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Anthem Adrift
Passing Through
06/05/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 5 AM

How can one burn the candle at both ends in paradise? Getting together for drinks night before last on Jackster, after having just arrived in Kauehi from a rough 4 day passage, we hatched the brilliant notion to jump up at 0530 for 42 NM sail to south Fakarava. Having conceived of numerous rationale, was surprised when it actually worked out. After a gorgeous sail, temporarily interrupted by a 35 knot squall, arrived at the anchorage to immediately drop the dinghy for drift snorkel through pass on a incoming tide, then with barely enough time to clean up, proceeded into shore for dinner that lasted well past cruisers midnight at which someone, who shall remain nameless, imbibed an overabundance of vin rouge. Should be fried, but only lightly sauteed.

Pass here is like nothing I've ever seen. Hard to believe that so much life can exist in one location. In clear water, no bottom is visible due coral, over, under and through which a lush profusion of fish in all sizes swim. Schools of tens of thousands create flowing rivers. Large and small sharks are everywhere (and no doubt well fed). Add to that effortlessly flying above this seeming landscape at two to three knots and the effect is stunning. Internet and pan du chocolate 25 NM away at north end may have to wait a few.

Soft-hearted Jacksters have adopted a kitten, found nearly dead in Daniel's Bay. After some discussion with others, named it Polly.. wait for it, wait for it.. Nesia. Eschewing this egregiously cutesy and therefore unacceptable name, I have chosen the more appropriate, due appearance, Mouse. A clingy, furry sack of bones initially, this new member of the cruising community now has a rounded tummy and discovered its proper place in the social hierarchy. Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

Jack

Sail Day
06/03/2010, Kauehi, Tuamotus

June 3

Threw caution to the wind, such as it was, and hung out the big laundry to catch (what was available and) up with two other boats (slowed to adjust arrival) for early tide entry into Kauehi. Although whisker pole turned into bad idea as wind veered requiring midnight removal (which, by the by, went better than daytime operation), drifter, main and just sufficient wind got me to pass (quite benign at a little past slack) with wonderful alacrity.

After killing Westerbeke which was engaged to counteract two knot current through cut (no engines were harmed in this process) went below to conduct activity (to be explained anon) while autopilot, contravening explicit instructions, tacked over to port effectively heaving to (no relation to hurling). Completed Keystone Cop routine by jibing around back onto course after which (and following a severe reprimand) A/P behaved appropriately. Notwithstanding inauspicious beginning, sailed up fairway that crosses lagoon to a little village on the east side as wind, sea and boat collaborated to create a nearly perfect close-hauled passage. Didn't know the old girl could point that high.

And now, as promised.. Found a fowl feeding frenzy a few miles out so dropped in a lure and didn't have time to secure the rod before hooking up a two foot skipjack tuna. While running in to anchorage he got cleaned with special filets prepared for a new friend to be introduced in the fullness of time. TBC

Jack

Going With the Flow
06/02/2010, Day Four

June 2

Not trusting that a capricious wind would remain benign, left up just a few rags engendering paltry progress last night. Now looking doubtful to make tomorrow morning's slack water into Kauehi. With large lagoons and few breaks, Tuamotu passes can be treacherous at mid-tide. Next slack is, perhaps 7 hours later (flow change tends to occur at high tide, but 60 to 90 minutes after low due waves slopping over reef into lagoons).

As implied, conditions have unaccountably chosen to play nice with easy two meter swell, but little wind. Even with poled out drifter and full main, will need 13 knots of air movement until arrival. Had too little sail for conditions last night, so of course, with multitudinous gear hanging out am ripe for appearance of big bad wolf tonight. You pays your money...

Spent lazy day reading trashy novel (lots of sex and violence) as intermission to "Moby Dick". Melville's unabridged version has way too many superfluous words between plot segments. Needs more pith. I don't have a lisp.

Jack

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

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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