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Anthem Adrift
Blowin' in the Wind
06/01/2010, Day Three

June 1

Appears that insouciance will be missing for a couple more days. Wind is 15 to 25 from the northeast concomitant with 10 foot seas. Frequent squalls push that up to 40 and put corners on the waves. Since destination is southwest and downwind is not a favored point of sail, one almost longs for a strong norther crossing the Gulf Stream. At least, with several hours of respite from storms after mid-morning some of the sharp edges were rounded off a bit. Unfortunately, like in "Poltergeist", they're baaaaaack.

Had been running since last evening with only yankee. Works well with 30 to 40 knots, but pretty pokey at only 20, so also flew a double reefed main much of today. She moves along OK when the wind is down, but makes a handful in the extended puffs. Latest batch of rain brought south wind, so now hard on it and not quite able direct Kauehi. Wonder which direction the southeast trades will blow next? May not get much rest for duration.

Jack

Yee-Haw
05/31/2010, Day Two

May 31

Balmy, fragrant breezes carry your craft gently through benevolent undulating swells and over the cerulean depths from one enchanting paradise to the next. Paradise, yes. Benevolent no. There are "coconuts" out the wazoo, but have yet to experience the "milk run" aspects of this, thus far, (supposedly) atypical track through the South Seas. Have had only a few relaxing sail days since Panama. Presently enjoying over thirty knot winds and three meter seas on the quarter as latest in a series of squalls passes. Spread the word.. it's the dry season. Guess we'll blame the baby for rough seas, although effects were forecast to diminish by now.

This will be short as it's difficult to type while Neptune is attempting to fling me across the cabin. Hope to regain boyish insouciance by tomorrow.

Jack

Mooned
05/31/2010, Day One

May 30

Weighed anchor at 0600 for five hundred and change mile jaunt to next destination. Almost regretted swinging by Ua Poa to see spired topography after being becalmed in its shadow, but ensuing breeze has more than made up for delay. A large pod of what appeared to be bottle-nose dolphins were probably trying to point me away from the bad air. If they just looked more like Lassie. Barring a collapse in wind speed, will have to dawdle at other end, anyway.

With apologies to Gambiers and Australs, the three primary archipelagoes in French Polynesia are Marquesas (all island and no reef), Tuamotus (all reef and no island) and Societies (have it all). The islandless group (they have motus formed atop coral), having seventy eight atolls, must hog a high percentage of the word's supply. Most are big, with Rangiroa, 78 km by 24 km, the largest. Currently heading for Kauehi and may visit three or four others. Will remain well clear of Mururoa, site of last atmospheric nuclear test. Like Jimmy, "don't want to see my skin aglow".

After evening net and being yet a trifle tired following visit by malevolent organism, shut my eyes for just a minute and was awakened two hours later by a bright light coming straight on. Fortunately the full-plus-a-day moon showed no interest in a collision as it peaked over the coaming illuminating the world like a flare. Leaped up to discover wind vane was still heading pointy end toward objective. After sending this, will probably shut my eyes for just a minute.

Jack

Bug Break
05/29/2010, Hakatea Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 29

Unconfirmed reports were that an earthquake in New Caledonia was proximate cause of tsunami level swells entering Taiohae harbor before and during departure to Hakatea Bay (Daniel's Bay) on Thursday. Watched from shore as Anthem, although in 20 feet of water and well hooked, was closest in and made an impressive soaring, plunging, disappearing show. Was actually more concerned with dinghy, tied to quai and riding from out of sight to above top. Missed really impressive first series, but later video is still pretty cool. If possible, may eventually get it to web site.

After having not a sniffle for over a year and a half, was prostrated by something also visiting a number of other boats. Initially thought it to be dorado innerds (assuming any were eaten) or the excessively messy hamburger (insufficiently good to justify flying out for lunch) injudiciously consumed Thursday, but have concluded being bugged. Won't go into graphic detail, but have been a quivering heap of useless protoplasm for the last forty six hours. Still feel like crap, but so much better as to be nearly well. Upside was spending much of waking hours yesterday watching episodes of "Adventures in Paradise" with Gardner Mckay.

Barring relapse will depart early AM for Kauehi atoll, Tuamotus. Reported light winds may extend what would normally be a four day passage. Due treacherous passes and coral heads, arrival at slack water in good daylight essential, so hoping for NLT Thursday afternoon.

Jack

Full of Bull
05/26/2010, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 26

Due multifarious achievements yesterday and today, may depart for Daniel's Bay tomorrow afternoon. Although a few errands await the morning, i.e. purchases of bread, eggs, screws and a sim card for the quad-band, primary goal is, if at least two enthusiastic endorsements not belied by facts, the most exquisite hamburger in all Oceania. Opinion from a non-aficionado may be suspect, but will offer judgment in case anyone wants to jet over for lunch.

Although first night here was smooth, anchorage has since lived down to reports. Wind moves pointy end of boats all over, but waves ricochet off western shore from south southwest then reflect back from north end of bay. Without a stern anchor, and even with, motion can occasionally be a tad too enthusiastic for extended winkage above forty.

After catching a bull dorado, Jacksters offered me what had been taken as row when extracted from a cow - two long sacs containing something the consistency of cooked cheese grits. Anybody know what this stuff is? Tasted pretty good both times, pan fried, if your solicited reports indicates it's edible, otherwise I threw it out.

Jack

Floral Crapulence
05/26/2010, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 25

Writing has suffered, and by extension the folks who actually read this codswallop, due less time spent at it. Seems there's always something to do and cruiser's midnight has, unaccountably, been edging back toward civil twilight. Have previously held out the carrot of less verbiage or fewer posts, but maybe this time you'll get lucky. With modest exceptions days seem busier than ever. What happened to that vision of sitting under a palm tree all day becoming buzzed on something with a flower in it? Maybe next island.

Jacksters are getting fidgety to leave for Tuamotus where diving is promised best on earth, but think this operation will stay here for a few. Taiohae looks to be a grand little place and not quite as pricey as reports, notwithstanding an allocation of $41 to acquire seven gallons of essence sans plomb (no lead petrol).

Walked a mile around to Keikahanui Hotel with Gary & Jackie for drinks and dinner. Was pleased to find quality justified prodigious francage required. After languishing for a month and a half VISA was out of condition and got cramps, but gamely soldiered on to consummate charge. Included, however, was a creme brulee worth, itself, entire amount. May go back just to plunk down twelve bucks for another.

Returned late and have 0700 show for fresh market (bread, lettuce and tomato disappear early), so will bid all a fond adieu... a fondue.

Jack

Kibbles and Bits
05/25/2010, Taipivai, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 24

Beat up to the NE corner of Nuku Hiva, then had wind to reach around the coast to Baie Controleur. Anchored in Hanga Haa Bay at the foot of Taipivai (Typee Valley) which is lovely. Dinghy ride up river to the village at high slack water was uneventful. Return on outgoing against the breeze was a sleigh ride.

Original settlers lived in the hills, so enjoyed a fair hike up to place where Melville was afraid he would be sacrificed or eaten. Looks like a set from "Apocalypto". (Marquesans, contrary to Tahitians who ate the naughty parts, were considered more civilized because they ate only thigh meat). Hope to download his novel to Kindle with internet tomorrow in Taiohae.

Had drinks on Anthem with English couple from "Elysion" (Steve was an easy sell as his beer supply had run out) and an Italian fellow on "Nausicaa" who, besides his native tongue, speaks Spanish, French, Portugese and a pretty passable English. Marcello, a single-hander, was decrying his country's laws and education. Huh! Glad the rest of us have perfect systems. Brits also speak a little English, so that with minimum hand gestures we were able to communicate.

Looking forward to a modicum of civilization in the big town (about 1800 residents) for a few, then, after a day in Daniel's Bay just west, off to nothing like it atoll.

Jack

Let Them Eat Cake
05/24/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 23

This anchorage is the Hotel California. Had planned to leave two days ago, but with one thing and another... and couldn't miss pot luck on the beach tonight. Anyway, tomorrow for sure. May give Taipivai ("Typee") a pass to head directly to Taiohae for internet, laundry, propane, gasoline, fresh produce, bread and restaurant with petit dejeuner. Will be first professionally prepared breakfast in over a month. Cour de franc Pacifique (CFP, about 92 to the dollar) are burning a hole in the one pocket that doesn't already have one.

Idea of damaging coral causes a cringe, but with bottom here 95% covered with the stuff, idea of not getting an anchor back seems more urgent. Dived on it yesterday to find chain lying across tops and pointy end of hook not even stuck in tiny plot of sand where it rested. No obvious damage to any coral. See why all-chain road is de rigueur in the Pacific.

Well, time to go party. It's a hard life. Share dish will be brown rice with shredded, canned chicken. Delicious unless you have ever, in your life, used salt, then a tad bland. Would be more for me, but usually prefer what people who know how to, have cooked. Fact that OPF (other people's food) always tastes better surely not a commentary on personal culinary prowess... probably.

Jack

Same Difference
05/22/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 22

Again proceeded to Jackster, now armed with new version of Airmail application, to slay the dragon preventing contact with Sailmail shore stations. Tweaked a few parameters; checked that every cable was connected properly and each bit was intercommunicating properly and voila! No connection. Dragon 2, Jackster 0. Bugger! Obviously there's some PFM (ask a friend) at work here. Good news is that assistance record is intact. Consistency, the hobgoblin of great minds... something like that.

Due desire to dive on anchor, fearing ensnarlment (real word or not?) by ubiquitous coral, first took scuba to manta locale. Spotted two spotted eagle rays (how else to see this species?) playing on the surface (budding romance?) then found one at thirty feet and shortly thereafter the large manta. Way cool. Marginal video. Anticipating next island group with great visiblity.

Expect to bail Anaho tomorrow for Taipivai or the big village, then, in a week or less, off to next adventure. After convergence zone type weather, seven day GRIB shows good wind for four day reach into the atolls of Tuomotu, called "The Dangerous Archipelago" because the only things taller than a few feet are the sparsely distributed palms. They hide, then pounce. Pucker significantly ameliorated, but not eliminated, by advent of radar and GPS. Marquesas, all volcanic island; Tuamotus, all reef; Societies, volcanos surrounded by reef. No uniformity here, but, after all, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Oops.

Jack

Where'd the Day Go?
05/21/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 21

Problem with goofing off is that it's seductive. The first hit feels good, so you do it again and then again. You tell yourself that you can stop anytime, but find that projects lose their urgency. After breakfast a little nap of the dog feels good. A few hours go by and it's too late to get into defrosting the freezer or cleaning the deck so you read another chapter. Eyelids get heavy. You wake to discover that there's just time to grab a bite before heading over to a neighboring boat for drinks. You are ravaged by guilt, but tell yourself you deserve a little break and, after all, can stop anytime. But then, while licking peanut butter dinner off the spoon it hits you. You've hit bottom. You need help. Slackers Anonymous!

The vision was so frightening that I actually did defrost, clean, repair some holes in the hatch fiberglass and reorganize storage. After rationalizing the ability to handle it, lay down with a book for balance of day until time for crunchy Peter Pan and partying. I'm a functional slacker.

Bristol Roses braved first real wind in a few days with accompanying waves to make it here this afternoon. This may be our last sight of them until Australia (they're trying to catch up with World ARC and get home by October), but have thought same at every goodbye since Grenada, so remain skeptical.

Jack

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