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Anthem Adrift
Seduced by Juice
06/22/2010, Opunohu Bay, Moorea

June 21

Convergence zone weather mostly departed after a shower before dawn to make way for some sun and occasional blue sky. Large contingent from the remaining Rendezvous boats made semi-dry three klick walk for tour of Rotui juice factory whose mango nectar has provided significant levels of caloric intake since Marquesas. Tour was scrubbed for inventory, but a sampling frenzy occupied attention and helped induce personal purchase of five liters of three varieties that should make the medicine go down. Apropos of which, rum stock is now below 3.5 liters. Attempting to ignoring nascent panic as French rum reeks.

Moorea is an equilateral triangle with two deep bays on its north side, Opunohu (west), mostly undeveloped, and Cook's Bay (east), containing the island capitol, Paopao. Additional ambulation that direction, lugging leaden liquid purchases, brought boisterous band to regular restaurant and good, but pricey lunch while others opted to backtrack for less dear cafe burgers. Additional companions were jettisoned at a magasin while purchasing pan du chocolate and ice cream to arrive at a hitchable size. Slumped down in seats while riding past still walking gaggle.

Have returned boat to first and now more open anchorage due availability of wifi. Readily admit that chasing connectivity in paradise is just wrong, but the compulsion persists.

"Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch." - Robert Orben

Jack

Victory at Sea
06/20/2010, Opunohu Bay, Moorea

Opunohu Bay

June 20

Hard to believe that in such miserable weather one can have so much fun. Rained most of day for va'a (canoe) races (team finished third in our heat, nosing out some children and a crew who rolled upside down), banana run (don't ask), tug of war and wonderful singing, dancing and whatever one calls guys who play with fire. Traditional lunch, eaten with fingers, was edible, not counting the taro, breadfruit, two types of poi and, the piece de resistance, raw fish soaked in fermented sea water (a starving dog would probably rather). Ceviche, chicken and pork in spinach were fine.

Awards were given for winners in each event (we were unaccountably absent from podium) and first three boats to arrive yesterday, although it was emphatically stated not to be a race. Despite its short waterline, Anthem beat all the catamarans and speed sleds... almost. Placed 28th out of 34 boats recording times.

"2 is not equal to 3, not even for large values of 2." - Grabel's Law

Jack

PS For anyone who noticed change, moved, late afternoon, deeper into bay after untying Gordian knot of anchor chain/snubber and marker buoy line as lighter wind and swirling current occasioned an entertaining round of bumper boats.

Fun IS Work
06/20/2010, Opunohu Bay, Moorea

Rally to Moorea

June 19

Following early morning cafe au lait with fruit tarte and purchase of fresh goods at Champion grocery (initially thought French woman was directing me to a mushroom store) battened the hatches to shove off for 0930 rally start just outside Papeete harbor. Entire fleet bobbed along in Tahiti's wind shadow for awhile, took off as zephyr roared into twenties, then hung on with more than thirty knots around Moorea's north end. Boat was way over-canvassed with all working sails flying until forced to furl staysail and double reef main. After all, as we were often told, this was not a race. Uh huh, uh huh. Rollicking good time had by all.

Lamb, chicken, fish and steak at the barbecue tonight were, untypically for large groups, excellent. Entertainment was highly evocative of Hawaiian, but the beautiful music was less professionally polished making it more authentic and the dance delightfully more erotic. Easy to see how Spenser Christian and Marlon Brando were so thoroughly seduced by the people and the place.

Pictures of Moorea (Moh-oh-RAY-ah), either Cook Bay or Opunohu Bay (current location) rather than Tahiti, are the images one most often sees of French Polynesia. Will sail to Papeete Monday for logistical reasons, but plan to spend additional time here after short trip back to Florida.

Await full day of planned frittery (real word?) tomorrow and, with any luck, unplanned more-of-same in ensuing days. Young, retired, marine single-hander expressed some guilt about too much fun and minimal productivity. He could be Catholic, Jewish or Calvinist, but suspect it's just military indoctrination. Pleased to say that incorrigibility has rendered me socially untrainable and generally free of such inconvenient sensibilities.

Jack

Parilulu
06/19/2010, Papeete, Tahiti

June 18

A cross between Paris and Honolulu, Papeete doesn't suck. Cruisers often shy away from cities, and indeed, large numbers are five miles away at Maeva Beach, but downtown certainly seems very pleasant and is closer to Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous festivities. Reference previous allusions to laziness.

Speaking of which, most activities while cruising involve three or four times the trouble and effort as on land. Spent morning getting skivvies fresh and clean (by way of a stroll through town with a dock cart and return three hours later with a wad of cash) and recharging propane, which has lasted since Panama whenever the heck that was (dinghy across harbor to tie up by ladder onto commercial dock, then find hole in fence and proceed toward a giant tank that looks like a chia pet where, again, a return in three hours was accompanied by second wad of cash).

Afternoon consisted in registering for the rally to get complimentary tank tops, buying $43 worth of mixed nuts and a specific gravity tester before heading over to city hall for a terrific music and dance welcoming show, mercifully short speeches by local grandees and a cocktail party which was attended by most cruisers met or heard on radio for last few months. All was great except for the round pink canapes. No one ate them and you shouldn't either.

Jack

PS Next posting likely to be more sloppy and even more belated.

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

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