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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


We're currently in Haleolono Harbor with plans to move to the town and port of Kaunakakai early tomorrow morning. We're waiting for one more piece of mail to catch up to us here in Molokai, as well as continuing to take advantage of the state library for copying DVDs to watch on our laptop when we can no longer receive English speaking television. We motored here from Oahu on xmas day and had several glimpses of whale spouts, backs, breeches, and flukes.

It was a relief to escape the big city where our days seemed to pass in a blur of trips to Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco, and bicycle rides to and from the library. I didn't even step on a bus until the week before our departure and that was only for a ride to the library after all the rain made riding a bicycle a damp proposition. After spending too much money on "stuff" we let xmas pass without even a hint of a tree, decorations, cards, wrapped presents, or holiday foods. Instead we ran our pedestrian errands amidst people carrying Victoria's Secret shopping bags (oddly enough these were predominantly women), and more people standing in long lines outside the mall Post Office carrying piles of Priority mail boxes. We didn't put a bow on it, but Ziggy got a 22 x 16 x 11 storage box as a new litter pan. He has taken to doing his wet business from only a half squat and we're hoping the high sides will keep it all in the box and not on the teak.

John made a round of doctors visits and lab tests for his annual physical, and we got a reminder of why we prefer to take care of these things in any other country but the U.S. We're used to paying cash for services and receiving copies of the results in turn. Here it was a challenge to get his own medical records given to him, and the bills have gone to insurance limbo. We're told that if the insurance company doesn't pay the full charges, we'll receive a bill "in a few months" which will end up at our mailing address in Oregon. It seems that by the time everyone gets paid, John will be due for another physical!

I enjoyed a two week visit with family in Portland at Thanksgiving time and had a great time getting to know the downtown area there. I was lucky to time my visit before all the bad weather and really enjoyed walking outside in the cold, but mostly dry winter days. Before departing Honolulu John and I took a walk along the Waikiki beach boardwalk, ate hot malasadas (a Portuguese donut) at Leonard's Bakery with Soggy Paws, and watched the xmas eve fireworks with Windy City.

Here in Lono Harbor we finally receive all the major networks, including PBS, which is more than we got in the Ala Wai. But there is no internet, and cell service is only possible from out on the beaches or breakwater - oddly enough, not from the boat, maybe because of the steep cliff backing the bay. A dirt road leads to a very sleepy village five miles away with a small post office and the Mauna Loa General Store which reminded us of the tiendas in Bahia de los Angeles (with all produce stored in a refrigerator). We were lucky enough to be invited to join a local man for the 30 mile drive to the main town in his truck. We spent the day with Chuck and his dog, Kula, with time at the library for internet, a walk-through of the small grocery store (which made me glad I stocked up at Foodland!), lunch at Molokai Burger, stops at hardware and auto parts stores, and a side trip to the Kalaupapa lookout (Father Damien's leper colony).

There are only about 6,000 people living on Molokai now and it seems even sleepier than when I visited in 1984. We've enjoyed slowing down for a few days and concentrating on things like cleaning the dinghy and Nakia's hull (in the murky water), and generally getting back into cruising mode again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A week ago today we found out the hard way that the Alenuihaha,Channel is not to be taken lightly. While we didn't attempt it at its worst, we also couldn't wait the extra couple of days for it to get better, so we took it on at about medium strength (forecasted at 25-30 knots). While we didn't break anything the seas were probably the worst we've ever encountered, and we were lucky not to have been knocked down. They weren't the biggest we've seen, but they were steep and breaking and it was scary. We had our main double reefed to practically nothing with just a scrap of jib out. The good thing is that John timed it so we were in it during early daylight hours, and it only took us five hours to reach the lee of Lanai where the wind almost completely died and we had to motor. I sure wouldn't want to do that at night!

We made our Honolulu landfall at dawn after heaving to for a couple of hours to wait for enough light to enter the channel. We tied up to the Aloha Dock at the Hawaii Yacht Club where we were happy to have an opportunity to hose salt off the boat again and fill our water tanks. My sister and her husband drove in from Ko Olina to welcome us and deliver our mail, and we all trekked over to the Ala Moana food court for lunch and some shopping. I bought my obligatory pair of Hawaiian Island Creations custom made slippas (you pick the color straps you want to go with the flip flop bottoms) which I discovered on my first visit in 1984. Leslie and Tom headed back to their resort and we finished picking up the boat before joining Soggy Paws on Infini where we were treated to a delicious post passage/welcome to Honolulu dinner.

While I normally like being tied to a dock with amenities as nice as the ones at HYC (showers, Wi-Fi, communal kitchen, book exchange, TV) it's really difficult when all Ziggy wants to do is get off the boat. The routine becomes: we get woken up at 4:30 when he hears the gardener and housekeeping staff starting work outside and wants to get out to see what everyone is up to; I finally throw in the towel at 5:00 or 5:30 after he's climbed on us a few times, knocked the clock off the bookshelf and, as a last resort, starts meowing; make the coffee and feed him even though he barely touches it because he's far more interested in going outside; and put his harness on and stake him out on the dock with his leash and about 20' of line until it's light enough (the sun comes up at around 6:30 here) to walk him around the club building. It has to be light enough for me to see whether he's eating something or just sniffing. The first day I let him eat all the grass he wanted, including some grassy plant with wide long blades which he was scarfing whole in 2-3" pieces. Well, he threw that up, still whole, in the flower bed, and threw up some more later in the day on the boat. No more eating grass after that! Our last morning there he managed to catch a very small brown gecko which I forced out of his mouth before it became breakfast. He wasn't able to find it again, so I hope it managed to survive intact.

We spent Wednesday and Thursday playing with Leslie and Tom. We took them out for a windy sail along Waikiki during which we passed a pile of fishing net floating in the water. John had only just informed Tom that we had a line out when Tom noticed that we had a fish on! It was a small mahi mahi which made a colorful leap out of the water, but it shook off the lure and was gone. We tried making another pass by the floating "dorado condo" without getting another bite. On the way back to the marina we made a brief stop at a Turtle Canyon mooring where we did indeed see a couple of turtles but not much else of interest in the murky water (only John and Tom actually got in the water). After putting the boat away we drove to a snorkeling stop at Electric Beach where a power plant discharges warm water not far from the small beach next to the plant. This was better with lots of fish but not a huge variety, and the water was murky again. We ended the day with homemade Lynchburg Lemonades on the beach at the Ko Olina Marriott resort where they were staying, a big dinner at the Outback Steak House, and an overnight with L&T in their beautiful suite.

The next morning we were somehow hungry enough for banana pancakes at Koa Pancake House. We stopped for pictures at the Pali Lookout on our way to beaches in the Kailua/Lanikai area. John and Tom burned calories by body surfing and boogie boarding while Leslie and I applauded and soaked up the sun. We tried another beach for snorkeling but L&T reported back that it was dead and murky, not to mention rough.

Finally we were hungry enough to get to Buzz's Original Steak House in Lanikai before they closed for lunch at 3 PM. We were met there by an old family friend from Bainbridge Island, who used to own a shoe store on the island. I have fond memories of our annual late summer pilgrimage to his store where he very diplomatically mediated between what the kids wanted versus what their mothers thought best for the coming school year! Stan treated us to sashimi and the best calamari steak appetizer we've ever had, and we enjoyed our lunches of fish burger, special Caesar salad, fish burrito, and fish Caesar salad accompanied by the house Mai Tais and BFRDs (Big Rum Drinks). There was a special brownie topped with ice cream for Leslie's birthday dessert, plus key lime pie, and huge wedges of ice cream "pie" for the rest of us. It was a delicious meal in a fun setting made even more special by our visit with Stan.

We wound down the day with one more celebratory drink atop the Ilikai hotel where there is a great view of the Ala Wai Marina and we could see Nakia tied up at the Hawaii Yacht Club. Finally it was time to say goodbye to Leslie and Tom, and return to reality after our "vacation" from our "retirement."

The next day we moved Nakia to a "slip" at the Ala Wai Marina where we are on a dock with no fingers; we are med-moored with the bow tied to a mooring ball and stern-tied to the dock. We're almost close enough to the boats on either side of us for Ziggy to jump off Nakia, but at least he can't jump to the dock (which we get to in our dinghy like we did in Honokohau). Now it's time for us to get busy with boat projects!

{GMST}21|17.020|N|157|50.595|W|Ala Wai Marina|Honolulu{GEND}

Friday, November 05, 2010


We are just about at the end of our stay in Kona where the only thing keeping us here is the opportunity to spend time with our good friends, Ralph and Glenda. We have enjoyed lunches at the Kona Canoe Club and the Big Island Grill; shopping trips to Costco, Sports Authority, and Ross; and a visit to Honokohau Marina to see Our Country Home and have a quick chat with Chris on Quest. The most enjoyable part of the visit has been hanging out on their new lanai addition, admiring the ocean view and the new covered patio area in progress down in the back yard. Since our arrival the balcony glass has been installed in the lanai and lava paving stones were being set in the yard patio. These two areas add a lot of beauty and resort style living space to an already lovely home.

While we've been playing on shore poor Nakia has been bouncing around like a drunken sailor in the anchorage. Even with the rocker stopper the swell and wind chop have been awful, sometimes to the point of having to hold on to drinks to keep them from sliding across the table. After three nights of this we're feeling a little sleep deprived, and I think we'll be glad to get out to sea where we can get some better rest!

I bought Ziggy a nifty new toy. It's an egg shaped "weeble" type thing, weighted on the bottom half. The top screws off to fill it with kibble or treats and there's a small hole for them to fall out of. The idea is for the cat to manipulate the egg to get the kibble to fall out a few at a time, but the boat rolls so much that the toy is pretty much self-dispensing at the moment. But Ziggy got the hang of it right away and now he has to work a bit for the kibble portion of his meals. Whatever keeps him occupied!

This afternoon we went to lunch with Ralph and Glenda as well as Randy and Lynn (from the Pacific Seafarers Net) before heading over to Honokohau for a short snorkel. As luck would have it our old neighbor from last year, Russ on Lepika (http://www.lepikasportfishing.com/)
was backing into the fuel dock just as we arrived. John went over to say 'hi' and before John could leave Russ asked if he wanted to go fishing Saturday. Unfortunately we plan to sail for Oahu at 1 AM tonight/Saturday morning which should put us into Honolulu early Sunday morning. So no fishing on Lepika this trip.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hilo to Kona

We wrapped up our business in Hilo, including sharing a Sumo burger (two 8 oz patties and a double order of fries) and a hot fudge sundae at Ken's Pancake House. It rained most of the weekend and was still raining when we pulled away Monday morning. Once we were a mile offshore we cleared the rain clouds which continued to spread showers over the windward slopes of the eastern coast. We passed Waipio Valley before sunset but couldn't see into it with the low angle of the sun. We did see lots of waterfalls along the coast, and the peak of Haleakala way off in the distance on Maui. We managed to get some nice sailing in between bouts of light wind motoring and the night was clear and warm especially once we rounded the point by Hawi and headed south for Kona. What a difference in scents on the dry breeze coming off the arid volcanic leeward side compared to tropical Hilo. We anchored off the Kailua Kona pier just after sunrise and got the rocker stopper deployed as quickly as possible to dampen our roll a bit. We'll meet Ralph and Glenda for lunch later today and catch up on sleep tonight.

Before leaving Hilo Ziggy got to meet Tank, a Coast Guard dog in training. John took Ziggy up the wall where they could sniff noses. Tank is still just a big puppy and was very sociable and happy to make all our acquaintance. Of course after that all Ziggy wanted to do was go to shore for more exploring. But we'll hold off on that until we get to the Ala Wai where we can walk him on his leash and harness.

Of the remaining Equator Hoppers, Freedom should arrive late today or early tomorrow morning, Kehaulani still has 400 miles to go, and Alobar is somewhere in between. The weather is clear for them and all are doing well.

We will take care of a few more chores while we're in Kona and should be headed for Honolulu by Friday. We'll skip the overnight to Maui because it's also an overnight to HNL from here and we're ready to avoid even the shortest of additional hops!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

First days in Hilo

Yes, we got our blizzards while waiting for the return bus back to the boat. And the great news is - they now offer a mini blizzard!!!! Even the small was always too much for me and now, for a dollar less, I can get the perfect size. It's enough to satisfy my craving without feeling stuffed. Yay! I had pecan pie flavor and John had Georgia mud fudge.

But first things first. I think I mentioned that John did a fantastic job of setting a bow anchor and backing straight to the wall behind us, in between Tango (catamaran) and M/V Kiska, the small Coast Guard boat stationed in Hilo. I slowly let out the bow anchor rode until he backed close enough to literally lasso one of the ship sized cleats on the edge of the wall. That was enough to get us set until we could launch the dinghy to properly tie both stern lines.

We started the arduous task of rearranging everything below back to its proper place, though not entirely since we'll be going back out to sea again soon. At 8:00 John picked Gary up from Sea Flyer to go check-in with the Harbor Master and Customs. Unbeknownst to me, John got a call back from our Hilo veterinarian, and made a 9:00 appointment. So in the middle of my cleaning and before John and Gary returned from Customs, I heard a call from Dr. Skip Pease on the dock. Since the dinghy was at the ladder where John left it I couldn't fetch the vet but, good sport that he is, Skip climbed down into the dinghy and did his best to row over to Nakia. He looked over an uncooperative Ziggy and completed the Health Certificate required by Animal Quarantine.

The next visit was from a veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture who asked that we meet her up at the picnic table by the bathrooms because she had her small daughter with her. So we harnessed Ziggy and loaded him in his crate, into the dinghy, and up the ladder. She scanned Ziggy's microchip, checked our ID, filled out the Airport Release Card and other paperwork, and gave an unhappy Ziggy another once over. By this time he was really stressed and by the time we released him back on the boat his nose and paws were very pink and he was breathing quickly, though not actually panting. Last year he'd had a day to get used to his new surroundings before going through all this and it didn't phase him. I'm so glad we didn't have to put him through a long trip to the HNL airport, which you have to do if you check in on Oahu.

We took the first afternoon bus to do some shopping at the mall, and get the aforementioned DQ blizzards, and caught the last bus of the day back to the boat. Picked up some not very good Chinese at the Oceanfront Kitchen and plopped down to see what's new on the TV. To our surprise we found there's an election coming up this Tuesday and the TV is full of negative ad campaigning and ads against negative ad campaigning. Welcome back to the good ol' USA...

Yesterday we made an early morning trip to the local laundromat and managed to get all of that done in one trip. I returned in the afternoon for a visit to the library and more groceries. Since we can only buy what we can carry on the bus, it's nice to pick up a few things each time we go into town.

Today we heard from Alobar, one of the three remaining Equator Hoppers, who reports that Kehaulani discovered broken wires on their rigging. The breaks are at the top of the mast where they can't make repairs in the current conditions. They've called the Coast Guard for help and are hoping to divert another sailboat in the area to get a younger person who would be able to climb the mast for them. Otherwise they would have to motor the rest of the way, and they don't have the fuel capacity to do that.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day - nice for the Holland America ship visiting from SoCal - and last night we got a good rain. This morning I wiped the boat down to get most of the remaining salt off, and just now we had another rain shower to complete the rinse cycle. Next I need to polish and wax the stainless which is looking very rough after more than three weeks of taking a pounding of salt spray. But first we are probably going to Kona on Monday to meet up with good friends, Ralph and Glenda. We're sorry we're going to miss Freedom's arrival in Hilo this week, but we've got to get moving on to Honolulu soon.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hilo Landfall

After 24 days we made our arrival at 6:30 Thursday morning not without the usual last minute excitement. First it rained off and on on us and we had to motor the last six hours. Then I almost ran into the green buoy outside the breakwater when I was paying too much attention to an alarm going off on the auto pilot and John talking on the radio to a large car carrier exiting the bay in front of us. Then we had our usual tiff over the fact that I've never learned how to flake the aft section of the main sail and John has to do it for me. And the confusion over getting lines out and chain lockers cleared in preparation for actually tying up to shore. But John did an amazing job of setting our bow anchor and backing down on the wall close enough so he could lasso one of the big yellow dock cleats with our stern line. No assistance required! Our favorite gate grunt (security guard) was there to welcome us back. We're tied up next to Tango, a catamaran we met briefly in Anse Amyot, and down the way is Verite, the catamaran that (nicely) kicked us off their reserved mooring in Uturoa.

Ziggy doesn't know what to do with himself, and is following us around looking quite perplexed. I don't think he'll be going to sleep anytime soon this morning!

We're happy to have the boat still even if it means we now go into high gear fixing things and cleaning up the mess created by such a long, rough time at sea. The blog will be quiet for awhile until we're either settled in or moving again.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, 10/27

Yesterday we had two signs of approaching land - I saw a frigate bird, which we haven't seen since leaving Raiatea, and we overheard Coast Guard Honolulu talking on the VHF radio! Yesterday was another wet and wooly day with one period of calmer wind and waves in the afternoon as big rain clouds passed all around us. The wind and waves have come back up since then; not as bad as before though there's still a good chance of taking spray any time you enter the cockpit.

Sea Flyer should be the third boat making landfall later today, and Nakia will be right behind them in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. There will be a lot of cleaning up to do to put this sailboat back to our cozy home, but we're looking forward to a date with blizzards at DQ.

One more day and night at sea!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, 10/26 (dawn)

We're getting reports that our latest position(s) haven't appeared on Pangolin or ShipTracker so here they are:

Sunday, 10/24
14 degrees 54 minutes North
148 degrees 24 minutes West

Monday, 10/25
16 degrees 19 minutes North
150 degrees 16 minutes West

Although yesterday was another windy (25 knots), rough (up to 12 foot seas) day, there was more sunshine making it not so ominous. What a funny trick of the mind that when the sun is shining it's all very beautiful, but when clouds color everything grey and dull it looks a bit more threatening. Last night was much calmer and we were able to let out a bit more jib to keep our speed up. John says the forecast is for plenty of wind all the way to Hilo until Thursday. It looks like we may arrive before sunrise Thursday, but we've been in and out of Hilo a couple of times and it's very straightforward and doable in the dark. Now I'm hoping for some nice rain to wash the boat with after we get tied up to the dock.

Ziggy's dinner slide across the table doesn't seem to have affected him and he's been a bit nicer lately. He knows our watch routine, or rather that one of us gets up while the other one goes to bed, and he always jumps out of his bed for a walk around the cabin or a scritchy-scratch on his cardboard "post" before settling back in bed to wait for his next meal. He's been playing with toys a bit, but is dying to get out of the cockpit for a bigger leg stretch. It's been too rough this passage to take him for walks around the decks. Yesterday morning he was out the door after daylight and sniffed out the two flying fish that were still on board - one just in front of the dodger (he was still underneath the dodger and didn't figure out to go around), and one little one in the cockpit well under the dinghy gas can. I was able to toss both stiff bodies overboard before he could eat them. He is truly one of our main sources of entertainment on a long passage like this as you can tell!

I didn't sleep very well last night and am looking forward to getting a solid three hours on my long off watch later this morning. You'd think we'd fall asleep at the drop of a hat when given the opportunity, but sometimes I have trouble shutting down my brain. We are trying to time our book reading to finish before we arrive since there won't be a spare minute with all the work and play to do. But I finished one last night and will see if I can get one last trashy book read in the next two days, before returning to more leisurely literary works. Can't wait to hit the library for some DVD rentals too.

Many thanks to all the encouraging emails from friends and family who are as anxious as we are to make landfall!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, 10/25

No long blog for today. Still very windy and rough and we are taking periodic waves breaking in the cockpit. Have the bottom hatch board in and now the companionway hatch roof closed. Before we closed the roof we took a little splash all the way into the galley and on top of my head since I happened to be standing at the foot of the steps at the time. I stopped hand feeding Ziggy some time ago and got him to eat standing on some carpet non-skid on our salon table. Last night the entire contents of the table - books, glasses, head lamps, kleenex, cat bowl, and cat - went sliding off on to the port settee cushion. Poor Ziggy. Now he gets to eat on the starboard settee cushion where he can at least dig in some claw.

We are still broad reaching under double-reefed main, no staysail, and a scrap of jib, making around six knots. Less than 400 miles to go, so at this rate we may be in Hilo very early Thursday morning. Three more nights!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday, 10/24

Saturday was probably the windiest we've seen it so far, but mostly a nice sunny day, so beautiful in a wild sort of way. Even though they don't really seem that big, I'm sure these are the seas that I've looked down upon from an airplane flying to/from Hawaii, thinking to myself how happy I wasn't out there in a small boat! But they're not really as bad as they look from above. I give the autopilot a break twice a day while John does the radio nets and email (our autopilot freaks out when we transmit on the radio so someone has to hand steer). I was nervous about standing out there for up to half an hour at a time but I think I gained more confidence as I got used to the conditions.

We had a new nature experience yesterday. I went out on deck before 8 AM for a horizon check and noticed a dark grey shape surfing in the waves off our aft starboard quarter. I figured it was a lone small dolphin and that I had missed the main pod (sometimes a few strays will hang around after the big group has left). But when I went back out at 8:15 to steer for John's radio net it was still there. I soon realized that it never surfaced to breathe and was more fish than dolphin or shark shaped. John joined me after the net and confirmed that it must be a dorado (mahi mahi). The amazing thing is that it followed us for the entire day! Every time I went out to check for ships I got so focused on finding the fish in the waves that I had to force my eyes back up to the horizon to scan for ships. It's been too rough to even think about fishing, besides which we still have a freezer full of dorado and I'm not a big fan of anything but salmon to begin with. Besides, it was kind of fun to have a fish mascot for a day!

We are still plowing through the collected works of "New York Times Bestselling" authors - Dan Brown, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, Carl Hiaasen, David Baldacci, James Patterson, and Elmore Leonard. I managed to read the latter's "Out of Sight" without remembering the Clooney/JLo movie of the same name until John started reading it and pointed that out to me. Reading one book right after another is making them all a big blur, but it sure does pass the time. I manage to do a crossword puzzle now and then and John listens to pre-loaded podcasts of NPR shows like Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me which keep him chuckling.

The second Equator Hopper boat to arrive in Hawaii is Dazzler. They checked into the Pacific Seafarer's Net off the coast of Molokai last night and expected to reach the Ala Wai Marina (their home port) around midnight. The rest of us are making slow but steady progress towards our various island destinations. The sailboat Entelecheia is checking into the PacSeaNet at night. They are sailing from the northern Cook Islands to Hawaii where they will store the boat until Spring and then make the final leg homeward to San Francisco. Now that's a long passage to Hawaii!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday, 10/23 (dawn)

We've had a couple of easy nights in light of the fact that we remember nights being much windier than days in our Pacific crossings. But once we got into the NE trades the days have been windy (18 or more knots) with rougher seas (nine or more feet) and the nights have given us some relief with calmer seas. Today has already started off with a bang. At 4 AM John completely furled the jib and at 6 AM he put the second reef in the main sail which, on our sail, is down to almost nothing. The staysail is still out which means we have nowhere else to go with regard to any more reefing. If he gets a calm period, John may drop the staysail and put out a little jib since that can be reefed and unreefed more easily.

Of course by now everything is covered in salt. The throw rugs are still from all the salt we track below on our shoes, the beach towels covering the settee cushions are damp with salt from John's shorts (he has to sit on salty surfaces to do any sailorizing), and our clothes are salty because we sweat day and night in the hot and humid cabin. We'll be doing a lot of washing and cleaning when we get to Hawaii!

Ziggy is bored out of his mind and has become almost untouchable. All he wants to do (except at meal time when he knows better) is take big bites out of us. His eyes are almost constantly in dilated (attack) mode when he's awake. I'm not sure how we're going to make it through five more nights without more bloodshed (ours not his).

But we are counting down the days and nights and are looking forward to a full night's sleep in our own bed on a quiet, motionless boat again!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, 10/22 (dawn)

Though there may be more motoring ahead if the wind dies we managed to squeak through the ITCZ with only about 12 hours worth. After one (hopefully) last big black cloud covering the sky and raining on us, we've picked up the NE tradewinds. We're broad reaching now (the wind coming more from our side) and taking spray over the bow and into the cockpit again. It's a sharp jerky motion in the bigger seas, but we're moving along fast. We've set a waypoint for the Big Island and, if we can keep up this pace, we could be there by next Thursday or Friday, just in time for Halloween weekend in Hilo. Less than 900 miles to go!

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of what looked like maybe pilot whales. There were puffy spouts and they were much larger than dolphins. They surfed the waves aft of us before disappearing. We're also seeing the very sturdy and graceful shear waters, the little white-rumped petrels, and what I think are tropic birds without their long breeding tail plumes.

Before we left Nila asked me if I do my exercises while on passage. I had to laugh and told her that on a monohull (her boat, Quixotic, is a catamaran) just "being" is plenty of exercise. In addition to constantly bracing for the motion (okay, so maybe it's only isometric exercise), consider that we also climb up and down five steps every 15 minutes over 12 hours in every 24 hour period to scan the horizon outside for ships and weather. That sounds like exercise to me!

In anticipation of our arrival we're planning how to finish up our cabbage, carrots, and onions so that we don't have to waste any by handing them over to Customs. Last year they let us keep our last couple of onions, but other boats we know had theirs taken. So for now it's an onion a day until we can get back to an apple a day!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Motoring in the ITCZ

Thursday morning

We slowed down a bit yesterday and finally had to turn the engine on at 10:00 last night. We're still motoring at almost 9 and a half degrees North, trying to reach 10 North where we hope to pick up some wind again. We're much farther east than the boats ahead of us. Maybe that will make our ITCZ experience different (i.e., shorter!). Motoring is the worst for Ziggy because the noise and vibration are terrible. It's bad enough for us but must be torture for his sensitive ears. We put his crate on the pullman berth where it's quieter and he has escaped there even though the motion is probably a bit rollier up there.

Chris and Louise of S/V Quest arrived in Kona yesterday. They left Bora Bora on 10/3 and are a fast looking, custom aluminum boat. They are the first of our batch of Equator Hoppers to arrive in Hawaii.

After crossing the equator on 10/15 our sea surface temperature gradually started rising to 79 degrees by the night of 10/16. It stayed there until the night of 10/18 (at about 3 degrees, 42 minutes North and 141 degrees, 45 minutes West) when it went up to 80 degrees and gradually climbed to a high of 82.9 degrees yesterday at 7 degrees, 57 minutes North, 141 degrees, 59 minutes West. It looks like it may have started to drop last night, but we'll see. This may all be related to the influence of the east bound current which has been affecting us a little.

With the warm waters the air temps have also been warm and humid. Our skies are mostly cloudy with some fat clouds dumping rain around us. We've had a few clouds catch up to us with light rain, but no downpours so far. We've seen some very pretty sunsets and sunrises with all the clouds in the sky. Yesterday afternoon we had a dolphin visit (our second of the trip) and there are always the occasional birds to see. We're heading mostly NNE to try to get to 10 North as quickly as possible where we hope to pick up some wind by this afternoon!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, 10/19

It's a grey, sometimes rainy day. We're sailing downwind, wing and wing, which means we have to close the companionway doors when the rain starts. This makes for a humid cave below with the sea surface temperature now at 82.4 degrees! The good news is that we're averaging over six knots each hour instead of the dismal four or less we were making going upwind.

Nothing else to report. Just wanted to let everyone know all is well aboard Nakia, and we're making tracks for Hawaii.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hawaii bound

It's a bit of a blue day on Nakia as we have decided to postpone our dream to return to Mexico yet again. John crunched the weather faxes and grib files for the upcoming weeks and couldn't come up with enough days of southerly winds to justify the attempt from where we are now. Beating into more of the NE and E winds just didn't sound appealing especially now that those winds and seas have increased, making for a rougher ride. Turning off the wind to sail due North at Noon today was a relief to both our bodies and the boat.

The other factor is that the Cape Horn broke early Sunday morning. John knew before we left FP that the metal rod that failed was already cracked, but he just couldn't see paying hundreds of dollars in shipping and customs duty for a free replacement part. This actually wouldn't have been so bad for sailing to MX since our wheel lock does very well steering the boat upwind. But if we needed to use the auto pilot much we would have been draining our batteries and our fuel supply of gasoline and diesel would have been stretched beyond the limit to keep them charged for another month or more of sailing.

We have plenty of fuel to keep us charged up for the next 10-12 days of sailing to Hawaii. Now the issue is not being able to transmit on the HF radio when the auto pilot is steering. So we're back to the old days of Linda hand steering while John checks-in to the radio nets and sends/receives email. Since I don't particularly like standing out in the wind/spray/rain for this duty, I may not be generating as much email as I have been!

Now our only decision is where to make landfall, Hilo or Honolulu. We'll see what the weather looks like when we get closer before deciding whether or not to bypass Hilo and continue on to Oahu. Our next major hurdle will be crossing the ITCZ. The two boats ahead of us spent 36-72 hours motoring through it, and we really hope we don't have to do the same.

The good news about making Hawaii our near term destination is getting to see the birthday girl and all our cruising friends again!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday, 10/16

Since crossing the equator (our sixth, by the way!) we've continued to see some interesting temperature trends. We reached a new low of 74.7 before dawn today and it's been climbing steadily ever since. This afternoon the latest reading is up to 78.6 degrees. We're also noticing that even though we have a good wind (enough to heel us over), we're only making 4 kts or less. The combination of these things tells us that we must have reached the Equatorial Current which is west bound and is slowing us down as we sail mostly N or NE. We hope to have broken free of this obstacle by the time we reach 5 degrees north in a few more days.

Ziggy is on a strict "catch and release" program with regard to flying fish landing on the side decks at night. It's been calm enough that we're letting him get the fish himself. Although "letting" isn't really accurate since he's usually out the door and gone before we even realize there's a fish on deck. We grab a paper towel and wait for him to return to the cockpit where we wrap one end of the fish (which he conveniently holds by the middle) with the paper towel and yank it out of his mouth, throwing the whole mess overboard. What a stinky mess. I find fish scales in the oddest places because they blow or get tracked down below. Last night he caught a record six fish and we managed to keep him from eating any of them.

We on the other hand have been enjoying fish meals almost every day. Yesterday John made two nice loaves of bread, our first since leaving Tahaa. The morning of our departure we were on a mooring buoy at the Taravana Yacht Club. At dinner the night before I had thought to ask about the hours of the nearby bakery. So at 6:00 that Monday morning I took the dinghy in to the club dock and walked a couple of blocks for a last supply of fresh baguettes. Today we had mahi mahi sandwiches with John's fresh bread.

Today we also came within about 15 miles of one of the other boats headed for Hawaii. Sea Flyer departed on 10/7 from Tikihau in the Tuamotus, and we've been in touch with them daily on the morning radio net. It would have been a great photo op, but alas, even with GPS it's like looking for a needle in a hay stack and we never got a visual on them.

Soggy Paws emailed us that in addition to the Yotreps position reports on Pangolin, we are also being tracked at this site:


Since we haven't seen it ourselves we don't know how it differs from Yotreps, but maybe it will give you a different view of things.

It's another clear blue day and we're sailing well on the wind vane, enjoying the ride and sleeping well.


Chillin' at the Equator

We have a Furuno fish finder which we use as our depth sounder. One of the features of the display is the sea surface temperature. We record this along with the rest of our position data each hour 24/7 of any passage. It's been particularly interesting to watch this trip.

10/4 Day One out of Raiatea: 81 degrees.

10/5 Day Two: 81.7 is our high temperature so far.

The temperature was then consistently 80-81 for the next few days.

10/9 Day Six: dropped from 80.2 to 79.5 in one hour and remained constant around 79.

10/13 Day Ten: started dropping at 03 degrees 30 minutes South, 146 degrees 06 minutes West when it went from 78.6 to 77.7 in one hour, and gradually continued to drop.

10/15 Day Twelve: reached a low temp of 74.8 at 01 degrees 7 minutes South, 144 degrees 45 minutes West. Later this day, at 9:15 PM, we crossed the equator.

The cold water temps make for chilly, damp nights but the refrigerator/freezer, full of fish, doesn't have to work so hard to stay cool.

John gave Neptune an extra ration of rum at the equator in thanks for the smooth sailing so far, and made a teeny request for some south winds!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good Thursday Morning

Each morning the dawn breaks and I'm faced with a band of puffy clouds under which rain falls at various intervals. I worry and fret, but by the time we reach the clouds they've lifted a bit, the sun is warmer, and I've won my game of chicken once again. Although I don't like the thought of getting rained on (mostly because it sometimes means increased wind) Nakia would welcome a good bath. She's encrusted in salt - you can't touch a surface forward of the cockpit without coming up with a handful of salt crystals. But I'm in no hurry since I know our turn for a downpour will come soon enough.

Before we left I asked John to use some of our remaining Hotspot internet minutes in Raiatea to download some of our favorite cruiser blogs and web pages. So he pulled up an Explorer window and opened tab after tab of our friend's adventures. Now we're reading about Masquerade in Kwajalein, Nine of Cups and Sarana's summer in the States, Mist in Hawaii, and even Yohelah's 2005 Pacific NW entries. Great fun to have the company of friends during a long passage!

Ziggy got a flying fish on the side deck last night but I grabbed some paper towels and relieved him of his catch as soon as he returned with it to the companionway. They are stinky, slippery things. Freedom reported "catching" one that was a foot long! We've never seen one that big.

It was another nice, quiet night, and we'll hope for another sunny day moving along. Oh, and yes, we have plenty of food on board to get us where we want to go! Just not as many fresh veggies/fruits as we normally would because variety of the former is limited, quality of imported produce is poor, and all are expensive in French Polynesia.


Wednesday night, 10/13 (midnight watch)

Nothing new to report, but I thought I'd check in just to let everyone know all is still very well aboard Nakia. We are having a good upwind sail with fine weather. This morning the wind was a bit more out of the north than usual so John tried putting us on port tack. That had us going too far south and we went back on starboard tack after a few hours. Boy, once you're used to being on a certain tack, it's hard to make the transition to the opposite one.

Yesterday John caught a skipjack type of tuna (not the bad kind like in Mexico) just as our morning oatmeal was ready to eat. Later in the afternoon he hooked a bull dorado. So I cleared the freezer of all our baked goods and it looks like we'll be eating our fill of fish. Ziggy can't get enough but we're limiting him to what we hope are small enough quantities to keep him both happy and healthy. (I still don't understand what it is about fish that cats with UTIs are not supposed to eat it.) He gets pretty frisky after meals these days and is really tearing into his cardboard scratching "post."


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday, 10/12

If we have to sail upwind, we couldn't have asked for a more perfect first week. We've had a reefed main out, the staysail, and the jib on port tack, and the only trimming has been to the jib. Granted we've been sailing slow - anything over 5 kts feels fast - and are envious of the boats reporting 5.5 - 6.5 average speeds. But we've been much more comfortable this time and I think a lot of it has to do with slowing down. Last night was the first slightly uncomfortable night with the boat crashing off more waves and generally bouncier conditions, even though it didn't seem any windier than usual.

Even though we've seen lots of them the entire way, we had our first boarding of suicidal flying fish last night. Ziggy was coming down the companionway with the first one before John caught him. So now he's in his harness waiting for a dawn release. It will be better once the moon is more full. My theory is if there's enough light to see by, the fish are able to avoid us more easily.

I forgot to mention my latest "home improvements." As nice and clear as the days are we still have to have every hatch and port hole closed up against the ocean spray making it very hot and stuffy below. We take a lot of sun through the hatches above the salon. One day I got the bright idea to open the screens (which hinge down), lay paper towels on top of them, and latch them back in place. Now we still get lots of diffused light without taking the direct sun. I think it also cuts down on the amount of heat entering the cabin. With that in mind I also taped a bandana over the quarter berth port hole where the morning sun was bothering me on my first off watch of the day. That too has helped keep the berth cooler. Can't believe it's taken us going on six equator crossings to think of simple things like that.

You may have noticed that we're sailing quite far east of Hawaii. This is in anticipation of crossing the ITCZ and getting into the northern hemisphere winds where we'll be able to crack off the wind and have a nicer sail to Hawaii. Or it's because we're heading to Mexico. That decision is still out, but we should be making it soon.

Sailing slow, but very comfortable and happy campers!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Books on Nakia

Before we left Hawaii, after Ziggy's emergency visit to the vet, I decided we needed some cat health books on board. The vets I asked for recommendations looked at me with blank stares so I started looking for myself. I ended up buying the following three books. It seemed silly at the time to order multiple references, but I'm happy I ended up buying all three of the cat books because they're from different points of view and I can pick and choose what works best for us. I hope all our cat owning friends will pass on their favorites to us as well!

Your Cat by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins - This is the first one I read cover to cover. She's a former Hill's Science Diet exec and an adamant opponent of feeding dry food. Has some good data on cases where merely changing the diet improved health issues. Using her food analysis I now know that the Rx Hill's diet (canned and dry) that we stocked up on for Ziggy is poorer quality than the few Friskies cans we still have on board. I kept looking for the flaws in her logic because I'm sure vets won't agree with her, but she makes a compelling argument.

The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier - Raw meat diet and homeopathic care proponent. Okay, this one is on the extreme end of things, but she has some good recipes for making your own food, and lots of tips. Who knew roasted chicken neck vertebrae make a good teeth cleaning treat. It's a "feel good" read in that she makes it sound possible to get your cat to do anything, when I know for a fact I couldn't do 3/4 of what she suggests with Ziggy!

Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Eldredge, et al - haven't dipped into this one much yet, but looks like a nice middle of the road reference from mainstream vets.

In the reading for pleasure department I have two big recommendations:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - Inspiring read about her family's goal to eat locally for a year, including growing as much of their own food as possible. Makes me want to make my own mozzarella cheese, which is saying a lot! Can't do anything about the gardening at the moment, but lots of good food for thought (pun intended).

The Pickup, a novel by Nadine Gordimer - Although the inevitable ending was no surprise this is a beautifully written story that stayed with me for days afterwards.

Now we're reading mass market "beach books" which for me are simply time passers. I don't normally read many of these and reading them back to back has been kind of interesting. The first one, a David Baldacci, was a fast paced page turner in which every possible suspect, motive and plot twist was thrown out to get the reader off the track. But the author lost me when the killer turned out to be one of the "normal" characters who conveniently became a psycho. Now I'm onto a Clifford Irving in which the real suspects are evident in under 100 pages, but which is much more character and issues driven making it a more thoughtful read.

The reason we're reading these small paperbacks is because they have been stuffed behind our shelf of reference books and literary fiction behind which we again have a small salt water deck leak. I've stuffed towels behind all of them, but we decided we'd better read them before they got water logged.

It's Sunday and we're having another beautiful clear sunny day, although the sailing is slower than we'd like. John estimates that Robert and Kelita on Freedom are about 75 miles behind us, with the rest of the boats up ahead of us, and all are doing well. Freedom happened to pass Caroline Atoll in the daytime and decided to sail NW to get in the lee of it for what they reported as being the best six hours of sailing they've ever had. Said the atoll was beautiful and appeared completely uninhabited, but too deep to anchor for a visit. We passed at night so had to give it a miss.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Saturday, October 9

We continue to truck along towards the equator and the ITCZ (Intercontinental Tropical Convergence Zone) which is the hurdle we must cross to get into the northern hemisphere weather patterns. We've had a pretty slow start but that made for a very comfortable adjustment period which was actually almost enjoyable. Spray seldom flew over the dodger making it possible for us to stand outside to look out over the sparkling blue ocean. We were sailing close to the wind (close reaching) using our trusty wheel lock to let Nakia steer herself once the sails were balanced just right. Last night the seas became a bit rougher and this morning John fell off the wind a bit (more of a beam reach) and switched over to our Cape Horn wind vane self steering.

Although I was aware of the jerkier, more side to side motion of the boat I neglected to think about how it might affect Ziggy. He was his usual self, pestering me for breakfast at dawn, and I encouraged him to eat a full breakfast of canned food (which, with additional water added to it, is the only water he's "drinking"). Big mistake. How is it that the volume of what goes in appears to triple when it comes back out? All over one of the carpets, which I wiped and then stuffed in the anchor chain locker to grow god knows what. Poor guy has been sleeping it off ever since.

So far this week's mishaps have been a bit costly but minor. During the worst night with lots of adjustments being made to the jib (in and out) a locking Lewmar winch handle managed to go over the side when it wasn't properly locked in the winch. One day John decided to let the fishing lines stay out well into sunset. When he pulled them in he had lost his big purple and pink fishing lure. It hadn't caught anything yet, but it was one of John's favorites. He was using a 400 lb test leader on it so whatever took it must have had something sharp to cut through the metal.

We are traveling "in company" with a few other boats and John is running a radio sked in the mornings for everyone to call in with their position, weather, and any general comments. The boats are all very different models and traveling at varying speeds so we're pretty well spread out, but it's nice to keep track of each other and hear the various wind/wave conditions. About half are headed straight to Honolulu and the others are going to Hilo. We'd like to go to Hilo first where it's easier to clear in with Customs but we'll see what kind of progress we make. We also wouldn't want to arrive there on a weekend and have to wait around to clear in, so it's possible we'd go straight to Oahu.

The weather has been mostly clear and sunny with a few puffy clouds. We see birds daily and one of the first days out I came out on deck to look around and just happened to be looking in the right spot when a whale with a very white belly breached the water and went over on its back off in the distance. I couldn't see the fins but it was pretty amazing especially when that wasn't even my "scheduled" 15 minute interval to be up on deck. What are the odds of that?!


Friday, October 08, 2010

Hawaii or Mexico?

Well, it appears that someone who is celebrating a very special birthday in Hawaii has guessed that may be where we're going! And it certainly is the most likely possibility although you do have to go north to turn east for our other favorite place. However we'll probably wimp out on that one (again) especially since the ship's quarter master (me) didn't do a very good job of provisioning for an extra long passage (really miss all those free pamplemousse, limes, bananas, and mangos in the Marquesas).

So unless something happens to make us change our minds we are Hawaii bound for the time being!

Continuing to have a particularly pleasant passage (there, now I jinxed it), and looking forward to either destination.

Linda (and John and Ziggy too)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(no subject)

I'm going to leave the position reports to John and keep mine short since time is limited. I know that sounds weird but there is either lots to do or we're trying to get some rest. We're using our time tested watch schedule in which I am up at 0400 to see the dawn begin at 0500. Ziggy lets me know he sees it getting light as well which means it's time for his breakfast. I basically have to hold or prop the food bowl for him while he's hunkered down or curled up in his bed. I think he feels more secure there and is less likely to get thrown about with the motion of the boat. (I already have calluses starting on my hands just from holding on.) After he's done then it's my turn to bolt a hard-boiled egg and a granola bar or one of various baked goods from the freezer. Of course every 15 minutes the watch alarm is going off telling me to go outside and have a look around for ships. And then on the hour we record our GPS position in the log book. More about all this later. My 15 minutes are up!

We are well and happy and enjoying a very slow sail to somewhere or other.

We are posting our positions to the following web site instead of here on the blog, so you can track us by clicking here:



Friday, October 01, 2010

Where's Nakia?

We finally broke free of Bora Bora but not French Polynesia. After some more kite boarding, baking, sewing projects, swimming, snorkeling, another lunch at Bloody Mary's, and some laundry we returned to Raiatea and anchored near the boat yard. We spent so much time in Bora Bora with no weather window for visiting Maupiti in sight that we decided to stay here a couple of more weeks before making our next big push.

Ed is making a hard bimini for his catamaran, Quixotic, and Robert (on Freedom) and John volunteered to assist him with this big project. So Nila, Kelita and I have been playing haus fraus on the boats until recently when the other women decided to pitch in with the fiberglassing and help move things along. I've been doing much more cooking than usual, and a lot of cleaning and small boat projects to get ready for our departure.

Speaking of which, we've decided to play a little game with the friends and family reading our blog. We were pretty certain of our "off" season destination until just recently. Since now even WE are not sure where we'll end up, we thought it would be fun to let you figure it out as we go. We'll post position reports during our passage as usual and you can follow along on your mapping reference of choice. No prizes will be awarded, but we'll look forward to reading your guesses!

The September weather here was nuts. Even the locals were saying it's not usually so windy and rainy. It's been some of the most changeable conditions I've ever experienced, taking only a few minutes to turn from warm and sunny to a (usually brief) torrential downpour or just a light sprinkle. We've been having half a dozen showers a day and often one or two at night, accompanied by gusty winds. This makes going anywhere in the dinghy, hanging laundry out to dry, and keeping the boat hatches open, all dicey endeavors. But with a view of beautiful Bora Bora in our backyard, we're not complaining!


Monday, September 06, 2010

Bora Bora

We haven't been having much in the way of adventures since arriving in Bora Bora. In fact it took 12 nights here before we even stepped on shore at the island itself! Instead we've focused on a motu oriented life which, since they're all privately owned, means hanging out on the boat and in the water around the motus.

The snorkeling is mostly poor here. Places advertised as "coral gardens" were devastated by natural events like El Ninos and cyclones and will take years to recover. But we keep poking around wherever we happen to be anchored and John usually manages to find something interesting like a lionfish or an eel. I'm happy just being in clear water and the smallest things will hold my interest. We had one good day inside the reef west of Motu Topua, but you really have to get right up next to it to find much live coral. The coral garden at the extreme southeast corner of the lagoon (around Pt. Faroone) was a desert of bare tan rock surrounded by black spiny urchins on top of the sand. The tour boats seem to focus on feeding stingrays and sharks since there's nothing much else to see. Probably our best day of snorkeling was on the reef behind the anchorage at Motu Tupe. There's a beautiful live coral reef running the length of the drop off between a green navigation mark and a black and yellow West cardinal mark. We saw corals there that we haven't seen anywhere else, though no big fish. Manta rays are supposed to run along here and John spotted two before it disappeared into the depths. My "trophy" was watching a big moray eel free swim from a small rock with no place to hide to a larger hidey hole. But the biggest surprise was seeing a juvenile Pacific Sailfin Tang for the first time, a very unusually shaped and colorful little fish. Water clarity is an issue when it's been windy, and return trips to this reef were murkier than the first visit.

{GMST}16|29.582|S|151|42.238|W|Motu Tupe|Bora Bora{GEND}

A bonus of hanging out with other boats is getting to play with their toys. Ed on Quixotic is a certified dive instructor and has enough gear on board to share. So John went out with him for a shallow dive on the above mentioned reef. Since John already does a lot of free-diving he was perfectly comfortable with the scuba experience. Ed also has a kite board with small, medium, and large kites. He doesn't have a harness to fit John so Ed and Robert have been taking turns learning the ins and outs of flying the kite with John acting as sag wagon for them in the dinghy.

Before they could start flying the kites though, they had to get together to fix the kite bladders which were all failing at the fill nipples. This was a major undertaking which took so long that they finally perfected their technique using lots of 5200. Other projects for the guys included trying to repair Quixotic's inverter (which proved to be inoperable, but John had a brand new small one which should tide them over until they can get what they really need); replacing a steering eye bolt on Nakia which was literally hanging by two threads of remaining metal - potentially catastrophic had it failed transiting one of the narrow passes we go in and out of at each island; and Robert discovered a leak in his fuel tank on Freedom which he's in the process of fixing before they leave for their long passage back to California - very important!

We've had weather all over the map here. The day I last wrote we had a big front pass through, complete with thunder and lightning which is very unusual. Needless to say we filled our tanks and did laundry with all the excess water we caught by plugging up the side decks. A week later the winds had died, the swell was down, and we should have left for Maupiti. But who wants to move when it's so beautiful and you're enjoying the company of friends? We were lazy and complacent and we missed the best weather window possible for entering the narrow pass at Maupiti. Now we're paying for our inertia by sitting out increasingly breezy days with no end in sight for at least another week. More rain is going through this weekend and the water is murky with the sand getting stirred up by waves coming over the outside reef.

We'll probably move back down to the really shallow water at the SE corner soon for an internet fix. We've been able to buy Wi-Fi time through Hotspot and the signal has been good in places like Motu Taurere (but not at Motus Tupe or Topua) and from the moorings at Bloody Mary's. It's expensive and mostly slow, but it's a diversion and John can get a better handle on weather with the additional resources.

{GMST}16|31.887|S|151|42.358|W|Motu Taurere|Bora Bora{GEND}

I hate to rave too much because we've been restaurant deprived for so long that we may be easily bowled over by any place, but I have to say that we had one of the best cheeseburgers and fries at Bloody Mary's, not to mention their house specialty drink which was a perfect blend of spices and tomato juice. The ambiance (a sand floor where you're invited to check your sandals or shoes at the entrance) was the perfect mix of casual elegance, and best of all the lunch time menu was a bargain for French Polynesia. Burgers (including a generous portion of steak fries) started at 1000 CFP and a Bloody Mary was 650 CFP. We had such a great time that we made the mistake of returning for drinks and appetizers with Sidewinder that night and ended up spending a whopping amount at the bar. Funny how that happens especially when you're saying goodbye to friends you won't be seeing for a long time!

{GMST}16|31.655|S|151|44.660|W|Bloody Marys|Bora Bora{GEND}

We're back at Motu Tupe now where we girls forked over the big bucks to visit the Lagoonarium. This is a private motu with chaise lounges on a sandy beach fronting fenced fish pens and including a "turtle rescue program." We initially understood the cost to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-20 which would be reasonable. But when we started to hand over our 1500 CFP apiece we were told that the cost was 2500 CFP. Since the guys had opted out we decided to go proceed at the higher price (all it takes to reel me in is "turtles"). It turned out to be a lovely, if eco-questionable, place, but sadly short on small, colorful fish. The emphasis is on the big pen containing captive blacktip and gray sharks, along with stingrays and a pair of spotted eagle rays. There were also some large pufferfish, and schools of jacks and other big fish. Two small, shallow pens let tourists get even closer to stingrays. The even smaller turtle pen housed five sea turtles with an elevated wooden walkway for viewing them from above. No swimming is allowed in the turtle pen although you can wade in to hold your camera underwater for pictures. We watched as a group of tourists brought in by boat was herded first to the turtle pen where a guide hauled one of the turtles (flapping its fins in vain) out of the water onto the sand for a photo op and lots of touching. Then on to the shallow stingray pen where guides rode the rays like bucking broncos until they finally hauled one up to show off its two male organs, tail (stinger broken off), and mouth, again with more touching. Finally the big finale - everyone into the water for the shark feeding frenzy. And then everyone out of the water to line up for a buffet lunch with musical accompaniment ("La Bamba" - in French - on the ukulele). Since we weren't part of the tour our admission entitled us to a lovely plate of fruit for our group of three. I have to admit, it was the best pamplemousse, watermelon, coconut, and bananas I've ever paid for!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Taking it slow

Saturday, August 21

Nothing very exciting to report for the last week and a half, but here are some of the highlights.

From our favorite anchorage on the mostly sandy reef opposite Pt. Tenape in Uturoa, Raiatea we made a return trip to our other favorite anchorage in Baie Tapuamu on Tahaa. Only this time it took three tries before the hook finally found some sandy mud. John was trying to get us positioned a little farther away from our previous spot next to the coral reef on the north side of the bay in anticipation of some forecasted southerlies. In the end we were fine in the same old place, and we spent two nights there while we topped our water tanks from the gas station, did several loads of laundry, and filled up on both diesel and gasoline. This would be an ideal location if only the people in the store were a little friendlier and the dogs on shore a little quieter. Otherwise it's nice and peaceful and has everything we need with easy access to shore in the small boat harbor. Norbert even stopped by to sell us some more bananas and play us a song on his ukulele.

Our laundry chores have been greatly eased with the gift of a spinner machine from Quixotic. They thought theirs was broken and arranged to have a new one delivered by a friend visiting from the States. In the meantime Ed managed to fix the old one, and they insisted we give it a whirl. We still do the washing and rinsing in buckets, but the spinner really cuts down on the amount of wringing we have to do. It also does such a good job of spinning out the soapy water that we're able to reduce the amount of fresh water needed for rinsing. We're able to run it on our inverter and we use it on the side deck where it can drain right out the scupper. We were concerned about taking on "one more thing" but for now it fits nicely in our (unused) shower (along with a couple of water jugs). We are so glad Ed and Nila talked us into taking such a wonderful gift!

The weather was settled so we decided to continue a circumnavigation of Tahaa. First we explored Baie Apu where the Taravana Yacht Club is located. Although we had heard wonderful things about Richard and the YC dinners we were reluctant to spend the money for a mooring. There were a few boats anchored near the mooring field but we weren't comfortable anchoring in 90+' of water. We even nosed all the way in behind Ile Toapuhi - which would have been a long dinghy ride from the YC - but never found anything less than 90'. Several of our friends recommended the Tuesday YC buffet and show, but we'll save the $60 per person for something else.

We continued on to Ile Mahaea near Passe Toahotu to anchor in about 8' of water over a sandy shelf near a few catamarans. We had an uninteresting snorkel out near the reef. Our second day there we drift snorkeled the pass where there was mostly dead coral and no big fish, but we did see a nice variety of colorful eels. John took the dinghy back to Nakia so I could swim the rest of the way by myself over a shallow sandy bottom. I stopped to watch a pretty little nudibranch and eventually counted six of them in the general vicinity. I had passed over an old conch shell, but when I turned back to look at it again there was a tiny octopus crawling out from under it. It came most of the way out of its home, holding onto the outside of the shell with three tentacles. It's always amazing to me that there's so much to see in an otherwise barren looking area.

{GMST}16|38.380|S|151|25.670|W|Ile Mahaea|Tahaa{GEND}

On Tuesday we got an early start back down to Tautau with a brief stop in Patio for groceries. This was our third time to Patio but we were disappointed that we never saw again the lovely French bread of that first visit with Gloria Maris. On to Tautau where, instead of anchoring off the reef in front of the coral garden, we opted for the sandy shallow area to the south of the motu. We think this is the nicest spot for watching Bora Bora's impressive profile in the sunset, but it can get very choppy if the wind is up. Sidewinder and Freedom joined us for their first visit to the coral garden and they agreed that it isn't anything all that special. But when everyone else was out of the water and John and I were bringing up the rear, he motioned for me to swim back to him against the current. I was thinking "this better be worth it" because I was already cold. Well boy, when I looked where he was pointing I saw something the size of a small sea lion and realized it was about two feet of moray eel sticking out from its hidey hole. Then John told me to look carefully because the eel's mouth was wide open and a tiny cleaner fish was actually disappearing into the black void to take care of some eel dental work! I'm not sure novice snorkeling tourists would really enjoy seeing a huge eel, but our guess it that it's gotten so big from being fed by the tour guides.

{GMST}17|32.420|S|149|34.228|W|Ile Tautau South|Tahaa{GEND}

We were anxious to catch up with Quixotic again so we left the next day for Bora Bora where we are again anchored in about 8' over sand. This time John got curious about the exact difference between what our depth sounder reads and how much water is really under our keel, so he got out the metal yard stick and dove down to the bottom. We now know that we have 18" between us and the sand here. We are a bit of a novelty as most monohulls stick to deeper water, and we've even had a couple of dinghies stop by to ask us how much water we're anchored in. We don't mind shallow as long as the bottom is sand or mud, and there's nothing like the feeling of being anchored in a swimming pool. On one clear night John woke up and went out on deck to check on things, and to his amazement he watched a spotted eagle ray swim by Nakia in the moonlight.

We were excited to see John and Kara on Orca underway just after we came in the pass. They followed us over to drop the hook for a couple of hours to prepare for their passage to the Cook Islands. After they stowed the last of their gear and gave Orca a final scrub, John sent them off with a blast of his horn, and they sailed out of the lagoon with their drifter up in the light breeze. We hope to keep track of them (along with Gloria Maris, now at Penrhyn) by HF radio until they get out of range.

Our first night here we were invited to dinner on Quixotic to say farewell to Joe and Adrienne on Blue Bottle before they left for Tonga on Thursday. This is just one of several dinner and happy hour exchanges that we've shared with our friends from various boats recently. Most boats are heading off in one of two directions to the Cooks and Tonga, but there are a few that may be headed in our, third, more unusual direction. In the meantime we're taking life slow and enjoying the scenery and the company of interesting people.

{GMST}16|30.654|S|151|46.368|W|Ile Topua|Bora Bora{GEND}

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Wednesday, August 11

We're back in the general vicinity of Uturoa, Raiatea to fill our propane tanks before we go to Bora Bora. This time we're sharing our special transfer hose with Quixotic. The hose has one end that connects to the local tank's fitting and another end which connects to our U.S. style fitting. The idea is that you hang the local tank up high somewhere (like in your rigging) and drain the gas out of that tank into your tank which is down on deck. It usually works pretty well although sometimes you can't get all the gas out of the local tank. Then you return the (mostly empty) local tank to the store where you bought it to get your deposit back on the bottle.

Gas wasn't available at the village in Tapuamu so the guys had to dinghy up to the next bay to the village of Murifenua to get a full bottle. The Chinese people running the store there were much friendlier than the people in Tapuamu so we were happy to give them the business. Apparently as of August 1 the price of propane/butane has risen a whopping 130 CFP per 13 kilo bottle and the locals bought up all the full bottles at the old price. So until they use up the gas and return the empties, full bottles are in short supply. We managed to get the one for Blue Bottle right after a supply ship arrived, and when the guys returned the empty, all the full ones were sold out again (I guess by the people who aren't hoarding the cheaper bottles!).

The tank for Blue Bottle was slow to drain so we ended up spending an extra night at quiet little Tapuamu before heading north to meet up with Gloria Maris on Sunday. We talked about meeting them at the main town of Patio at the north end of Tahaa, but the wind had cranked up and we back-tracked a little to Baie Pueheru for much better protection.

{GMST}16|35.220|S|151|31.605|W|Baie Pueheru|Tahaa{GEND}

Kim and I went ashore in the afternoon and ended up walking to the store at Murifenua without realizing that it was the same place John had gone for propane. The Chinese woman said they had lived there for 20 years and their children also had houses in the village. It is a very nice store but their baguettes come from an in-house bakery and are probably the toughest we've had even when fresh.

On our way to the store we were walking on the lagoon side of the road which had about 10 feet of landscaping with low grass and tiare bushes (the local gardenia flower). It would be just our luck that an adorable kitten came out from under a bush at our approach, crying vehemently for help. It had blue eyes and was small enough to hold in the palm of your hand - too young to be away from its mother without human aid. We foolishly carried it to the two nearest houses thinking it might have strayed from its "owner" since it seemed to be so people oriented. But no one wanted to claim it or help us find where it belonged, so we reluctantly returned it to where we'd found it. Other than the distress at being left on its own it seemed clean (well, Kim found at least one flea) and not underweight, so we're comforting ourselves with the thought that its mother was simply off hunting for the afternoon and would return to care for it later. :-(

The next morning the four of us walked about four kilometers to Patio where there is a post office, a computer store, several small restaurants, and at least two stores. We were excited to find that the second store had nice big loaves of French bread. They were really nothing more than an overgrown baguette, but they were nice and crusty on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. And when you see nothing but baguettes for months on end any variation in the form is a novelty.

Gloria Maris was trying to complete their final checkout with the gendarmerie which is somewhat complicated by the fact that they had to post a bond (we took care of everything through our agent in Papeete and were exempted from the bond requirement). They had been told in Uturoa that they had to do this in Bora Bora, probably because the officials figure that everyone will leave French Polynesia from there since it's typically the last stop for cruisers. But Don and Kim visited BB last year and weren't stopping there again this year. In Patio they were told that they should be able to do it in Uturoa as long as they weren't going to BB. So back we all went to Raiatea in very gusty winds with some sailing and some motor-sailing. It was so bad we even took some salt spray over the decks. ;-)

Don and Kim were able to complete their check-out on Tuesday and got their bond returned from the bank so they're continuing west today or tomorrow. We filled Quixotic's propane tank yesterday and today it's our turn. As soon as we have more moderate weather we'll cross over to Bora Bora to see what that's all about. We've been hearing good reports about Maupiti and Mopelia which are the two atolls beyond BB, and we especially want to stop at the former to swim with manta rays which gather there to feed.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tahaa, the Vanilla Island

We managed to stock up on eggs and baguettes at the little store in Baie Ereea from which I last wrote. We took the dinghy over to a ramp-like opening in the wall at the covered football (soccer) court and it was easy enough for John to land me while he waited in the dinghy. I walked to the road, took a right and the store was only a block away on the left. They apparently have two baguette deliveries so if you don't feel like getting up at 0600, you can go in at 2:30 PM for fresh bread.

After another night of >30 kt gusts we decided we'd had enough. Our anchor held without any problem, but it was nerve wracking being in such a tight, shallow area, filled with coral heads. If anything went wrong, it would have been difficult to maneuver in the middle of the night. Of course since we left, our friends have had nothing but nice calm nights.

So on Saturday we departed for Tahaa in wind and rain. By the time we were inside the lagoon again at the north end of Raiatea, and could see Quixotic anchored just north of Passe Rautoanui, John had had enough of standing out in the rain. We nosed along the edge of the sand on the reef side until we found a spot with few coral heads, and dropped anchor in 40' of water on the sandy slope. We figured the anchor couldn't drag uphill and so we didn't mind ending up on top of the sandy shelf with 9-12' under our keel. Ed and Nila invited us over for happy hour on Quixotic and we enjoyed a slide show of their six months of travel by caravan in New Zealand. It's a spectacular country and we would love to do the same thing some day.

{GMST}16|44.681|S|151|29.662|W|Opposite Pte Tenape near Baie Faafau|Raiatea{GEND}

It rained again the next morning but there was a long enough break for us to finally sail to Tahaa. We stayed inside the lagoon all the way and enjoyed the flat water and well marked channel. Our Bonnette guide book highly recommends the Vanilla Tour offered by Alain Plantier in Baie Hurepiti. This is a very deep bay with four mooring buoys at its head. We weren't certain of where the Plantier home was and we picked up a mooring in front of the clearly signed dock for "Sophie Boutique" thinking that perhaps that was the place (our guide book is over 10 years old). There were no other boats in the bay. We ate lunch and made a circuit of the shore by dinghy hoping someone would come out to greet us at one of the docks. We found the Vanilla Tour dock just next door, but didn't land the dinghy at either place in case there were dogs on guard. We verified that two of the moorings are clearly marked as being reserved for the Boutique and two are less clearly marked for the Vanilla Tour. Since no one had come out to chase us off we weren't too concerned about being on a mooring without a reservation until late in the day when three charter boats arrived one after another. The first boat took its passengers to the boutique dock and John zipped in to speak to Sophie and a charter crew member who were now on the dock. We could stay on our mooring for the night even though it had been reserved for their boat and we could wait until morning to pay a visit ashore. So it finally became clear to us that no cruising boats would have reason to stop at what is essentially a tourist place. The charter boats come in to shop for souvenirs or to take a tour, with the bonus of having an overnight mooring.

The next morning we made a brief visit to the boutique (which had a lovely variety of expensive gifts) where we found a brochure for the Vanilla Tour company. The 2009 rate sheet listed a four hour island tour at 5500 CFP per person. We walked down the road a bit and decided not to stop in at the Plantier place to inquire about 2010 prices since we felt it was already higher than we wanted to pay. On our way back through the boutique property we met Sophie who was just leaving to visit her husband in the hospital. She explained she was late and her children were also arriving from Papeete. She apologized for being so rushed and told us she would be back later. We hadn't planned to stay longer and felt that since she'd never made any mention of payment for the mooring, we were clear to depart.

It was a gorgeously landscaped home below a lightly traveled road with friendly and well-cared for dogs and cats. Until we realized how much she had going on in her life, we had planned to approach Sophie about the possibility of adopting Ziggy. We're coming to the realization that as interesting as he can be, we would far prefer a cat with a loud purr who enjoys being petted and loved. We love Ziggy very much and he seems to enjoy our company but only on his terms. He's recently bitten me twice without much provocation (once on my arm when he demanded his breakfast and I was still laying in bed, and once on the bridge of my nose when I made the mistake of trying to touch noses in friendship). We would also like to return to cruising unencumbered by the limitations imposed by having an animal aboard. So we'll be on the lookout for a new home for him along our way.

{GMST}16|38.634|S|151|30.980|W|Baie Hurepiti|Tahaa{GEND}

On Monday we checked out Ile Tautau but it was too windy to anchor there so we motored across to Baie Tapuamu instead where we anchored in 75' next to the road on the north side of the bay. This is the main port of Tahaa where the supply ships load/unload cargo. But you wouldn't know it by the sleepy little village. Behind the ship quay there is an enclosed small boat basin, a gas station, and a small store with groceries, fresh baguettes, and sundries. There is also a public phone booth but neither the store nor the gas station sold OPT phone cards. The next day we went back in to ask about filling our water jugs and were directed to a small tap on the side of gas station wall which we had missed in our search for water the day before. John went back to Nakia for a longer length of hose and we were then able to fill all our jugs without taking them out of the dinghy (which is always a good thing). We topped our tanks and started a load of laundry soaking before raising anchor and motoring all of one mile back across to the motu Tautau.

{GMST}16|36.850|S|151|32.700|W|Baie Tapuamu|Tahaa{GEND}

JW's guide to French Polynesia is the only source we have that talks in specific terms about the coral garden at this motu, most of which is a private resort complete with thatched huts out over the water. We snorkeled it twice and found it to be best at the end nearest the reef where the water is clearer and it's somewhat less trafficked. We were appalled to see tourists being led by local guides over the top of the very shallow, but very alive, coral. Everyone wore shoes - from crocs, to jellies, to flip flops - and I saw broken coral in the deeper channel through which they swim out. Oh well, it's their coral garden. Both times we snorkeled I found a crown of thorns sea star busily eating the coral. John knocked it off the coral and then got it to attach to a big piece of rock that he could hold without touching the poisonous animal. We were close enough to the rocky shore that he could take it high above the waterline to die. We found the first one melted into a slimy mass overrun by hermit crabs and flies the next day. So that was our good deed for the coral garden.

{GMST}16|36.302|S|151|33.488|W|Ile Tautau|Tahaa{GEND}

It was calm enough for us to spend a couple of nights at Tautau. During the day it was overrun by charter and tour boats, but by evening we usually had the anchorage all to ourselves. A few boats moved to the southern end for a better view of Bora Bora at sunset. Each afternoon "Norbert" came by in his skiff wearing a straw hat to offer us the limes, coconuts, papayas, and pamplemousse he had for sale. We enjoyed the settled weather there but today we returned to Tapuamu to meet up with Blue Bottle for an evening. John is going to help Joe fill his propane tanks using the drain-one-tank-into-another method with the special fitting that we have on Nakia. In the meantime John is equalizing our batteries which means running the generator most of the day, which is why I have so much time on the computer!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dawdling in Raiatea

July 30, 2010

Note: We posted some more pictures to our Societies album on Picasa when we had internet outside the marina at Uturoa. That link is:


I forgot to write that last Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a show of kite boarders, one of whom launched from the marina breakwater steps right in front of Nakia. There were up to four of them out sailing at a time and "our" guy was quite good. He would go airborne and hang suspended before dropping down again, and also did 360's in the air. Obviously it was very windy and I was cold after my shower, but I braved it out in the cockpit until the sun went down and he finally quit.

Monday afternoon we were about to depart in the dinghy for one last look in town for eggs (which all three big stores were completely out of that morning!) when we noticed a catamaran idling slowly off the approach to our mooring. It didn't look like a charter cat (the owner of the mooring) but we turned the VHF back on to give them a call. It turned out they had a reservation for the use of the mooring for one night. We had asked marina residents if it was okay to pick it up for a night or two, but we had never officially checked in with anyone in the marina office. So we quickly got the engine running and went off to look for another place to spend the night.

Thank goodness it was 4 PM and we had plenty of time to motor around the corner to a spot in between Marina Apooiti and the mooring field in front of the Raiatea carenage. I won't bother to give coordinates for this 80' deep spot as there were plenty to choose from. We watched another late arrival anchor all by themselves off of the airport, but it was also deep water and we couldn't see any advantage to being in that (possibly restricted) location.

When we checked our email that night we had a message from our friends Ed and Nila on S/V Quixotic saying that they were anchored at Ile Naonao all the way at the southern tip of Raiatea. This was the only anchorage on my list that we had missed, and we hadn't seen these guys since the Marquesas last year, so how could we not take the time to make a surprise visit to them. We had everything from gusty to light sailing breezes as we exited Passe Rautoanui on the NW side and reentered the lagoon at Passe Punaeroa on the SW end of Raiatea. From there we motored upwind through the moderately challenging channel where the coral extended out from both sides in some places. The wind was up to 20-25 by now, but there was an oasis of calm in the lee of Naonao on the SW tip (the guidebooks more conservatively recommend the northern side in deeper water). The motu is private so we couldn't go ashore but there was some nice snorkeling and a very protected anchorage if you don't mind having only a couple of feet under your keel. Having gotten there first, Quixotic had the best protection from the motu, but the holding in sand was good where we were even if it was a bit breezy. I think this might be the first place we've anchored which was rooster free!

{GMST}16|55.174|S|151|25.910|W|Ile Naonao|Raiatea{GEND}

With high winds in the forecast for the next few days we thought it would be prudent to find a less exposed anchorage to wait out the fronts. We called Gloria Maris to see if they were still where we'd left them and they gave thumbs up to an anchorage inside Passe Tetuatiare back up the west side of the island. So we had a great downwind sail and even sailed out of Passe Punaeroa (look Ma, no hands!). Kim warned us that someone in a skiff might come out to chase us off from anchoring so we weren't surprised when we were met by first a woman in a skiff from Ile Tiano, followed shortly after by a man in a bright purple boat from Baie Ereea. They were very worried that we might drop our anchor over cables carrying electricity and water out to the privately owned motu. They wanted us to anchor in deep water NE of the the northern motu (Ile Horea), but we explained that the other two boats were our friends and we wanted to go talk to them. When we got to very shallow water south of Gloria Maris we asked Gaston (the man; both the locals were wearing Motu Tiano "staff" shirts) if this spot would be okay with him, and he was fine with it. We assume they never dreamed we'd come so far into the shallows of the small boat channel, far from where the cables are laid. We think they were also worried about how many more boats might be coming in after us!

In the process of dropping our anchor we went aground on a raised area of the sandy bottom. But some reverse thrust broke us loose and John reset the anchor in a better position. After lunch I baked a wacky (no eggs) chocolate cake and we tried to deliver it to Gaston as a peace offering. It was easy to find his house (the one with the purple boat in front), but no one was home except for a friendly, blue-eyed kitten. So we went back and invited Gloria Maris and Orca over for happy hour (and cake) on Nakia later. The wind came up at sunset and John and Kara got soaked rowing over in their little dinghy, Coconut, but we had a good evening and everyone seemed to enjoy Gaston's cake.

We are anchored in even shallower water here than we were at Naonao and the depth sounder alarm went off while we were watching a movie after dinner. We sort of ignored it until finally we both looked up at the unmistakable feel of the keel bumping the bottom. John let me finish the movie while he went out into the windy night to set a kedge anchor off the bow to keep us off the shallow spot. It wasn't a very peaceful night as we were hit by big gusts of wind in between the lulls, but we didn't hit bottom again.

{GMST}16|50.014|S|151|29.105|W|Baie Ereea|Raiatea{GEND}

This morning John reset the second bow anchor in a better spot and we are having a quiet rainy day with a few big gusts now and then. The sheer mountainside backing the bay is spectacular with over two dozen waterfall scars. Only one of them is actively running even though our friends have yet to see the top of the mountain which has been hidden by cloud cover since they got here. If we get a long enough break between showers we need to make a dinghy run into the local store to buy some eggs and baguettes. Most cruisers in the Societies are also taking shelter from the bad weather, and we've decided to stay here for the time being.

Monday, July 26, 2010


So before we got halfway to Raiatea from Huahine last Tuesday John hooked a mahi mahi (dorado) on one of the hand lines. Most people would assume this was a "good thing" but it ended up causing all kinds of trials and tribulations. We were sailing wing and wing which is downwind with the jib poled out to one side and the main on a preventer (tied down) on the opposite side. It's very hard to stop or even slow the boat in this configuration. John pulled the fish in to the boat, gaffed it, and tried to put it head first into a 5-gallon bucket to subdue it. The fish was unusually calm until the bucket part, when it became very upset and thrashed out of the bucket into the cockpit well where we had all kinds of junk stowed. There was immediately blood everywhere: splattered on the teak combings, the helm seat, the wheel, the cockpit sole, the cockpit well and all its contents - sun shower, swimming trunks, snorkeling T-shirt, snorkel gear, dinghy lock, water siphon hose, oh, and don't forget the main sheet (a very long rope).

Meanwhile another mahi mahi hooked up on the fly John had tied to a fishing pole on the stern pushpit. He rarely bothers to use the fishing pole anymore, let alone with a fly on it, but he thought maybe he could get a small bonito type fish with it. After struggling with the first fish in the cockpit John finally managed to get it head down into the bucket in the cockpit well. I gripped the base of its tail with both hands to keep it from thrashing out of the bucket while John started reeling in the second fish. Eventually the colors faded from the fish I held, and after a few more gentle pumps from its muscles it expired and I could let go. John had me pull in the second hand line before anything had a chance to hook up there, while he kept reeling in the second fish on the pole. The pole he was using is not sufficient for the size fish that was hooked because it's only 20 lb test line. So it was quite a fight. In the end, after 20 minutes, John was able to get the fish near the boat three times but never close enough to gaff it. The third time the line broke and the fish swam away.

Then the excitement was over and we had a chance to really survey the damage. John went to work on the side deck cleaning the 15 lb fish and, after putting all the blood soaked clothing in the galley sinks to rinse in fresh water, I went to work with a bucket of salt water cleaning everything else. We weren't happy cruisers from all this messy activity, and it was very good to finally put the anchor down in Baie Hotopuu.

After lunch our spirits were raised when some kids on a paddle boat came out to give us some little fingerling fish they had caught in a net. They shared some of their fried fish patties, bananas, and a perfumey local apple with us and delighted in feeding Ziggy pieces of their fish cakes. The two pre-schoolers eventually couldn't resist climbing aboard while their older brothers and sister kept an eye on them from the paddle boat. Finally it was time for them to leave and I dug out a ball to give to the youngest boy who was in tears when he realized the fun was over.

Except for dogs barking overnight and the ever present roosters crowing at dawn, we spent a quiet night all by ourselves in the anchorage. While I did my exercises up on deck the next morning I watched a woman in a small skiff setting traps with her young son; a man working a small fishing net from chest high in the water at the head of the bay; a scooter stop at one of the houses to give someone else a ride to work; a kid riding a bicycle in circles behind his house; and I could hear the clinking of dishes and cutlery as breakfast was prepared. All this activity and it wasn't even 7 AM!

{GMST}16|50.715|S|151|22.052|W|Baie Hotopuu|Raiatea{GEND}

From Hotopuu we sailed to Baie Opoa to visit Marae Taputapuatea, one of the most important of the traditional temples in French Polynesia. We had a lovely ending to the day when the canoe replica we'd seen in Huahine sailed through the pass blowing their conch shell to announce their arrival. I convinced John to blow his horn in reply, and a small group of people gathered on shore to welcome them.

{GMST}16|50.105|S|151|22.080|W|Baie Opoa|Raiatea{GEND}

We spent another day at Opoa to meet up with Don and Kim of S/V Gloria Maris for another visit to the marae before enjoying a celebratory birthday lunch for Kim at the Hotel Atiapiti. After a round of rum punches, we ordered lobster for Kim, poisson crue for Don, crab salad with lots of leafy green lettuce for me, and chicken in soy/cola sauce for John. We shamelessly topped it all off with two pieces of coconut cake topped with coconut ice cream and garnished with star fruit and tea roses for dessert. It was a lovely meal but we have to chuckle when we realize that we are so well trained to French Polynesia prices by now that we think nothing of taking the equivalent of $90 to shore with us - and hoping it will be enough to pay for lunch.

We hustled back to the boats for a short sail to Faaroa where we enjoyed a home brewed beer happy hour with Don and Kim. They can brew 23 liters for very little money and John is considering giving up one of our water jerry jugs to do the same! Don whipped up a batch of plum duff right out of Patrick O'Brien for a surprise birthday dessert later. But I think the biggest surprise was in how well it came out when this was the first time he'd ever made it. Delish!

Friday morning we took the dinghies to explore the Apoomau river. On our way past a wooden dock we got a pitch from a man in a kayak for a plantation tour. We continued up river until we had to turn around at a house in front of a shallow little rapids. We met back up with James at the dock to take what we suspect was a completely unofficial tour of someone's farm. But he knew the names of most of the plants and flowers in French, Tahitian, and English and treated us to contraband bananas, coconut, sticky purple fruit, and fern "tattoos" made by placing a fern against your skin and smacking it to leave the pattern behind in white pollen. We got a kick out of his style of teaching (he usually asked us for the name of plants before telling us what they were) and his unusual patter about many of the flowers and fruits - "Is good for you?" "Is no good for me." - which we've now incorporated into our daily routine.

On a sad note we feel it's important to report that a dinghy and outboard left trailing behind an anchored boat overnight was most likely stolen in this bay after we left. Always raise or lock those dinghies and motors!

{GMST}16|49.052|S|151|24.870|W|Baie Faaroa|Raiatea{GEND}

On Friday Nakia and Gloria Maris were happy to find a calm, protected bay for a change at Vairahi. It's been very windy and we're on the windward side of the island so this was a welcome respite. Saturday morning we invited John and Kara of Orca to join us for a hike to the three waterfalls. Per the 2006 edition of Lonely Planet we walked up the road just north of the 6km mark (at a telephone booth and big sign for L'Excursion Bleue) to start the trail at a small parking lot where two cars which had passed us were parked. Unfortunately after crossing one small stream we were thwarted by a brand new chain strung across the opposite side of a bigger stream with no less than three hand drawn signs on it saying things like Piste Privee (private path), Propriete Privee (private property), and Something Interdit (forbidden). Now normally we might ignore something old and faded, but this was so obviously "in your face" that we elected to respect the signs. Since we knew people were already on the trail, my feeling is that it's been put off limits to do-it-yourselfers like us in favor of squeezing more tourist dollars out of shoreside sightseeing opportunities. Even though they weren't marked the cars passing us held one or two locals with one or more tourist types as passengers. We'd like to know if Lonely Planet has a more current version of this hike in print yet.

{GMST}16|46.554|S|151|25.174|W|Baie Vairahi|Raiatea{GEND}

Tired of what I've begun calling "dark water" where we can't see the bottom, we hopped across the lagoon to motu Taoru where Dilan and Gloria Maris were already anchored and Orca was right behind us. Ideally it's a one or two boat anchorage so we stern tied Nakia and Orca to trees on shore. As I swam along the shore I was dissuaded from sitting on one of the tiny strips of sand by two big black barking dogs who came out to greet me. The motu is the private reserve of Pension Manava, but even in so remote and uninhabited a place we woke to roosters crowing the next morning. We only found one live coral head complete with three big anemones, anemonefish and lionfish close to shore and it was too rough to snorkel either side of the pass (the motu actually sits in the middle of the pass). Plus the mosquitoes ensured we wouldn't spend another night there.

{GMST}16|44.728|S|151|25.506|W|Ile Taoru|Raiatea{GEND}

We're currently on a mooring outside the entrance to Marina Uturoa enjoying Hotspot's Wi-Fi to the boat, water from the docks to top our tanks, and grocery stores nearby for provisioning. We plan to spend a second night on the mooring before crossing to Tahaa tomorrow (Tuesday).

{GMST}16|43.404|S|151|26.834|W|Marina Uturoa|Raiatea{GEND}