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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}