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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Passage to Papeete
Bruce
06/19/2011, Pacific Ocean

Today we raised anchor and sailed out of Fakarava Atoll at slack tide, heading south to Papeete, Tahiti. It's a short hop for us, 248 miles, which we should be able to do with one or two overnights depending on our speed.

Right now we are sailing at 6.5 knots, with about 18 knots of wind coming from our rear quarter.

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Skull Island
Bruce
06/18/2011, Fakarava Atoll

The boys discovered a skull and bones on a tiny islet here in the atoll. This is on a tiny island no more than 100 feet from one end to the other. The boys have dubbed it "Skull Island". We don't know why the skeleton is there, but it looks like it has been there a very long time.

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Scuba at Fakarava
Bruce
06/17/2011, Fakarava

We did some scuba dives and drift snorkeling in the atoll pass, riding in on the flood tide. The fish are amazing.

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Crystal Clear Water
Bruce
06/17/2011, Fakarava

We have been enjoying the perfect anchoring experience here in Fakarava. The wind has died down to zero knots, so the water is as flat as a billiard table and the entire area seems like a giant aquarium. The water is so flat, and so clear, that we can see every detail of our anchor chain lying at the bottom, at night, with the full moon. The sharks that swim around seem to be flying thought the air.

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Arrival in South Fakarava
Bruce
06/15/2011, Tuomotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

We arrived at the South anchorage at Fakarava again. It was an easy sail along the 40 mile channel from the north side of Fakarava to the south side. However when we arrived at the south end the marked channel ended and we were left to our own devices to find our way among the coral heads to the anchorage.

We chose to use waypoints provided by s/v Soggy Paws, which had previously been there. So we dutifully entered the waypoints into our navigation system and made our way towards the anchorage in what was about 50 feet of water depth.

I had mounted a masthead camera, and was watching it, when suddenly the image on the screen changed from deep blue to light beige. I immediately put the boat into full reverse thrust, but it was too late, a few seconds later there was a huge crashing sound as we had run hard and fast onto a rock hard coral head. The depth had gone from 50 feet to 4 feet in just a few seconds. And this was along a route that was recommended as a safe route!

My first reaction was to ask crew to check for any incoming water entering the hull. None was observed. Then we tried reversing off the coral head. We were stuck fast. So we took our stern anchor out with the kayak and dropped it off to port side, with it attached to the spinnaker halyard. By winching in the spinnaker halyard, we were able to make the boat heel enough so that we were free of the coral.

So we gingerly backed out of the hazardous area and found deeper water.

Lesson learned: never believe any "safe routes" given by prior cruisers.

Luckily there was no damage to the hull of Calou, save for some scratches in the bottom of the cast-iron bulb keel.

This photo, of a black tip shark, was taken while diving on the keel to inspect it for damage.

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Dinner at Lucien's house
Bruce
06/13/2011, Fakarava Atoll, Tuomotus

The crew of Charade and we were invited to Lucien's house; Lucien is a French man who has married a Polynesian woman and has lived here more than 20 years. His house looks like a perfect postcard, with decks opening right onto the lagoon.

Lucien (or Lulu), invited John and me to bring our musical instruments. John played violin and I played accordeon. Lulu it tuns out loves jazz and folk music, and plays his own special version of a contra bass, made with a plastic garbage can, a stout stick, and a piece of rope. He can change the pitch of the sound produced by changing the angle of the stick, and therefore, the tension on the rope. He's been playing this homemade instrument for 20 years and he's VERY good at it.



This was followed by some native polynesian dancing by one of Lulu's daughters and the daughter from Charade, Ambre:



Lulu on his garbage can contra-bass, Bruce on accordeon, John on vioilin, and Pascale singing, jammed together, for a set of tunes. It was a memorable evening.




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biking on Fakarava
Bruce
06/13/2011, Fakarava Atoll, Tuomotus

Our boat and the crew of Phambili rented bikes for the day and rode about 20 km up and down the atoll; Fakarava is consists of a ring of coral about 200 meters wide (at the largest point) and about 100 km in circumference.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on a sandy beach by the lagoon, and there happened to be a pier with a pearl farm on it.

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06/21/2011 | Elaine Simon
Thanks for your posts. We have cruised San Diego to as far as Panama three times and are planning to begin our puddle jump in March, 2012. I have sooo many concerns, and your blogs have helped me to see that the South Pacific is simply like cruising anywhere, except more so. Thanks again!
CREW WANTED, Tahiti to Hawaii
Bruce
06/10/2011, French Polynesia

As you know, we're sailing CALOU in French Polynesia and making our way towards Tahiti. Our crew member, John, must perform in a concert in July, so he will be leaving us at least temporarily.

We are looking for someone to help us sail our boat from Papeete or Bora Bora, to the northern Marquesas or Tuomotus (for R&R stop and provisioning), and then north to Hawaii.

The route from the Marquesas to Hawaii is described in Cornell's book, WORLD CRUISING ROUTES thus: "This is a fast and pleasant passage at almost any time of the year".

The departure from Tahiti would be some time in early July. Arrival in the Marquesas might take a week, and the passage to Hawaii two or three more weeks.

Candidates should be either known by us or have references.

Interested parties should contact us via email,
b r u c e @ c a l o u . c o m

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