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Sunday, May 30, 2010


Somehow we've managed to spend an entire week at Kauehi, which is about 3-4 days too many. Several boats coming from the Marquesas have made this their first landfall in the Tuamotus, and I feel a little sorry for them. Yes, it's an easy pass for first timers, but there is nothing special about this atoll to warrant a visit. The water clarity in this lagoon is the worst we've seen anywhere else and the coral is mostly dead. We've managed to find a few nice, unoccupied shells, but the snorkeling has been mostly uninteresting. We haven't seen a single shark, but we've had remoras attached to our hull so maybe that makes us the shark.

We reanchored in the SE anchorage to position ourselves in front of what looks like an abandoned pension:

{GMST}15|56.668|S|145|03.572|W|South East Road Anchorage Kauehi|Kauehi Road{GEND}

There is a "road" leading from the pension seven miles to the village, which makes for nice walking or jogging should you feel the need. There's also a branch of road leading out to the berm on the ocean side for a good look at what the wind and waves are doing on the outside of the reef.

The deep, dark water in the lagoon makes conning less stressful for me since I can only see hazards that come to the surface. I'm more nervous in 50' of clear water where I can see every little rock and coral bommie, because it's much harder to judge their depth. On Friday we sailed directly to the village anchorage and there were many more hazards on that route than from the pass to the SE corner. The coral reefs were clearly visible well in advance, but a submerged pearl farm buoy and line caught me by surprise and we went over it without any problem. We skirted the rest of the buoys and crossed the navigable channel to anchor close in to shore:

{GMST}15|49.245|S|145|07.023|W|Kauehi Town Anchorage|Kauehi Village{GEND}

Before departing for Fakarava, friends told us that the mayor would return home at 5 PM for pearl sales and that he was particularly interested in getting a heavy jacket to wear in the cold weather (?!). So we looked in every compartment until we found John's beautiful, heavy, wind proof, North Face fleece jacket and an old Helly Hanson jacket both of which were basically brand new and unworn. I threw in a nice heavy sweatshirt as well, and hoped the mayor was a big man. We went in for a look around, hoping that the little store would be open. The posted hours at Magasin Tiaihau are 0600-1100 and 1300-1900, but I got the impression it's best to catch them open in the morning. Mayor Julien Tiaihau and his wife Nicole returned a bit after 5:00. Nicole opened the store and John went to do our shopping while I followed the mayor and three people from another boat to Residence Tiaihau which appeared to be the only home completely surrounded by fencing and a gate. In what we would call the car port the mayor opened a suitcase and spread a bag of pearls out on a cloth covered table. What a let down. These were mostly small (earring sized), rough, dull, and completely mismatched in color. One man found a nice pearl that he liked, but it was impossible for him to find a mate and he let it go to me. When we asked if he had better quality pearls for us to choose from the mayor told us that all the best pearls go to Japan (not Papeete). We asked to see larger sized pearls and these were in even worse shape.

I had been pulling aside anything that was even remotely round, blemish free, and with decent color on at least one side, until I had a pile of pearls with the nicest one (given to me by the man who couldn't find a match) set off from my pile. The other boat decided not to make a purchase, making a good point that it would cost more to mount them than they were worth. (I later learned from John that the woman had been told the pearls would cost $8 apiece!) I waited for the others to leave before beginning my horse trading, and the mayor's eyes lit up when I pulled out the jackets for him to try on. He is a tall, muscular man and he took everything I offered, even though I'd really meant for him to choose one of the three! The zipper was jammed by corrosion on the Helly Hanson (oops, forgot to double check everything before bringing it to shore) and we agreed to fix it and bring it on Saturday when we came in to get baguettes. Then the mayor took the good pearl away from my pile, put it in a little jewelry ziploc bag and put it in his suitcase. When I protested that I'd wanted to keep it for the man who didn't buy it, the mayor counted out my 35 pearls, scooped a few more from the reject pile, put them all in a little bag, and gave them to me. Obviously there was something special about that particular one which made me determined to have it, so I pulled a nice hat from my backpack to exchange for the pearl. Finally I understood that the mayor's biggest concern was that I should keep the pearl for myself and not give it to the "monsieur." We agreed to this stipulation with handshakes and smiles all around.

The next morning John discovered that the zipper on the jacket was beyond repair and he spent the entire morning ripping out the old zipper and replacing it with a new one. I'm not sure it was worth all the effort because he then discovered that the white plastic waterproof lining was flaking off and coming out of the mesh lining of the jacket. I just hope the mayor doesn't wear a lot of black... So now we've lightened the boat but not our wallets, and I have a small pile of black pearls which may never see the light of day, but we had fun doing it and I know the North Face jacket will serve the mayor well.

We've reprovisioned and taken care of chores like defrosting the freezer, vacuuming, cleaning the stove, and other cleaning chores. We took a list of supplies for Gaston and Valentine from Soggy Paws and we will be delivering those to Anse Amyot at Toau which is where we're headed tonight. We'll leave at 3 PM and sail overnight. So I'm off to get a swim before we depart!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Fakarava to Kauehi

Saturday night we made a typical last minute decision to move to another atoll to take advantage of this period of fairly settled weather. We would leave on the late morning flood at Fakarava's south pass, have a slow overnight sail, and enter on the early morning ebb at Kauehi's wide, deep, and straightforward (no obstacles) pass. We arrived at both passes well before slack but experienced only up to two knots of flood current at the former and a max of about four knots of ebb current (with more bouncy chop and whirlpools) at the latter. We could have waited longer to enter Kauehi, but after drifting around on a flat lake all night, we were antsy to get in for a pancake breakfast. John had made our usual Sunday pancake breakfast before departing Fakarava, but for some mysterious reason the pancakes never bubbled or browned, and we threw the pale, doughy pancakes to the fish. It wasn't until hours later that I hit on the fact that I'd recently swapped storage places with the white flour and the pancake mix (stored in identical containers). Oops!

As we sailed away from Fakarava I was struck by how clearly Motu Aito Paradise stands out from all other motus. When they built their pension Manihi and Tila planted fast growing fir trees and no palms which makes it very shady and gives it a unique skyline. I forgot to mention that when we asked Manihi where most of his guests come from he told us he gets very few Americans as 80% of them go to Bora Bora. As Fakarava grew smaller I also noticed a few clouds above the motus which were colored green by the intense reflection from the shallow waters.

So we had a quiet, uneventful, slow night on completely flat seas. We covered the last five miles at dawn to enter the pass at 0630. Since this is very poor light for conning we decided to drop anchor just inside the pass in 50' of water on short scope long enough to eat breakfast and wait for the sun to get a little higher for better visibility.


We were underway again at 0900 in spite of the building rain clouds around us. Somehow they all managed to dump their precious fresh water everywhere but on us. The overcast skies actually helped keep direct sun out of my eyes and I only saw a couple of reefs we needed to avoid. The water was otherwise deep for the entire five mile trip. We picked a spot well to the south of five other boats and, on the second try, we anchored in 44' off a motu with an abandoned shack on it. We haven't anchored overnight in water this deep in ages, but it doesn't look like we'll run into any coral here.


This atoll already looks a little different to us in that there are very few breaks, or areas of reef, between motus. It's more like a few long continuous motus surrounding this end of the atoll. And the deep water almost to shore means we'll have a shorter dinghy ride, and we may even be able to swim to the beach from Nakia. We'll let you know after we've done some exploring.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fakarava 2nd anchorage

At Noon on Friday we carefully motored Nakia over to the west side of the south pass to anchor in the shallow water (10-15') off an area of white sandy beaches where the pensions bring their guests by small boat for day trips.


We brought Mike and Sue of Infini along with us so they could keep a navigation track on their hand held GPS in case they decide to move here later. We towed their dinghy and when our anchor was set we all piled in for a ride to explore the closest motu. The water shallowed up to where we had to anchor the dinghy and walk the rest of the way through ankle deep water to the beach. Evidently there is no market for the small black sea cucumbers which littered the sandy bottom. We didn't find too many unoccupied shells but John followed the tell tale signs in the sand to unearth two pretty white and orange miters which our shell book says are Episcopal miters. He carefully reburied them and I'll have to remember to bring my camera next time.

This morning we were off the boat before 10 AM to try a reef walk on an incoming tide. The theory was that we'd be able to bring the dinghy in closer to shore and have a shorter walk out to the reef but the result was that we were wading in ankle deep water on the reef. This made it next to impossible to see the shells deposited in the nooks and crannies of the reef and we came up empty handed. We had thought to bring our snorkel gear with us so, after a walk around another small motu, we got in the water to do a shallow drift snorkel back towards Nakia. This was very nice for shelling, though I had to put several pretty ones back when hermit crabs tickled my hand holding the shells. We finally made a positive ID on the money cowrie when we found a few with the distinctive yellow ring. And John pointed out a live one tucked in a hole with some of the animal's mantle peeking out over four corners of the shell, which was very exciting to see. He was also the first to spot a two foot lemon shark lying motionless in a hole under a small rock. It's tail stuck out one end and we had to go around to the other side to make out its head. It never budged the whole time we explored the area.

We were in the water so long that I was getting a headache from wearing my mask, and John said my lips were blue. But John noticed some black clouds potentially headed our way and we decided to wrap it up and get back to the boat. By this time it was almost 2 PM! We ate lunch, and John's taking a nap as I write this. We will most likely spend one more day here before moving on somewhere else.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Bliss Day 4

When Manihi called us on the VHF yesterday morning to confirm our dinner reservation at Motu Aito Paradise (www.fakarava.org) he explained that he had to go out and catch a big fish in order to feed the nine of us plus his four guests, and he invited any of us to join him. Bill, Dave and John jumped at the chance to do some ocean fishing since we haven't been fishing inside the lagoons due to the high likelihood of catching something with ciguatera. The grouper we see snorkeling are fearless because no one's interested in eating them, but pelagic fish are okay to eat. After a couple of hours they came back with a wahoo that Dave caught on a hand line, while Bill lost one on a rod and reel, and John did all the boat handling. Dinner for that night was on!

Some of us then went out for a quick snorkel of the coral between the anchorage and the pass. We first did a drift snorkel towards the pass but the current was ripping and we quickly got back into the dinghies and headed for calmer waters. We saw an eel and some colorful clams but the coral in general isn't in very good shape here. We all went for another pass drift dive/snorkel on the late afternoon change of tide and this time it was much better. The surf has come down over the past few days so the water clarity was high enough for John and me to see all the way to the bottom of a shallower part of the pass where the gray sharks were congregating. Not in the numbers that the divers get to see, but still fascinating. Along the reef side of the pass the fish were numerous and we spotted a large eel, the biggest barracuda I've seen, my first white tip shark, and three huge Napoleon wrasse. It was the best snorkel yet, and I stayed in long after my fingers went numb with cold.

We were back on the big boats by sunset to get cleaned up for a "night on the town." We took our own drinks in with us at 6 PM and Manihi made us all feel very welcome. He invited us to see the interior of his residence and explained how they catch rain water and store it in a cistern beneath the floor. He was born on Fakarava and raised his four children there (a daughter lives in Kauai with her husband and child, but the others are still living in French Polynesia). The motu was completely bare when he started building, and the trees he planted 20 years ago now provide plenty of shade and climbing adventures for his four cats (with a friendly dog looking on). We returned to the dining area where the table was set with tiare blossoms at every place setting, and the shallow water at the edge of the open air room was lit for viewing fish and small black tip sharks cruising in circles.

When dinner was served we were joined by a Japanese couple who had arrived two days earlier, and an Italian couple (from Pescara, Abruzzi) who had arrived just the day before. None of them would admit to speaking much English, but the Italians were game to try while the Japanese politely kept their own company. We sat down to a table laden with platters of cabbage and carrot salad, oven baked wahoo steaks, and beef bourguignon to ladle over the mounds of rice already on our plates. It looked like far too much food for all of us, but after seconds and thirds most of it disappeared. Our clean plates were cleared away and Tila brought out dessert plates with two squares of pastry on each. One was chocolate and one had maybe a coconut base, and both were tasty. Taken in all of its individual parts there was nothing particularly gourmet about the meal, but the unique setting and convivial company made it an experience none of us will soon forget. (And at 2,000 CFP per person we considered it a good night off for the cooks on each boat!)

After an early morning dive Soggy Paws and Visions of Johanna are headed towards the north end of the atoll today. Nakia is going to explore an area to the west of the pass in hopes of finding a new spot to anchor for a couple of days during this period of settled weather.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Welcome Home!

We did a snorkel alongside the entrance pass day before yesterday, but it was actually a little disappointing after the beautiful clarity and colors of the one we did on Tahanea. John went again yesterday and said the clarity was better. There are lots of fish and a huge "pet" Napolean wrasse, but I prefer seeing colorful clams and coral. Our diver friends said yesterday they could see more than 100 gray sharks on the bottom of the pass which was pretty exciting!

Yesterday John spent the entire morning tightening the motor mount bolts and realigning the engine after discovering that one bolt had worked it's way loose under a small drip of oil/grease. That was a major job requiring removing the entire contents on top of and underneath the quarter berth, plus lots of contortions in small spaces. Once he finished that unexpected project I could begin cleaning the boat in preparation for happy hour that evening on Nakia.

When John and the divers returned from their mid-afternoon expedition we all got cleaned up to pay a visit to the pension, Motu Aito Paradise, run by Manihi and his wife, Tila. Wow, Paradise is right! This is a charming, intimate pension with artistic details, nice bathroom fixtures, and a warm, welcoming feel from its owners. It's a sharp contrast to the larger, slightly run down operation at Tetamanu Village located at the pass, where we felt our CFPs were more welcome than our company.

A fourth American boat, Infini, with Mike and Sue aboard, just arrived this morning. They have been in company with Soggy Paws and Visions of Johanna coming up through the Gambiers and we are looking forward to meeting them in person. They will be sailing to Hawaii with Soggy Paws for cyclone season later in the year so we'll be exchanging information with them before we part ways.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tahanea to Fakarava

We enjoyed another beach walk with Soggy Paws on Sunday. We landed our dinghies one more motu down from the one we had circumnavigated on foot the day before. This time the group foraged for coconuts while I scoped out the beach for shells. Interestingly, there were fewer shells to be found on this much sandier beach. Our shell book doesn't have the exact coloring, but what we're finding in abundance most closely resembles the "money" cowrie in shape. Rather than circumnavigating another motu again we donned our snorkel gear to explore a shallow "pass" to an even shallower lagoon on this motu. There wasn't a whole lot to see (and not a single shark) but I never tire of looking at the colorful baby-sized giant clams and it's always nice to putter around in the water.

Monday morning looked like Bliss, Day 1 of 3. According to a very smart weather guy, in the Tuamotus you get 1-3 days of bliss followed by stronger winds. So both boats decided to take advantage of the calmer weather to make a slow overnight trip to Fakarava. This allowed us to exit the Tahanea pass at nearly slack early in the afternoon, and enter the south pass of Fakarava at nearly slack just after dawn the next morning (today). Of course we had a nice breeze most of the night and it was hard to go slow for the relatively short (50 some miles) passage, but it was otherwise very pleasant. We were in the lee of Tahanea, and then Faaite (I mangled the spelling of this atoll in a previous post) for most of the trip which made for exceptionally smooth sailing with no swell whatsoever. What a difference that makes!

We arrived at the entrance to Fakarava just before dawn and waited for the sun to peek over the horizon before following Soggy Paws in through the pass. This was a bit trickier than the pass at Tahanea, requiring use of a range and then two buoys to navigate the channel. Once past the range markers we were a bit panicked by 14' of water and found we needed to move closer to the buoys on the right hand side, but that was the only scare we had. We couldn't have asked for calmer winds, but better light would have helped. We dropped anchor in 45' with short scope, enough to hold us while we had a pancake breakfast. John explored the anchorage in the dinghy and we reanchored in 35' for the night.


We are meeting up with SP and VofJ soon to snorkel a pass where they'll be doing a drift dive today. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful dive areas in the Toots so we're looking forward to lots of fish (and hopefully only baby sharks). Bliss, Day 2 of (hopefully) 3!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Worm in the Apple

Okay, so now we know that some serious weather happens out here in the middle of nowhere and you'd better be prepared to cut and run. As soon as the sun came up (after we had anchored out in deeper water in the wee hours of Thursday morning), we moved back to our spot in front of the big reef. But then we decided that wasn't going to protect us from the forecast wind direction so we moved to another place which still wasn't perfect for the wind we were actually getting. Anchoring three times in one day is not my idea of paradise! When the weather continued bad yesterday we decided to head for the SE corner of the atoll:


Unfortunately we waited until the afternoon to leave, just when the weather started to go from not-so-great to bad. Big black clouds, thunder, and enough rain to bury our side deck in six inches of water when we stuffed the scupper to let it flow through our deck fill into the water tank. But we could see immediately that this was the place we should have come two days ago, and the skies cleared and we enjoyed a peaceful night for a change.

Last night we had sundowners on Soggy Paws as a farewell to Visions of Johanna who moved on to Fakarava this morning. This morning we took a beach walk (on broken coral; there's very little actual sand) with Dave and Sherry to circumnavigate the motu immediately in front of us, after which Sherry and I snorkeled a small shallow reef. I swam back to the boat and was surprised to see what John later told me were half a dozen ramoras swimming under Nakia's hull. I don't think I've ever seen one free-swimming before.

It's still a bit breezy with some big white clouds, but the wind is from the SE so there's no fetch and we are happy not to have had to move today!


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Well, here we are staying up until it gets light on Thursday morning. We've been up since just after midnight when John woke up to go to the bathroom and realized that the wind had switched to the south putting us on a lee shore. He had to work hard to get the anchor back on the boat (much complicated by two sets of anchor buoys tied to the chain to keep it off the coral heads). I drove while he directed me from the bow which is not an easy thing to do when it's pitch black out and the wind is blowing 20 knots and there's a coral reef right behind you. But we only saw a low of 15' before we reanchored out in deeper water. Our two buddy boats had moved on to a spot near the main pass late in the afternoon, and one of them had to reanchor, and the other wound up in 12' of water. We all knew unsettled weather was on it's way, but it wasn't supposed to blow out of the south and we all prepared for N and NE.

Oh well, it was paradise up until now! Here are the places we've anchored so far.

Just inside and to the right of the main entrance pass:


This was our first stop and had a small reef and good coral heads for snorkeling. This was where we got our first look at the "giant" clams, although these are only about six inches or smaller. They are quite astounding in their color variations (of the "lips") and are fascinating to watch. The corals were also interesting, and though there weren't very many fish here, we were elated by the clarity of the water. It was just like snorkeling in an aquarium!

To the west of the pass at the village:


This was a nice position from which to visit the village where there are two rain cisterns with potable water (according to the gendarme). It was an easy dinghy ride across the pass (assuming reasonable wind and tides), as opposed to anchoring to the east of the pass which was much choppier. We did a nice "drift" snorkel in this pass and it was beautiful, but we went by everything too fast on the incoming tide! We also did a little laundry and explored the mostly abandoned buildings in the old copra village. The only place in good repair was the chapel which was absolutely charming because of it's immaculate condition out in the middle of virtually nowhere. As we finished up the laundry a cigarette type boat pulled up with 12 passengers aboard, including a gendarme. They had come from Makemo for an overnight before continuing on to Feeiti. The policeman asked us some questions and made arrangements to check our passports the next morning. They were all very nice, offering us drinking coconuts and letting us know that we were welcome to use the water. I only had one pamplemousse with us which I offered up "pour les enfants." On our way out the gendarme called us back to give us two baguettes which we passed on to our buddy boats who had been without fresh stores longer than us (they both came up from the Gambiers Islands).

In front of the reef in the SE part of the lagoon:


Here we had two long morning walks and one night walk at lowish tides on the reef itself (not a motu with trees). It was an easy walk from where we landed the dinghy to the ocean side of the reef, though we did switch from our knock-off Crocs to tennis shoes for the rough coral. There was a little bit of shelling but most of the good ones were already inhabited by hermit crabs so we let them go. The most fascinating thing was watching the numerous eels making their way through the tide pools. We tried to rescue one which appeared to be trapped in a dry spot, but as soon as John disturbed the rock the eel shot off over the jagged coral just like a land snake. After we did this a second time we realized that the eels knew exactly what they were doing and didn't need any help from us! John went out with a few people from the other boats after dark one evening to look for lobster. He reported that it was cool to see urchins and lobsters out walking on the reef, but we didn't keep any of the latter for Nakia.

Near a small reef for snorkeling:


This was the best snorkeling reef yet maybe because it's in deeper water beyond the anchorage. Here we saw a tiny snakelike seahorse, lots of fish, a good sized eel, and most exciting of all, two octopus playing rock statues on the reef. One of them reached a tentacle out to hold on to its mate/friend while I hovered well above them. Absolutely wonderful!

We've covered a lot of ground since we arrived on Saturday and have shared drinks, food, and the good company of Visions of Johanna and Soggy Paws for three of our five evenings here. We continue to be amazed by the clear water and beautiful scenery. People have told us, "If you've seen one motu, you've seen them all" but I can't imagine ever growing tired of the sight.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm sending wishes for a very happy Mother's Day to my favorite mothers and hope you are doing something special to celebrate. This morning John made our usual Sunday pancakes (which we've missed for several weeks in a row for some reason) and now we're running the noisy generator to charge our batteries. I'll clean the carpets and sweep the floor while it's still relatively cool (0700 cabin temp is 82 degrees) and breezy. Then I need to get the sewing machine out from behind the stock of toiletries so that John can sew up a new rain catcher. We had a big black rain cloud pass through just before sunset last night which was bad timing as we had just showered and started an early dinner, and I didn't feel like getting out and wiping everything down to get rid of the salt buildup from the passage. By this morning everything was bone dry as a result of the wind which is blasting across the Pacific.

The anchorage behind the atoll has only a little wind chop (no rocker stopper!), while out behind us white caps are raging in the lagoon. My vision of a tropical island paradise didn't include this much wind (which makes it hard to see down into the clear blue water!), but we're thankful for it since there are no mountains here to shade us from the hot sun early mornings and late afternoons. The wind is forecast to diminish over the next couple of days. If it calms down by this afternoon, we'll take the dinghy three miles through the lagoon to an abandoned village where cistern water might be available for washing clothes.

It's absolutely gorgeous and lives up to all the pictures. We're looking forward to snorkeling some of the coral reef today in spite of the black-tip puppies (which John neglected to mention are all of only 3-4 feet long). We quizzed our neighbors on Visions of Johanna and they assured us they weren't bothered by them when they snorkeled yesterday.

We'll be here for a few more days after which a change in the weather will probably send us to Fakarava for better protection.


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Saturday, May 08, 2010

ARR Tahanea

We managed to find Tahanea this morning and get through the pass without any drama. Thanks to the help of a boat that we could see anchored on the other side of the atoll's coral reef (they let us know we wouldn't have any problems with entering on a flood tide).

As soon as we had the anchor down the local welcome wagon pulled up to NAKIA in the form of six black tip reef shark. They puttered around the boat until they were convinced we were not going to clean any fish and then went back to doing their regular shark things.

We'll probably stay here one or two nights and then check out the old village to see if the water cistern is still around. We have a little laundry to do from the passage.

All in all it was a pretty fast run for NAKIA; 545 miles in 91 hours for an average speed of just under 6 knots. Not bad for a 29 foot waterline.

Linda thinks she's in paradise, even with the sharks. Clear water, white sand and all the beach combing you can stand. Pretty nice.

John and Linda (and Z)

(make sure to zoom in on this one)

Friday, May 07, 2010

One more night

Other than losing the use of the Cape Horn again after less than two days of use, the passage has been the usual. Fortunately the auto pilot is a real trooper and doesn't mind pitching in, but it's a bit of a battery hog and we've had to run the generator a couple of times. Today we had to get a reef in the jib in a bit of a hurry when a rain cloud turned out to pack a windy punch and our speed shot up to 7 knots. Was nice to get a fresh water boat wash and John got out there with a wash cloth too. Tonight we will try to get some extra rest to be ready to navigate ourselves between atolls before sunrise. After that it's only another 30 miles to our destination!

No flying fish whatsoever - not even during the daytime - on this trip, and no luck on the fishing lines either. Today I'm pretty sure I saw a frigate bird, so we know land is not too far away!


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Farewell Marquesas

We got a bit of a late start from Taiohae to Daniel's Bay (Hakatea) after running last minute errands in town Monday morning. Had one last load of wash done at Nuku Hiva Yacht Services, bought five baguettes and two chocolate beignets from Magasin Kamake, checked out with the gendarmerie, and bought carrots and cabbages at the market, and sailed off before Noon. For some weird reason it took four tries to get the anchor down in our usual spot in Hakatea, and even then we didn't really get a hard set. Came up all muddy each time and was just slipping right through it. Went ashore to the beach in the anchorage and asked permission to take some pamplemousse from the loaded trees there. An even younger man than Mahi (sp?) is the caretaker there and since I picked over a dozen pieces of fruit we gave him Joe Tynik's old army duffel bag as a thank you. We'd been using it to store our big Fortress anchor in a hanging locker but it mildewed too easily on the boat, so we finally had to give it up. So Joe, now you know where to find your duffel bag, if you ever want it back!

Tuesday morning we went to the bay next door to cross the river bar on the rising tide with our water jugs in the dinghy to top our tanks with potable water. The time we can spend in the Tuamotus will be limited by our ability to conserve and replenish our water supply since we understand water there is a precious commodity. We thought we were going to need an early departure time, but John took another look at the forecasted winds and decided our average speed might be higher than he had previously anticipated. So we waited until 2 PM to depart for the 500+ nm trip to Tahanea in the Tuamotus.

I'm writing this Wednesday afternoon, and we've been making good speed so far. We're on more of a reach this time which means less spray over the decks, but some wackier boat motion as the waves tend to spin us off to the side at times. It's very hot (87 F) in the cabin and the water temp is 84.6 F, making sleep impossible without a fan to keep us cool. John anticipates taking three more nights to do the trip, for a possible arrival on Saturday.

We'll keep you posted!


Monday, May 03, 2010


We finally made the evening trek to town last night to try out the Roulotte Chez Germain. There are three roulottes here, which are basically what we'd call roach coaches at home, but these are regular van sized instead of the big fancy trucks at home. The first one, right at the dinghy dock is a creperie and soft ice cream place (250 for a single and 350 for a double; we haven't tried the crepes). During the day there's a hamburger and sandwich van outside Magasin Kamake by the basketball court, right on the water. They have a few little stools to sit on and for 700 CFP you can get quite a good hamburger and a generous portion of French fries, or various kinds of sandwiches on baguettes of course. At around 5 PM, when the hamburger van is shutting down, the "Chinese" van starts up a BBQ on a small half-of-a-metal-drum, and the traffic begins to pour in. Since it's always busy, we thought it must be something special. Well we came away with our curiosity satisfied, but not our appetites. The chow mein was okay but not a bargain at 900 CFP. John ordered canard laque (1000 CFP; the other choice was canard tamarin, which we figured had something to do with the tamarind fruit) which I knew was duck, and laque turned out to be Teriyaki. Duck is a pungent fowl and this one had been hacked into small pieces with the resulting small bits of bone throughout the dish, served over rice. Everyone else was getting theirs to go (mostly the steak frite which looked tough and gristly over fries), and piling back into their big Toyota Hilux trucks to take their dinners home. We should have gone in earlier and gotten hamburgers...

After running errands this morning we're heading back to Daniel's bay for water and more fruit before we leave for the Tuamotus.