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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