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Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Diving At Last
John
05/25/2011, Makemo

[post by John] Me a SCUBA diver.
So, after bouncing around between tropical locations for the last 15 years, but never venturing very far beneath the water, today I took the plunge and went on my very first SCUBA dive. I always though SCUBA looked like an awful lot of hassle and expense when I could just jump in the water and see quite a bit by snorkeling. But after staying underwater for almost 50 minutes today and exploring the depths as the fish do, I see the benefits of also being a SCUBA diver. I joined our friends from another boat, Thomas and Laure. We were picked up from our boats by the dive boat and then we motored out about five minutes to the reef. After about one minute of instruction from the dive master, in a mixture of French and English, mostly just about hand signals to use underwater and how to inflate and deflate the buoyancy compensator, I flopped backwards out of the boat and into the water.
Thomas with his mask complete off.
Dive instruction.
I descended with the instructor to about twenty feet and after that I was on my own for awhile so I swam around and took a few photos of my classmates learning how to clear their masks. When my turn came I was a little confused since nothing had been explained to me before, but with some hand signals (can't talk underwater anyway, so no problem that I don't speak much French) I figured it out that the instructor wanted me to take out my mouthpiece and try exhaling without it. That was pretty easy. Next I had to remove my mask completely and then put it back on and practice blowing all the water out. This was a little harder but I managed it okay. After this it was back to swimming around and taking photos and chasing sharks. The deepest part of the dive was 35 feet. After we finished and were headed back to the anchorage the instructor complimented me on being extremely relaxed in the water for it being my first time diving. Everything felt pretty natural to me. Breathing from a tank was the only part I was not so sure about at first, but once I got my rhythm of one quick breath and slowly exhaling, I was set. I hope to complete my PADI certification in Fakarava, the third atoll we will visit in the Tuamotus.
Underwater life.
Swimming as the fish do.
The day after we arrived in Makemo we were joined by friends on four other boats. All the boats are tied to the wharf and it was a lot of fun helping tie up the new boats as they arrived. Lots of locals, and especially kids, were on hand to help as well. It was a bit of a party for awhile on the dock as everyone was really excited to finally be in the Tuamotus, not to mentioned being tied to a wharf for a change. Our friends on Charade caught a nice sized blue marlin on their way in and gave all the boats of bag of fish. That night all the French boats joined together on Charade for a huge sushi and sashimi feast. I provided entertainment during the cocktail hour. After dinner Bruce played accordion and Pascale sang and I played a few more piece on the violin.
Five cruiser boats plus Antoine's boat, Banana Split.
Helping Banana Split tie up.
Helping Moondance into the dock.
Saying goodbye to drifter Anne and her father.
Yesterday I went for a six mile walk exploring the atoll a bit. I did not find a whole lot of interest, but while I walked I kept busy trying to learn how to weave coconut palm fronds. I was not very successful but when I got back to the boat I downloaded a bunch of instructional information about flax weaving and now have completed a fish and a flower from coconut fronds. On the way back into town I opened a coconut and enjoyed some thirst quenching coconut milk.
Fishing boats passed while walking into town.
Local kids are extremely friendly.
Tonight I talked with two men on a boat from Padua, Italy. It was fun meeting some Italians and getting to practice speaking Italian. We met one other Italian boat a few weeks ago but they were not very friendly so no luck then, but these guys seem much more open to conversation.
Calou really attracts the locals, and even a guitar player.
This morning I practiced violin for about three hours at the foot of the wharf. There is a nice covered area with good acoustics and a terrific view of the bay. It turns out there is a movie night there on Friday which is very popular with the islanders. I have been invited to play before the movie starts. Also, a man drove up on his scooter, Felix, who heard me practicing today and asked if I want to play at the high school. So now, in addition to providing cocktail hour music, I have two engagements in town.

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Reef fish
Bruce
05/25/2011, Makemo Atoll

Francois and I did a scuba dive along the reef today, descending to 100 feet. We saw large schools of fish and some white tip shark.

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Calou at Sea
Bruce
05/25/2011, Ua Pou

Here's a great photo of Calou departing the Marquesas, with the island of Oa Pou in the background. Taken by fellow sailors on Moondance.

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Arrival at Makemo
Bruce
05/24/2011, Tuomotu Archipelago

We finally arrived in the Tuomotu archipelago at the island of Makemo after three days and three nights of sailing. The weather was mostly excellent with fairly consistent winds in the 15 to 20 knot range, though there were times when we had to motor and other times when we had to put in a double reef.

Delightful Sunset
Delightful Sunset

Like all of the islands in the Tuomotu, Makemo is an atoll, or a narrow ring of coral just barely above sea level with a protected lagoon in the interior. Makemo atoll is typical, the lagoon within being about 40 miles long. The ring of land surrounding it is about 300 yards wide.

Arrival at Makemo Atoll
Arrival at Makemo Atoll

On our arrival we were informed that we could tie up at the wharf where the monthly supply ship docks. When we arrived we saw a very peculiar little boat with no mast, no sails, and no engine; it was being sailed across the Pacific Ocean by a young French woman named Anne; the boat is propelled uniquely by a large kite. Anne required 83 days to reach the Tuomotu from Peru, though she only had brought provisions for 75 days, so she had not eaten for 5 days upon her arrival.

It turns out that Anne had previously attempted to row around the world in a row boat, had rowed across the Atlantic, and had stopped at our home port of the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, California, just a few years ago.

We also were greeted by a famous French singer known simply as "Antoine", who is much beloved in France for his island style music and his sailing videos. He's sort of a French Jimmy Buffett.

Antoine, Anne, and me at Makemo
Antoine, Anne, and me at Makemo

Here's a picture of Anne's boat:
Anne's boat
Anne's Boat

The natives here are extremely friendly, even moreso than in the Marquesas. The island has a population of only a thousand, so the Makemos are very curious and eager to meet and talk to visitors (especially if one can speak French).

Every day, children from the village crowd around our boat, bringing us flowers and small gifts, and asking all kinds of questions, like where we came from, places we visited, what the passage was like, etc.

children from village bring us flowers
Children from Village Bring Us Flowers

The next day some other boats with kids aboard arrived from the Marquesas: French boats Charade (3 kids), another Beneteau (3 kids), and Evergreen (1 teenager). So the wharf has been crawling with children, from boats and dozens of children from the village, speaking French, swimming in the crystal clear water, and playing soccer.

The azure waters and wharf of Makemo atoll
The Azure Waters and Wharf of Makemo Atoll

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Arrival in the Tuomotus
John
05/23/2011

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tempdata=escape("Today's sunrise.
After a quick three day sail we have arrived at the atoll of Makemo in the Tuamotus. We have been looking forward to seeing this unique place since the beginning of our trip and it is exciting to actually b e here. Our passage was really fast, averaging over 150 miles a day, with the last 24 hours being our fastest since the trip began, at 165 miles. It really helps to have good winds to keep us moving. We did experience a few squalls and I enjoyed watching the sunrise this morning.
Big squall.
Rainbow in squall ahead of us.
Entering Makemo we had to go through our first pass, a break in the coral ring, a channel, where boats can enter the atoll. When we arrived the current was rushing out of the atoll at a quick pace making the entrance too rough for us to get through. So instead we hove to a few miles outside of the entrance and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Two hours later we tried again as the current was now nearing slack tide. This time the surf was much more manageable, although we still were a bit tense as we motored though.
Approaching the pass into Makemo.
Nice looking beach near the pass.
Once inside the pass, it is like we entered a completely different world. The sea is perfectly flat and stretches out for a very long ways. This atoll is actually 40 miles long. A nice surprise here is that we are able to moor to the cement dock instead of having to anchor. This is our first time not anchoring since leaving Mexico, and what a luxury to just be able to step off the boat onto a solid surface.
Calou tied to the wharf.
After we finished docking I noticed a strange looking craft also tied to the dock. It turns out that a French woman, Anne (www.pacific-solo.com), had just completed a drift of 83 days from Callou (Lima), Peru to here. We had a great time talking to her and her parents (who happened to find her near this island and towed her in). Her communications system broke one week into her trip so her family and everyone following her trip at home was very worried about her safety. Her last communication had been about broken parts so they were extra worried. It turns out she was fine and had a good trip, although she mostly ran out of food about five days before arriving here. She expected the trip to take closer to 60 days instead of 83. The problem was she ran did not find the trade winds for longer than planned. Her only form of propulsion was a kite. She is quite the adventurer as she also has rowed across the Atlantic alone. Two years ago she attempted to row across the Pacific Ocean, starting from San Francisco, but a few days out she had equipment failures and had to abandon the trip. She spent last summer floating around on a small iceberg tracking its movement.
Kite boat.
In addition to meeting the charming solo sailor Anne, we also met the famous French singer, Antoine. He had some big hits in France in the 1960s and has lived aboard his trimaran in French Polynesia for the last 21 years.
Local admirer, Anne, and Antoine.
We plan to stay here a few nights, exploring the town and surrounding areas before moving on to the next anchorage in Makemo.
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tempdata_name=escape("Arrival in the Tuamotus");
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Day 3 of Passage from Marquesas to Tuomotus
Bruce
05/21/2011

Our second day was another good sail, we made 156 miles in a 24 hour period, like the first day. If this rate continues, we should make landfall at Makemo Island in the early afternoon. That would be nice because we will need good daylight as we enter the atoll in order to avoid the numerous coral heads.

Day 3, which began at noon today, has been highly variable, at times very light winds so we needed to motor, and at times 25 knots and squalls. It has rained off and on all afternoon which we took advantage of to take a fresh water shower on deck.

Now, night time has begun, and fortunately the radar doesn't show any more squalls on the horizon so hopefully we'll have a peaceful and dry night sail.

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Day 2 of Passage from Marquesas to Tuomotus
Bruce
05/21/2011

Our first day and night went by quickly, we had a consistent 15 to 20 knots wind on the beam, so we were able to maintain 7.5 knots. Today, at noon, we measured our 24 hour progess since we left Ua Pou and found that we had made 157 nautical miles in that 24 hour period. Not bad considering there was a period of light winds in the shadow of the island where we had to motor.

Our second day has come and mostly gone, it has been very pleasant sailing. We shared a glass of wine at sunset and marvelled how wonderful this passage was turning out to be.

For dinner, we had beef entrecote steaks with green peppercorn sauce, plus chinese long green beans cooked in butter, and couscous.

Our Sat phone terminal was not working today (for me) so my only access to the internet has been via (very slow) sailmail.

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Passage Making to the Tuomotus
Bruce
05/20/2011

We left Ua Pou, the last island in the Maquesas archipelago, and are now sailing towards the Tuomotus, another island chain about 500 miles south west. This passage should take us about 4 days.

We had hoped to fill our jerry cans with gasoline for our outboard motor and generator, but the only store that sells gasoline on the island said they were out. Not to worry, they said, a supply ship was arriving that evening and they would have gasoline in the morning. So we returned to the store this morning, walking about a mile and a half with jerry cans in hand, and when we got there, they had already sold out all of their gasoline.

Such is life in the islands!

For our trip to the Tuomotus, we have brought lots of cash (as much as the ATMs would give us) and plenty of fruit (grapefruit, tomatoes, limes), both of which are difficult or impossible to obtain in these islands.

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05/20/2011 | george + candice/PUMA
enjoying following your blog.

bummer about the gasoline. however maybe when you find some the walk won't be so long.

interested to see if you find gasoline in the Tuomotus.

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