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Anthem Adrift
Papeete Provender
06/18/2010, Papeete, Tahiti

June 17

Having lost the coffee maker when a wave flung it out of drain pan during a friskier segment, have been drinking more hot tea (while this modifier is a redundancy to the English, it is quite necessary for American southerners). Hope to find a replacement shortly as French presses should logically appear where there is Gallic influence. Of course, they may be called something entirely different here and be completely foreign. Additional knowledge to be acquired in the fullness of time.

Obtained lunch at the open market in town where one may purchase produce, fish, meat, etc. Discovered that sandwiches there, besides the regular filling, chicken, fish, ears, whatever, typically contain pomme frites (not called French fries - see above). Inside the baguette! Have subsequently learned it is not unusual to get a sandwich with only frites. Although possibly a character flaw, should not disparage this behavior due to having friends who eat ketchup sandwiches. "Everyone to his own taste" said the lady who kissed the cow."

Dinner was at a brick paved, waterfront park where restaurants are created and tables are set out from trucks. A popular venue, the food, including a variety, but heavy on Chinese, was excellent. Prejudice toward rhum raisin and chocolate ice cream blinded me, until it was too late, to the magnificence of a banana, chocolate and Grand Marnier flambe crepe with whipped cream. This alone will be reason enough to live for another day.

Jack

Tahiti-Nui
06/17/2010, Papeete, Tahiti

Morning Arrival, Tahiti

June 16

Arrived at the Quay (pronounced key) des Yachts on the waterfront in downtown Papeete around 0900. It's a haphazard affair where one shoulders in as able with an abundance of fenders, then slides left or right as another boat arrives. Lines strategically secured to the bottom and attached by senders at the dock hold the vessel's outward end and keep the dock end out of trouble. This does nothing, however, to keep crew in line.

Gary and Taffy (a puckish Welshman on black hulled "THE ROAD", Royal Order of Ancient Druids) dragged me around for hours in search of a diesel compression tester. It was unacquired while I was in train, but effort was fruitful as critical locations (hardware, chandlery, super market and laundry) were found during these peregrinations. As there is a large Asian population, good Chinese restaurants proliferate. Lunched on a tasty version of moo goo gai pan with rice and water for only $19. Taffy drank lunch (in fairness, he had already eaten) of one local Hinano beer at only $6.30. Will, in subsequent reference, revert to cour de franc Pacifique (CFP) at 92 per US dollar. Think in cents then add ten percent and subtract a little... OK, easy for you to say, but it works for me.

Along with clearing in using prepaid agent, expect more exploration culminating in pilfering the piggy for needed desideratum. As a trip to US after Tahiti- Moorea Sailing Rendezvous is contemplated, will likely defer some purchases for lower stateside rates. Hope to avoid reprise of February's return to Caribbean side of Panama with a hundred fifty pounds of luggage not counting the hundred and three pounds Fedexed. Sailing the Pacific is a weighty prospect.

Jack

Gardner McKay
06/16/2010, En Route Papeete, Tahiti

The Schooner Tiki

June 15

Finally enjoying 'Coconut Milk Run' conditions. Running wing and wing or on port broad reach (depending on wind shifts) with 11 to 13 knots in easy seas with full main and poled out drifter. At present rate (a wild and impetuous assumption) will arrive Tahiti's main harbor early morning, tomorrow.

Papeete is the big city of French Polynesia with all the comforts (at high to outrageous prices) implied. Tahiti's 170,000 residents mostly live in town. Highest peak is over 7300 feet and can be seen from the deck of a yacht at 60 miles (haven't personally done the math). The center of operations for Adam Troy's schooner "Tiki" from "Adventures in Paradise" (immortalized in Jimmy Buffett's song "We Are the People (Out Parents Warned Us About)"), this is the place many (Americans) associate with the South Pacific. Residents mostly speak a foreign language.

Have been fishing or (as has been pointed out if one is not catching anything) towing a lure hoping for dinner as last of tuna met the barbie tonight. Hard to believe what one often gets in a restaurant is the same stuff. Gary of "Inspiration Lady" doesn't eat finned creatures, prefering burgers or KFC. He drinks beer with Clamato juice. He's Canadian.

Strike is reported settled, so customs, diesel and international flights should be available after backlogs are reduced. Pan du chocolate supply was apparently never in jeopardy.

Jack

PS Errata: Valentine, from Toau, will be relieved to know she is married to Gaston, not Felipe.

A Fair (to Poor) Wind to Tahiti
06/15/2010, En Route Papeete, Tahiti

Jackster En Route Tahiti

June 14

Boat began day proceeding southwest toward Papeete at very humble velocity in promised modest wind. Meandering direction of this baby's breath, between east and north, has been mischievous. Flew, doused, jibed and poled out the drifter enough as to get almost good at it. Would trade some gentleness of sea for a touch more consistent air which eventually abated to three knots true. Heaving to would not significantly decrease speed over ground in one knot following current. Speed through water became insufficient to maintain steerage. Cranked diesel eater.

At 1900, after motoring for a few hours, wind soared to eight knots on the beam. Quickly flew all working sail, shut down Westerbeke and watched a decrease to six knots. It portends a long night.

General strike in Tahiti has shut down airport and other services. Haven't heard reason, but suspect government reduction of bread subsidy by a centime or making it legal to work more than 15 hours a week (slight embellishment). Short duration return to US for visit and boat parts retrieval in jeopardy. Hardship of dallying in Papeete will be endurable with availability of wine, cheese and pan du chocolate.

Jack

A Whisper of Wind
06/14/2010, Toau, Tuamotus

June 13

"Hey Jack, I saw a shark". "Was it a great white?" "Um, well, no it was a six foot gray reef shark". "Uh huh, uh huh, so did you see anything interesting?" OK, haven't gotten that inured to the sight of sharks, which are really pretty cool, but after the first four or five hundred, one just doesn't get the same rush. Longer range snapshots capturing gazillions (real word) of aquatic fauna and remarkable topography are beginning to give way to close-ups which have, heretofore, provided meager results.

Despite explicit plans, experienced insufficient sloth today. At least 'to do' list has decreased by an infinitesimal amount. Guilt may eventually induce work on one of the real jobs... or not.

Dawn should find on-watch crew hard at work getting underway for Tahiti. Would assign myself forenoon watch, but don't trust the scurvy blackguards to work without imminent threat of flogging. Have allowed time to ghost along at meager speed in forecast zephyr with minimal machinery clamor and still arrive Wednesday daylight. The big off-wind sail is all atwitter in anticipation.

Jack

This Little Piggy Went Weeee Weeee We/...
06/13/2010, Toau, Tuamotus

June 12

Two dives today on and above a wall that drops off to five thousand feet. This diving thing is getting to be a habit. It does, however, seem to be self- limiting as every dive results in loss or breakage. Now using jury-rigged fins, backup mask/snorkel and real spit due artificial goo going missing.

Have decided to imperil balance of scuba gear in Toau interspersed with sloth rather than 100 NM, downwind motor sail to Rangiroa for minimum stay. Will catch the capitol of Tuomotus on one or more of next several circumnavigations.

Pig Roast tonight on shore cut into beauty rest, but suspect limited effect at this point, anyway. Loud squeals wafting across anchorage this morning indicated limited enthusiasm by at least one attendee, but everyone else had a marvelous time. Before and after dinner our hosts sang lovely and very Hawaiian sounding music, including several renditions of happy birthday (think it was actually Felipe & Valentine's anniversary) in Tuomotuan, French and English. Getting older sounds way better in local dialect.

Have promised Jacksters fresh tuna and cheese omelet breakfast as recompense for filling scuba tank, so can only sleep in to 0730. Toodles.

Jack

Don't be Fuelish
06/12/2010, Toau, Tuamotus

June 11

Local boulangerie makes bagettes on spec, but loaves only by request before noon of previous day. Having made arrangements, still returned to boat at 0615 loafless (an inability to relax?) and would have been disconsolate but for compensatory pastry. Would assume a snafu in translation except proprietress is from New Zealand where a version of English is often spoken.

Doldrums persisted for eight hour motor to next atoll. Air molecules in close proximity upon departure from Rotoava, and apparently fascinated with the boat, traveled along at same speed all the way to Anse Amyot, Toau. So, well, sweltering stillness was unswell in two foot swell (sorry, tried too hard for that one).

Performed calibration of fuel usage underway at 1800 RPM and 5 knots to ascertain a bare sufficiency for traversing 300 NM from here to Rangiroa and then Tahiti. Diesel is reportedly available at the intermediate stop, but wouldn't bet Mama's egg money. Inspiration lady offered to share a few gallons for insurance. Confidence high that cannibalism of crew will be unnecessary given Monday wind forecast of howling eight knots.

Jack

Love in the Tuomotus
06/11/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 10

Really hate to gush, but the dive this morning lived up to its rep. Won't bore with another description, but just think of all the fish and coral on earth dumped into this pass where you fly along between grabbing on for a few stops. May even have gotten some good video. If there is finally good internet somewhere, will post some stills. Bound for Toau, about 40 miles north, for another possible dive tomorrow afternoon where the grass is reputed to be even greener.

How Polynesians avoid the ignominy of lard-buttage where French pastry is made defies logic. Since the boulangerie sells out by 0700, suspect a quota arrangement. Of course, there's no secret to deliciousity (not a real word), i.e. copious infusion of butter and sugar. It's like frying. Cardboard would be scrumptious deep fried with sugar.

East side of Fakarava has a very long stretch of contiguous land. Road connecting it all was just paved two years ago which has resulted in, what else, kids on roller blades.

David & Jacqui (Jackster), who traveled Fakarava (short 'a' sounds) to Toau (toe OW) today, are still newly weds and so obviously in love, wanted to share the following in their honor.

"Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come." - Matt Groening

Jack

Minnie Pearl?
06/10/2010, Fakarava, Tuamotus

June 9

With great reluctance, shared by grabby coral, weighed chain and anchor for 30 mile hike up lagoon to Rotoava village at north Fakarava. Minimal wind required using iron yankee although port beam zephyr allowed sails to be a great help as boat heeled 3/4 of a degree in the 4 knot puffs. Careful observation of indicator detected speed increases as high as zero. Due forecast indicating more of same, fear two day sail to Tahiti may turn into two week paddle if fuel runs low.

Visited Gunter's (use an umlaut, he's German) place for a demonstration of black pearl production. Takes six years to culture the larger ones, around 18 mm. One oyster makes four pearls in year and a half increments as they need to work up from small to large. It's probably a confidence problem as they are really quite pusillanimous (is that a naughty word?). Maybe they're just shy. Natural pearls, about one in a thousand, are usually very small and, anyway, no one needs that much libido. Common business practice of free samples is unaccountably not implemented here. Expectations were cruelly shattered.

After buying bread tomorrow at 0600 (it's all scarfed up by 0700) will make the famous (hey, it's in the South Pacific Guide Book) Garuae Pass Drift Dive at 0800. Based on previous week's aquatic activities have developed inoperable pruning.

Dinner tonight is to be ashore, outside at the 'pink truck'. Prices are reported to be reasonable, i.e. merely outrageous. Methinks gourmet treats are in the offing.

Jack

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.

Jack

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