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Anthem Adrift
Au Revoir, A Bientot
06/26/2010, Maeva Beach, Tahiti

June 25

Last minute prep to leave the boat (at 0530) is always a joy and no matter how well planned (not a forte) always ends in a rush. For example, I rushed onshore before sundown to shoot the shinola with friends and down a $7.50 beer. Should be riddled with guilt for not fixing auto bilge pump, but rationalized that any inflow large enough to sink the boat would run batteries dry and sink her anyway. Because anchored in ten feet, any waterlogged remains should easily be located.

As implied did not dock or moor, but rather have found a shallow, sandy, open area where hook is buried to China (this has little meaning here as other side of earth is somewhere around Egypt, but you get the idea). Location is brilliant unless boat sinks, drags onto reef or gets run down, then somewhat less so.

Actually went onto land (where etiquette demanded overpriced social engagement) to retrieve passport, boat documents and entry paperwork (after being in French Polynesia for over six weeks) so as to exit tomorrow. This may seem backward, but it possesses a certain symmetry and the French insist. Leaving for a week does not reset three month visa (EU citizens get six), but does extend it by time away.

A cool, sweet smelling breeze gently rocks the boat and suffuses the cabin; full moon light ripples across the sandy bottom through swimming pool clear water; dozens of boats and the island of Tahiti are outlined against a cotton ball smattered sky. This doesn't suck.

Jack

Assume the Position
06/25/2010, Maeva Beach, Tahiti

June 24

Shipping bits and pieces to various, out of the way corners of the world tends to be surprisingly quick, distressingly long or impossibly difficult and always extortionate. Although this morning's tracking info on standby ticket from Faaa (not a misspelling) Aeroport to LAX (money saving means of transport requiring purchase at a Delta location, e.g. Tampa) showed it in Auckland awaiting clearance, arrival was this afternoon, two days before Fedex had ventured. Cool, but earlier than planned flights seem to be full and, anyway, karma will no doubt blind side me later for this benefaction.

Still floundering a trifle as to boat positioning for week trip home. It's a price/safety/availability/hassle conundrum which, to this point, has resolved down to a mooring at Marina Taina or Med moored on the downtown quay. Remaining anchored at Maeva Beach excels everywhere but safety if it comes a blow. Additional cogitation to ensue.

Shiny new coffee press (French press) is in hand for preparation of morning drugs. Also in possession of powdered milk (to kill roaches and/or possibly, in extremis, to drink) and tinned butter (reputed best) from New Zealand.

AM activity will be to troubleshoot automatic ops of bilge pump and then goof off so long that only option will be to leave boat as is in situ.

Jack

There is Absolutely No Reason to Panic
06/24/2010, Maeva Beach, Tahiti

Return to Tahiti

June 23

Alternator, despite ameliorative efforts yesterday, would not wake this morning. Sweet talk not having been effective, resorted to tough love (including sailor language) by unshipping unit while scowling menacingly. This, along with replacing a terminal that had separated from its wire, provided sufficient incentive, after reinstallation, to allow resumption of a its fruitful relationship with batteries and departure of whole shebang from Moorea to Tahiti.

Noticed, a few miles out of Papeete harbor, that cabin sole was awash in water. Initial taste indicated saltiness. To digress for a moment, fresh water can only come from onboard tanks. This is bad. Salt can only come from external sources. As the ocean has somewhat more water than inboard tankage, which is, as one may rightly infer, already in the boat and can therefore not sink it, this is really, really, really bad. Further scrutiny (this is not a naughty word) revealed head ankle deep in fresh water and pressure system hose adrift in shower. Restorative solution was affected posthaste, but cleanup is ongoing.

Providential preceding peril provided perfect pretense to proceed ashore, while cabin, head, rugs and various other bits dried, for mellowing utilization of locally brewed adult beverage. Boat is afloat as, after consumption of recently alluded to beverage, am I, weather is lovely and aforestated activity has occurred in the Windward Society Islands of French Polynesia. All in all, a nearly perfect day.

Jack

Whatever Floats Your Boat
06/23/2010, Opunohu Bay, Moorea

June 22

Eventually dinghied into nearby Hilton Hotel through a channel after first discovering all the coral heads where it wasn't. Somebody did a good job of designing a place that is open, created from Polynesian materials and perfectly suited to the environment. Lunch was reasonable, by local standards, offered a view of previously referenced coral through gin clear water over which the stilted bungalows are a bargain at 84,000 CFP per night (about $1000 at their exchange). Location is magnificent, but still, one assumes rooms are really, really nice.

Balance of day spent encouraging alternator to operate, removing rusty topside streaks and performing internet chores. Also began investigating negligent automatic bilge pump which, in maintaining a monopoly of air within the boat, keeps barnacles from growing on the bunks.

As sky has cleared and headwind eased, will wander 16 NM back to Tahiti AM. Logistics for leaving boat while returning to Florida for a week remain to be sorted out, including assuaging abandonment issues with assurances of my swift return with presents.

Jack

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

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