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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Pictures Uploaded

I've uploaded a few pictures from our current adventures in Hawaii. Take a look at http://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Lost" on a rainy day

I've been telling everyone how lucky we've been with the weather here in Hilo because it's been day after day of sunshine and warm temps. This has made taking the bus for daily treks to town, and all the walking to the post office, library, laundry, grocery stores, shopping mall, and discount stores, very easy and comfortable. It's been nice not to worry about our backpacks and shopping bags getting wet, let alone ourselves. Tuesday evening we even walked from the harbor to a new restaurant called Ponds where we celebrated Glen's birthday with delicious meals of surf and turf, Italian meatballs, shrimp, and my generous plate of pasta in a macadamia nut pesto sauce with scallops. What a delicious splurge!

On Thursday the sky had an odd overcast look to it, and I overheard several people comment that we were having a bad "vog" day. Vog is short for volcanic smog caused by the activity at Kilauea volcano. It's become quite a problem for areas normally downwind (southwest) of the volcano, which are typically Ka'u and South Kona. But when the Kona winds blow the vog in the opposite direction, then Hilo is affected. According to the Lonely Planet guide book the high amounts of sulfur dioxide can affect residents with respiratory problems, but it's not much of a problem for short-term visitors.

I spent some time doing internet chores at the library and checked out several DVDs on Friday. We've never had the opportunity to watch the TV series "Lost" so I got the first season of that. We watched the first episode on Friday night, when it started raining. It rained hard all night, complete with thunder and lightning, keeping me awake wondering how I was going to get into town Saturday to pick up a few groceries.

When it was still pouring down Saturday morning, John said I was nuts to take the bus and I quickly realized he had a point. I spent part of the morning filing most of the mail delivery we'd recently received, and then we popped in the "Lost" DVD. We proceeded to watch three episodes back to back before taking a short break, and then we watched four more episodes! In between episodes we popped our heads out the hatch to see the rain turning the concrete wall behind us into a cascading waterfall, and the surf pounding over the breakwater way out in front of us. The waves over the breakwater sent enough water into our little bay to make the boats rock and roll for the first time since we arrived here. Just before sunset the wind came up enough to push Dorothy Marie uncomfortably close to the wall and Glen and Sally decided to let their stern lines go to re-anchor out in the middle of the bay for the night.

The local TV evening news reported flash flood warnings and 1.5-2 inches of rain falling per hour in the Hilo area, but the leeward side of the island (Kailua-Kona) wasn't affected at all. We also saw footage of the eight inches of snowfall on the east coast which made us feel pretty lucky to be getting nothing more than a good boat wash. It continued to rain all night, sometimes very hard with more thunder and lightning, sending Ziggy running for cover when one set came within three seconds of each other.

This morning we're trying to be a little more productive and John's already helped Dorothy Marie get tied back up to the wall. But it's still raining off and on, so we may be watching some more episodes of "Lost" this afternoon! We're making plans for a Christmas potluck BBQ with the two German boats, and we've been invited to Christmas Eve dinner with Glen and Sally. So while we will miss spending the holidays with our families back home, we'll enjoy sharing them with the new friends we've met here.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Volcanoes and lava

The highlight of the past week was a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Friday. We shared a rental car with the crews of Dorothy Marie (Glen and Sally) and Avalon (Rick) to make the short drive from Hilo up to Kilauea crater. With a big cruise ship in port we decided to see the Thurston lava tube before the crowds arrived and had the pleasure of sharing it with just a few other cars. Rick, John and I went deeper into the unlit portion of the tube, but I had forgotten to remind everyone to bring a good flashlight, and with only Rick's headlamp and my small LED key chain light we turned around before reaching the end (assuming there is an end!). It hadn't rained for a few days so there were only a few shallow puddles and a bit of dripping from the rock overhead, but I can imagine how wet it must get during normal rainfall. It was nice to have that part of the tube all to ourselves!

Imagining that it would be very hot hiking on lava during the middle of the day, we opted to start our hike on the Kilauea Iki Crater trail at 10:15 before going to the Visitor's Center and the rest of Crater Rim drive. We should have just left our car right there in the Thurston lava tube parking lot and walked the mile to the trailhead parking lot because we ended up exiting the trail at the lava tube where the car could have been waiting for us. But not realizing this we drove the short distance to the next parking lot for our first view of the small crater in the foreground and the huge steam plume rising against a clear blue sky from Halema'uma'u Crater in the distance. Wow! We could see people already on the faint smudge of a trail on the lava and steam was venting from small cracks in the lava floor. We quickly descended through the forest of trees and ferns which ended abruptly above the edge of the crater floor. I was surprised to find there was a brisk breeze blowing the entire length of the crater floor portion of the hike keeping us cool and dry. It was very easy walking on the smooth lava and worn gravel trail marked by several rock cairns to keep us on track. We lacked the $2 map to tell us the significance of the numbered markers but we took pictures to remind us of what we had seen at each one and Sally bought a map at the Visitor's Center later. Several of the steam vents were easily accessible and we carefully reached our hands out to feel how scalding hot and wet they were. It was just amazing to imagine molten lava less than a football field length below us. We reached the opposite end of the crater edge and made the easy ascent through forest again up to the parking lot. John had sprinted ahead of everyone on the uphill trail and was nice enough to bring the car around to us for curbside service. The four mile hike took us just over the advertised two hours including lots of stops for pictures and refreshments.

We headed back towards the Visitor's Center but when we passed the turnoff for the Devastation Trail I insisted on making that stop first. I remembered it as being starkly beautiful from a previous visit over 30 years ago, but with limited time to see everything we should have skipped it. After hiking Kilauea Iki, this little trail was unimpressive.

We drove back to the Visito's Center and ate our lunch at one of three shady picnic tables between the Visitor's Center and the Volcano Art Center. The latter had a variety of beautiful and unique pieces in several mediums. It was all I could do to pass up a $32 Santa ornament with an Asian flair carved out of tagua nut and delicately dyed to give it a beautiful antique look. We regrouped for the 3 PM showing of a movie at the Visitor's Center. This had some footage of volcano eruptions but also covered flora and fauna. With better planning we might have been able to see the special 11:30 AM showing of Kilauea's eruptions.

It was 3:30 and getting late but we still hadn't seen the steam vents at steaming bluff or the sulfur banks, and we wanted to visit the Jaggar Museum for the closest possible view of the caldera. Crater Rim Drive is currently closed from Jaggar Museum counterclockwise all the way to Devastation Trail because of the steam plume emanating from Halema'uma'u Crater. The "steam" is actually full of Sulfur Dioxide and other harmful things that the park service doesn't want visitors exposed to. We quickly checked all of the above off our list and took photos of everything. I wish we'd had more time to spend at the Jaggar overlook because it was truly spectacular, but the sun was sinking and the breeze was freezing.

Not wanting to miss anything we took a quick drive down Chain of Craters road. Rick ended up getting the best out of this detour because he was the only one who opted to hike out to see the petroglyphs and got some great pictures. I was in my flip flops and didn't feel like taking the time to put my shoes back on for that short hike, so the rest of us drove out to the end of the road hoping to see the rock arch. But none of the people returning from the ocean end of the trail knew anything about a rock arch and we were pretty tired so we turned back to the car before walking out to the end of the pavement. John and Glen got out at an unmarked turnoff and clambered over lava to the ocean's edge. We picked Rick up on our way out of the park, and the race was on to get to the lava viewpoint before 8 PM.

We were all very tired and it felt like a slow drive back on Hwy 11 almost to Hilo, then to the end of Hwy 130, and finally along a sometimes one lane strip of rough pavement, with lots of pullouts to let oncoming traffic pass us. I was completely surprised by the jam-packed parking lot which had just emptied out enough to let us park right next to the entrepreneurs selling flashlights, photographs, shave ice, and crafts. We grabbed the flashlights we'd stopped to buy on the way, and picked our way carefully over the ankle twisting broken lava in the pitch dark. The county (because now we were outside the park) had thoughtfully painted yellow marks on the smoothest parts of the lava to guide us to the barricades at the viewpoint. Although we were still a good half mile from it we could clearly see the deep orange color of lava flowing into the ocean with steam clouds glowing orange above it. Shadows moving in the foreground of the lava appeared to be ocean waves breaking and receding. It would be worth another visit to arrive just before sunset to get a better perspective on the location of the lava. Glen and Sally passed a mile away from it at the end of their passage to Hilo from Fanning Island and got some great pictures, so John and I may time our passage to Kona for a closer look at it from Nakia. We were told that in October the lava broke out of the tube through which it's flowing and came within 50' of the current viewing area. Wow!

After a quick fast food stop we got back to the boats at 10:00. Since we'd left at 8:00 in the morning (with stops for snacks and beer before we really got going) it was a long day. But we packed a lot into a 24 hour car rental, and I think the Volcanoes Park is the highlight of any visit to the Big Island!


Sunday, December 06, 2009


It's great being back in a first world country! There's so much to marvel over and the variety of foods and products to choose from is breathtaking. We've been taking the free local bus every day to places like the shopping mall, the downtown Hilo area, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot. The bus doesn't run on Sundays but a cruise ship came in this morning and we'll probably hop on their Roberts Hawaii shuttle bus to take closer looks at Wal-Mart, Ross, and Office Max.

John already mentioned that we had too much motor sailing during our passage. A lot of it was spent getting through the area surrounding the ITCZ which seemed to go on forever instead of just a couple of days like our past crossings of it. The wind dropped significantly for the final two days of the trip and it was like a lake motoring into Hilo. The last several nights at sea were in the chilly mid-70s (Brrrr, break out the fleece!) and I had to put a bedspread back on the bed when we got here. The overcast cooler weather makes for a nice change but we're not looking forward to snorkeling in 76 degree water temps.

We had an easy entry into the small boat basin at Radio Bay where a Matson security guard was ready to catch our stern line after we set our bow anchor and backed to the concrete wall. We are actually located in the Matson port area and Homeland Security is very strict about access. So we are restricted to the area of the wall immediately behind the boat up to the restroom building. To walk out to the front gate we call security and wait for a guard to escort us, and they bring us back to the boat when we return. We know we are an added burden to their already busy days, and we really appreciate having the harbor kept open for transient boats like us. There's a water faucet and a coin operated electricity outlet if we need it, and the restroom with shower is basic but clean.

After tying up on Thursday we launched the dinghy and climbed a big ladder up the wall to go ashore. We checked in first with the port office (our first sight of Christmas decorations!) and then walked to Customs just outside the gate to fill out the usual things-to-declare form. No one came to the boat, and we were only asked to keep our left-over onions on board. We caught the hourly bus and rode it past the downtown terminal out to the Prince Kuhio Plaza shopping mall. The bus is great except that the last one back to the Port from the terminal is at 4 PM, and there's a big gap without service from the terminal between 10:30 and 1 PM. There are several other island buses that we'll check out later for sightseeing.

Our primary reason for visiting the mall was to get a SIM chip for our cell phone in order to make local calls. After inquiring at all the mall phone shops we ended up at T-Mobile in the nearby Wal-Mart shopping complex where we got a $10 chip with 140 minutes on it to start out with. I was impressed with how service oriented everyone we spoke to was. When shops couldn't help us with what we wanted we were twice nicely directed to a different business that might have it. After buying the chip we returned to the mall where we had enough time before catching the bus to eat DQ Blizzards - our first Stateside food treat!

We had pre-arranged to have a local vet visit us first thing Friday morning to issue Ziggy with a Health Certificate for Animal Quarantine. We chose Skip Pease of All Pets Mobile Veterinary Clinic because he advertised house calls and was listed as an approved vet with Hawaii Agriculture in case Ziggy had to go into quarantine for some reason. This was the first time we'd spoken with a U.S. vet since adopting Ziggy in Mexico so we had lots of questions about diet, shots, and medications. Skip spent an hour and a half with us and we even got off topic to talk about his experiences flying his RV-4 kit plane. Once we had the Health Certificate in hand we called Animal Quarantine to have an officer come out. He looked Ziggy over, used a wand to read the microchip number, filled out a form, and Ziggy is now free to stay in Hawaii if he wants!

With all our entry formalities completed we took the bus to downtown Hilo and explored that area a bit. We quickly found the library where for $10/pp you can get a visitor's card good in the entire state for three months. Our first priority there was internet, but I also found that you can check-out DVDs for $1 each! It's a lovely facility with an open air, central courtyard. You know you're in Hawaii when you're standing at one of the card catalog computer terminals and a bright green little lizard goes strolling by in the courtyard! We also visited a couple of grocery stores where we were shocked at $5.50 wheat bread, 14 lbs of cat litter for $14 (in Panama it was 28 lb for $14; now we're glad we over stocked), and higher prices for cat food, just for starters. We'll wait to visit the Costco in Kona to see what's available there before we finish out our pre-passage shopping here in March.

Oh, and we have TV again! Granted we can only tune into the Weather Channel, the Church Channel, and CBS but hey, it was our first chance to see Katie Couric anchor the news; we now get our fill of Tiger-all-the-time; who couldn't love a local news show with a shaky camera trying to find the anchor (and surf reports!); and best of all - we get to watch Survivor and Amazing Race. Woo hoo!

At 3 PM most days you'll find us at the local bar, Margarita Village, across from the gate next to a small local corner market. Yes, they have an especially good beer ($3.50) on tap there, but they also let us use their really fast wifi (24 podcasts downloaded in 15 minutes!). I uploaded some new pictures to our Picasa web albums last night. There are a few new ones of Ziggy in his album and here's a direct link to the first batch of Marquesas pictures (or you can use the normal link on our blog page):


The blog will probably be quiet for the next few months unless we do any special sightseeing or boat projects. We're also both on Facebook now so you might catch us online for a chat at the bar!

Linda and John

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Arrived in Hilo at 1100 local after motoring all but 5 of the last 30 hours in little or no wind. Not what we had planned for, especially after the Hilo locals we spoke to warned of strong Northerly winds near the island, but it's good enough for us.

Total distance traveled: 2294 miles
Total time: 19 days 4 hours
Engine hours logged: 81 (yuck!)

And that's that.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Day 18

A few things have happened worth note.

First; we ate our last Pamplemousse. Pretty good to have fresh fruit for over two weeks.

Next; the wind died. Last night around 1100 Linda got me up to help with some sail adjusting and by the time I was ready to go back to bed we needed to start the motor to keep moving. We've been motoring ever since.

Next; this morning the wind came up a little. You might think that's good, but its not because the direction its blowing from is exactly the direction we want to go. There's not much wind, but even 30 degrees either side and we'd be able to get some additional trust from it instead of it slowing us down.

Finally; it being our last day at sea its fishing day. Especially since we're motoring and its calm (I hate cleaning fish when its rough). Anyway, I put two lures out this morning (two new, un-tried lures) and in a couple hours caught two fish. My fish cleaning helper, Ziggy, was there the entire time to supervise and now we have 6 quart size freezer zip-locks full of Dorado for when we get in.

One more night, as long as this bloody wind doesn't increase.

115 miles to go to Hilo


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Day 17

When we started this passage I figured the hardest part was going to be crossing the ITCZ, because that is where we were most likely to encounter violent squalls. WRONG! It turns out this last 250 miles getting to Hilo is the squalliest zone. Last night we had a doozy. Linda got me up at 2200 telling me there was something bearing down on us. We were sailing with reefed main and reefed jib. No sooner had I rolled up the jib entirely then we were almost out of control doing over 7 knots under just the reefed main. Then when we started to put the second reef in the main it got really bad. Driving rain, seas breaking over the boat and a LOT of wind. It didn't last long, only about 20 minutes (just long enough to complete all the reefing activities). Then being shell-shock we refused to let out the second reef and we ended up motoring for three hours in light winds. Bah!

It remains cloudy and rainy today (not so much rain really, just a steady drip like there are a bunch of leaks in the sky).

240 miles to go to Hilo


Rain, rain, go away

Monday morning dawned almost completely clear for a change and I made the mistake of telling John what a good solar day it would be. By the time I woke up at 11 AM it was completely overcast, and by mid-afternoon it was raining (more like heavy dripping). It's now after 9 PM and the rain hasn't let up yet. Poor John struggled during his evening watch to keep us on course with the wind vane. By the time I came on watch he told me to just let it go where it wants to since the wind has been all over the place. So it's been about 5-10 degrees too high, but we'll fix that after he's had some rest.

I think we're beginning to find with these long passages that we tend to be grumpiest at the beginning when we're still getting used to the routine, and at the end when we're so close to being there but are still too far away for it to be over with.

Both water and cabin temps have been 79-80. We still see flying fish and the occasional petrel or shearwater, but that's about it. John has seen dolphins once at night and briefly during the day. Oh, and I'm happy to report that we've seen not a speck of plastic garbage during the entire trip so far.

This is our last Monday night at sea for this passage!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 16, late update

All's well on board. We just had a little sail handling to do at the end of my morning watch so I forgot to do an update.

340 miles to go to Hilo


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 15

A fast day, these NorthEast trade winds are really driving us along. the cockpit has gotten dryer over the last couple days and we can sit out for short periods without fear of getting soaked. We still take a healthy dollop now and again though so there's no star gazing at night. 4 more nights!

522 miles to Hilo


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 14

After the wind blew very hard in the afternoon I expected it to go crazy at night, but luckily it didn't and actually calmed down a little letting us sleep in relative peace. One more minor failure, I made a weather cloth for the starboard cockpit rail before we left Nuku Hiva. I used a piece of the old mainsail and even though the materials were not top of the line I thought it was well put together. The Pacific ocean feels otherwise as last night a wave broke against the cloth splitting the fabric where it attaches to the rail. Oh well, at least I didn't spend a lot of $$ on the silly thing.

660 miles to go to Hilo



Friday, November 27, 2009


John forgot to say the other part of the mantra which is, "This is the last Friday of this passage that we'll spend at sea!"

Although I've completely given up on my twice daily facial routine of cleansing and moisturizing, this afternoon I managed to heat up a can of pork and beans for lunch, cleaned out the cat litter box, and swept the carpets. It's amazing how much better we feel after we get some good sleep.

We talk to our Polish friend, Natazha, every evening at sunset on the HF radio. She is still a few hundred miles out from Honolulu to complete her single-handed circumnavigation. She's tired from pumping water out of her boat, and now her friends have asked her to slow down so she doesn't arrive too soon before the big party they have planned for her. Are they nuts?!

After John talks to Natazha he checks in to the Pacific Seafarer's net with our position and all our weather information. So I think the Yotreps (pangolin) site gets updated twice in a 24 hour period for those of you following along. I sure would love to see it, but I think we get taken off it as soon as we confirm our arrival.

Assuming the seas don't actually worsen as we get closer to the islands (which I fully expect them to, so that I can be pleasantly surprised if they don't), I think this is pretty close to the picture you see from an airplane flying over the Pacific. As in, "I sure wouldn't want to be sailing in a small boat out in THOSE seas!"


Day 13

It calmed down a little yesterday afternoon so I was able to get a bit more sleep, but it piped back up again in the night and hasn't let up at all yet today. The outhaul wire on the staysail boom broke at 1030 so we had a fire drill to get that repaired. we're back up and running again.

We have a mantra, every morning and evening we say the number of nights left at sea. Today it's 'Six more nights!'

799 miles to go to Hilo


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

John is tucked into the quarter berth, surrounded by pillows for padding and to try to keep from rolling, after cooking a delicious Turkey Day meal of instant stuffing mix and instant mashed potatoes. Since the stuffing and potatoes are my favorite part of the traditional dinner, I thought it was perfect. And I only had two pans to clean up afterwards!

We are indeed rocking, rolling, and going airborne occasionally (not fun, especially when you're on the toilet!). I woke up from my off watch to find John sitting on the floor reading. That was the most comfortable spot he could find! We're a little less sweaty now that the water and cabin temps are closer to 80 degrees. The good thing is that we're going fast and headed mostly straight towards Hilo now, so every mile counts. Being over halfway there and getting down to your last week of a passage is always a big morale boost.

Thanks to all our friends and family for sending their love and encouragement. We hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday filled with good food and laughter!


Day 12, Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday morning, after I'd all ready written the daily blog, we found the real North East trade winds. We started out in East-North-East winds to 20 knots with a reefed main and full jib. It got worse from there. By evening we were down to the second reef in the main (really a third reef, the remaining sail being so small) and just a little of the jib rolled out. Finally this morning we rolled up the jib entirely and put up the staysail. We've sailed in the Gulf of Tehuantepec in up to 35 knots of wind with this configuration (double reefed main and staysail) so we're hoping we don't have to go to anything smaller.

Last night the winds were easily over 25 knots in the gusts and probably over 30 in the squalls. We are on a beam reach which means the wind and waves come directly at the side of the boat. It's rough. This is probably as rough as we'd ever had it at sea, including the times going down the California Coast. Those trips were better, actually, because we were going with the wind and waves instead of across them. The cockpit is totally uninhabitable, every few minutes a wave breaks against the side of the boat sending spray and sometimes solid water cascading over the cabin top. We still go outside, every 15 minutes, to take a look around and make sure there's nothing about to run us down. Strangely, during these brief times on deck the waves mesmerize me to the point that I have to remind myself to stop looking at the waves and start looking for ships.

So, what could we possibly have to be thankful for? Why NAKIA, of course. Our sturdy little house of 18 years is handling everything the sea can put to her and keeping us safe and dry, if not comfortable, down below. There are many other things to be thankful for, but today, that one tops the list.

I'm sure everyone wants to know about the turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams and pumpkin pie I'm going to cook for our T-Day meal. Sorry to disappoint, but we're making due with an extra large helping of Pepperedge Farm stuffing cooked on the stove (boil water, add stuffing, eat) and some pumpkin bread Linda made before we left and we've had in the freezer for today's festivities.


940 miles to go to Hilo


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 11

Rain. Lots of rain and no wind, unless it's a brief spurt of 25 kts caused by, you guessed it, rain.

Some time in the afternoon yesterday we saw a shower coming and thought: "Oh boy, we can take a little bath". We did, sitting under the water running off the mainsail to get a good rinse. Only when we were done bathing, the rain didn't stop.

I've had to go on deck several times to take in sails or adjust things and have been doing it au natural. If you don't want to get your clothes wet, don't wear any clothes, I always say. It's a good thing that the rain is about 80 degrees F otherwise I might get cold.

1080 miles to go to Hilo


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 10

After motoring for 14 hours we finally got some wind last night. The sky is still cloudy and there are more squalls now but at least we've turned the corner and are heading directly toward Hilo instead of going North. The North East trade winds are still blowing 25 knots to our North, but that is forecast to ease off on Wednesday (we hope).

It's not a bad ride now, we're broad reaching with the Jib polled out to leeward (turbo jib) in 12-15 knots of East wind.

Pass me a MaiTai, Don.*

1185 miles to go



Don Anderson, the weather man on the Mexico Amigo Net, used to boast about drinking MaiTai's sailing downwind at 7 knots in his Valiant 40 SUMMER PASSAGE.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 9

Light winds are causing us to motor a lot, but we're still making progress. We seemed to have crossed out of the southern portion of the ITCZ and are starting to feel a little EastNorthEast wind. But it's fickle and there are still a lot of big clouds around so I don't imagine we'll be clear for a couple days yet.

One nice thing happened last night, right after midnight the sky cleared completely and we saw Polaris, the North Star, for the first time since leaving Costa Rica in May 2008. We should have been able to see it last year in Panama but the skys were never clear enough.

I understand there's been some problem with our position reports to YOTREPS, I'm looking into it, but for now here's the back up too.


1287 miles to Hilo



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 8, a touch of the ITCZ

We had to motor for 14 hours last night when the wind died. The cloudes were thick and there was lots of rain but no squalls, so that was good as the boat is clean again (at least until the next time it get rough).

We're back to sailing now, but I don't expect it to last long


Another good book

Just finished reading "On Mexican Time" by Tony Cohan, another great gift from my sister. His literary style of writing took a bit of getting used to (especially after Troost's breezy casual voice), and I occasionally stopped dead in my tracks over descriptions like, "Looking up into the space becalms me." But he definitely captures the spirit of living in Mexico and it was interesting to see our own observations experienced 15-20 years earlier. I guess some things never change. The book really grew on me mid-way through, and I ended up liking it very much. I think it's a must read for anyone who's lived (and remodeled their own SolCasa!) or traveled extensively in Mexico.

In fact it's made me a little melancholy for Mexico. The reason I started it before the passage is because we had back burner hopes of making this passage twice as long by heading for Manzanillo instead of for Hilo. We considered it long and hard; even did the food inventory with it in mind (enough meals for two months? Yes!); but it all depended on the southerlies holding, and they didn't. Bob on Taisho departed Nuku Hiva on 10/20 and should still be working his way there, but we were too late to catch any favorable winds for making that passage feasible. We miss our Mexico friends and the great life there, but that will have to wait for another few years. Oh, and if our track looks like we're headed too far to the east for Hawaii, that's because Randy, a Pacific Seafarer's net controller out of Hilo, advises that we'll appreciate all the easting we can get when we get close to the island and those NE trades intensify. I can hardly wait...

It's with a little trepidation that we return to the States (even Hawaii) with the boat. It's one thing to visit for one or two weeks (which I love), but I'm frankly nervous about living there for a few months. It's going to be difficult to avoid the siren calls of fast food, marinas, television, Trader Joe's, cell phone internet (!), laundromats, and shopping malls. Will our budget fall victim to the consumer culture of America? I'm hoping we can remember we're cruisers first, consumers second. Hopefully we can pretend we're just visitors to yet another country and thereby avoid getting sucked back into our old gotta-have-the-latest-gadget lives.

Oh, I doubt it. Just thinking about all the magical possibilities gives me an adrenalin rush. But at least we'll approach it with good intentions!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 7

Again, not much to report. The waves were pretty big this morning which isn't that much of a problem usually but in this case they were coming from 3 different directions making for a bumpy ride. Then all of a sudden around 1000 local they all lined up from the south and things got smooth again.

1425 miles to Hilo


Friday, November 20, 2009

Waxing Poetic

Well, I've also been doing my share of poetic rhapsodizing - unfortunately it's all in my head in the middle of night watches, and it never makes it into the computer! Am happy John shared the truly joyful part of the otherwise long, unending, monotony of a passage. I know we have friends who love the passage making part of cruising, but I truly don't know how they do it. When I'm off watch all I want to do is crawl into that lovely hot box we call the quarter berth where I can stretch out and let the waves roll me from side to side in between our padding of spinnaker, drifter, two Freebags (small bean bag "chairs"), and five pillows. With a specially constructed breeze diverter at the dorade vent (John used a sheet of paper and some blue tape to make the breeze funnel towards us) and a fan, I manage to stay comfortable. Unfortunately John runs at higher temps than I do and last night I got to slide onto a sweaty bunk after he got up. But he's been keeping things nice and neat in the cockpit, he gets all the gear set up and torn down for our deck showers, AND he shares litter box duties, so I have it pretty good.

When I'm on watch it's all I can do to grab something to eat and drink in between the 15 minute horizon checks we do (for ships and weather). On my 0400-0700 watch I've been eating a little dry granola with my tea (I refuse to drink the instant coffee John drinks on passages). On my 1200-1700 watch the last couple of days went like this: first hour - hard boiled egg; second hour - half a pamplemousse; third hour - crackers and hummus; fourth hour - dry roasted peanuts; fifth hour - bag of Raisinets. We get our 1/2 cup peanut ration on odd days of the week; Weds and Sat I open a new package of cheese (little ones); and Thurs and Sun I pull a portion of corn or pumpkin bread out of the freezer. Those are all our treats in addition to whatever else we feel like having. But we have not cooked or shared a meal so far on this passage. Personally, it's easier on my stomach to spread small snacks out rather than eating an actual meal. Plus who's going to cook it? I'm not even reading much or listening to pod casts. There's just too many interruptions ("Is that cloud going to turn into a rain squall?" "Is that a ship on the horizon and is it headed our way?" "Is that 10 degree course shift permanent or just a temporary fickle wind?" "Is that jump from 5.5 knots to 6.3 knots too much wind, and how long is it going to last?" "Should I wake John to let him know about any of these things?" YES!!)

And yes, it's still hot and sweaty here at the equator. Of course the boat is all closed up except for the companionway hatch, and day time temps are usually 85 and humid down below. Last night I saw 82 at midnight but I forgot to check it again at 0400 to see if it was any cooler. I can't say we're looking forward to the rougher windier sailing of the northern latitudes, but I think we may actually relish the cooler temps (so sue me if I complain about that when we get there!).


Day 6

We crossed the equator this morning, at about 0920 local. Neptune came aboard for a drink of rum and to throw around a couple of confetti filled eggs we've had on board since Mexico. It was quite a party.

The wind continues to shift into the South East making it more downwind for us, a nice ride wind wise but more roll makes it harder to sleep.

Next hurdle, the ITCZ.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 4 & 5

Conditions have been up and down. Last night was the first night that it didn't get rougher after dark. We both slept very well for a change.

Every once in a while over the past few years while we've been cruising something happens to make me think to myself, "Man, I love my life!" This hadn't happened for some time, even our time in the Marquesas didn't bring an experience sufficient to invoke this valued sentiment. It's strange, the things that will do it: a sunset, a good nap, a ray jumping, and enjoying a drink with friends are all things that have brought it out.

The other night it was a shearwater. My first memory of these birds is from our days in the Farallon Patrol. The 'Bird People', as we came to refer to the scientists who went out to the Farallones to study birds, would glue their binoculars to their eyes as soon as we cleared point Bonita and start their cries: "Oohh, there's a pink footed shearwater!", "Ooo, there's a brown footed shearwater!", "Myyy, there's a yellow bellied, sap sucking, purple footed shearwater!" (or whatever). Yeah ok, they're cool I suppose, but I'm not going to go cross-eyed trying to see two tiny feet at the back of a wheeling bird. They're just great flyers to me.

Well, this shearwater that got me thinking about how great it is to be alive was doing just what shearwaters are good at. Cutting over the tops of the waves, banking back high in the air, and then diving back into the wave troughs. I came up on deck to do a horizon scan and said "Wow, that is cool," and once again I love my life.

1610 miles to go to Hilo



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 3

Great sailing yesterday afternoon in light winds just forward of the beam. Of course that all changed last night when it piped up to about 20 kts and got rough. It's been that way since about 10pm local and we expect it to continue like this for the next few days.

Other then that, all's well.

1809 miles to go.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 2, Monday?

I think this is our third day after two nights so it must be Monday. All is well on board and we're sailing which is always the best thing. The first day and night were a bit strenuous as we had islands and shoals to avoid, and John was kept busy tacking. He also got a nice downpour during his early night watch. The wind hasn't been from the direction he was expecting, and we've had to sail hard on what we have, hoping that we tack at the right times. At first we were going east with too much south in it, and now we're going north with relatively less west in it, so we'll have to be happy with that until the forecasted shift occurs.

We're eating well when we feel like it. Ziggy is in passage groove - eat, sleep, sleep, sleep, eat, sleep, etc. He showed signs of wanting a play session this morning but after some wild eyed stabs at it he gave up and fell asleep. We've seen large flying fish during the day, and fortunately none are landing on the boat at night.

No interesting wildlife to report so far. Nice starry skies at night since we have no moon. John saw a fireball of a shooting star last night. Days are sunny with puffy clouds and a little haze by afternoon.

Nice to finally be headed for the equator instead of the Galapagos! Thanks for the emails from friends and family.


1894 miles to go to Hilo

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marquesas to Hawaii, Day 1

Contrary winds are keeping us from making any progress North, so we're settling for going East in hopes the wind will shift and send us on our way.

See here for our position:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Off and Running

Okay, barring any unexpected surprises we should be departing Nuku Hiva for Hawaii Saturday morning after we stow the dinghy, rocker stopper, and stern anchor. We received our new forestay late Thursday afternoon and had the old one removed and the new one installed (including the roller furler) in only two hours this morning. Then another half hour to get the furling line attached and the jib up. Not bad!

We celebrated by taking Eric and Daphne of Windweaver out for a lunch splurge of burgers, fries, and ice cream at a roadside van with seating on little stools in the shade of a tree overlooking the bay ($62 US!). Eric helped John with a small sail reinforcement as well as with the forestay replacement today, plus we discovered an extra 10,000 franc note that we had mistaken for a 1,000.

John will be posting our daily noon positions via Yotreps and we'll be checking in to the Pacific Seafarer's Net in the evenings beginning on Saturday, November 14. The passage should take 2 1/2 to 3 weeks, so stay tuned to this channel!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Waiting for parts

We continue to wait for our forestay replacement which arrived in Papeete a week ago Wednesday and is supposed to get here "any day now." There's a daily plane from Papeete to Nuku Hiva but, with limited space/weight, our package is low priority. The really bad part is that it doesn't get from the NH airport to us here in the village until around sunset which completely shoots the day of arrival, meaning we can't get anything done until the day after it arrives.

Here's something I wrote to friends last Saturday:

"Our parts should be here "any day now" so we're scrambling to check things off the to-do list. We've scrubbed the slime off the bottom and polished the prop; I made two quarts of granola out of the last of our oats; John put another patch on the dinghy to keep it from deflating when it gets stored up on the foredeck for the passage; we have bran muffin batter in the fridge waiting to be baked right before we go; yesterday we officially checked out with the gendarmes (they seem pretty relaxed about when you actually depart); the freezer got its monthly defrosting; this morning I made a 13x9 pan of pumpkin bread and one of corn bread to cut into thirds and put in the freezer (that is, until we catch a fish!); John topped off our diesel and filled a couple of extra jerry jugs this morning (we've only burned 15 gallons of fuel since departing the Galapagos!); I went into deep storage under the Pullman berth to dig out our last Costco-sized can of dry roasted peanuts and 32 packets of Raisinets; John's out on deck sanding the soles of our deck shoes to get them grippy again; and most of our shopping is completed. We would like to get some free mangos and bananas if we can find a generous soul (I found a nice pamplemousse tree in front of a government office and asked permission to take some); there's more cooking to be done (rice, pasta, hard-boiled eggs, etc.); we'll get one small jerry jug of gasoline to run the generator for charging batteries while we're sailing; and we need to top off our water tanks. Of course this is all in addition to replacing the forestay when the new one actually arrives!"

Of course since then I've baked the bran muffins and John has baked bread and we're eating those plus the rice he cooked. So we'll need to do some of it all over again before we leave! But the good thing is that it continues to periodically dump rain either during the day or over night, keeping our water tanks full of good drinking water. Yesterday was our first all sunny day in awhile, we had rain last night, and it looks like another sunny day today.

Then it will just be a matter of getting some wind to take us out of here. John's been watching the weather closely especially since a young Polish woman (Natasza on Tanasza Polska) left for Hawaii last Sunday. She is completing a two year single-handed circumnavigation. She has SSB but no HAM to check-in to the Pacific Seafarers Net so we have a sked to keep in touch with her along the way. She had a rough first few days but the winds have calmed down a little now.

We're not exactly looking forward to another long passage, but we're anxious to end this waiting game and get cruising again.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hanging out in Taiohae

I forgot to mention in my last Taiohae post that all the anchoring and re-anchoring was over and done with by 8 AM! We get up early here to enjoy the cool mornings.

We really struggled with the no-no bugs over in the west anchorage, so much so that we moved back to the quay side on Friday. They are very small and hard to see unless they hit the light just right. They also fly erratically and fast making them almost impossible to catch. I've yet to see one land on me, and I don't seem to feel them biting me so I can't even kill them then. And for every bug I do manage to smash or spray, I see two more. Very frustrating, and the big bites are like hot flames of itching for at least 24 hours. John got so eaten up when he went in to rinse the laundry the last time that one morning I wore my lycra jellyfish suit (like a dive skin which fully covers your entire body - except feet, hands, neck and head - in a zip up onesie) to shore to take my turn rinsing laundry. I'm sure the locals driving by wondered about my colorful get-up, but I didn't care. That worked except that I did nothing to protect my head and ended up with three bites along my part, one on my ear, one on my eyebrow, and one right in the inside corner of the same eye. My poor eye was a little swollen for two days. To top it off John read that there are two kinds of no-nos. Black ones on land and white ones on the beach and out to the boat. I think I saw the black ones at the water spigot, and it's the white ones that were driving us crazy on the boat. [Actually, since I wrote this a week ago, I've come to believe that what we thought were the white no-nos are just some tan fruit fly like bug. I've been free of no-no bites since we moved, even though we still see the tan bugs on the boat. It's most frustrating not being able to identify - and kill - the no-nos! We're religious about wearing bug spray on shore now...]

Last Monday we had lunch with the South African and French couple we met in the Galapagos. One plate of fried fish with fried bananas and one plate of BBQ'd chicken (drumstick) with kind of a potato salad on the side cost us 1700 CFPs. The CFP has dropped from 84 to about 79 to the dollar since we arrived, but John was just happy to be off the boat and not cooking for a change.

Saturday we had a nice hike with the same friends and their two dogs on a well-maintained trail out to a point overlooking the bay. It was incredibly clear and sunny, but the trail is all in shaded woods (once you get to it from the dinghy landing; that was a hot return trip - the poor dogs were scurrying for any patch of shade and plopping down and panting). We even had an okay snorkel later in the day by taking the dinghy to the cove we had seen below us at the end of the trail. There wasn't as much organic matter in the water, but it still wasn't what we'd call clear. There were some nice fish and a few live cowries to see though. People keep telling us there are sharks in the bay (black-tips, and even reports of tigers and bulls), but we have yet to see one ourselves which is always a good thing.

Our friends on their way to Hawaii reported swelling of the skipper's foot, and they were worried that it might be a case of Elephantitis. I had read in at least one of the guide books that there is a mosquito carrying this disease in the Marquesas. I then read in another cruiser's blog that when they visited Nuku Hiva two years ago they were given a preventative drug at the hospital for free. I can tell you that Elephantitis is the last thing I wanted to be worried about right before a long passage so I walked up and took a number at the hospital first thing Monday morning! Well, an hour and a half wait later my understanding is that the drug is no longer available because there have been no cases of Elephantitis recorded here for some time. Whew! (And our friend's foot healed before they made landfall...)

We finally got around to reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost which my sister gave me earlier in the year for my birthday. Move over Bill Bryson! This a hilarious travel essay in the so-awful-it's-funny vein of a young couple's two year stint living in Kiribati. There are a few parallels to the cruising life, but we at least have our own self-contained home including a variety of good foods, clean water, electricity, and plumbing. I can't wait to pick up Troost's next book, Getting Stoned with Savages, about living in Fiji and Vanuatu.

Ziggy continues to catch big cockroaches (like they have in Hawaii) that fly out to the boat at night. We have to make sure all screens are in the hatches and portholes after we let him outside. Otherwise he'll jump back inside through the porthole and carry it down to the cabin sole where he can torment it without fear of it escaping him as easily as it might outside. This is a problem because he eventually needs to come back in later in the night to use his litter box, but he hasn't learned to meow to be let in. Instead he daintily paws at the screen which may be enough to wake John, but not me. Last night Ziggy was itching to be let outside so John went to bed and I lay down on the settee in the dark with the alarm clock set for 11 PM. As soon as I let him out he was on the hunt. He'd obviously heard the pitter patter of little roach feet. There was a short scuffle in the cockpit, and then I was amused to watch Ziggy circumnavigating the boat in a clockwise direction searching each port hole for a way inside the boat. He went around about 10 times, occasionally stopping for a little cockroach rumble in the cockpit well. One time I went to the companionway to see if he really had something and he was huffing a bit, with one end of the bug hanging out of his mouth. I finally fell asleep until the alarm woke me and, after checking to make sure he was roach free, I let him back in. This morning I found a smallish body on the port side deck and a leg on the starboard side (at least we are reassured that he's not eating them). Beats getting him a gym membership but I'm not sure I want to do that every night!


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pardon me, can you change a $100 bill?

This is something that's been interesting me about French Polynesia for some time.

We get our local currency, as we have everywhere else we've been, at the ATM. We usually get 30,000 francs at a time, which given the current exchange rate is about $350 USD. Strangely, we have always been given three 10000 franc notes. The equivalent in the States would be three $100 bills. Can you imagine this happening in the States - how do you buy $20 worth of gas when the convenience store/gas station won't accept $50 bills much less $100 bills?

We initially waited in line at the bank to break the large bills into something more manageable. After all, we have been used to Latin America where it's common to go into a store (a real store, not some home/shop selling a few items), select $3.50 USD worth of stuff, present a $5 bill and be told: "No Cambio" (no change). You find yourself thinking "No change? How can you have a business and not have ANY change?"

The lines in the banks are long though, so more often we found ourselves cautiously pulling a 10000 franc note out of our wallets when it came time to pay to see if we could foist the large bills off on some unsuspecting shop owner. Initially we'd only do this if we had more than 3000 francs worth of goods. But after a while we'd pay with a 10000 franc note no matter how small our bill was.

Strangely, here in French Polynesia, it really isn't a problem. Go to the local grocery to get a couple baguettes and some butter (about 400 francs), slap a 10000 franc note on the counter, and voila, you get your change without even a blink. Have lunch at a local roach coach (about 1500 francs), pay with a 10000 franc note, and again you get your change without so much as a comment.

Between this most gracious attitude to large bills and the presence of leaf blowers it's clear that the Marquesas are part of the First World (TM).


Monday, October 26, 2009

Taiohae, Nuku Hiva

This past Tuesday we left Anaho Bay to return to Taiohae where we could get some internet/phone time to solicit quotes for the rigging parts we need before we leave for Hawaii (HI). We sailed most of the way to test the new forestay. It held together okay, but John examined it later and feels that it moved position a bit. We'll feel better about replacing it with a new one and keeping this one as the designated spare. The New Zealand quote was outrageous, the Port Townsend one was absurdly high, and Svendsen's came through with great service and a reasonable cost, but we're waiting to hear from Papeete to see if we can save a few $$ by shipping locally. The parts will be metric which isn't perfect, but cheaper and faster will make up for it.

Our visas expire on 11/7 and we were worried about getting an extension in case we have to wait past that date for the new parts to arrive. So Wednesday morning, after stopping at the Post Office to purchase a local phone card (1000 CFP), we walked to the gendarmerie to report in and to inquire about staying a few extra days/weeks. Oops. After verifying where we've been since we left here a month ago, we got a minor reprimand for not checking out of either here or Ua Pou. We've dutifully checked into places, but haven't checked out of anywhere, and their database can't track us without that info. We apologized and then explained our predicament with the rigging. The official was sympathetic but very firm about the 90 day limit. He suggested we call Papeete, explain it to them, then fax a letter to them and they would in turn fax something to the gendarmerie. We walked back to the Post Office phone booth to use our handy dandy phone card, but no matter how we read the directions (English or French or pictorial) we couldn't get the thing to work. I started hailing people ("Parlez vous anglais?") and a very nice man tried it for us only to discover that the card had no time remaining on it. He turned out to be the Postmaster and when we explained that we had just bought the card that morning he had the clerk who sold it to us make a phone call to the provider. She hung up from that call and asked if we could come back in an hour.

So off we went to the grocery store to buy baguettes and a few things in order to kill some time before returning to the P.O. When we got back she made another phone call after which she asked us to wait five minutes for someone to call her back. The P.O.'s are air-conditioned so we were happy to sit on a bench and watch a soccer game on the flat screen TV. When it was our turn again she said she was sorry but there was nothing anyone could do - the minutes were used up. We reminded her that we had purchased the card from her that very morning and hadn't been able to use it on our first try. She gave a general, "what the hell" shrug and pulled another card out of the drawer and handed it to us with a smile. Not wanting to take any chances with this one, John asked her to scratch off the PIN number and try to use it right there at her phone. It worked and we went to the phone booth outside again to call Papeete.

John got someone who spoke English, explained our request for a short extension to wait for parts before leaving for HI, and was told that it was okay and we should just tell the gendarmes that we could stay. Interestingly, the person on the other end of the line wouldn't give John his name when asked. We returned to the police station to pass on this news, and the officer said, if it was okay with Papeete, it was okay with him. Hmmm. Doesn't seem very official, but maybe that's because we're staying here until we leave for HI and aren't trying to go anywhere else in French Polynesia. We'll see what happens when we try to check out next month.

The next morning we woke (after a not so restful night) to a big swell rolling straight into the anchorage. It was time to put out a stern anchor since the rocker stopper alone wasn't enough to do the job. We pulled up the bow anchor and moved back to the spot we had when we were here last month. After both anchors were set John took a dinghy ride over to the west anchorage in front of the Hotel Keikahanui. He came back fretting that it seemed much calmer over there, and we finally decided to pull everything up and move again. We set both anchors out in front of the He'e Tai Inn (Rose Corser's property) and conditions here are for the most part far superior. The only problem now is that we're so close to shore that we're getting no-nos on the boat for the first time and they are having a feast.

The weather has been completely unpredictable and seems to change every couple of hours. It makes shopping and drying laundry a challenge but we've kept the water tanks full of rain water, which is good because the water from the taps in this bay is the brownest we've seen since Canada. We like to put bleach in the laundry buckets to kill the critters before we wash the clothes and that seems to help clear it up a bit.


East anchorage

West anchorage

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rays and Rigging - Anaho Bay

It's incredibly frustrating to have such poor visibility in an otherwise very interesting bay. We can't help but wonder if the water clarity wasn't better earlier in the season. But we spent the week watching manta rays swooping around in our little corner of the bay. They were generally visible from the boat, either when their wing tips broke the surface of the water, or as dark shapes with glimpses of their white, wide open mouths, and underbellies. We also usually saw at least one or two while snorkeling, along with the occasional turtle sighting. On Wednesday we tried to snorkel the NE side of the reef out around the little point on the north but it was rush hour on the manta ray freeway. Half a dozen rays were feeding along that stretch of reef. No problem, thought I, I'll just squeeze up against the reef so they can pass me on the outside. No dice - those mantas really like to hug the curves and were passing us too close for comfort. I was kept busy spinning circles in my hunched up "huddle" position, looking left and right for oncoming mantas looming out of the murky darkness, while also watching my back so that my behind didn't end up skewered in a patch of sea urchins on the reef. When mantas were passing each other right along side of us we decided to take the next exit off the freeway back to the boat. Before leaving John did a no-no and touched one of the rays. We were somewhat reassured to confirm that no ray was actually going to run into us after that ray was off like a shot at John's brief contact.

After waiting endlessly for dry (or at least dryer) weather we decided Friday would be the day we braved the muddy hike to Hatiheu. Although we usually swim/snorkel every day we needed to get off the boat to stretch our legs - and we were out of garlic. So, in spite of the fact that it had lightly showered the night before and clouds were threatening that morning, we got an early start up the ridge. It's almost exactly half an hour up/down each side with 10-20 minutes to/from each end of the trail to the beach/village. I had a tough time dealing with the humidity during the first leg up, but we did fine after that. The trail is heavily traveled and we were passed in both directions by guys riding the small horses they have here, or walking barefoot and carrying their flip-flops. I guess it's easier to clean the mud off your feet than digging it out of the tread in our heavy hiking boots, but my feet stayed clean and dry which is how I like them. We were surprised to see the Clipper Odyssey (120 pax cruise ship) anchored with two French sailboats in the bay, and we gawked at the tourists being ferried to Yvonne's restaurant for brunch. After a 10 AM beer accompanied by shrimp chips we were fortified for the return trip. John only slipped once, landing on his rear-end, and I slipped forward onto one hand which I was able to wash under the large rain drops of a tree. Oh, I forgot to mention that it started raining before we headed back to Anaho. Not a downpour, just a steady light NW type of rain which stopped before we got back. The downpour came during the dinghy ride back to Nakia after we stopped to wash the mud off our boots at the beach front water spigot.

One of the jobs we always do before heading out into the big blue is to take a close look at all the wire rigging on NAKIA. It was last replaced in 1997 before our first trip to Canada and replacing it has been an item on the to-do list for some time. You're supposed to be able to get 10 years out of the kind of wire rigging we have and since it's been 12 John is extra careful to check everything so as to catch any small failure before it turns into something bigger.

Well last Friday there was only thing left to do to complete this inspection - go up the mast and look at the tops of all the wires. This is rarely a trouble area because the tops of the wires, being 20-50 feet off the surface of the water tend to get a lot less corrosion-causing salt on them. Also, they point down, letting any dirt or water drain out instead of pooling on them like the lower ends of the wires. That all sounds good, until you take a look at the wire holding up the jib and find that 12 out of the 19 strands are broken right where they enter the top fitting.

No problem, NAKIA carries a spare for just such an emergency. We spent the rest of the afternoon dismantling the roller furling and the next day John was prepared to take the new wire up and swap it with the old one. Then he cut the new wire to length and installed the lower fitting.

Here's where things went wrong. The fittings, called Sta-Lok, are mechanical devices that securely hold the individual strands of the wire. The instructions for the fitting say to assemble it, tighten the nut 'not too tight, just with one hand' and then unscrew and put a blob of silicon sealant inside to seal it up. Then screw it back together and you're done. Well try as he might, John could not get the thing to unscrew. He swears he didn't over-tighten it, which would cause it to bind up and not unscrew, but the thing just wouldn't unscrew. Worse, while he was trying to take it apart, he managed to unscrew half a turn or so. Just enough to loosen the internals of the thing so now maybe it won't hold together when we need it. We really don't know. There is no way to tell for sure, and we can't imagine sailing to Hawaii with something we can't entirely trust to hold together.

We only have one spare, so we're looking into having a replacement wire sent from Tahiti or as a last resort Seattle. Replacing a broken something that you intended to replace anyway is no big deal. Hopefully it won't cost us huge $$ to recover from this hiccup.

Linda (nature) and John (rigging)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To Hatiheu and back to Anaho

On the verge of running completely out of staples we needed to make a trip to the grocery store. We could hike for an hour up and over a ridge on a, by now, very muddy horse trail, and then hike back another hour laden with our heavy purchases. Not. Instead we decided to raise anchor for the five nm, one hour trip to Hatiheu Bay. Except that raising anchor turned out to be the hardest part because our chain had become entangled on coral covered rocks. John raised and lowered the chain and backed and filled with the engine to finally free us. With the water still murky there wasn't any possibility of his seeing anything in 35' of water, so diving to free the chain wasn't a reasonable option in this case.

We motored to Hatiheu before breakfast hoping to find fresh baguettes, but that wasn't being very realistic. We set the anchor in the pretty bay near the quay, put the rocker stopper out, lowered the dinghy off the foredeck and put the outboard on, shut all the hatches and portholes in case of rain, and set off for the quay. It was a another case of needing to set a stern anchor in deep water to keep the dinghy from bouncing off the rough concrete in the surge, and it took John two tries to get the spacing right.

Finally we were off to the two little magasins where we found frozen baguettes, and the last of some sad onions and potatoes, but plenty of eggs and basic dry staples. They were out of fresh cheese so we settled for experimenting with Velveeta style "fondu" or melting cheese. Six baguettes, 12 packets of crackers, six onions, three tins of New Zealand butter, four kilos of flour, two kilos of sugar, two dozen eggs, and two little boxes of cheese set us back 5,091 CFPs or about $64. It doesn't seem like much when I pick up the individual items, but 550 CFPs for a dozen eggs really hurts the grocery budget.

We didn't see any fresh vegetables for sale and it had started to rain so we didn't spend time asking around for them. We hurried back on the dirt road, pausing under a tree to wait for the worst of the rain to stop, and then went through the reverse procedure to get back to Anaho. As pretty as Hatiheu is, the anchorage is too rolly to stay without setting a stern anchor. With Anaho just around the corner it doesn't make sense to stay any longer than necessary, let alone overnight. It's too bad the trail is so muddy because that would be a much more enjoyable option for spending the day exploring the village.

Speaking of muddy trails, I have to admit some confusion of mine over the wet versus dry seasons here. Since the North American winter months are cyclone season in this area of the world, I assumed that equated to "wet." But I've now read in two sources that the cruiser season here (North American summer) is the wet season, and the dry months are October/November to March/April when most boats leave to avoid potential cyclones coming this way.

So we've apparently been lucky to have enjoyed so much dry weather until recently, and that has no doubt been why we've had no problem with bugs until lately. We made another hike to Haataivea last week to show Romany Star the "golf course" on the beach. After so much rain, and with no breeze to speak of, we were literally engulfed by tiny gnat-like bugs (no-nos?) as soon as we hit the beach. We immediately dug out the DEET but it was too late and we all had bites. It's true though that people are affected very differently. It took at least 24-48 hours for me to notice any bumps and only a couple of them were in areas irritated by clothing. I lucked out and had one slightly uncomfortable night, but John has been applying the Benadryl ointment and even took a couple of Benadryl pills to help him sleep at night. Paul and Erin got the worst of it, perhaps because their bug juice wasn't strong enough or they didn't apply it liberally enough.

Needless to say we didn't linger on the beach, but ran back to the trail where we managed to lose the bugs. On our way to the beach we had taken a different fork in the trail this time and were surprised to find a very rustic cabin and "farm" occupied by the elderly Rose Marie, who offered to cut a "pasteque" fresh from her garden. Her husband (and daughter?) had gone to Hatiheu with horses and she was happy to sit and chat with us while we ate our watermelon slices. Erin's French is good so we got a bit beyond our names and the weather to learn that they have regular homes in Anaho, Hatiheu, and Taiohae. She was very friendly and offered to give us some figs when we returned from the beach. But after our escape from the bugs we arrived to find that her husband had returned with the horses and there wasn't time for tourists any more. So we thanked Rose Marie again for the pasteque and quickly went on our way hoping she wasn't going to be in trouble for giving away fruit to strangers.

Ziggy has been very good about keeping his distance from the wasps and small bees that persist in visiting the boat. He's definitely interested in the ones that come below but so far he hasn't gone after them. I made the mistake of playing a new game with him when I was eating pamplemousse out in the cockpit and now I can't eat one without his avid attention. I cut them into quarters, take off the peel, and eat the individual sections by using a knife and my fingers to cut and tear away the segmenting "skins." I then throw those overboard, setting aside the thicker peel to dispose of offshore or on land. (It's a silly, complicated, messy affair, but it makes it last longer and I enjoy the process!) Ziggy is fascinated by anything we throw overboard, so I started dangling the transparent pieces of skin in front of him before tossing them, or putting them in a hawse pipe for him to paw back on deck, and he thought this was very exciting. Go figure. Now I can't even eat a pamplemousse when he's taking his afternoon siesta without him groggily coming out into the cockpit to play the pamplemousse game!


NOTE: The GPS coordinates which follow are for geographical reference only and should not be used as cruising waypoints.

Hatiheu, Nuku Hiva

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Big snorkeling day

We've been looking at the incredible cowrie shells our friends have collected and our desire to have one too has peaked. The thing is, most of the shells that our friends have taken were alive and they removed the animal. Rarely people say that they found the shell empty. Killing animals just to have their shells may sound like a vain activity, but the fact that the Marquesans take these shellfish by the dozens makes the one or two shells per boat seem pretty insignificant. It's interesting to note that the Marquesans don't collect the shells because they can sell them or because they find them pretty, they collect them to eat. Every beach has a pile of broken cowrie shells where the locals have smashed them to extract the meat.

So my snorkeling focus lately has been trying to find the 'perfect' cowrie. If we're going to kill one, I want it to be a good one. Once I figured out where to look for these beautiful shellfish the search got a little easier, if not more risky. These animals live right in the inter tidal zone; between the high and low tide mark. This is also where most of the surge is and since the cowries don't really like living where it's calm, you have to get close to the rocks in areas where the waves threaten to slam you if you're not careful. I'm getting pretty good at it though.

I swim along the shore, clinging to the rocks with my gloved hands, being careful not to get above a sea urchin lest a wave take the water out and drop me onto its spines while I poke my head into cracks and holes looking for shellfish. Every once in a while, when the waves get too big, I'll swim out away from the rocks and look around. Yesterday this looking was very interesting. During my search I saw two sharks, a school of big Jacks and a lion fish. The biggest and most impressive things I saw were five manta rays. These, in addition to the three I saw from the dinghy on the way to my snorkeling area, make a personal record of eight mantas in one day.

I even found what I thought was just about the perfect cowrie. The colors on its back looked like a tropical sunset. I carefully pried it from the rock and carried it with me for a while admiring it. Then I realized I couldn't go through with it, I couldn't bring myself to kill this animal just so I could have its shell. So I put it back where I found it and decided I'd just have to wait until I found one that was uninhabited.

One of the things I've noticed in my search for cowries is a yellow coral that seems to trap things in its network of vertical bars. I've seen many old, growth encrusted shells in the clutches of these fan-like formations so I decided that I would focus on these coral heads to see if I could find a newly trapped, recently deceased, empty cowrie. And that is exactly what I found after about 10 minutes of looking. It's not quite the colors I would have chosen, but we now have a very nice example of a Marquesan cowrie and I didn't have to kill the animal to get it.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Some anchorages

It seems some of the map links we've been giving lately have been incorrect, so I thought I'd give one post with all the anchorages we've been in lately.

It's still raining. John is baking bread this morning using a sponge method for the dough which seems to be giving a better rising loaf. The bread is baking now, we'll see how it turns out.

Hanatefau, on the island of Tahuata (our favorite)

Hana Moe Noa, Tahuata

Taiohae, on Nuku Hiva

Hakahau, on Ua Pou where we watched the canoe races

Hakahetau, Ua Pou

Vaiehu, Ua Pou

Anaho, Nuku Hiva

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva

So far it's either very windy or very rainy here in this beautiful bay. We've been doing a lot of reading and watching movies to pass the time, but we've also managed to take a few walks and do some snorkeling in between. The best thing about being here is that we are tucked back into a large bay with a long entrance to block the swells. So other than some wind chop (we're on the lee shore) it's very comfortable on the boat for a change. No stern anchor and no rocker stopper required!

Unfortunately the water is green and murky which is a shame because we are anchored right in front of a coral reef off of a narrow, but extensive sandy beach. There's a pass through the coral to take small boats through for landing on the shallow beach. There are less than a dozen homes and guest houses, no road, no cars, several horses, a few dogs, pigs, a cow and her calf, with wild goats and chickens roaming the hills. It's rare to see a light on shore at night, though we saw at least one generator. We're sharing the anchorage with Romany Star and two French boats.

We first took a hike along the perimeter of the bay over a low ridge to the wild and rugged Haataivea Bay which is totally exposed to the incoming swell and had waves crashing on the wide sandy beach. As we came out of the forest to approach the beach John remarked that he wished he'd thought to bring his 9-iron because the grass over gently sloping dunes was cropped to the quality of a golf course. We watched slender foot-long eels hunting in a tide pool, and our patience was rewarded by seeing one catch and eat a little tadpole of a fish. We eyed the huge stalks of bananas which were part of what looked like a primitive copra camp, but they were carefully propped up with heavy sticks and are obviously tended by an absentee landlord.

We are at the low tides of the full moon which expose the reef between Nakia and the beach. One or more of the local men hunt for octopus most days and we wonder what they will do when all the octopus are gone. We took a walk on the reef on Saturday and Leopold had taken three of them because he had guests arriving yesterday. We saw some tiny bluish purple brittle stars and finger length eels, but I wasn't comfortable walking on a living reef with anemones and spongy stuff (that I won't even touch when we see them snorkeling) so we soon returned to the beach.

On Sunday we thought it might have been dry enough to hike to the ridge top on the trail to Hatiheu Bay to the south of us. It was mostly a good trail but our shoes became muddy clogs and we decided not to go all the way into the village since we hadn't brought any money with us and everything would probably be closed anyway. That afternoon we were getting ready to take the dinghy over to the windward shore for a snorkel when John was stung by a bee. He immediately got the Sawyer venom extractor out of its case, but we left the stinger in too long, and his hand swelled up like a little balloon. He took a Benadryl right away and is applying the ointment form as well to help ease the incredible itching. He was still game for a snorkel (only the finger had swollen by then) and we had a great Easter egg hunt for cowries. We easily saw over a dozen large shells but still aren't up to taking any with the animal living in them. They're so beautiful when they sparkle in the sun against the dull rock, and we have a lot of fun searching for them. We hadn't been in the water for long when I heard John shout and I hurriedly swam back to see what he'd found. I was so intent on swimming to him that I didn't look up until I was about to do a head on with a manta ray with another one right behind it. They swam past us into the murk, but what a thrill.

Yesterday I swam into shore for a beach walk and saw a foot-long baby black-tip shark as I was shuffling my feet along to avoid the sting rays in the ankle deep water. John went for a late snorkel around the point from Nakia and saw another manta ray and more cowries. We've also both had quick glimpses of turtles taking a breath in the anchorage. Today we were supposed to walk all the way to the village at Hatiheu with Romany Star for provisions but it rained all night and is still raining off and on so we decided against the muddy trek, and it's back to more reading and DVDs.

This a perfect place to be but it's looking a lot like the "dry" season is over.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, and back to Nuku Hiva

This morning we woke to a waterfall where yesterday there was only a sheer, bare, rock cleft in the mountain above us. Too bad we didn't have any of our rain catching gear out last night, but then water isn't a scarce commodity around here.

The last time I wrote about our whereabouts we were in Tahuata. In the late afternoon of September 14 we departed for an overnight sail to Taiohae, Nuku Hiva with only a few hours of motoring to arrive just after sunrise. This is a very rolly anchorage and we ultimately ended up moving as close to the quay as we could get. But even after deploying a stern anchor and the rocker stopper, it still was not a comfortable place to be. There were about 20 boats when we arrived and 12 remaining when we departed a week later. All of the active cruising boats are anchored near the old quay, with only three unoccupied boats over on the more remote Keikahanui Pearl Lodge side of the bay. Our week was spent taking delivery of our new main sail from Rose Corser and visiting her lovely little museum and gift shop; browsing at the well stocked magasins; making 6 AM visits to the boulangerie and the veggie marche (only one time each and hopefully never again; baguettes and most veggies - except lettuce - are available elsewhere at more reasonable hours!); and doing laundry with plentiful, though tan colored, water at the quay.

We also had a lovely night out with Rose and the crew of Quixotic for dinner at the Keikahanui restaurant. The restaurant and bar are all that remain of the original hotel built by former cruisers, Rose and her husband, Frank Corser, back in the 70's (S/V Courser). Frank passed away in 1992, but Rose is carrying on with plans for a smaller business, and she's always happy to have cruisers stop by for a visit. The tropical drinks were colorful and the French cuisine was beautifully presented and so delicious that we all cleaned our plates of curried goat, rack of lamb, duck, and a steak/shrimp combo. There was a group of young men and one woman from NASA staying at the Lodge to cover a hole in tracking coverage for a satellite launch (we passed their equipment high on a mountain during our subsequent car rental). They normally do a two month tour of duty, but it had stretched to three months this time. Tough job, but someone's got to do it!

We shared a car rental with Quixotic and Steve of Weatherly to explore the island. This time we had a four door truck so there was plenty of room for all of us with our gear in the truck bed. We started towards the airport in the Terre Deserte in a clockwise circumnavigation of the island, taking a right hand turn on a dirt road after passing a pineapple farm (the pineapple plants are obvious; don't take the turn before you see this). We scoped out several bays for potential anchoring spots, but the highlights of the trip were our picnic lunch stop at Hatiheu Bay and a visit to the archeological sites of Hikokua and Kamuihei & Tahakia, the latter two of which of just across the road from one another and comprise the largest excavated archaeological area of Nuku Hiva. Although there were no large tikis like on Hiva Oa, the size of the areas made one wonder at the lives of the people who built and lived in them long ago. We made a pamplemousse snack stop along the river in Taipivai at the head of Controleur Bay and then, since we still had some time remaining on the truck, we made an even more arduous trek over the rough road from the Keikahanui Lodge to Colette Bay, the site of "Survivor Marquesas" (2002). They must not have put the Survivor camps at the head of the bay where there was plenty of pamplemousse, citron, and bananas on private property. Fortunately one of the pamplemousse tree limbs hung over the fence to the ground and we restocked our fruit hammock.

The forecast looked good on Tuesday, September 22 for the sail to Ua Pou, 25 miles away, and after motoring to clear Nuku Hiva we were able to sail the rest of the way to Hakahau Bay, arriving in time for an afternoon swim to the sandy little beach and a walk on the quay. After the rough ocean waters between the islands, and the horrible wind chop in Taiohae, we were thrilled with the quiet, protected, little harbor. We set a stern anchor to keep us in position just off the south end of the quay in about 10' of water. Two sailboats were stern-tied to the quay when we arrived which also looked inviting (the Aranui wasn't due to arrive for another week) and, as it turned out, we had to move there for our last two nights because of the outrigger-canoe races on Saturday. Other than one visit to the village, we kicked back on the boat and read a lot during our stay. We would have left earlier but then we saw preparations for what we thought looked to be a big event, and decided to stay when we learned that island teams would be competing to see who would represent the Marquesas in the big Hawaiki Nui outrigger-canoe race in November. It was fun to be stern-tied to the quay to watch the starts and finishes of the two races (morning and afternoon) out to neighboring bays, but we never did figure out why the locals bothered setting up three tents which went unused the entire weekend. And the crowd reaction was very low key with no honking of horns even though the quay and breakwater were both lined with trucks. Maybe it was a given that Ua Pou would be the hands down winner, so people didn't bother getting too excited.

We spent one truly awful night in Hakahetau which even the rocker stopper wasn't up to (and with no possibility of a shore landing due to the swell), before we moved to Vaiehu for our last few nights at Ua Pou. Our first night there was perfect but then a larger than normal swell rolled in from somewhere out in the ocean and we lost both water clarity and peace. Without being able to swim or go ashore there wasn't much to do but read, cook, and make a weather cloth. We met Paul and Erin on Romany Star out of San Francisco, and both boats decided to leave for the north shore of Nuku Hiva on October 1.






Wednesday, September 30, 2009

American Samoa tsunami aftermath

I had at the top of my "to do" list today to write a blog about where we are and what we've been up to since we left Tahuata. But the reports we've been reading from cruisers in affected areas has brought me to tears (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pacificpuddlejump/). Some people have died and so many others have been extraordinarily lucky. Our hearts go out to the people of Pago Pago, American Samoa and Niuatoputapu, Tonga, and we hope that the devastation was not as severe in any additional locales. We had no idea at the time of our own "evacuation" of the damage being inflicted upon fellow mariners and locals alike, and it's a sobering thought to have participated in the same event with such a different outcome for us.

Today we're taking some time to think of those who were not as fortunate as we were.

Linda and John

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Tsunami Problems

You may have heard about the 8.3 magnitude earth quake (actually an under-sea earth quake, which I guess makes it a sea quake) near American Samoa. Well we sure did. About 1130 this morning just after Linda finished making lunch a Gendarme boat came flying up to NAKIA and started talking rapid fire French. The only word I got was 'ami', I thought the guy was looking for his friend. Fortunately, Linda heard the preceding 'Tsun' (as in Tsun-ami) and understood that we had to head off shore for a while. No other instructions were given, like when we'd know the all clear was sounded, but after we sailed around in the lee of the island for a few hours I checked email and my hippy-dippy weatherman, Stan, was kind enough to have sent us an update that let us know it was cool to return to our anchorage.

Another day in paradise.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ya Loses Some Ya Won, Then Ya Wins 'Em Back

I'm sure you'd much rather hear about our swimming nude with the manta rays this morning, but I'm going to blow my own horn again first. You'll have to wait.

Yesterday afternoon the tape player spit out the iPod tape. No matter how many times I tried to get the tape to work, it just kept spitting it back out. It was looking like another failure of the internal mechanism so once again I got out the Elect. tool box and tore open the stereo. The failure this time was catastrophic, the drive belt had snapped. So much for the iPod. What a bummer.

I burned a CD with an episode of Fresh Air for the following morning but came to the conclusion that doing so is not much of an option. We don't listen to these shows more than once so having a CD of them is a waste. Then I realized that I might be able to get the iPod audio to come out of the stereo when a CD is playing. I pulled out the cable that runs from the CD changer (it's an external 12 disk CD changer that hasn't seen much use since we copied all our CDs to the iPod) and carefully cut it open. Inside were eight wires, two of which were obviously small coaxial cables. Audio signals are often sent down coaxial wires to avoid noise, and since there were two coax inside the cable running from the CD changer to the stereo I figured these had to be the left and right line signals. I cut the two wires, stripped them back, and soldered on a three conductor earphone plug that's been kicking around in the Elect. tool box forever. Then I put a CD in the changer and pressed 'Play' on both the stereo and the iPod. Ha! Instead of Dido, which was on the CD, we heard Terry Gross interviewing Drew Barrymore. Who da man?

So this morning, while listening to the Drew Barrymore interview over the CD/iPod, Linda noticed a couple of rays swimming around the boat. They seemed bigger than the rays we used to see in Mexico (see July 11, 2005 blog entry) but it was hard to tell. After 10 minutes of trying to get a good look at them from the deck I decided I should just get in the water to watch them. I slipped quietly in and hid behind the rudder to keep from scaring them away and after a minute or so it was clear they couldn't care less about me so I swam over and had a great show; three 4-6 ft manta rays swimming slowly around in circles feeding. I signaled the 'all clear' to Linda and before long we were both taking in the show. One manta even had a couple of remora fish clinging to its underside near the tail. Way better than listening to Terry Gross.

I'm sure you're still wondering about the 'nude' part. Well NAKIA is the only boat in the anchorage and there's no reason to get your bathing suit wet if you don't have to. So instead of changing out of one suit into another we just took off our clothes before getting in. Really, I'm surprised the mantas didn't bolt from fright.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Ya wins some, Ya loses some

We've had a couple failures recently that one may not consider critical pieces of equipment, until they're gone.

First the tape player on the stereo gave out. Now this surely has got to be insignificant, right? You're probably wondering how we even noticed the tape player stopped working. I mean, who plays cassette tapes anymore? Well, we use the tape player as a method for hooking the iPod to the stereo. There's a special 'tape' that has a wire coming out of it that plugs into the iPod. The stereo thinks it's playing a tape but in reality the music is coming from the iPod. Now you may come to understand the seriousness of the situation. Without the iPod we're forced to listen to music from our CD collection. Not only that, our morning routine is not complete without listening to 'Fresh Air' and/or 'Talk of the Nation' via podcast.

The second failure was the saloon clock. One day it stopped, which usually means the battery needs to be changed in the cheap plastic movement (it actually says 'zero jewels' inside). But on applying a new AA battery the thing still refused to run. So I put a piece of tape over the face to remind us that it's not really 3:52 and tried to figure out how we were going to get a new clock.

After a while I figured I should give fixing these things a try. After all, I couldn't break the clock any more than it was already broken and as for the tape player I thought I could limit any new damage done to the non-functional tape player. So I got my tool box out (I have one especially for electrical work labeled 'Elect.' surprisingly enough) and set to work. It took a good hour to dismantle the tape player, where I found that the drive belt had jumped it's pulley because a rubber roller was jammed. I applied a little dry lubricant to the roller, re-routed the belt, and put everything back together. A quick test showed that it could actually work again so I re-installed it and sure enough we can once again hear Terry Gross in the AM. 'I'm the man'! I said to myself. Now time to work on time.

I took the cheap plastic movement out of the clock and dismantled it. This was a little harder. Inside is a small printed circuit (PC) board with a few components. Somewhere in there I figured there must be a bad connection. I probed and prodded, and found nothing. Finally decided I had to remove the PC board from the rest of the movement. Boing! out popped the board and Snap! went the two wires that drive the little motor that turns the clock. Having worked on things I don't totally understand for most of my life (I used to take all kinds of things apart when I was a kid just to put them back together; some of them even worked afterword) the 'boing-snap' is the most dreaded result of the disassembly process. 'OK, no problem,' I say to myself, 'I'm the man'. I'll just have to re-solder these two wires, don't worry that they're about the size and strength of a the hair from the head of a one week old infant, I am the man. As I prepared for the soldering process I noticed that the end of one of the wires was green, an indication of corrosion. This must have been the problem all along. Then, just as I'm set to apply the soldering iron, Boing-Snap, the PC board popped out again and this time the wires broke off at a point where they can never be re-soldered. So much for the clock, at least now it's 12:00 instead of 3:52.

I guess I should have said, 'I have been the man.'


Thursday, September 03, 2009

To Hiva Oa and back to Tahuata

On Monday we watched the Taporo IX unload cargo and take on copra at Hapatoni, Tahuata, and then we pulled up anchor for the short sail to Vaitahu. There we put 38 gallons of water into our tank, and loaded another 25 in jugs. We did it by taking a long hose to the quay from the dinghy. John stayed in the dinghy with the filter end of the hose filling the jugs, and I manned the water faucet and tried to hold the dinghy off the rough concrete wall with a stern line. There was a little surge but we managed to get that chore done without incident and before it started raining in earnest.

The next morning John dropped me off on shore with a bucket load of laundry which we'd let soak in soapy water on the boat overnight. I put it in the first rinse cycle (a bucket of fresh water) and then went off to see what new food items the Taporo IX might have off-loaded. We hadn't gone into the first store you come to on our last visit and to my delight I found fresh baked baguettes on bakery racks inside the front door. We're discovering that the great thing about shopping in the Marquesas is that all the prices seem to be somewhat fixed. So no matter where you shop, baguettes are always 64 CFP. Of course I loaded up on those, along with some onions and potatoes, and went back to finish rinsing the laundry in between showers. I saw some beautiful rainbows as I hurried to get done before the next big shower arrived. Fortunately John saw the black cloud coming in down the valley and raced over in the dinghy to pick me up before it really started to pour.

We waited out that shower and then got underway for Hanamenu on the NW side of Hiva Oa, only about 14 nm away. The sail across the channel was nice and fast, and we managed to get out of the worst of the rain as soon as we left Tahuata. The wind died in the lee of the cape, so we already had the engine running when we rounded it and ran smack into a building headwind and chop. Well, this was unexpected! As unpleasant as it looked, we persevered through another hour of slow motoring (to avoid taking salt water splashes over the bow) to get to the anchorage where the wind and chop were blowing straight into the beach. We were shocked to find another cruising boat bow and stern anchored in very shallow water off to the north side of the bay. Why would anyone want to stay there in such awful weather conditions?! We anchored twice because the first time we ended up too close to some submerged rocks extending out from the side of the bay. We ate lunch, watched the wind build, and thought about spending a sleepless night there. John did some calculating and figured we still had enough time to make it back to Tahuata before sunset so we got the heck out of there. I guess it could be nice under better circumstances but I was not impressed with the dry Baja-like scenery, the murky water, or the brown/gray sand at the head of the bay. Yes, there is a coco plantation covering the little valley in between Grand Canyon like walls, but we wanted to get back to the blue water backed by green tropical cliffs that we'd grown accustomed to.

We sailed over to Ivaiva Nui anchorage on Tahuata, arriving just at sunset. This is a pretty little anchorage with a private home and neat farm above the sandy beach. It doesn't get much protection from the swell though, which has been higher than when we first arrived, so yesterday we sailed back to our favorite Tahuata anchorage at Hana Tefau. That afternoon we saw our first shark, a 3' black-tip, on our swim from the boat (anchored in 55') to a great snorkeling rock close to shore (where we saw yet another new to us kind of fish!). This morning the dolphins were back in the anchorage where they've been all day. I got a closer look at them and they have white tips on their noses and are speckled so now I think they must be spotted dolphins, although they do a lot of acrobatics similar to their cousins, the spinning dolphins. There seem to be lots of babies, so I wonder if this isn't a nursery of sorts for them.

Today we did chores. I defrosted the freezer and cleaned the fridge, and puttered with some additional cleaning, while John sewed himself a new pair of swim trunks. We should go into Hapatoni tomorrow for a walk I guess, but for now we're just enjoying the solitude and beautiful scenery of the anchorage. Here's wishing you all safe travels over the Labor Day weekend!

Linda and John