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Anthem Adrift
Rewarding Respite
08/11/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Matutu Brewery

August 10

This for Cal, who gets anxious unless things here are going wrong and broken stuff needs fixing (we're very good, longtime friends?), managed to get the Honda running again after threats, entreaties and pitiful whining initially proved inefficacious following salt water deluge on passage. Economy setting, slowing engine when load decreases, has yet to sign on, but at least batteries can be kept happy.

After a slow start, dragged bedraggled carcass on walkabout to find breakfast and a wifi card. Discovered that Cookers, Cookees, Cookanese, Cookeranians, Cook Islanders.. ah.. have their own excellent coffee, love brekkie (country has a close relationship with New Zealand) and charge for internet by the gigabyte. Also found a map, bus schedule, crunchy peanut butter, non-French dark rum and the Matutu brewery which gives free samples (their blond is fab) and sells it from a tap in two liter plastic bottles, cheap. Have not perceived urgent need for imminent departure.

"I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." - Mae West

Jack

Bonding With Bedding
08/10/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Arrival Rarotonga

August 9

Wind backed me about 16 NM to the east of Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga, so jibed onto starboard tack for last three and a half hours. Entered harbor just behind Inspiration Lady who thusly buys the ice cream. Waited 45 minutes for them to get secure and here's why. Trick is to drop anchor with just the right amount of scope, then back between boats into six foot south wall with 18 knot east wind and worse surge than San Salvador. After delay, came in to last available slot in Ohmygodyoudidntgothere corner surprisingly well with help from on shore line grabber, but then discovered why it was free. Inobvious level of water movement ricocheted around making boat motion look like hurricane Jacuzzi. After four hours of doubled dock line abuse a cat left and, with minimum sturm und drang, moved over. Motion is now generally violent in only one plane instead of all three. Access to land is an adventure in dinking.

Today's events emphasized two things: 1) it's too strenuous and expense (don't recall mentioning this point) to stay for only two days and 2) heightened need and short supply of rum has created excessive levels of angst. Near panic held in check by reported existence of tolerably affordable restockage from local purveyors.

Computer screen has unaccountably become rather fuzzy, so should let it recover and finish last of elusive number of rum drinks that were poured atop an indeterminate amount of local and Panamanian beer consumed during cruiser get- together at picnic tables on quai. Planned dinner ashore was unanimously scrubbed for lack of interest and, at least in this case, an earlier inception of extended and uninterrupted unconsciousness on an apparatus specifically designed (and lain fallow, lo these several days) for that very purpose.

G'night all.

Jack

Queer Query
08/08/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 4

???

August 8

Rarotonga officials reportedly confiscate fresh produce so tossed everything that could be identified as such and appeared remotely edible into a pot with a little coconut milk and green Thai curry, cooked two cups of rice and made a humongous salad for dinner. Hope they don't question a frig full of leftovers.

Last 40 hours has been a romp. Hope to arrive tomorrow just as harbormaster and customs wake up if wind holds, but it's tended lower and backed to a broader reach, so may be a touch later. Hard to believe this is the longest passage until departing Minerva Reef for New Zealand early November. With a stop at Beverage Reef en route to Niue, max nights out will be two. It will be like sailing from St. Pete to Key West, but without the really strange people.

Speaking of which, show of hands one more time, who thinks I'm hiding out in the Florida Keys, making all this crap up facilitated by substantial infusions of rum, weed, but only an occasional hit of acid? Uh huh. Uh huh. OK, put'em down. Who thinks I'm actually sailing around on my own boat in the South Pacific? Uh huhhhh. Wow!

In tonight's philosophy segment, a question that has stumped great thinkers since Aristotle. Take a minute. "What if this weren't a hypothetical question?" - Unknown

Jack

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

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