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Anthem Adrift
A Plethora of Proficient Predators
06/09/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 8

Awesome. There's a word used too often for too little. Well, think back to when it meant something. Three of us dropped in above the edge of a wall starting about 30 meters down, populated by a school of sharks, to ride the incoming tidal flow. During the dive, which brought us through the pass, around the corner and almost back to our anchorage, we saw a flight of four large eagle rays, carpeting schools of various kinds of fish, a lavishness of fish and coral in a profusion of species and one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. In and above a ravine to our left was a river of sharks. Jamie (Bamboozle) attempted to count what he could see at one point and got to 250. They were swimming into the current as we drifted by for ten to fifteen minutes. A flowing current of sharks as far as one could see in both directions that went on and on. Awesome.

Video isn't the best, but have the school of sharks plus others, white tip, black tip, grey and nurse, lots of Nassau grouper, giant Napoleon fish, the rays and flying over the bottom feet first. This place makes the Dogs in BVI seem like, ummmm, dogs. With ability to fill the scuba tank, would stay longer anyway as this is best diving, best snorkeling, I'll likely ever see, but really ought to move along.

Took Bristol Roses for a short snorkel after their arrival late afternoon for which they served me curried fish for dinner and plied me with rum. Since they will be suffering from an insufficiency of adult beverage until Tahiti, it was my own, but was delighted to share and, after all, it's the thought that counts. Again said goodbye to them forever. Anticipate meeting again in Tahiti.


He Should Be Committed
06/08/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

Napoleon Wrass and White Tip Shark

June 7

Woke at O dark hundred for beautiful reach back to pass for mid-morning in-tide snorkel. Fantastic. Lots of sharks. Slipshod camera work should occasion sacking slovenly operator, but a paucity of good help may make that inexpedient (real word). Time will tell if threat of flogging enhances performance on tomorrow morning's dive. Sanguinity (not a real word) level remains at low ebb.

Fellow named Manihi (same as northern atoll) has, so goes the story, built a resort/restaurant adjacent to anchorage over last ten years. In fact he has supervised cruisers, including four today and tomorrow, who have been inveigled to do preponderance of work. One then feels obliged to patronize his joint for dinner. Can't complain as he is a great guy, food is excellent (equitably priced for location) and after work gathering on "Sea Level" to commiserate and provide an excuse to abuse adult beverages to soothe aches from carrying sand (from beach) and aggregate (broken coral from other side of beach) to concrete a base for his new pizza oven made for a fun and interesting day. Lunch tomorrow accompanies mixing and pouring concrete late morning. Suspect this will provide excuse to infuse circulatory systems with additional mind altering fluids.

Trepidatious glance at calendar reveals meager time to see as much Tuamotus as fancied. To date schedule has hinged on resolution to arrive Papeete before June 18 for Tahiti/Moorea Rendezvous and Pacific Puddle Jumpers Party which should be an absolute hoot. Hoping for diminished time pressure subsequently, but as past is prolog, suspect another triumph of hope over experience. Decisions, decisions. The burden of command weighs heavy.


Coral Corral
06/07/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 6

After dive yesterday, noticed that Anthem was much closer to boat aft. Discovered that anchor chain had wrapped coral close in and surge of bow from wind blown waves had parted both primary and secondary snubbers and run out through gypsy all 270 feet. A bit of line from bitter end of chain to clip in anchor locker had prevented the whole caboodle drifting down on leeward reef. Yowsers! Attempt to weigh and re-anchor was unsuccessful, so a dive to free chain had to await return of filled tank this morning.

After two snorkels, a dive to the 45 foot bottom and thoroughly abusing windlass to recapture chain and anchor, decided to try southeast corner of lagoon for calmer location and maybe a touch less coral. Wind had backed north previous afternoon using the 30 miles of Fakarava's fetch to raise a pretty good (here defined as not good - don't you love English?) swell. Gentle, slow, six mile sail found requisite conditions and ten other boats. Celebrated super-human effort to avoid sure death (here, it might serve to point out that 'hyperbole' is not the same as 'lie') by preparing chili Ramen for lunch then napping until 1730.

A box of biryani masala mix has been floating around, getting in the way for a year and a half, so decided to fix it. Additional required ingredients are rice, meat, onion, tomato, ginger paste, yogurt and oil. Hell's bells, it's not a mix, it's just flavoring and requires Martha Stewart's kitchen. Does an OK job of spicing up plain brown rice except that nutmeg curry isn't a favored essence. Tomorrow's fish and cheese omelet will assuage cranky taste buds.


Flip Him Off
06/06/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 5

Hit the water flipping (doesn't translate well from land) this morning starting with an out-tide dive briefing on Bamboozle (useful to avoid ending up in Tahiti sans boat). Had plans for snorkeling before lunch, an inbound dive this afternoon and outbound tomorrow (there is a counter current to bring you back and a chase boat above). A shower dampened early enthusiasm, but, although yesterday's snorkel was actually better, later dive was great. Have now been led to believe that knowing how and where to go in a wider, deeper, faster flowing area, north pass is even more exhilarating. So many places, so little time.

Have snookered.. er, convinced Bristol Rose and Inspiration Lady to make five hour sail this end of atoll if a couple of maintenance gremlins can be expunged, so hope they can make it and are equally impressed. Keep thinking each parting with the Rose will be last, but fortunately for friends, they dawdle.

After scuba, went by one of two dive operations to ask a very rude individual about air fills and possible dives. Perhaps he had a bad day or we're not French or he is, but suspect it's because we dived without him. Must have missed that class in grad school where antagonizing potential customers who will certainly spread the word to others who are likely to be is a clever strategy. Suspecting a paucity of receptivity, refrained from inquiring if he had considered other industries besides service.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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