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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Arrival in Papeete
Bruce
06/23/2011, Papeete, Tahiti

We arrived day before yesterday at Papeete at daybreak, and dropped anchor in the channel between the island of Tahiti and the barrier reef that surrounds it. The water is calm and flat making for a comfortable spot on the hook.

The first thing we did after arrival was walk about a mile to the nearby "Carrefour" superstore, a very big store that sells everything, very much like a Wal Mart in the U.S., only the products are mostly French. The variety and quality of foods here is every bit as good as the finest supermarkets in Paris. We bought some foie gras and a dry Alsatian Gewurztraminer to go with it. The French "charcuterie", or meat products like sausages and pate, are the best in the world, so it's a real treat to find all those things here. The prices are sky high, however, since everything here is brought in by ship or plane.

In the afternoon we were very tired, having been sailing all night, so we slept until sundown, then got together friends in Phambili, Evergreen, Moondance, and Aeiola, for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant near the marina.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Passage to Tahiti: Night 2
Bruce
06/21/2011, South Pacific Ocean

This evening is our second night on our passage to Tahiti; we are expected to arrive at Papeete right around sunrise at 6 a.m. We are slowing the boat down a little deliberately so that we arrive in daylight.

The sea conditions are very rolly, big swells keep us always on our toes. Despite that, I made 3 pizzas for dinner which we all enjoyed. It was a challenge keeping all the tools and ingredients from flying all over the galley.

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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.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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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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