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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Alex's Restaurant
Bruce
04/27/2011, Hiva Oa

We had a great dinner this evening at Alex's restaurant. Alex is from France and, incredibly, went to school at a tiny village just a few kilometers from Pascale's sister's house in rural north eastern France.

Alex runs a "pension" (bed and breakfast) high on a hill overlooking the harbor where he served us lobster salad, beef stew, roasted pumpkin au gratin, and ice cream made from Taro root.

This is a picture of Alex with his lovely family.

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Atuona Kids
Bruce
04/27/2011, Hiva Oa

We arrived today at the port town of Atuona (pop. 1600) on Hiva Oa. Here Pascale poses with the very friendly kids of Atuona. They were very curious about us and asked many questions, and loved to have their picture taken.

We are here to pick up replacement parts that we ordered while under way (refrigeration, radar, and plumbing parts, and a new barometer). We'll also be checking into French Polynesia (getting our passports stamped, etc).

We have an oil leak at the engine coming from the oil pressure switch. So I have to find a new one or order one and have it flown in. We can still run the engine but we lose engine oil slowly while it is running.

Also I have to find someone who can re-weld our broken radar scanner mount.

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Another Great Day at Tahuata
Bruce
04/27/2011

We had planned to sail into Hiva Oa today to get our papers in order and our spare parts that were shipped from the US, but we decided to wait another day because today was the first day after a holiday weekend (the Monday after Easter being a state holiday).

I got some projects out of the way. One was, we had overtightened the boom once while at anchor so that it was rubbing against the bimini, this created a 10 inch tear in the bimini fabric. I sewed on a patch to repair the damaged section.

Secondly, I forgot to mention this earlier, as we were motoring on our final approach to this anchorage, we had an oil pressure alarm go off. I had checked the oil in the crankcase and there was none, but there was about 5 quarts of motor oil in the sump under the engine. I had determined that there was a slow leak of motor oil coming from the oil pressure sensor... one drop at a time.

So today I pumped all 5 liters of motor oil from the sump into containers, and Pascale and I started mopping up the sump area under the engine with paper towels.

I removed the leaky oil pressure sensor and applied epoxy to it in the hopes of stopping the leak.

Tomorrow, before we leave the anchorage, I'll put the epoxied pressure switch back in place and see if it still drips oil.

Oh, and the refrigeration is getting a new lease on life. Dennis on sailboat Evergreen had Freon and equipment on board so that we could get our refrigeration working again. I used J.B. Weld epoxy to seal the holes in the evaporator that Antoine had made. Then Dennis and I spent the better part of the afternoon purging the system and adding freon. After a few days of trial and error, with a little less, and then a little more, freon, we now have a refrigeration system that seems to work as well as new. Today was the first day that our refrigeration hit the 20 degree F setpoint that we set for it. Looking good!

Between projects we had some time to have some fun, we took the dinghy for a ride to another cove on the island, where we explored the rocks, observed clans of hermit crabs, and collected sea shells, while Antoine body surfed and made "dinosaur tracks" in the sand, and John flew a kite in the light breeze.

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A Perfect Day at Tahuata
Bruce
04/26/2011

We spent a perfect day at Tahuata. The weather was perfect.

The day started with projects.

John and I got the defective radar scanner down. The swivel mount for the radar scanner was broken, whoever did the welding just put in a single tack weld, no more than 1/4 inch long. No wonder the thing broke. We hope to get the parts rewelded in Atuana. I did some electronic testing of the radar scanner which proved definitively that the scanner electronics had gone bad. Check.

We had a problem with the watermaker since yesterday, it was producing very reduced flow. This was due to a clogged seawater inlet line. I worked on that problem and got it unclogged. We have a new one being shipped to us. Check.

We have plastic hoods that go over the ports in the side of the boat. The hoods keep the rain out when the ports are open. The one by our cabin had broken due to wave action. I sawed off part of it to reduce its wave catching ability and reglued it in place. And we have two such ports in the salon for which I had not yet installed the hoods. Those hoods are now installed. Check.

The rest of the day was reserved for fun.

Francois and I, and the crew of the French catamaran CHARADE, went scuba diving at the reef on the north side of the anchorage. The water is so clear that we had at least 100 foot visibility. We were diving to 60 foot depth and you could easily observe the surface. The water temperature is 90 degrees F, so no wet suit was required. The display of fish was fantastic, as good as I've seen anywhere. CHARADE has a dive compressor so we were able to get our tanks refilled.

Finally this evening we had the crew of CHARADE over for dinner. There were 10 of us seated for dinner around our salon table! It was tight but we were able to get everyone seated. We concluded the evening with music (John on violin and myself on accordeon).

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A Day at Tahuatana
Bruce
04/26/2011

Today was mostly sunny; we spent the day enjoying the emerald colored water, this being helped by a 90 degree (32 C) water temperature. Francois spent most of the day with the dinghy visiting his friends on sailboats Phambili and Evergreen. John took off on the kayak. This left us stranded more or less on the boat though we did go for a swim a few times to get refreshed.

This morning John and I took down the radar scanner, which not only was not working, but the swivel mount it was connected to was held together with just a couple tack welds where some serious linear welds were really needed.

After that I spent some hours looking at the water intake for the forward head and the watermaker. There's some restriction somewhere that is reducing the flow to both devices. This project will continue tomorrow.

We said good bye to Phambili, who are sailing today to Nuku Hiva, and thence to Tahiti. We hope to meet up with them again in about a month's time in the Tuomotus.

We introduced ourselves to the catamaran Charade, a French family from La Manche (Britanny). They have 3 small children, the oldest being 11, around Antoine's age.

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A Unique Easter
John
04/24/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: -9.90839 Longitude: -139.10486



What a great way to spend Easter, at anchor in one of the most beautiful anchorages in the Marquesas. We had a relaxed laid back day today. In the morning, a few hours working on my software, then Bruce and I removed the broken radar unit. After that a kayak to shore and a climb up the nearby hills for a view into the channel on the other side of the island.

Followed by a snorkel session filled with lots of tropical fish. Next relaxing on the beach talking with our friends from Evergreen. Then I picked some grapefruit from semi wild trees, and made it back out to the boat just in time to say goodbye to Phambili. They left tonight for an overnight passage to their next stop. We hope to meet up with them in about a month in the Tuamotus.

The last few nights we had some great music sessions aboard our boats. I even gave a violin lesson to Neomi. It was my first time teaching, and definitely very memorable. We were outside in the back of their catamaran going through some Suzuki songs. Bruce and I scanned a bunch of Canadian fiddle music from Fiona, and I hope to be a real fiddler by the time we see them next.

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Paradise Found
Bruce
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
04/22/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com 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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