Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Now We're Really Really in the Tropics

Monday 28 May 2012 Puna'auia (near Papeete) Tahiti. Warm, Humid and Showery

We arrived at Passe Havae in the wee hours Saturday morning and had a blessedly calm and quiet anchorage. We could smell the earth and the flowers as we approached in the night. Later that day, we motored inside the reef up to Port Phaeton. We got ashore for dinner, but didn't really get to explore the "Presqu' Ile " area.

Sunday, we motored north along the west coast up to Papeete. The scenery is just stunning: lush and green, high, craggy mountains, crashing white surf and red church steeples. Although thick grey clouds were swirling around the peaks, it was clear and sunny down at sea level..

We're now anchored in busy Punu'aauia.bay with speedboats and jet skis whizzing around. Fortunately, it's quite windy, making the warm humid air more comfortable. We've been cleaning the boat (mildew) and fixing things (the head). We tried grocery shopping today, but it's a holiday (again), so the stores closed early and we came home empty handed. (Leftovers again)

Last night we ate outdoors at the Marina Taina Dinghy Bar (pizza). There was a Brazilian band playing and it seemed like everybody (the French) brought their kids. So small kids were running around everywhere. But they were pretty cute. It was really pleasant. Unfortunately, it started to rain, so they had to herd all the customers under cover for a while.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Now We're Really in the Tropics

Friday, 25 May 2012 Lat 18 46 S Long 149 09 W ~70 miles S of Tahiti Course 320 Wind E 10-20kts Boatspeed 6.5kts Warm, Humid and Showery

It really feels tropical now. And we're sailing in a convection zone of showers and light squalls. Because of the rain and the seas, we have to keep the hatches closed, so it's pretty muggy in the cabin. sigh....Last night, the seas were quite big, one overtaking wave just rolled right over the stern into the cockpit. I just saw this big dark form looming up behind the bimini, and it just kept coming. There's no moon and the overcast blots out the starlight, so just the phosphorescent foam is visible. Of course, you can hear the roar of the waves and boat's wake to clue you in.

We hit a new surfing record of 15kts right before the big one sloshed us. "Good God Almighty! Great Balls of Fire!!!!"

Tomorrow, we should be at Port Phaeton, the bay between Tahiti Iti and Tahiti Nui.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Raivavae in the Rearview Mirror

Thursday, 24 May 2012 Lat 21 43S Long 148 17W ~250 miles S of Tahiti Course 330 Wind SE 17kts Boatspeed 7.5kts Showery

Tuesday night, along with Joel and Mandy, we had dinner at the home of the French couple, Vincent and Emilie, who staff the island medical clinic. We shared our pictures and videos from our trip to Motu Piscene and the rocking church service. Since someone always needs to be available at the clinic, only one of the couple can be away at a time. But, it's a small island, so no one can get far. So only Vincent was able to go with us.

For dinner, Vincent prepared a delicious Alsace Tarte Flambe (kind of white pizza). We brought a feta-tomato-olive salad.  And Mandy prepared delicious octopus spaghetti. Joel grabbed the victims when he dove his anchor the day before. All followed by Mandy's yummy, stovetop banana cake and purple taro ice cream.. We even had wine, which is rare and expensive in these parts. A trio of neighborhood cats gobbled up the leftover spaghetti. Merci a' Vincent et Emilie pour l'acceuil chalereux!

Yesterday, we left Raivavae, its craggy peaks crowned with swirling mist. It was really a dramatic and beautiful sight.The weather was quite misty, but we thought, no sweat. That's way easier than salty spray washing over the boat.However, it was cool enough overnight that not only did we have to wear foulies, we had to go back to fleece!We thought we were done with that, but no.

Anyway, we've had more wind that we expected, so we have our usual reefed main and jib. But it's off the wind, so it's easier to live with. Today is cloudy with fewer showers. Yay!

It's always a challenge getting back into the offshore routine. And we miss splitting watches with crew, as we did with Mark on the last passage, But we're not suffering from motion sickness or the troublesome leaks we had on that leg, due partly to Bill's repairs and partly to a dryer offwind course. So those are a definite improvement.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Things are picking up a bit

We've enjoyed the company of the other yacht, Jomandy. They are completing a circumnavigation that started in Malaysia years ago. They have some great stories to tell. A couple days ago, we both moved to the south side of the island inside the lagoon. There are beautiful, fine, white sand beaches on the motus over here. But the water is shallow with coral heads, so navigation takes extreme care and clear, calm conditions. That said, the snorkeling here is so-so and the water is fairly cool.

Yesterday, we attended another church feast. We were very late, but they kindly served us anyway. The menu is chicken, pork, cooked fish, (all baked in a pit) poisson crue (really delicious, marinated, raw fish and veggies!), several versions of taro and manioc (tapioca), banana crepes (need rum sauce) and several kinds of cake. The food is laid out on long banana leaf "runners". Although plates are provided, everyone eats with their hands. (Kathi cheated and brought forks this time).

Afterwards, there was a wonderful musical church service. The different congregations come together this month, and each congregation wears their own colorful ladies' dresses and extravagant hats and men's shirts of matching fabrics. It's a flamboyant sight. The music is exuberant and uplifting. We'll have great photos and maybe some video to post later. Afterwards, everyone hangs around and visits (and smokes). This was one of our few opportunities to meet very many local adults and children. They are just delightful, and everyone is in their Sunday best, which include "coronnes" of flowers and leaves (head wreaths or "crowns' in English) on the children. There was a second, short special service (in this case a lively memorial) Then another meal was served (which appeared to have some different dishes), although we passed on that. We finally feel like we've found the "real Polynesia".

Although, we're on the leeward (sheltered) side of the island, there are violent katabatic winds that pound us at night, usually between 1 and 3 am. The boat swings around, jerks on the snubber and the chain drags and snags on rocks below. We're in a fairly deep hole (37feet!) and the anchor seems to hold OK, but it's unnerving and hard to sleep. There are a few rain showers, but nothing major or long lived.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ho Hum

Mercredi (Wednesday) 16 May 2012 on the hook at Rairuia, Raivavae Wind NE 10 kts Boatspeed 0 kts Sunny and calm

Raivavae has been a very sleepy and pleasant, subroptical port of call.
Not much seems to happen around here. There are no hotels, bars, or restaurants. There are a 3 villages, a couple pensions, 3 stores, 4 churches and a post office. It's a good anchorage and a very pleasant climate, with temps in low 70s, and not much rain. The biggest events this month are the church feasts. Each Sunday a different church hosts a gargantuan feast, broken up by church services (not the spirited dancing of the other islands). We don't even see children playing in the water like on other islands. We see their school buses passing by.

Today, we finally got out our folding bikes and rode around the island. Most of the way, the road is paved. There's pretty good airport, with one flight a week from Papeete.

Food: people give us grapefruit, coconuts and papaya. A French resident sells tomatos and bok choy. There are chickens running around, but nobody gathers eggs to sell or trade. We found a little mint and basil growing along the road. But apart from taro, staples and the local Hinano beer from the stores. that's about it for provisions. We still have some mahimahi and NZ meat in the fridge. Thank goodness the fridge still works (despite a coolant leak). The cool temps help.

Yesterday, another yacht arrived. Yay! a French guy & his Malaysian wife 5 years into a circumnavigation that started in Malyasia in 2007. They are very lively and good company.

The semi-monthly cargo ship left with our erstwhile crew Mark aboard, bound for the bright lights of Papeete. We'll catch up with him next week in Tahiti.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

L'Arrivee, Enfin

Jeudi (Thursday) 10 May 2012 on the hook at Rairuia, Raivavae Wind E 25 kts Boatspeed 0 kts Sunny and windy.

At Last!!!!  Must get lunch and go ashore aux gendarmes for les formalites.

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Almost There

Wednesday 9 May 2012 Lat 26 00 S Long 147 23 W, 130 miles S of Raivavae 191 miles Nw of Rapa, and 500 miles SSE of Tahiti
-Course 350 deg Wind SSE 15 kts Boatspeed 5-6 kts Sunny, balmy, and stinky, little flying fish on the deck.

We jibed! It's a novelty to be heeling the other way after 2 1/2 weeks on port board. Although, beam reaching the boat averages somewhat flatter.
The wind waves are down, but we still have a big, long SW swell, from gales far far away. So the boat rocks as the swells pass under us.
The windspeed varies somewhat, so the watch has to more actively sail the boat, vs just setting the windvane and ignoring it for days at a time.
We finally put out a fishing line. Up to now, no one wanted to deal with a big, angry, slippery fish while the boat was pounding to weather.

Iit's a bit cool yet for shorts and T shirts, but at least we don't need our foulies and boots at night anymore. Yay!
Mark even put away his winter wardrobe and got out his summer whites and loud shorts.

Landfall tomorrow, really, for sure. We're looking forward to getting fresh fruit, baguettes and maybe even fresh eggs.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Movin' Right Along

Tuesday 8 May 2012 Lat 27 60S Long 146 23 W, 250 miles S of Raivavae 110 miles ESE of Rapa, and 630 miles SSE of Tahiti
-Course 310 deg Wind W 20 kts Boatspeed 8.5 kts Sunny, balmy, no flying fish yet

Things are finally as they should be, almost. We've been able to dry out most of the wet stuff on the boat, except the carpet. Yuk.
We're reaching along in the trades, except westerly instead of the normal southeasterlies, but we're not complaining..
The wind went a little light in the night, so we motored a bit on Bill's watch. But the wind came back up in the morning and off we go.
Hopefully, the wind will keep up. We don't expect find diesel in Raivavae, so our fuel needs to last until Tahiti.

We listened to more Jimmy Buffett and Eileen Quinn today and we're studying our French Polynesian fish guide.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Left Turn

Monday 7 May 2012 Lat 30 18 S Long 145 39 W 172 miles S of Rapa, 400 miles S of Raivavae and 770 miles south of Tahiti
-Course 330 deg Wind SW 19 kts Boatspeed 7-8kts

After a day and night of 22-30kts of wind on the nose, we're FINALLY, out from under the interminable northerlies and have been lifted 90 deg. We're still on starboard tack, but at least it's a reach and the boat isn't heeled all the time. Last night was beautiful: mild, 15kts breeze and moonlit, although the seas were still rough. But at least we're not taking waves over the boat and their related leaks have stopped.

Today, the sun is out and it's finally warm enough to wear shorts! We are so relieved to be pointed where we actually want to go.
We're 2 days from Rapa, arriving after dark, which would require standing off all night waiting to enter the coral strewn harbor in late morning when the sun is high and at our backs. Might just as well sail the extra day or so to Raivavae. So it's back to plan A.

So we can dry out somewhat. When we get ashore, there will be lots of stuff to wash before can go play. Most likely, we'll be ferrying water in jugs to fill the ship's tanks, as well.

Although we're still bored out of our skulls, we're feeling much encouraged. We listen to Jimmy Buffett to cheer us up too.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

We're still here

Sunday 5 May 2012 Lat 32 24.6 S Long 146 08 W 300 miles SSE of Rapa, 530 miles S of Raivavae and 1,000 miles south of Tahiti (What the heck are we doing here anyway?) If we're not careful, we'll end up at Pitcairn Is in another week.
-Course 30 deg Wind N 27 kts Boatspeed 3.8kts

When we changed our landfall to Rapa, we had hoped to arrive today. It seems we're always 3 days away.
Being Sunday, we listened to an Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples gospel CD. I don't think the spirit moved anybody more than we were already bouncing around. Bill is still fighting motion-sickness, believe it or not.

The breeze came back up and since yesterday afternoon, we've been sailing slowly eastward waiting for a low to pass over us. It was a pretty bumpy and boisterous night. It's hard to sleep as the waves toss us around. This morning, a wave tossed Mark holding a milk carton across the cabin to the nav station. Fortunately, Bill was there to break the fall and mop up some milk. Every move in the galley has to choreographed around the pitching and tossing motion of the boat. The stove's on gimbals and is always moving. The sink is the only safe place to set anything down.

When the wind lightens, then maybe we can tack. Lord knows what'll come tumbling down inside the boat as we tip to the left after 2 weeks tipped to the right.

For those of you waiting for email from us: sailmail is really difficult and slow down here. So bear with us. We'll respond when we can.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Heaven Forfend!

Friday 4 May 2012 Lat 33 19 S Long 150 13W -Course 55 deg Wind N 10 kts Boatspeed 6kts
And yes, still on port tack, but we're going to have to tack to avoid an unnamed reef up ahead.

Bill's actually driving the boat! by hand! It's the first time the wheel's been touched by human hands since we left Cook Strait nearly 2 weeks ago.
The windvane works great on most points of sail, but doesn't steer as high as the boat will point on the wind. So Bill took the drastic step of steering himself.
The wind's gone light, down to 10kts and we need to make some progress north.

will this trip never end.....?

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Still on port tack...

Thursday 3 May 2012 Lat 33 51 S Long 152 26W -Course 55 deg Wind N 17-25 kts Boatspeed 7kts Landfall is now planned at Rapa, French Polynesia. We hope to arrive in a few days. It's quite remote with a small population and no encircling reef like Raivavae.

We can't seem to make much northward progress and we're still on port tack. We manage to keep just ahead of a succession of lows dropping down from the north. Tacking onto starboard would put us in high winds. We did slow the boat down to 3.5 kts overnight in 22-27kts and really lumpy seas. Waves were frequently washing over us. That has lessened.

Things have smoothed out today and winds have moderated for awhile.

Temperatures continue to warm into the 70s. But, the boat is pretty damp inside.

boring boring boring.....

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Slogging to Windward

Wednesday 2 Mayl 2012 Lat 34 55S Long 155 01W -Course 35deg Wind N 17 kts Boatspeed 6kts

Ditto

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Slogging to Windward

Tuesday 1 Mayl 2012 Lat 36 24 S Long 157 35 W -Course 35deg Wind N 1710 kts Boatspeed 6.8kts MOL

Seas are rougher than the winds would suggest, so we just slog along. Every once in a while, we take a seasickness pill, which takes us from merely dull-witted to catatonic.
Nonetheless,we really shouldn't complain too loudly. It's just tedious, not really a gale or storm.

If the wind comes up a bit more, we'll have to reef, slowing the boat down. Ironically, the motion may increase when we lose the dampening effect of the larger sail.

Dinner last night was lentil sausage and ratatouille stew and tart lemon yogurt. The smoked salmon is all gone.

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