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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Paradise Found
04/23/2011, Tahuata Island

We left Fatu Hiva this morning and sailed 30 miles north to Tahuata, to a beautiful anchorage. This is the nicest anchorage I have seen since Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez... emerald waters over a sandy bottom, a beautiful sandy beach with very gentle surf making a beach landing easy, coconut palms and lush hills in the background. We arrived just before sunset and took the dinghy to the beach where we built a bonfire and enjoyed looking at the brilliant stars overhead. It really can't get much better than this.

I hope to have photos of this spot tomorrow.

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Music and Drama

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.09238 Longitude: -139.04509

Last night was a night to remember for sure. Bruce, Pascale and I joined the adults from Evergreen, Dennis, Carol, Mark, and Vicki, aboard Phambili with Tommy and Fiona for a potluck dinner followed by a mini music recital. All but one of the kids, Francois, Antoine, Josh from Evergreen, and Anina and Cameron from Phambili, had dinner on Calou followed by playing Uno and other games.

Each of the boats prepared a main dish for the adults dinner and we had a very filling dinner. Then the fun started with playing some music. Bruce kicked it off by playing a few French and Russian solo pieces on his button accordion. Then he accompanied Pascale as she sang some energetic French songs. After a brief intermission, Naoimi, age 12, and I played a few songs together on violin. She had been studying violin privately for a few years and is doing quite well, especially considering that it is difficult to keep practicing and advancing her skills while sailing. I wanted to play a few real violin pieces (instead of all the light classics that are more familiar to people) so I played the first few pages of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven violin concertos. Tommy has requested I play a full concerto next time as he really likes to hear the classics, so I better get a bit more practice in. To close our concert we got the spiral bound piano book of popular classics out and we all sang along with the violin to pieces such as themes from Carmen, an aria from Tosca, Tchaikovsky Piano Concert Number One. Fiona also had a few Beatles songs and songs from musicals.

By this time it was just past midnight and the crew from Evergreen were getting ready to leave when they discovered their dinghy was no longer tied to the back of Phambili. It looked like somehow the rope had loosened and the dinghy had drifted away. The bay we were anchored in is notoriously windy with huge gusts funneling down through the mountains and out to sea. The chances of finding it with such wind in the dark did not look good. A dinghy to a cruiser is like a car that an RV'er might tow behind them. Once anchored, the boat stays put and the dinghy is the way you get around. Losing it, especially so early in their trip, is a really terrible thing.

Tommy and Fiona set out in their dinghy with a flashlight and started inspecting the shores of the bay. Dennis joined us in our dinghy and planned to also join in the search. But then we started having trouble with our motor and it became clear that it would only add to the problems if we went out in the darkness, wind, and rain in a dinghy whose motor kept dying. So Dennis decided to weigh anchor and search using his boat. By the time Evergreen motored out of the bay into the open ocean it was well after 1:00 AM. On Calou we all went to bed about this time.

When we woke up in the morning Evergreen was not back. Phambili and us secured our decks and started motoring out of the bay, going over to the next island down, Tahuato. As we were leaving, Tommy contacted Dennis on the VHF radio and relayed to us the news that Evergreen had just located their dinghy! It was about 5 miles out, where it had actually drifted upwind, but with the current. We later talked with Dennis on the radio who said they had motored around all night without seeing any sign of their dinghy. They had given up the search and were motoring back when they spotted their dinghy only about 30 feet off of their course back into the bay. They practically ran into it! So, that was a relief to us to hear they had found it, and I am sure they were ecstatic to have found it. They will likely catch up on their sleep today and join us tomorrow in the new anchorage we are headed to.

Earlier in the day, yesterday, I spent about 4 hours working for ReservationKey, making some good progress on the new feature I am building. Since it was pouring rain most of the morning, this was a good day for programming. My work was interrupted quite a bit though as I had caused our aft head to become clogged. So I spent quite a bit of time working on unclogging the hose. I even dove under the boat and used a wire snake to work on the hose. Finally I decided to pour some white vinegar in and let it sit for a few hours.

Even though it was still pouring rain Francois and Josh decided to hike to the waterfall. I joined them and picked up Anina. We spoke to some of the local people as we walked through the village that warned the waterfall would be way to dangerous, but we decided to proceed anyway. It turned out fine. The only real danger would have been from falling debris if we had went swimming under the waterfall. The trail was well above the river and not a problem. When we arrived at the waterfall it was very obvious we would not be going in the water. In fact we could barely get close without being blasted by spray from the waterfall. It was a huge difference from my visit two days earlier. It was like we were standing at the base of the Niagra falls. On the way back we visited a fresh water spring surrounded by mint plants. We drank lots of the very refreshing and minty water.

Currently we are closing in on our next anchorage. We hope to have a bonfire and another music party on the beach. Unfortunately this may be our last night with Phambili for awhile as they are on a schedule to get to Tahiti to meet Fiona's sister. Hopefully we will join up with them in the Tuamotus in a a month or so. We have had a lot of fun with them and enjoyed experiences we probably otherwise would not have had.

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Hike to Omoa Bay
04/20/2011, Fatu Hiva

Today I went (along with Francois, the crew of Phambili, and the crew of Evergreen) on a 5 hour hike over the mountains (to 800m elevation) 17 kilometers to the next village, Omoa. The road was at times extremely steep and, at the higher elevations, rocky and muddy. I took a water taxi to get back to the boat.

We were asked what our meal plan is here in Fatu Hiva. Regarding cooking, we are very restricted because we have (for now) no refrigeration, until we get it repaired. Also, the "groceries" are EXTREMELY limited here at Fatu Hiva. There is one "store", no more than 100 square feet, with canned goods and a very tiny selection of frozen meats which we cannot use because they are large pieces (several kilos) which we can't store without refrigeration.

Also, we have only dollars, and the stores accept only Polynesian Francs, or Euros. No credit cards accepted and there are no banks or ATMs. Not to worry, we have PLENTY of provisions on board Calou.

Fatu Hiva remains, I think, not that different from Thor Heyerdahl's days, as there are no tourist facilities (no restaurants, no cafes, no souvenir shops). There's just a post office and the aforementioned tiny store. The natives are very friendly and love to talk to us (in French) and they like to hear about our sailing voyage.

The main difference from Heyerdahl's day is that there is now electric power, and a paved road (which ends once one has left the village).

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04/22/2011 | Bob Haley
WOW How does it feel to have Jimmy Buffit jealous of you?
Congrads to all aboard.Gardner Mackay would be proud.
Bruce,incase you don't know, do not silver solder any refridgeration lines unless you purge them with either nitrogen or argon.Ifyou don't theheat and freon creates a peskey by-product called Fosgene gas.
By the way, your name appears in lat.38 at a recent party for people to report to principal Diana Garsiski for detention??
Keep having a great and safe adventure,as we all are living vicariously on Calou.
Akoli Maluna
Bob Haley
Adventure to Small Village of Omoa

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.51235 Longitude: -138.68654

Today was another fun filled day of adventure. Our friends on Phambili and Evergreen decided to hike 17km to the next village, Omoa. Francois went and Bruce joined in at the last minute. The big problem was how everyone was to get back to the boats. Since my legs were sore from yesterday's hike I volunteered to drive one dinghy and tow another dinghy behind me the three miles to Omoa. After spending a few hours scrubbing off lots of growth that had accumulated during our passage on the bottom of our boat, I took off.

I had a great trip over, going slowly and exploring all the little coves. The cliffs are incredible. They rise up from the water near vertical and around every corner is another jungle filled canyon. This trip was made more memorable by the fact that it was pouring rain the way it pours only in the tropics. Even though I was only wearing my swim shorts I was not cold and the fresh water rinse was a nice treat. About halfway to Omoa, in the pouring rain, with another dinghy in tow, a pod of about 50 dolphins surrounded me. It was a really great moment.

When I arrived at Omoa, it was still pouring rain, and the whole bay was muddy brown from the run off. At first I did not see the harbor and I was thinking they would have to swim out to me since there were huge breakers at the shore. But then the clouds lifted a little bit and I was able to make out the new harbor. I towed the dinghy in and went to work securing both of them to the wall. After a few minutes I realized I was going to need to make a better arrangement because the surge kept pulling the dinghies under a cement lip on the wall, and then crushing them when the water rose up. They easily could have become punctured if they stayed that way. So I then took a really long rope and tied it diagonally from the cement dock out onto the breakwater, which held the dinghies off the wall.

I then called up Tommy on the radio and found out that the group has just arrived in town. They had a very tough hike, with pouring rain more than half of the five hours it took them to make the trek to Omoa. The road started out nicely paid, but it went only about one third of the way. We had heard that the government paid for the road to be completed the entire way, but somehow it never was completed.

A medium size cruise ship was in port today so there was more activity than usual. Many of the local vendors brought in their handicrafts to sell. Apparently this island only sees cruise ships three times a year. So we were very fortunate to see the cruise ship. I even talked to some Americans from Laguna Beach. They said they had expected the boat to be all Americans but it turned out there were only about 20 percent Americans on the boat. Most of the others were from France. Unlike cruising in Mexico, here we are seeing a lot more nationalities, which is great.

Last night we had a mini-seminar about best cruising areas in French Polynesia on a French couple's catamaran. Arno and Carol had arrived only hours earlier, after a 17 day passage from the Galapagos. They left France about 18 months ago. Michele, a German, with 35 years of experience cruising in these waters was the presenter. He also is a dentist, with a complete surgical set up on board his catamaran. He spends time around the islands volunteering dental work, specializing in correcting cleft palate in infants. Tommy and Fiona, South African/British/Canadian, from Phambili were there, plus American Dennis and crew Mark from Evergreen. Michele gave us tons of information and it was very encouraging to hear about all the great places we have yet to explore. These include an island filled with wild horses, a great spot to visit tropical fruit farms, an anchorage with the best restaurant in the Marquesas, an island with the third largest waterfall in the world (have to wear hard hats because of possibility of falling rocks), a river where they have it set up for bathing and massages, a family farm on an atoll with great diving, plus so many more. I can't wait! It sounds like the real fun part of our trip may just be starting.

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04/21/2011 | Gunnar Wetlesen
After reading that cruise ships occassionaly visit the island, I did a search which netted a site with great photos taken from the passenger freighter Aranui 3. See:
At Anchor at Fatu Hiva

Calou rests at anchor, along with her crew, at Fatu Hiva.

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04/20/2011 | Blair Hunt
Congratulations on your safe arrival! Your blog has been an absolute delight reading. Enjoy your new adventure & friends and we'll be tuned in for more updates on your travels.
S/V Sabrina Faire, Semiahmoo, WA
Day Hike in Fatu Hiva
04/19/2011, les Isles Marquises

We explored the island of Fatu Hiva a bit today, walking through the tiny village and hiking through the jungle to a swimming hole at the base of a 200 foot (70 m) waterfall. The hike began gently but toward the end became very challenging, requiring clambering over boulders and tree limbs over an uncertain path marked every 100 meters by a small pile of stones. At the base of the waterfall was a pool of fresh water at a cool temperature of about 75 F (22 C), which was very refreshing considering the sea and air temperature around here is 90 F (30 C). John brought swimming goggles and explored some of the underwater caves at the base of the waterfall, only to come face to face with a large black and white freshwater eel. That came as quite a surprise.

We stopped to talk to the locals, which was very easy for us since they all speak French. We found the locals extremely friendly. It is definitely a plus to speak French here.

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Landfall in Paradise

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.46494 Longitude: -138.66841

We have landed in a real paradise! This morning Antoine and I joined friends from the boat Phombili and hiked up to a great view point. From there we had a great view of the village, the bay, and the mountains. The way back down was harder than going up since it was so steep. We followed a paved road, but still, after not walking for 24 days, my legs were in not that great of shape. Tomorrow we are planning to hike 17 kilometers to the other town, but after today's hike, I am not sure I will be up to it.

On the way down from the view point we met Bruce and Pascale and we went off on a side trail and hiked to the base of a 60 meter tall waterfall. It was rough going through the jungle, but the hike was worth it. We swam in a nice pool at the base of the falls.

After the waterfall we walked slowly through the village and talked with some of the locals. It is great that Pascale and Bruce are fluent in French as it is much easier to get to know people here if you can speak French.

Tonight we expect our friends on the boat Evergreen to arrive. We will probably all go to Phombili and have dinner together there, once they arrive.

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Landfall at Fatu Hiva

We have had our first sight of land since we left Mexico 23 days and 2700 miles ago! We are just a few miles from Fatu Hiva, our first port of call. Today's sail has been the windiest (and fastest) sail of our entire trip. The winds have averaged 20 to 30 knots all day, so we have been able to maintain boat speed of 7 to 9 knots with a reefed mainsail and jib. The seas have been at times been pretty big; at one point we had a wave come over the bow and spill into the cockpit.

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04/18/2011 | Bob Elix
Well done ! Great feeling after 3 weeks or so,
enjoy a "cold" drink
04/19/2011 | Judy Armstrong
Well done!

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