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Anthem Adrift
Dancing on the Wagon
08/08/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 3

Maupiti

August 7

Weather guesser seems to have been a day late and a Beaufort short on forecast as wind began filling in at O dark hundred and just kept building early morning along with sea. Previous zephyr became 20 to 25 gusting over 30 all day in 3 meter sea with prospect of continuing until arrival. Boat, reaching at hull speed with double reefed main and staysail, isn't exactly dancing like a meth- doped Lippizaner, but big rollers periodically submerge lee deck.

"Weebuls wobble but we don't fall down."

Ride has been relatively dry except for that one pesky wave right at the beginning that filled the cockpit and poured Pacific Ocean onto me, quarter berth, cruising guides and computer. Immediately undertaken preventative and remedial measures have, so far, yielded acceptable results.

Research shows that one or two adult beverages a day is good for you. Well then, since previous four days were dry, celebration on night of arrival Rarotonga should accommodate five to ten so health on passage will have been retroactively maintained. Hmmmm, wonder if I can pick up that day last week and, maybe, when sick in Daniel's Bay and wasn't there a day a couple months ago....

Jack

Fare Thee Well, but Fair... Well?
08/07/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 2

Biking Maupiti

August 6

Snuffed the drifter at 0400 as breeze began to freshen under overcast with distant flashes of lightning. When wind died at 0530 in torrential rain and engine did too right after starting and didn't immediately restart, boat was actually going backward in half knot eastward current. After checking various potential culprits and noise of rain decreased, restarted initially stumbling Westerbeke which then ran OK. Suspect coking from running too lightly. This was sum of excitement for a day which was primarily spent reading back issues of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and napping with periods of sailing at from .5 to 2.5 knots without disagreeable clatter. Torpid brain has congealed into Crisco.

Due departing French Polynesia, will soon haul down $3 blue, white and red courtesy flag-on-a-stick and begin flying equally chintzy one for Cook Islands. Having lasted through St. Martin, Guadaloupe, Martinique and FP, it should be forgiven for having tattered away all red. It now represents either a backward "H" or international distress signal, "I've fallen and can't get up".

Polynesia was such a delight, fear that future stops will be disappointing, but am told it gets even better. Like many Kiwis, Aussies, Brits and some Canadians, who are often intelligible, with effort, to people in the U.S., islanders now will be using, as their second rather than third language, English. By the way, it seems wrong that England should name a lingo that they can't even speak without an accent. Of course, I don't suppose many Americans are embarrassed about having hogged the word that describes an entire hemisphere. Life just isn't fair.

Jack

All Kinds of Fun
08/06/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 1

Calm at Maupiti Pass

August 5

Couldn't ask for a more perfect day of sailing... well, except that the wind was too light and too far aft and seas weren't as smooth as they could have been and... but all things considered it was wonderful. Although based on predictions from weather weasels, anticipate veering and freshening breeze by tomorrow which will, as hope runs amok, allow landfall in Rarotonga on or about (meaning sometime later) Monday morning.

No matter how recent a last overnight, at sunset after the first day of a passage, there is a feeling of anticipation. Many dislike sailing in the dark, but there's something really magical that just isn't present in daylight. Whether the moon gives your seascape a silvery glow or visible stars create what appear to be millions of pin pricks in the heavens and an iridescent milky way stretches from horizon to horizon or, on a cloudy night, the world is completely impenetrable blackness, restricted vision pulls the universe into a small space and paradoxically accentuates its vastness. It could make a person philosophical. I normally just get sleepy, but it takes all kinds.

"When I works, I works hard; when I plays, I plays rough; and when I thinks, I falls asleep." - Anonymous

Jack

Where? When?
08/05/2010, Maupiti, Leeward Society Islands

Turtle Lookin' Thing

August 4

Bike tour of island did nothing to dispel favorable first impression. Passed another marae without stopping (seen one...) and peddled/walked up a small valley searching for petroglyphs. After wandering up and down for awhile, finally discovered what fellow bikers had begun referring to (because of sign art back at the road) as 'turtle lookin' things'. This was slightly unfair as there was also a crab lookin' thing.

A moment of epiphany and subsequent cipherin' (required ability to count four) revealed reality that, belying yesterday's comment, there was only one more day here, today, which is, as this is being written, rapidly expiring. Oopsie. Complete blame for snafu should fall upon chart table calendar picked up in Panama as Spanish is not best language (still looking for that). Now in contemplative process for departure in AM. As accompanying boat, Inspiration Lady, is not keen on Maupihaa layover and my own enthusiasm has trickled away, will probably press on to Rarotonga to arrive Monday (he said confidently despite preceding boats going over plan in light winds).

At least, after whirlwind of activity (following music and program swap with Bill & Kathy from Jarana ('H' sound)), boat is more or less, maybe, probably, ready and important projects, whatever they were, planned for this stop have most likely been completed. As can be seen from previous sentence, napping in the afternoon leaves me groggy and befuddled as opposed to normal state of alert befuddlement (not an oxymoron for some).

Jack

Thoughtless Activity
08/04/2010, Maupiti, Leeward Society Islands

El Maupitan

August 3

Maupiti is a mostly undiscovered treasure. Just as well as it's too small to absorb much abuse. South end looks like a 650 foot, volcanic El Capitan. Village is along full length of east side and features flowers and sundry fruit trees in the yards of neat houses. Don't know percentage of Chinese, but theater runs on Friday and Saturday with mostly kung fu movies. Ferry runs three times a week from Bora Bora and probably carries the exported watermelon and copra. Snorkeling so far... OK, the place isn't perfect.

Unpacking laz was a pain, but allowed fixing rudder position problem, finding a (but not necessarily 'the') pressure water leak and rearranging space for additional storage. Nothing has broken, so todo list has again contracted - maybe fourth or fifth time since January of the year nine. Life is good with another couple of days to make it better (see next paragraph). Second thought, may just maintain stasis by screwing off... Oh wait, that IS better.

Due dicey prospect of getting into Maupihaa, may remain two more days to assure arrival Rarotonga past weekend if proceeding straight through. Suggested circumnavigation of island via bike tomorrow may evade any possibility of ennui, but would imperil stringent day of indolence that has just been penciled into schedule. Fortunately, that decision is twelve hours away and thinking induces somnolence.

"When I works, I works hard; when I plays, I plays rough and when I thinks, I falls asleep." - Anonymous

Jack

Taking Liberties With Security
08/03/2010, Maupiti, Leeward Society Islands

Bye Bye Bora Bora

August 2

Masterful plan to leave early ran afoul of submerged buoy. Nearly pulled the bow under trying to power anchor out. Used half a tank of air at 70 feet in clouds of obscuring silt, unwrapping it by touch from chain, rope and a yatchsman anchor attached to concrete block. In the sage and prescient words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "It just goes to show, it's always something".

Easier seas than yesterday's reports made for an OK 26 NM sail to Maupiti. Entry not bad if one avoids looking at impressive surf crashing onto boat-eating reef a stone's throw either side. Lamented furling main which could have helped with three knot outbound current (past slack, due anchor drill delay) and awkward situation if motor had hiccuped mid-reef. Channel into Maupihaa, 102 NM further west, is less expansive than here.

Lay day tomorrow may... may find contents of lazarette elsewhere for purpose of sorting out loss of rudder position input to autopilot. Can't see much degradation in performance, but the thing has taken to beeping in a highly menacing manner. Have heard that, like cats, they can suck your breath out while you sleep. Don't really believe this, of course, but, as with astrology, phrenology and palm reading, one would be a fool not to follow all possible avenues for avoiding every conceivable risk to make life totally secure.

"The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life." -- George Carlin

Jack

Pretty Good
08/02/2010, Anchored Off Bora Bora Yacht Club

Whisky and Whiskey

August 1

It is again one of those august occasions when necessity requires learning to spell a new month. And on the subject, was taken to task for a misspelling. Irish and Americans make whiskey, but Scots and Canadians make whisky. Only one superior product is made with each name. At risk of offending, will not enlighten the benighted half of that division.

Obtained Thai green curry paste at Chin Lee's grocery, so decided to abuse, as it happens, Canadian friends who, while finicky about their food, are somewhat tolerant of me. Turned out much better than anyone had a right to expect, but not the exquisite culinary experience that the really good stuff can be.

After cleaning a truckload of dishes, putting outboard on transom and securing dinghy to davits, will dash off just a snippet more and then to bed for 0700 departure to, if conditions allow, Maupiti, about twenty six miles downwind for a slack tide, noon arrival. If its pass is impassable due to unswell swell, then Maupihaa, an overnight farther (arrival at slack), is alternate. If that doesn't work, will then be off to Rarotonga for arrival Friday so as to not pay overtime at customs and immigration. Years of preparation and study have culminated in this example of faultless planning. I am not just a pretty face.

Jack

Here to Help You
08/01/2010, Anchored Off Bora Bora Yacht Club

Bora Bora Yacht Club

July 31

Duty free diesel is 84 CFP per liter versus 127. With 41 liters purchased, probably saved about $18.75 before subtracting $4.25 to copy paperwork (five government documents that will no doubt be treasured by the Total station into perpetuity), cost of fuel used to dink into town for said copies and the time expended. May reevaluate effort on next circumnavigation.

Also relished Byzantine bureaucracy when checking out at gendarmerie. French Polynesia requires everyone to clear in and out in Papeete. Done, finished, el finito a month ago. Suppose to notify the cops Nationale at last point of contact (in this case Bora Bora) when actually leaving. Many (most?) cruisers don't bother, but wouldn't let me check out two days early. Convinced agent of sudden epiphany requiring departure tomorrow, Sunday. Nobody knows, cares or checks. Having kvetched about this, should concede that French here and in Caribbean have been, by far, the easiest.

After rereading above, am consumed with guilt as FP has been a delight. Caribophiles might reevaluate after spending a little time here. Islands are spectacular, people are warm and generous, beers cost from five to eight dollars... oops, how did that slip in? Anyway, this corner of the world is a treasured and magical place, but now on to the next adventure (although not until Monday - don't tell).

"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
(Obviously anal and a bore at parties)

Jack

Charitable Thoughts
07/30/2010, Toopua, Bora Bora

July 30

Close look at weather indicated that today was as good as it gets until next Wednesday so, since five more days in Raiatea/Tahaa was a few too many, packed my duffel and headed back to Bora Bora just in time for a potluck at the Yacht Club. My meal to share might be leftover rice and black beans. Hey, it's the thought that counts, right!? Although depriving the folks who attend, may remain on boat rather than brave long wet dinghy rides cross lagoon. Time will tell and I'll be the first to know.

Anchored west of Toopua (where the wind occasionally gusts to 30), but will move tomorrow either to Yacht Club or Bloody Mary's for wifi service with most prepaid time. By the way, did you hear about the pilot who was so cheap that... oh, you did. Hmmm.

Last evening, broke out the Bushmills single malt purchased at duty free in LAX on return from U.S. to Tahiti. Not bad and love the Irish, but Scots make a better whiskey. With rum supply dwindling (did I mention that French rum reeks?) and Talisker nearly gone, a more charitably eclectic attitude may henceforth be necessary.

Jack

Work? Just Say No!
07/30/2010, Abeam Baie Tapuamu, Tahaa

July 29

Adroit use of wrenches, screw drivers and other implements of persuasion have enticed alternator to resume operation. Can't seem to induce its long-term assumption of responsibility as culprit is a different wire each time. Rewiring that and engine panel joins an expanding list of details for New Zealand.

Upside of working around the engine, besides obvious delights of getting greasy and scraping knuckles, is avoiding shower and head cleaning. Downside of letting that go indefinitely is fear of being grabbed through its grate by something growing in the sump. Eventually, like super bacteria, it will become resistant to Clorox and take over the boat. Hoping then to be ashore thus avoiding messy hostage situation.

After deicing frig condenser and before a stray rational thought could intrude, found myself influenced by previous musing and subsequently elbow deep in stinky, murky guck. Boy, hope that doesn't happen again soon.

Jack

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