06/12/2009, Papeete, Tahiti
Boy, it's sure fun having the girls together (Isn't this a cute picture!?!). We walked an amazing botanical garden "Jardin Botanique de Paperari". Trees, plants, and flowers from all over the world. They seem to thrive on the climate here. A little (I mean A LOT!) rain never hurts anything! We drove completely around Tahiti, nothing but green mountains, the bluest teal waters and surfing galore. Great time, we will be missing Alyssa soon, leaving Saturday evening...then we are off to Moorea for diving, snorkeling, kayaking and mountain hiking to fill Megan's vacation time. Hello to everyone, and you'll hear from me soon!
I think its clear clean drinking water! The long saga *appears* to be over. After 9 weeks wrestling with our watermaker, we appear to have finally restored its health. After receiving new seals and o-rings upon our arrival in Papeete, I rebuilt the high pressure pump, changed all the filters and started her up. In less than a minute we were making water... then 10 minutes later, we were not. A string of obscenities emanated from the aft lazarette. I started looking around, and noticed a washer was loose, pulled out an allen wrench and noticed that several bolts were loose.... Hmmmm, could has sworn I torqued those. Turn it on again, it makes water for 30 minutes, then the pump starts stalling, increasing pressure, which then forces the system to stall the feedpump, dropping pressure to the membrane and, you guessed it, STOPS it from making water. More toxic language bounces off the hull. I pull the high pressure pump out, and completely disassemble it, looking for seals or o-rings that have shifted but find nothing. I put it back together and reinstall and start her up. It makes water for 1 hour, then 2 hours, then 4..... hmmmm. At this point, with my tragically optimistic outlook, I was ready to declare victory. I decided to toast the momentary victory and wait for another day to declare a total victory. The next day, we made water for 6 hours with no issues. So there it is.... The weight has been finally lifted...
So what was wrong? The original problem was a blown feed pump that spewed water all over the inside of the boat, but a separate and unrelated problem was the seals on the main pump shafts not holding sufficient pressure. Comparing 2 of the 8 seals with new, there was an important lip missing on the inside edge that contacts the shaft. There was lots of rust residue inside the unit, and our hypothesis is that the rust helped the seals degrade. The source of the rust appears to be two plugs on the end of the large pump, which show stains flowing down into the bottom of the pump.
Lets hope this is the end of it!
06/10/2009, Papeete, Tahiti
We left Rangiroa on the afternoon tide, on the backside of a big windstorm that kicked up 10 foot short period waves outside the pass over the previous several days. We were expecting to make the 200 mile trip over two nights and arrive in Papeete in the morning. Instead, the 18-25 knot winds on our beam allowed us to average well over 7 knots the entire passage. Rather than head into Papeete, we stopped at Point Venus, about an hour before Papeete and got to anchor behind a reef in clear blue waters just in time for sunset. 200 miles in 27 hours for an average of 7.4 knots. I think that is a new 24 hour record for Follow You...177 miles. It was a bumpy ride, but well worth it to only spend one night at sea.
The next day we motored into Papeete harbor. OMG: Civilization... Dirty water, tons of cars, lots of noise... tons of restaurants, a fully stocked Carefour superstore market, and the hustle and bustle of lots of people. Kinda exciting. Our reservation at Marina Taina, made over 6 weeks ago, meant nothing apparently. To paraphrase that great philosopher-king J. Sienfeld, [with irony] "You know how to *take* the reservation, but you don't know how to *keep* the reservation. *Keeping* the reservation is the most important part of the reservation" We had to schmooze constance in the harbormaster office every day for 4 days to get a side-tie, in which we are now comfortably ensconced.
Megan arrived on Tuesday night and it's the full nuclear family together for the first time in 6 months... feels nice. After a chill day yesterday while a big storm created overcast, high winds and constant monitoring of our dock lines and fenders, we are headed out to play tourist today, touring the island in a rental car under blue skies and gusty winds.
Take a look at the updated gallery for cool underwater pics of octopi, Alyssa swimming, our best sunsets yet, Rina and Allan fighting with the Watermaker (again) and other assorted stuff.
Off to Papeete!
06/02/2009, Fakarava, Tuamoto Islands
Yes, we've been delinquent in our duties... We arrived in Rangiroa a week ago and got so distracted that we neglected to share....
Upon arrival, we enjoyed some of the best weather and snorkeling yet, with a vibrant reef and clear water. We anchored off the Kia Ora resort at Passe de Tiputa in a glassy calm, where the horizon within the lagoon blended seamlessly with the sky above. The scenery here is exotic, with high end resorts bungalows over the water, an inviting dock, multiple dive centers and a very cool but way-to-expensive bar.
On our first night, we took the dinghy in to enjoy the sumptuous Sunday night buffet, which was an oasis of taste the crew of Follow You had been craving for months, including sushi, oysters, crab and other recent rarities. We snorkeled twice a day, seeing a different variety of sealife, including dolphins, octopi, and those fish that swim in real tight schools, just like in "Finding Nemo", LOL.
The idyllic scene eventually changed however, as a significant front came through, dropping many inches of rain on us over a couple of days, clouding the waters and bringing 20-25 knot winds. Once again, our 69lb Rocna anchor proved its worth, spinning and resetting in the sand as the winds reversed direction.
We passed the time playing scrabble, watching movies, skyping with an increasingly excited Megan, who will join us shortly and completely disassembling and cleaning the high pressure pump for the watermaker. Our replacement parts await us in Papeete and we will depart today, assuming the winds decline enough to squash the 8 foot standing waves in the pass. Several boats tried to leave this morning, only to turn back in the face of the intimidating conditions.
05/24/2009, Rangiroa, Tuamoto Islands
Anchored off the many coral heads, sitting on the beach, taking it all in after yet another great snorkel adventure.
After dropping Stephanie and John at the Airport, Rina, Alyssa and I headed just down the inside coast of the atoll to anchor where there was rumors of good snorkeling and good internet access. We found both, although the winds made the anchorage very bumpy the first night. Luckily, we were rewarded the next two nights with a dead calm and glassy conditions. We also found a great restaurant, Teanuanua that we did both lunch and dinner at over a couple of days, enjoying the ambience and food. Check out the newly updated gallery for a bunch of new pictures of this restaurant, snorkeling and passage pictures taken by Carinthia.
We made an overnight passage to Rangiroa last night in calm seas and light winds. We did get 8 knots on the beam overnight though, which allowed us to sail in quiet comfort with a positive current. We arrived at high slack tide and had an easy entrance through the pass, which was filled with drift divers and snorkelers. Even at slack tide, we were doing 9.5 knots SOG while only 5 through the water. We'll hang out here for a couple of days, snorkeling the pass and catching up on some maintenance items before heading to Papeete next week.
Ps. LOTS of new pics in the gallery
05/18/2009, 16 03.6'S:145 37.2'W, Rotoava, Fakarava Atoll
On Friday we weighed anchor, taking only 30 minutes to extricate it from the coral heads, to sail the 12 miles inside the Fakarava lagoon to an anchorage at the midpoint of the atoll. Our electronic charts are amazingly accurate here; with coral motu's sighted within 20-30 feet of their chart position. Inside the confines of the atoll, which is 10 by 30 miles, there are well defined and marked channels which snake a path from north to south. After a 2.5 hour sail to a 2 mile crescent bay, we anchored 50 yards from a sandy beach buffered by small mushroom shaped motus that provided excellent snorkeling in 85 degree water. Winds had shifted to the east, providing a nice lee for our anchorage overnight. These idyllic conditions were only to last for another 12 hours, unfortunately.
On our second night, winds shifted to the north and the wind driven chop made for a moderately bumpy night. By mid morning the intensity increased and the wind waves grew to 4 feet. We decided to head to the north end of the island where there would be less fetch for the increasing winds. The 15 mile trip took several extra hours as we beat directly into the wind, sometimes making only 2 knots over ground. Our bow would rise slowly and fall into a large trough, shuddering in the process. We had not experienced this kind of slamming since summer afternoons on San Francisco Bay just south of San Francisco Airport, where the winds bounce off San Bruno mountain and kick up huge wind waves, creating similar conditions. And this was all INSIDE the lagoon.
We arrived at Rotoava, the main village on the island in the late afternoon and anchored in smooth white sand for a change. The anchorage, however, was like a washing machine due to the currents and wind. We prepared for a rough night. We made dinner reservations at Teanuanua, a very cool local restaurant and checked our snubbers for signs of chafe as seas continued to build. Late in the day we got word that the restaurant would not serve dinner due to the weather conditions, as they are right on the water. We quickly found an alternative further south at Havaiki, one of the resorts just out of town. Even better, they would send a bus to pick up our party, which had now grown to 10, with the addition of Carinthia and Wayward Wind. With very little grace given the heaving boat, we stumbled into the dinghy and headed for the dock. After a wet ride that all but negated the positive effects of the showers we had just taken, we met up with the rest of our party and jumped o n the rustic tourist bus for the 2 mile trip to the restaurant. Arriving at Havaiki we had one of those wonderful long meals with great food, great drink and great conversation.
After dinner we poured ourselves back in to the bus, headed to the dinghy dock to find the anchorage utterly transformed, and not by our blood/alcohol level. During our 3 hour venture, the winds shifted 180 degrees and turned to a whisper. Better yet, the anchorage was now a flat calm. We slept well and long that night, probably due to the aforementioned blood/alcohol level, and awoke to another idyllic scene. It's amazing how the sea state influences your impressions, as the prior day, the town and its surrounds looked foreboding, while today it was straight off a postcard. Restaurant Teanuanua was open for lunch today, so we dinghied back and had one of our best meals yet, in an amazing setting right on the water.
We will hang here for a couple of days awaiting the supply ship, which brings fresh veggies weekly from Papeete. Stephanie and John depart tomorrow afternoon after a month aboard Follow You. They have become competent cruisers, adapting well to the rhythms of life aboard and the compromises necessary for 5 people to coexist on a 46 foot boat, especially with our limited water supply while in the Marquesas. Next up is Rangeroa, 100 miles to the North. -allan
05/15/2009, Fakarava, Tuamoto Islands
As expected, Carinthia invited the entire anchorage over a Mexican potluck and jam session. Along with Hipnautical and Follow You, we were joined by Aaron and Lauren from Wayward Wind and Tim, Elizabeth and Seth from Honeymoon, for a total of 16. Rina and Alyssa made tamales and handmade wholewheat tortillas which were the hit of the party, along with Elizabeth's ceviche. We jammed until 2 hours past (cruisers) midnight, or until the tequila ran out. We had 3 guitarists, flute, and a variety of percussion. Roger and I, in the photo above, very much found a mutual wavelength, with a lot of great improve between us.
Our zinc's are changed, rudder and thruhulls inspected, knotmeter, depth sounder and fridg anodes cleaned and so were heading north to the middle of Fakarava lagoon to Motu Vahapiapia where there is supposed to be excellent snorkeling.
05/14/2009, 16 30.3'S:145 27.5'W, Fakarava, Tuamoto Islands
After more snorkeling at Makemo, Carinthia and Follow You pulled up anchor for the overnight passage to Fakarava. When we arrived, winds were from the West, but overnight piped up to 20 knots and shifted to the South, resulted in an anchor rode that had wound its way around several coral heads. The convoluted path of the chain was such that we had to draw it out on paper and discuss how we were going to work together to free it - not unlike laying out a football play. Rina was on the anchor windlass, with an assist by Alyssa to manage the trip line and Stephanie, to help cut away the chafed-through snubber line that had wrapped itself around the chain. I was at the helm and John was in the water with snorkel gear giving directions to all. Like a well executed end-around, we deftly maneuvered the boat in and out of the coral heads, slacking the rode, then pulling it up to unhook it from under several coral ledges. Alyssa gave the trip line a tug, which freed the anchor f rom the last obstacle and up the anchor came. Not bad for our first bout with coral.
We headed for the pass out of the atoll and got squirted out into the ocean by the outgoing tide. In building winds from the South, we headed the 90 miles to Fakarava. Our strategy was to average 5 knots to time our arrival for the 0630 slack tide. While not the best time to arrive at an atoll, we knew the channel to be well marked, minimizing the risk of not having the sun overhead to help us see the hazards through the pass. Ironically the winds built to 17 knots on the beam, making it very difficult to not sail the boat at its full potential. Before reefing, we were seeing 7-8 knots through the water. We eventually slowed down by triple reefing and putting a handkerchief on the forestay. Each watch had orders to manage boat speed to arrive at 0630, using the calculations from the chartplotter routing feature as a guide and tuning/detuning the sails as needed in the variable winds overnight.
We arrived right on schedule, lined up the channel on the well marked range and entered the pass in 1.5 knots of outgoing current. After curling around to the right in the lee of a palm filled island, we dropped anchor in 40' of dead coral and calm water. Being tucked up behind the island is important, as even inside the protected waters of the atoll, there is enough fetch easily get whitecaps across the 5-10 mile stretch of water. In what has become our normal routine, Stephanie christened the anchorage by immediately swimming around the boat before her gills dried up, John swam out to check the anchor, the rest of the crew tidied-up the boat before all took a nap. The boat stirred again around 1030 as we prepared for another snorkeling adventure on the inner pass.
Carinthia and Follow You were joined by Roger and Bobbie-Jo from Hipnautical in the dinghies, while their son Robin stayed on Carinthia to play Wii with Suzanne. We first met Hipnautical on dock 3 in La Cruz, where we jammed together late into the night. Bobbie-Jo is a talented singer, flautist, zitherist, drummer and harp player. And by harp, I mean HARP. She has a full-sized harp aboard their Morgan Out/Island 51. Roger is a great improvisational guitar player. The six snorkelers from the three boats floated down the inside of the South pass of Fakarava twice in 3-4 knots of current, passing the abandoned village, fish pens, deserted tourist bungalows on stilts over the water, and lightly populated dive center. While the quantity of sea life was not as we experienced in Makemo, the variety was similar, with the addition of many colorful oysters, which are farmed on many atolls for their pearls. White and black tip sharks were sighted now and then, but kept their dis tance. It was quite an experience drifting with the fast current, making sure that we didn't get snagged by a coral head while quickly scanning the sea floor for brightly colored fish. Kurt once again shot some fantastic underwater photography, which we will post once we reach the other end of Fakarava where there is a solid internet connection.
On the docket for today is more snorkeling, a little snuba action to change the zinc anodes on our prop-shaft, exploring the long beach in front of us, and a gala Mexican themed potluck and jam session on Carinthia tonight with all the boats in the anchorage. We'll probably get a nap in their sometime as I'm sure we'll need it. -allan
05/12/2009, Makemo, Tuamoto Islands
Our blog has been a wonderful way to stay connected to family, and 99% of the time it's all good. One of the rare topics of concerns from parental types is swimming in the ocean. specifically swimming with sharks. and it's not all Jaws hype. We closely followed the 10 minute rule swimming in the ocean, where the more predatory breeds of sharks can be found. Here in the atolls, there are LOTS of sharks, but mostly benign white tip, black tip and lemon sharks.
With that preface, a contingent from Carinthia and Follow You headed out to the pass during slack tide to float along the walls of the reef through the entrance in a modest current. Our strategy was to hang on to our dinghy so that if any aggressive sharks neared, we could jump in quickly. As we jumped into the water and began to float back through the pass, we were awed by the amount and variety of sea life populating the eastern coral wall in 30-40 feet of water. The skies above were somewhat overcast, which moderated the vividness of the colorful underwater environment, but it was more than made up by the sheer variety of life. We soon forgot about sharks and just took it all in.
We did not see our first shark for about 20 minutes, and it was a 3 foot white tip swimming lazily about 20 feet beneath us. After 45 minutes gently floating with the current, we got to the shallows in the lagoon where water clarity began to suffer. We got such a kick out of the trip we decided to do it again, jumping back into the dinghy and powering the half mile back to the entrance. We proceeded to repeat our floating itinerary, but this time, we had friends. First one, then two, then several white and black tip sharks came to check us out, but always keeping their distance, and showing no signs of aggression. Half way through our trip we saw a 7 foot lemon shark at about 40 feet, but again, he was on his own leisurely stroll than hunting for humans. By this time, we were almost comfortable with the idea of swimming with sharks. As we neared the end of our float, white tips began to swim closer to us. In some cases, they were 4-6 feet underneath us, but again, I r epeat, for clarity, for the grand-ma's out there. they were more interested in the sea floor than us, and never showed a hint of aggressiveness.
How do we know? Kurt from Carinthia has much experience swimming with sharks, so was able to give us first hand info. Most sharks and the species around us specifically, normally care little about humans, only acting aggressive when provoked. What provokes them? Being hungry, blood in the water, being cornered are common reasons. How do you know? Aggressive swimming, arched backs; fins pointed down at a 45 degree angle are all warning signs. We didn't see any of that.
We all commented on the high quality of the snorkeling, comparing the reef favorably with the best of those they had seen before. We were able to capture many underwater pictures and video of the sea life, the sharks, and us less than graceful snorkelers, but we'll need an internet connection to upload them. Until then, you grandma's can fret over the pictures above! -allan