for 5 minutes.  It was pandamonium for a while.

We sat near an elderly lady and her granddaughter who knew the words and gestures to the songs.  The performance group was from a nearby village and the lady said her other grandchildren performing that night.

We biked back to the boat in the dark.  People don't drive too aggressively, so it was a pleasant ride.

We left BBYC and explored other parts of Bora Bora's big lagoon.  It's odd, as on other islands, the leeward side of the island is very gusty.  The "windward" side, has a fairly consistant 15kt breeze that's much more pleasant.  Since you're within a reef, waves don't build up, but the boat sails back and forth.

We snorkeled a little, but there is lots of current and wind sometimes.  In some locations the fish are fed.  So when you get in the water they mob you.  But they're cute and yellow so no big deal.

We splurged on dinner at Bloody Mary's.  I wish we'd just gone for lunch of bloody marys and fish and chips.  It's a high-volume tourist restaurant, complete with 80s hair band music.  However, we got a free mooring for the night.  For the same $130 we got a much nicer dinner at Kaina Hut up the street.

We've got lots to do before we leave:  provision, lube winches, stow stuff, and make future arrangements for New Zealand. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Huahine to Bora Bora

Thursday, July 15th, 430 am, Fare, Huahine
We woke to very loud music onshore. It started 430am and ran until daylight (they musta got kicked out of somewhere else). They have an extraodinarily powerful car stereo. We fumbled around for earplugs and tried to go back to sleep. But was not to be.  Since the current had subsided, the boat drifted around on the100ft anchor line. Last night, the chain was rubbing on the bow, so Bill let the snubber out all the way. The sound softened to the rode rubbing on the bow....followed by the sound of the chain rubbing on the keel. So that kept us awake. That was bad enough..

And, well, we weren't in 15ft of water anymore. Doh! The wind blew us farther onto sandbank. So we were in 7ft of water, same as our draft. We knew that because we could feel the keel rubbing on the sand, or... sometimes scraping on small pieces (1-2ft) of broken coral. Yikes! We were just talking about having the bottom paint redone....
It still wasn't light, but we got up, Bill took in some anchor line that gave us another foot of depth. The water is so clear (and shallow) you can see the bottom in the dark. When it was barely light, we fired up the engine, pulled up the anchor and thought we would slowly glide away from the shallows. But no, a big puff hit us, so we had get away fast managing to stay off the bottom.

We motored over to the anchorage close to town. Uma Tulu, an 80 footer (British flagged, belongs to Lord Hamish Somebody Or Other) had left in the night. Their spot, fairly close to shore was open. We dropped the hook in 60ft. Of course another puff hit us, so we drifted back a little closer to the next boat than desired, but not so far that we had to reset. Whew!

We hung out on the boat til midday. We had heard on Mahina Radio that the balisage (channel markers) were under maintenance here. A small barge (<20ft) with 3 guys on it were replacing the top of the red channel marker. A guy would stand on the petdestal and place the metal panel on top. Then he jumped in the water and swam back to the barge. A much simpler process than in the US, it seems. This clearly showed the anchorage was somewhat in the channel. More about this later...

We went ashore to explore the village and enjoyed the amazingly vast offerings at the grocery store. The Upoo, voyaging pirogue replica was at the quai. We adjourned to the waterfront restaurant for delicious cheeseburger and fish burger. The restaurant was busy and the women working there were really rushing around (contrary to the the slow paced, polynesian stereotype). But they were still smiling and gracious. The Society Islanders are enterprising and really know how to carry off "petite tourisme".

We thought we'd come back for the Maitai Happy Hour at 5:30, but very wet squally weather set in. So we stayed aboard reading and felt right at home (only warmer). Bill was reading _The Coming Generational Storm_. This was ironic because it was to be "a dark and stormy night". Hmm, I was reading _The Big Bang_....At 230 amidst the ongoing clamour of the wind, I heard the unmistakable throb of a large engine. I looked out to see the caboteur (the regular island delivery ship) passing close by on its way out of the harbor. It's a bit unnerving when you know you're anchored in the margins of the channel.

Friday, July 16th, Fare, Huahine
We had planned to leave for Bora Bora today, but were not ready to leave early enough. So we just moved south towards the bay between Huahine Nui and Iti.  We anchored at the side of the channel next to Teapaa Motu. Although it's open to the bay to the east, the winds are much lighter here. We anchored in 30 ft of water among huge coral heads. We tried to set the anchor down in a patch of sand, but it's hard to do in lots of current.

Unfortunately, the chain drags around the big coral heads and grates. Sometimes the boat jerks loose with a clunk as the wind and current change. It damages the coral, but there are very few anchorages without coral, other than the vary shallow and very deep (>50ft). It's hard to avoid.

It's very peaceful here. There's only one other boat, no road nearby and just a few scattered buildings onshore. Paradise, just like I pictured it!

Sound Rating
No barking dogs: *****
No jetskis *****
No loud music *****
Waves lapping *****
Surf crashing on the distant reef *****
Wind sighing in the trees *****
Wind humming in the rig ***
Anchor chain grating on coral * Ugh!

July 17th - Bora Bora

We had a great sail from Huahine to Bora Bora: 15-25kts, downwind, moderate swell & wind waves (well maybe a few big ones), sunny, etc. We had a reef in the main and no jib. didn't need the reef after a while, but were too lazy to shake it out and the boat was moving fine.

We pulled into Bora Bora Yacht Club and picked up a buoy. Jaime Gifford of the local welcome wagon came by to .. welcome.. us and fill us in on the local conditions.
The yacht club is basically a cool outdoor bar and moorings. The bad February 2010 storm damaged their restaurant and other facilities. They're rebuilding as best they can. The showers are served with a garden hose.
The bartender got us a restaurant reservation at Kaina Hut. Many restaurants send a car to pick you up along with other patrons, so we got to chat with some charming yuppie hotel guests for the US and UK. Since the restaurant was called a "hut" I thought, how expensive could it be? Well guess what! Actually it was a lovely dinner with good wine by the glass. However, the food was so rich, I was sick all the next day. Oh well.

The anchorage is in the lee of the island but is still very gusty. We only have 10 days left on our visa and we're feeling the clock ticking. One by one our friends are moving on, either to Hawaii or the Cook Islands.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wednesday in Huahine

But first, Monday July 12th
Bill did boat projects most of the day. Huahine is actually two islands inside the same reef: Huahine Nui and Huanine Iti, connected by a small low bridge. Huanhine specializes in Petite Tourisme. There are a few hotels, consisting of shore and over water bungalows, small pensions and family restaurants. Fare has backpacker pensions. The islands are lush with a variety of trees and plants. It's been showery off and on. As the other Societies, it's mountainous in the middle with a fairly level road all the way around.

Tuesday, July 13th
We went snorkeling near one of the channel markers. The current was really strong, so we drifted with the dinghy. There were beautiful, large, undamaged coral heads and a big variety of fish. We must get an underwater camera.  Afterwards, we went ashore for a lovely lunch on the beach at Chez Tara and a long walk through the village of Parea around the southern tip of the island. The shoreline undulates and there are motus, backed by crashing surf on the reef, creating beautiful bays.. It's a beautiful, quiet, uncommercialized place. I call it "petite tourisme". In addition to small pensions, there are campgrounds and a kids vacation camp.  Holly and Dennis invited us aboard their sleek catamaran, Tango, for a delightful evening of sangria and hors d'oeuvres. They leave for Hawaii August 10th, headed for Victoria for the winter.  What a perfect day!

OK, now it's Wednesday in Huahine, July 14th 2010
We moved from Avae Bay up to the village of Fare at the north end of Huahine. We anchored in 15ft on 100ft of chain on a sandbar. There was 2-3kts of strong current running and strong wind gusts blowing 90deg different. It was an interesting set. There were range of boats there: charter cats, French, British, Aussie, American and Canadian cruisers, and a couple mega-sailing yachts (Juliet and Uma Tulu).
We dinghied out towards the reef into 5-8ft depth, to the local "swimming pool/aquarium). It's full of a variety of round coral heads (like underwater shrubs) and lots of small fish. It's like swimming through a barely submerged garden. Between the coral heads, the bottom is small coral rubble, showing the storm destruction that occurs over the years.
We fixed our favorite pig-out dinner: Lamb, potatoes, green beans, green salad with pears and bleu cheese, french bread, pastry and chocolate. Oh yeah, and wine.. Oink!
I thought there might be some Fete de la Bastille fireworks or something, but nada. So instead, Bill is watching the convergence of Mercury, Mars, Venus and Saturn, near the new moon in the night sky. As usual, the stars are brilliant as we're in the new moon.
All's quiet, then the boat starts shaking, the flags flap, the bimini squeaks, the zippers on our cockpit cover jingle, the neighbor's halyards bang and the wind howls for 1-3 minutes, and all's quiet again. This goes on day and night. 
Fare Noise Rating (We're a ways from shore)
Wind: ***
Breezy and gusty, the rig is humming
Birdsong ***
It sounds like a big flock of birds on shore in the morning, a few too many compared to normal conditions. It reminds me of starlings at home.)
Jet Skis *
There's a few, they like to go fast.
Loud Music - *
It started 430am and ran until daylight (they musta got kicked out of somewhere else). They have an extraordinarily powerful car stereo)
Dogs Barking **
(It didn't start til late, sounded like a pack barking, then yelping, then howling. but we were far enough away could hardly hear it)
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Tahiti, July 8th-11th

Thursday July 8th - minor medical adventure
Medical Issue #1:
Hurray! Bill performed surgery on the plotter and it was successful! Yay! I forget what it was. Some corroded something. So no need to order a new one. What a relief.
Medical Issue #2
I had a small medical problem and needed to see a doctor. It was pretty straightforward. I found a clinic in the tour guide, called and got a same day appointment. The doctor seemed to call a new patient every five minutes. That's about how long I saw him. No lab work, he just gave me the rx and sent me on my way. It was $46, probably about the same as a routine US clinic visit. However, an initial visit and lab work is usually more in the US.
In the process I got an rx for Scopolomine for mal de mer. A patch lasts 3 days and works great to start a passage. Cowabunga! It was $72 for 5 patches. (If you get seasick, you'll pay any price to cure it. So I paid it.) Anyhow when I got back to the boat, I found I had more than I had thought, so I guess it wasn't necessary. Doh! I can get them cheap in the US, but I couldn't figure out (or didn't adequately plan) to get them to me here. For short passages, we just take a Meclazine, good for 24 hours. That usually does the trick.
Friday, July 9th - Failure to Launch
I felt lousy most of the next day. I wondered if it was the medication. We were trying to get ready to leave Tahiti for Huahine. We started prepping the boat, and went to Carrefour, the giant grocery store nearby for our final provisions (beer). It was mid-afternoon when we got back to the boat, so were in a big hurry to get fuel and leave. Of course, that's the perfect time to drop a bottle of coke down the companionway, because it explodes and just goes EVERYWHERE.
Launch was scrubbed that day. It gave me more time to divide up the groceries, vacuum pack and freeze things.

Saturday July 10th - Try again
We spent the morning getting more organized. We went to the fuel dock at midday, got fuel and water out of a hose! (vs Bill humping 5-10gal jugs via dinghy to the boat)
Brad and PJ Baker helped us get the boat in and out of tight quarters. We said our good byes, because they leave for Hawaii and Seattle in a few days. We'll REALLY miss them. They and their boys have been terrific on and off traveling companions.
We left Arue around 3pm in a balmy, sunny breeze, hoisted the main with a single reef and sailed a broad reach bareheaded (no jib) overnight to Huahine. Between Tahiti and Moorea the wind was up between 25 and 32kts. On night watches, I listen to audio books on my mp3 player. They're downloaded from Seattle Public Library. I don't always have a good internet connection, but it's well worth the time, effort and wifi cost. Last night, I finished listening to Treasure Island. The version I listened to was read by a good actor who could do the voices and accents of the various characters. Since it's about seafaring adventures, it's really fun to listen to while at sea. Sometimes I get so buried in the story, I forget where I am. I'm often surprised to "come to" and realize how windy it is.
Later that night the wind lightened to 15-18kts, but we just kept the same arrangement, as we didn't want to arrive before daylight. There were other boats around us making the same trip.

Sunday, July 11th

The sun and moon both rose about the same time that morning, creating a solar eclipse an hour or so later. We arrived at Huahine around 730 when the eclipse was starting. We had the special viewing glasses, so we slowly sailed along the west coast of Huahine watching the eclipse.

We entered the pass and slowly motored down the west side of the lagoon. On the way we passed Delos, Ghost and Pylades. It seems like we see and hear as many or more familiar boats here as we would on a sunny summer day in Seattle!
We anchored in Avae Bay at the south end of the island around noon. Bill was up most of the night, so he needed to sleep most of the afternoon. I caught a catnap and just enjoyed the bay.
Sound Rating:
Birds singing in the trees *****
Children playing in the water *****
Dog howling locked in somebody's garage *
Jet skiis *
Loud Tahiitan rock music *** (we consider it local color)
Rainstorm **** (short lived, but stopped jetski and rock music)
Crashing surf on the reef *****
Running the engine to charge batteries *
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arue Bay, north shore of Tahiti

Sunday, July 4th 
Our friends on Delos over at the yacht quai downtown had  a "pool party" on the dock.  They set up a couple of inflatable kiddy pools on the dock to sit in.  It's quite warm there during the day because it's very sheltered from the breeze.  There were a few americans, with some canadians, english and aussies to keep us company.

After dark, we followed Capaz in our dinghy back to our moorings.  Although the  channels are well marked, it's pretty confusing in the dark.  If you go astray, you end up on top of the coral.  So we're both blasting along, trying to follow our gps.  Bill tried to follow Bakers close enough to not lose them yet not too close to run into them if they suddenly slowed.  PJ was yelling at Brad, I was yelling at Bill.  It was a challenge.
Monday, July 5th
Our big adventure to "Just get propane".  I thought we'd be gone an hour. Par contre, we were gone all day schlepping all over town.  To get propane, you go by dinghy to the gas plant (no dock access).  It's easy to spot from shore, as one of they tanks looks like a giant Chia Egg.  You have to run the dinghy up to the rock shore, climb up, crawl through a hole in the fence, cross the highway and enter the complex.

Anyhow, Bill got the propane ok.  Next was a "quick trip" downtown to drop off the
laundry.  Fat chance.  The laundry was closed, despite their sign to the contrary.  So we lugged two big bags of laundry several blocks to another laundry.  Once free of our burden, we grabbed a sandwich (mine was mostly air), and Bill started a search for a new backpack.  Then we thought, OK we'll go to Nautisport, a combination chandlery and dive shop. 

Of course, about every store we try to go to is closed for 2 hours for lunch.  Fortunately, we bought a Tahitian cell phone, so we can call first to check. Most businesses have an English speaker on hand, so we can communicate, once I've garbled the French.  So we had to kill some time at the 3Brasseurs brewery where Bill was able to get a decent beer and I had a cider.

At Nautisport, Bill bought fins, a dive knife and we both got weights, which Bill lugged around the rest of the day,  After we emptied the bank account, we started a circuitous search for the outboard motor parts store.  Their listing in the yachtsman's guide directory from Tahiti Tourism only gave their neighborhood, so we asked several different people for directions, none of which seemed to work.  We had given up but one set of directions mentioned "les pompiers", the firemen,. we passed the fire station and were able find the shop around the corner.  The big Tahitian guy was very knowledgeable and really nice.  He said he could order a carburator from Australia, but it would take 3 weeks.  We passed on that, but were able to get various other stuff.  We somehow made it back to our boat before dark.

Tuesday, July 6th 
We went diving.  Eric, the dive master, picked us up downtown and took us their base at the Hilton.  We dove Moray Plateau to 25 meters.  Yes, there were plenty of morays.  The guide swims around with a giant fish head and attracts quite a following.  A very large Picasso Triggerfish stayed right with us, with a bevy of yellow fish trailing along.  The guide uses the fish head to lure the morays out of their holes.  Sometimes that's not even necessary.  They just swim around.  You really have to stay off the bottom.

They really treated us well there,  The base has nice outdoor showers and provide towels too!  When we were done, Eric drove us back downtown.

Wedneday, July 7th
We stayed on the boat all day.  We did lots of computer stuff, Bill tried to diagnose the faulty plotter and I defrosted the refer.  Thanks to PJ on Capaz, it went really fast.  She lent me the all purpose garden sprayer.  It just cuts right through the ice and then you can pry it off with an oyster knife.  In my life, that is a big thrill.

Par contre, the plotter is DOA and we'll be ordering another one from the US.  (There are no international dealers.  Doh!).  Once we  track down our yacht agent to figure out how to receive it, we can pull the trigger.  We're not hanging around here waiting for it for days or weeks.

Thursday, July 8th.
We've been here in Arue, a suburb of Papeete on a mooring ball at Tahiti Yacht Club for several days..  We're supposed to leave today, but it ain't gonna happen.

Capaz is also here preparing for their trip north to Hawaii.  There's always lots of activity in the water here.  There are lots of pirogues, both singles and 6 man boats.  There is a big canoe race this coming weekend, with up to 2000 paddlers (rameurs) according to Mahina Radio (the Tahiti coastal government radio).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Goodbye Moorea

July 3rd we finally left after two beautiful weeks on the north shore of Moorea.  After waiting out a several days of 20-30kt winds, we headed back to Papeete.  It took a couple tacks in 10-12kt winds and lumpy seas to reach the pass into Arue to moor at Tahiti Yacht Club, arriving around 1330.  That was the perfect time for the C-Map chip to crash our both plotters!  Doh! 

Usually you radio TYC and they send a dinghy out to guide you in.  (Some of the inner marks are a little off,)  But the manager was busy and didn't hear our hail.  Our friends on Capaz and Blue Bottle also didn't hear us (we wanted to ask the pass coordinates, because the GPS still worked).  We rummaged around for the paper chart (among the dozens on board).  But we didn't find that particular chart.  Our French cruising guide has a detail of the bay, but it's cut off right at the entrance pass...Great!

Eventually Bill got the nav station plotter to read the chip, so he could guide me (Kathi) to drive in, ever so slowly.  We found our mooring ball, tied up and got the canvas set up before the deluge started.

We made a quick trip to Carrefour (Food Heaven).  Not quite quick enough as it turned out, as the next deluge started as we walked back.  We found a bus shelter to wait out the worst.  I finally got to use the umbrella I bought in Papeete last time at the "rainstorm price"  ($15).

Capaz invited us over for french bread pizza and we had a wonderful feast and a fun visit  in their spacious boat.  ;-)

TYC Sunday Noise Rating:
Faraway barking dogs (faint)  *** 
Only 1 rooster  ***
No traffic noise  ****
Few passing boat wakes  ***
Pitter patter of rain on the roof *****
Softly Crashing Surf *****

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pictures added to Mexico Post

I've gone back and added some pictures to the April 2010 post of our experiences on the Mexican Riviera.