04/24/2010, Tahuata, Isles Marquises
I don't know why sometimes things come your way that seem so unbelievable, so undeserved that you just sort of stare at them in disbelief. But once in a while it happens that way, and such was the thing that happened to us yesterday on a calm, beautiful morning here in Hanatefau.
I had just wandered into the galley, and was looking out the window, pondering whether to have some coconut banana bread or something else for breakfast (as if there were really any question) when I saw movement in the water. Fins -- lots of them. With the recent story of hammerheads echoing in my mind, my first thought was sharks. But then I realized they were dipping in and out of the water, like dolphins. I called Allan and we went out, standing in the cockpit, taking in the scene: indeed, a huge pod of dolphins was swimming and leaping in the bay, only a few hundred feet from the boat. We just stood there, watching, scanning the horizon, silently counting the numbers in our heads, when we suddenly came to our senses and realized this was one of those moments. What better time would there ever be to swim with a pod of dolphins? We called to Tiffany, who called to Greg, and within 10 minutes we were in the warm water.
Our friend Gloria from Paikea Mist told us later that she and Michael had been watching them for over an hour before we got up, and that when we jumped into the water, they changed direction and began to swim towards us. It was all she needed for inspiration and within minutes she had jumped in, Michael followed shortly. A little while later we noticed the crew from Albatross also swimming toward one of the many clumps of dipping fins.
We were filled with excitement and anticipation, not really knowing what to expect from our first encounter with these beautiful, intelligent creatures. Now, maybe being from the "Flipper" generation, we expect too much. Or maybe we've heard too many "Swimming with the Dolphin" stories, in which a dolphin laughs and plays with the human, twirling around them, developing a close personal relationship, sometimes even healing them from terminal diseases. We wanted, at the very least, a good dolphin diagnosis, but what actually happened as we first encountered them was that they just swam by, not even seeming to notice us, and then quietly submerged. Still and all, the excitement of being that close, even for a moment, and of hearing their fantastic calls to each other -- the perpetual high-pitched sound of squeals and squeaks, was enough to render us weak in the knees. Thankfully we didn't really need our knees at the moment.
We were in the water for about an hour, and it seemed the longer we swam quietly and waited, the more they became accustomed to us. We came quite close to a number of them, including small groups of young. No spontaneous healings occurred that we know of, other than that overall sense of incredible well-being and pure joy that accompanies such rare moments. It set the tone for the rest of the day, relaxed and open to the things around us.
And how does one segue to the rest of the day after such a beginning? Well, home made coconut banana bread helps, so we started with that. A little while later Michael and Gloria came by to deliver a few books for us to peruse on the Marquesas (the Spanish spelling, just to confuse you) and I joined them on a short trip to Hapatoni. Charlie's Charts calls the village of Hapatoni "one of the friendliest and most attractive in the island group." I haven't seen the entire island group, but I did find it delightful -- a charming, well cared-for village built along the rocky shore. We stopped at the little magasin (store) and scoped out potential supplies: lots of giant cans of butter from New Zealand, liter-sized bottles of warm Coca Cola, piles of mosquito coils, a big freezer box full of ice creams, and all the usual canned foods, including the ever-present corned beef.
A little farther down the road we found the community area -- a large, open-air platform with a tin roof and decorative palm fronds, with carved wooden benches nearby set beneath shady trees. Within 10 minutes of our arrival, a private showing of local handicrafts had been deftly set up on tables with colorful tablecloths. 4 or 5 women laid out their wares, from intricate hand carved wooden canoe paddles, exquisite in detail and finish, to bone earrings, hand carved wooden bowls, head bonker things (the Marquesians were cannibals like many South Pacific islanders until the Missionaries had become dinner one too many times and told them to quit it) and stone tikis. Although I was intrigued, the prices were high, higher than I was comfortable with.
Meanwhile, Greg and Tiff had gone ashore in our dingy, and returned with 5 coconuts. Although Tiffany grew up in Florida, and I've had my share of exposure to the rural tropics and lots of fresh coconuts, we were all essentially clueless on the exact method of gaining access to their meaty interiors. I'll spare you the sordid and rather embarrassing details -- if you're really curious, I think Greg plans to post a You Tube expose of the first onshore attempts with a dull machete and a sharp fear of losing precious digits. Suffice it to say that the acquisition of these coconuts was the start of a complex process that entailed hammers, hacksaws, screw drivers, the machete, an ax, and even a dremmel tool. It took all afternoon, accompanied by a raucous mix of musical selections from Allan's Ipod, and left the cockpit a fuzzy, chaotic mess. But by early evening, we had over a quart of coconut juice, a huge bowl of fresh coconut meat, and the makings of 2 custom coconut bras. (Fashion Show to be scheduled at a later date.)
While the coconut factory was in full swing in the cockpit, I was in the galley making more banana coconut bread, as well as beer bread (3 ingredients! Flour, sugar, beer) and fruit smoothies with mango, kiwi, orange, and yes ... fresh coconut.
So needless to say, we've had a delightful time here in Hanatefau, and are glad we decided to stay another day. But like kids in a candy store, we still face the question of where to go next, with so may delicious choices. After much discussion and hand-wringing, we've decided to head up the island to Hanamoenoa, which, again quoting Charlie's Charts, is "one of three most beautiful anchorages in all of Polynesia," according to some guy named Eric Hiscock.
Of course, this means we're bypassing nearby Baie Vaitahu, also known as Resolution Bay, where, in addition to the Vatican-built Catholic church, one of the most famous tattoo artists in the Marquesas resides. This is a hard decision -- these Marquesian tattoos are very cool. Allan wants one, I want one, but as I mentioned before -- we both fear pain. No doubt, when we get to Tahiti and reunite with all our cruising friends, and everyone is showing off their tats, we'll suffer the consequences of not caving into local peer pressure. (Gordon got one!) And no doubt, when we return to our "normal" lives back home, to our airline uniforms and tidy existences, I suppose we'll be glad we remain tattoo virgins. But what a great keepsake of our trip to take home, and a tattoo doesn't take up space! Doesn't need dusting! Won't mold! Oh, the temptation ...
04/23/2010, Tahuata, Isles Marquises
Two minutes and thirty-one seconds until the rice is done and I need to start cooking dinner.
We have moved north again, now anchored in Baie Hanatefau on the small island of Tahuata, which lies just south of Hiva Oa. Tahuata has around 600 people living on it in a few small villages. We came for the snorkeling, which is reputed to be the best in the Marquises, right here in this bay.
Our sail was another tough one, this time with big, choppy seas slamming and rolling us from the starboard side, but we had great winds and made terrific time up here, where we discovered the anchorage empty, calm, and beautiful. We had planned to drop anchor and have lunch and do some snorkeling, then head a few miles north to Resolution Bay, the next town up, to join Serenity, Proximity, and Paikea Mist, although we had heard it was pretty gusty up there. We called them on VHF Channel 16, and when Paikea Mist heard the wind was calm down here, they pulled anchor and were next to us within the hour. Proximity and Serenity opted to stay, but while we were swimming, 2 other boats dropped anchor, so our moment of privacy was brief.
The snorkeling was very good, saw lots of fish I've never seen before, and when the sun came out from behind those tropical clouds it was spectacular. No octopus today. After we got out, a neighboring boat called with an FYI -- they were surrounded by curious hammerhead sharks on their swim the day before in Fatu Hiva. We passed this on to Gloria on Paikea Mist, and she said, "Oh, those guys get to see everything!" Anyhow, we did a little research on hammerheads and will be alert for their presence.
I gave Allan and Greg haircuts on the bow, a really bad idea since the wind picked up a little and we had hair everywhere. Looking forward to a nice, pelting rain tonight.
We're deciding what tomorrow should look like: a stop at Resolution Bay for the night, and a chance to see the Catholic church that the Vatican built for the community (Greg is our resident Catholic) maybe see some local handicrafts and buy some sandalwood scented coconut oil, or do we go up to "one of the three most beautiful harbors in all of Polynesia?" Or, do we pass it all by, and head up to a baie on Hiva Oa that has fresh water pools or something like that? I am imagining a nice, bubbly natural hot springs with Marqusian masseuses hovering at the edges with sandalwood scented coconut massage oil ... that's my overactive imagination, or my aching shoulders, or some part of me that hasn't had a long, hot soak for awhile. Not that I'm complaining.
By the way, dinner was great. We bought some fresh tuna in Atuona the other day and this is the last of it, very good prices on pelagic fish around here, so our diet will largely be fish, juicy pamlemousse, papaya and baguette. Not complaining.
Oh, rudder update: for those of you wondering if our rudder really might have fallen off due to the absence of that support pin I told you about yesterday: our snorkeling trip today ended with a quick look at the rudder from beneath, and Allan says there's a secondary support system. Good work, Catalina Yachts. That rudder is going to come in handy.
04/22/2010, Fatu Hiva, Isles Marquises
Our last day here in Fatu Hiva has been perfect -- I hate to say it, because it begins to sound as if I'm sugar-coating everything for the sake of literary effect, but really, this place rocks. It is so staggeringly beautiful, so alive, so green and red and brown and windy and tall and craggy that you just can't wrap your head around it.
Today started slow again, all of us up at 9 am (which for Greg isn't starting slow ...) and did some boat hang-out time. We had breakfast, then Allan and I took a nap. Hey, it's tough in paradise. Then we tackled some real stuff, like laundry, cleaning out the fridge, and checking out the steering column that was making thumpy bumpy grinding sounds on the Pacific crossing.
Guess what? Missing parts. Parts that were there awhile ago and were not there today, due to an absent cotter pin. Those cotter pins! Small and innocuous, and responsible for so much. What we found was that the big pin that goes through the rudder post and holds the rudder in place was missing, along with that aforementioned cotter pin that was supposed to hold it in. Got all that? Bottom line -- the rudder wasn't going to fall off, because it has other things that keep it secured to the actual boat, which is good, but it would have been unusable, which is bad.
I had noticed some metal shavings beneath some of the moving parts of the steering assembly when I was back there looking for scuba gear recently, and mentioned it to Allan. Coming from a background of mechanical things, specifically motorcycles and airplanes, I am attuned to drips and powdery shavings being where they shouldn't be. But I have to admit, in this case it was my recent experience with termites that informed my senses, since we've been dealing with properties in a coastal, termite-laden areas for the last few years, and I've gotten good at looking for those little tell-tale piles beneath critical support members in the house.
Anyhow, pardon my verbosity, but the shavings, as well and the thumpy sounds, led to the discovery of the missing parts and we were able to locate them in the little nooks beneath the steering assembly, re-lube them, and put them back. Allan is a full-fledged diagnostician, mechanic, electrician, electronics engineer, sailor, meteorologist, and ships' Captain; he's amazing. We all learn multiple skills when we are in charge of everything in our small world, and can't make a quick call to the doctor, dealer, or mechanic.
Then we went snorkeling again, a delightful dive along a sheer face of volcanic rock teeming with interesting stuff. Tiffany, who has been diving since she was 13 and is very savvy in the water, spotted a black Lion Fish down at about 20 feet. He was amazing, reminded me of the bad alien guy Serris (sp) in "Galaxy Quest" -- wild black feathery things protruding from his back that flared out when he was threatened. We also saw numerous octopus again, and Allan spotted the elusive but deadly Rock Fish.
Greg went ashore this evening for a ukulele lesson with one of the locals and we may never see him again, he is so social and so savvy with his French. He'll have to come back soon because his favorite dinner, Top Ramen, awaits.
In answer to a few queries: Greg and Tiffany are staying with us until Tahiti. From there, unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding, we want to try going the rest of the trip on our own; you know, over- rated naked sailing and all that.
And as far as the blurb goes, I am going to try to post daily, but circumstances may deter me and it may be every other day. I will still not be able to send out "blurb notifications" due to the limitations of Sailmail, so I guess the thing to do is check daily and see what's up. Thanks to everyone for all your fabulous support and encouraging, hilarious, relevant and kind comments on the blurb. We weren't able to read them enroute, but once we signed up for Internet service in Atuona, we spent an evening reading every comment since we left PV, and it was incredible to feel you all right there with us, many thanks for that.
Well, now we really do believe we are in the South Pacific. We are in Fatu Hiva, in Baie Hanavave, which I think must be one of the most photographed vistas in the Southern Hemisphere. Known as the Bay of Virgins, or the Bay of Penises (depending on what century you're in) it is truly spectacular. Green and lush, with huge spires on either side of the bay -- hence, the old name -- and they really do look like, well, get on Google Earth and see for yourself.) The one on the right is reputed to look like the Virgin Mary, but when I look at it I see George Washington. (His face, George's face. Like Mt. Rushmore.)
We had a lumpy, yucky bash to Fatu Hiva, the kind of overnight that made us vow to never do the Baja Bash from Baja to California. Ick. In our whole Pacific crossing we didn't have a day or night like this. I slept in 4 separate places on the boat trying to get comfortable; it wasn't possible. So, when we pulled into the bay after 10 long hours, greeted once again by our friends on Serenity, as well as Mike and Gloria on Paikea Mist, we were pooped. Mike dingied over and gave us a quick hello and some of the particulars of anchoring and getting to town, a few good hikes to take, and then left us to our napping.
Anchoring here was much more straightforward than in Atuona, although it's rather steep and it took us a while to find a good spot in 44 feet of water. We napped a solid 3-4 hours, then packed a lunch and goodies and headed for the cascade, the waterfall up the valley.
The hike was fantastic. First through town, which is idyllic as far as I'm concerned, with lush tropical yards littered with chickens and their chicks, puppies, kittens, goats, pigs, horses and dogs everywhere. Wonderful copra drying sheds, which is where the coconut is hulled and dried in the sun (sometimes over fires) before being bagged and shipped off to become soap, coconut oil, and so much else that is popular on the world market these days from the humble coconut.
Outside the town we made a left past the road worker guys and through the most Edenic (I think I made that up. Is that a word?) jungle scenery I've seen in a long time. Flowers lined the path along with ferns and all that other gorgeous tropical stuff. Very few bugs, again, I'm so amazed. We saw a few spiders, small and out of the way, and those benign wasps that I've grown quite fond of, but nothing to annoy us on the hike. At the end was a thin but very high waterfall that ended in a rock pool, in which we had planned to swim as reward for the hike, but something yellow, foamy and scummy floated on the top of the water and we took a pass on the swim. So, it's not all perfect, afterall.
We got back to the boat in time for a quick ocean swim and a shower, and then met Paikea Mist and Serenity onshore for a dinner at one of the local homes, joined by a few other boats. In all, 13 of us sat around a brightly lit outdoor table laid with steamed rice, shredded green papaya with a sweet lime dressing, grilled bananas, smoked breadfruit (didn't like it as much this way,) chicken cut up in unrecognizable chunks, and poisson cru, the raw fish in coconut. Along with bottles of cold lemonade as well as a few bottles of wine a some of the cruisers brought, it was an excellent meal. For dessert, sliced paplemousse. For entertainment, the daughters,, aged 3 and 5 shared their kittens and and helped us with our French.
We also perused their collection of handmade tapas, a much thicker product than what I am familiar with in Fiji. Almost like a thin veneer of wood, hand painted with a local motif. We bought a small piece that we'll try to keep safe for another year.
Today, Tiff, Greg and I took a hike that our uber-healthy friends on Paikea Mist said was a 3-hour hike, but we failed to consider that they're athletes -- serious runners, and a hike to them means business, and they don't stop to smell the hibiscus. So the 3-hour hike to the weather station far atop the hill above the harbor turned into a 5-hour slog to the gravel pit, also high atop the hill but not as high and not as far. It was steep, it took a long time, and it would never have happened without the fabulous wind that blew in delicious gusts and kept us cool. We got to the top and ate our baguette with brie and tomatoes, brushed the ants from our bags, reapplied sunscreen and headed back down.
Allan, meanwhile, stayed back at the boat for a day to himself and got a lot of things done, one of which was fixing the air conditioner. (Yes, A/C.) (Hush.) When we got back to the boat he had left us a note: "Snorkeling with Paikea Mist on the north side of the bay, come join us!" (We generally don't use each other's names in this realm, only boat names.) Tiff and I donned suits and grabbed snorkels and fins and took the dingy across the bay to see what was underneath. Greg opted to join the locals for a volleyball game onshore.
The snorkeling was murky but beautiful, with lots of rather large, shy octopus, changing colors as we swam close. Such amazing creatures. We saw lots of other colorful fish, many of which I've never seen before.
The wind is crazy here, it does some wild stuff in almost violent gusts, we haven't measured it but I'd guess we've seen 25 knot at times. (Tonight as I write, fierce gusts --a lot more than 25kts, we're heeling and tossing about.) The anchor is holding beautifully, and the wind is refreshing and invigorating, although it beats or flags to noisy shreds. Our dingy ride back from snorkeling was rough and fun in the wind and waves.
And then, ... off to Serenity to hang with them and the Paikea Misties and compare notes on what's next for everyone. Serenity is off in the morning for the Island of Tahuata; Paikea Mist is undecided, and for us, tomorrow is a day off -- no hikes planned, no agenda. Laundry, relaxing. Maybe I'll put the hammock up, I've been waiting for a good hammock day.
04/18/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Ile Marquises
Today we're taking it slow, before our departure this evening for Fatu Hiva (which one of our dieting friends says sounds like an eating disorder) for an overnight passage, arriving tomorrow morning.
Despite my intention of sleeping in today, for the first time in a month, I was unable to get much past 6am. It gets light very early in this time zone, and that, coupled with my early watch schedule for the last 3 weeks has me awake at first light, which is fine. The coolest, quietest time of day is the morning, and I'm relishing that first few hours of the day. So Allan and I had some toasted baguette and jam and watched the harbor begin to stir, saw a few little manta rays jumping in the water, and planned our itinerary for the next few weeks.
We have a total of 90 days in French Polynesia and then we are evicted, no possibility of extending the visa, get out. So our drop-dead date is July 13th, with a plan to be in Papeete by mid-June for a Puddle Jump Celebration. Between now and July 13th, we want to see the Marquesas, the Tuomotus, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, plus a few other selected islands, and our plan needs to get us the Western border of French Polynesia by that end date. So we've got a tentative plan, and we'll see how it goes.
After breakfast I spent a little time socializing via my kayak -- paddled over to Secret Agent Man and chatted with Eric and his crew mate Liz, who had cooked up some breadfruit for us because we hadn't tried it before -- or if we had, we couldn't remember if we liked it or not -- turns out we like it. Tasted like a french fry. Who doesn't like a french fry?
Also visited with Coup de Soleil, which means "sunburn." Andre and Martin hail from French Canada and to them, the word "sunburn" has a positive connotation, and was a great name for the boat they spent years building in the cool north. (Of course, the day they launched it, it was pouring rain.) We will probably not cross paths with them again until Tahiti. Last night we joined them and Rod and Elisabeth from Proximity for a great meal out at a local restaurant, probably one of our last meals out for months. There is a dish they make around here called Poisson Cru, a Polynesian version of ceviche; raw fish in lime and coconut with finely shredded carrots and cucumbers, and it's scrumptious. I didn't have that. I had the curried shrimp, which was also scrumptious.
Our un-anchoring might be a bit challenging tonight, since the boats in this harbor do so much dancing around that our stern anchor line is tangled with the bow line of the guy behind us. The picture above is an amusing depiction of the path our boat took during the 10 or so re-anchoring evolutions we've had in the last few days. Greg says it looks like Timmy got a hold of the black crayon and found a blank wall to scribble on.
So we're bound for the Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva, then some nice snorkeling spots on Tahuata, north to Ua Pou ("wha-poo") and then a week or so in Nuku Hiva, and will hope to get some spectacular photos for the blog. We will not have Internet access for a week or so, which means we'll be posting the blurb via HF radio and won't be able to include a photo. Photo journal to follow when we get to Nuku Hiva.
04/17/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Ile Marquises
We're making slow progress in resetting our ocean-crossed selves, marveling at the green and staggeringly beautiful South Pacific landscape, feeling the fine black volcanic earth beneath our feet, and feeling sort of time warped and out-of-body.
The first few days have been filled with the things that make life what it is no matter how exotic your circumstances might seem -- finding the laundry lady, cleaning the boat, washing the deck with water collected from shore in the Orange Home Depot 5-gallon buckets, getting diesel fuel via the dingy in 5 gallon jugs, trying to figure out Internet access for the next 3 months, learning about the local customs and currency, throwing out the last of the less-than-desirable food items, and exploring the new realm for fresh provisions.
We discovered pamplemousse -- giant sweet grapefruit, scrumptious and delicious, and one of the few items available here that is actually affordable. Affordable has become a big word, and a goal, since the Polynesian Franc doesn't go far around here. The money is large -- the bills don't fit in your wallet, and the coins pull your pants down from the weight in your pockets. But it's also small -- it takes a lot of it to buy a cup of coffee, never mind fruits, vegetables, and cheeses, many of which are imported.
We've made a trip to town every day so far, looking forward to the exercise of the 3km walk each way. But the Marquisians are so dang friendly and generous with space in their cars that they keep stopping and offering us rides. And when it's hot and humid and their pickup is air conditioned, it's hard to say no. They don't want money, either, they just pick you up as a courtesy, or so it seems to me with my rose-colored glasses. So we've only actually walked all the way from town to the harbor once.
The people here are delightful. There is a sweet small-town feel but with a subtle level of sophistication. The streets are clean and well-maintained. The buildings are not falling down. The trees are groomed. And, as I've previously mentioned, there's ice cream. And baguette. Baguette everywhere. In fact, come to think of it, maybe it's the baguette that gives it that sophisticated edge. Oh, and canned butter from New Zealand. Very sophisticated.
Around the corner from the bank is the Municipal Police Station, which is not on the sophisticated list but definitely tops the charming list. At 20 x 20, a squat Polynesian building on short stilts with pampas grass woven walls, it's unlikely there's a jail in there -- or anything else that would imply that much crime occurs around here. Everyone seems happy. There are lots of new cars. In fact, there are no old cars. There's hibiscus blooming everywhere in every color, and some sort of deep purple berry or fruit that has ripened, fallen to the ground and is fermenting -- I imagine there are a lot of plastered birds flapping around. The fruit is edible, Allan had some, and said it was quite good. He didn't get plastered. We saw some people whacking breadfruit down from a large tree in town near the post office today, and walking across the street and selling them. There are colorful chickens scratching everywhere, with roosters crowing day and night. Life seems rather easy, and quite peaceful.
We've caught up with some of the stories from other cruisers on their crossings. We were extremely blessed. We had very little drama, no bad weather, no major equipment failures, no injuries, and no bad crew experiences. Two of the boats that left Puerto Valletta for the Marquises had medical evacuations for serious injuries, one in almost the middle of the Pacific. Several people had to turn back due to equipment failures. Some had issues that they were able to deal with en route and are now looking for bits and pieces to cobble things back together for a few more months. There's really not much here; we are in a small-town part of the Pacific, nothing until Tahiti for major repairs or parts. In these situations cruisers help each other in very dedicated ways.
Allan has become the Anchor Diving Guy in the harbor, happily diving down to check or untangle people's anchors. He went in the water no less than 3 times today on anchor-related matters. He got his experience from our own issues in the first few days, in which we had to reset our bow or stern anchor about 10 times. Several of those times he then jumped in with mask and snorkel to check the set on the bottom.
We're not alone in this harbor in having anchoring trouble; dragged anchors and boats coming in contact with other boats happens on a daily basis.
Yesterday we reset one or both of the anchors numerous times whenever we felt we were getting too close to our neighbors. The other night after dark Allan had to dive on the anchor with an underwater flashlight to free the anchor which had become ensnared in a mass of chicken wire. He jumped in, we saw the glow of his light as he swam to the bottom, freed the anchor with one hand and was back on the boat in less than a minute.
There is a shower on shore near the cement dingy landing, and "laundry facilities" that consist of a flat tiled counter with a drain hole and a faucet. We have become quite enamored of the experience, which has turned into an afternoon treat. After a long, hot day we dingy ashore with our Orange Home Depot 5-gallon bucket full of dirty laundry and take turns showering in the outdoor cement-walled shower, which has only one temperature: "P" for perfect. The water that gushes out from the faucet above your head has the strength and volume of a small waterfall, it feels marvelous. Meanwhile the other person does laundry on the tiled shelf under the tree in the Orange Home Depot 5-gallon bucket. We dry off a bit and dingy back to the boat in our bathing suits and hang the clean clothes on the life lines.
The bugs we assumed would be waiting for us in organized bug armies have not materialized, we have seen only large benign wasps flying about in slow motion, checking things out and seeming not to notice us at all. They are mainly enthralled with all the shiny stainless steel on board, go figure.
So that's the account of our first few days on land. The air is perfect, the flowers are blooming, the people are nice, the baguette is great, the bugs are absent, and the scenery is lush: we couldn't ask for a more hospitable welcome to the South Pacific.
Ps. Allan is working on updating the photo gallery with pictures from our crossing. Our Internet access is very slow, so it may take a little while.