A Change in Scenery
06/17/2012, 16 03.7'S:145 37.1'W, North Fakarava Pass, Tumotu, French Polynesia
So we have to cover a couple of days because we were just having too much fun yesterday to do the bloggosphere. Yesterday was a first. Lisa finally got tired of how long her hair was getting so she secumbed to a hair cut by the French Beautician John LeDoux. Yep she finally did it. She has been talking about getting her hair cut for the last three months and yesterday when she was snorkeling her hair got stuck in the mask-snorkel attachement and also got in the way of a good mask seal. Now, so you all know just how beautiful she is with her new dew, I had to cut about an inch of hair off. Chop - Chop evenly with a little tail in the back and a little shorter bangs, it actually turned out great. OK so now here is the funny part. She started out with a stiff (raw, pure, streight) shot of taquila to settle her nerves then planted her butt on a bucket. After getting her hair all wet I segmented the head and proceeded to wack away. When we were back in Vancouver, Lisa had me come with her to her stylist and take a one cut lesson before we left. So here we are 9 months later and be cause she wouldn't let me practice in all that time, i.e. a very little cutting at a time, I had to do a big wack. Wow try to retrieve a nine month old lesson and make it look good! I did it, and yes she still does have hair.
Ok so before the hair cut, we went over and picked up Bob and Ann from Charisma, and Nick from Saltbreaker and headed for the "swimming pool"...... i.e. a shallow area of water near the cut where black tipped sharks congregate and there are many reef fish. When we got there the guys dumped the ladies off in the pool and then headed out to the pass to float it back in while snorkeling. Nick is a farily young guy, mid-twenties, and can free dive down to 60 feet, loiter and then ascend for air. Probably for at least 3 minutes. The day before we did this same drift snorkeling trip but closer to the main channel. We could barely make out the sharks near the bottom so this trip we decided to slip closer in toward shore and follow the coral back to the swiming pool. Again it wasn't as spectacular as drift diving but it worked and when we got to the pool I tied up the dinghy to the pier and spent the next hour and a half loitering in and around the pool.
After watching Nick free dive down 30-50 feet, Lisa decided she wanted to try free diving down. So she had Nick explain and demonstrate how he does it. After the demonstration, she took a deep breath and went head down. The first attempt wasn't the prettiest but it was a start. After two or three attemps she was getting the hang of it. It is actually a good exercise to help an individual curb the fear of breathing using scuba. If one can free dive for some length of time then they build the confidence they can hold their breath long enough to change regulators or remove and replace their mask under water.
So back to the swimming pool. There are so many different kinds of fish there, different colors that one can become mezmorized by the colors and movement. While we were enjoying our snorkeling, I proposed that if the dive shop had a resort dive option that Bob and Ann should spend the $$ and give it a try. I managed to sell them on the idea and that is what they did this morning. Have not heard from them yet but maybe on the nightly net we will see how they did.
While Bob and Ann headed to their dive lesson this morning, Lisa and I picked up the anchor and headed to the Northern side of Fakarava. Once we got there, consumed a nap, then we headed into shore. We walked around and over to the ocean side of the atoll, then on to a store and finally down to the dive shop, a sister shop of the one at the south end. Here we picked up our dive cards which still have 8 dives left and then scheduled a dive for in the morning to drift the pass. We also scheduled a tour of a pearl farm and factory for Monday. Have to be out of Fakarava and heading for Papeete Tahiti by noon on monday.
So that is all I have to say for the past two days and hope Lisa has something on her mind. Lisa's comments---- We had a rousing game of Mexican Train (dominos) last night on Bob and Ann's boat. We all seem to have a very competitive spirit, and as a result, it can be very lonely at the top (I won the final round at the end of the evening - winner take all). What can I say.
It was an interesting transit across the atoll today - about a 26 mile trip. We followed the narrow channel depicted on the chart plotter - and also designated by red and green markers within the atoll (green on the right, red on the left in this part of the world). It took awhile to trust the chart plotter path and the channel markers (running into a coral head can really ruin your day), but by the time we were 1/3 of the way, we were pretty confidant that everything was matching up and we were on the right path. The depth never dropped below 50 feet the entire route, and the markers definitely pointed out the very shallow reefs that we could see along the way. We had a nice wind on our quarter stern, so with the jib out and one engine running we were doing 8 knots. It was a nice and interesting day. The north side of Fakarava has a little village with a few stores, a snack shack or two, and Ice Cream!! Had a scoop of pistachio and faro (? not sure of the flavor but it was p urple). Not alot of flavor to it - but definitely refreshing. Chocolate was not 1 of the 4 available flavors, so I am learning to broaden my pallet. This is a really cute village though - and everyone is very friendly - lots of "Bonjours" while walking down the one main road. Finally, I have to admit, my haircut turned out pretty darn good. John is now thinking of opening up his own hair salon and calling it - "Beautification at Sea". His talents never cease to amaze me!
And that's the latest and greatest from the world of Orcinius.
Lisa & John
Diving the Tumakohua Passe.
06/14/2012, 16 30.4'S:145 27.4'W, Sout Fakarava Pass, Tumotu, French Polynesia
Still in southern Fakarava atol. After pizza the night before we searched out a place to go diving. Stopped in and talked to Mathaus at TopDive. The organization has several dive shops in Tuomotos and Society Islands. We scheduled a dive for this morning and went out with TopDive around 0800. This is one of the more spectacular dives and by far the greatest visibility. Clarity to at least 100 feet.
We put all our gear aboard their heavy aluminum boat and we headed out to the outer side of the passe. They have a mooring bouy that we connected up to until we were all ready to go over the side. There was just the dive master, Mathaus, Lisa and myself. The boat captain took the boat to the other end of the pass after we went overboard. All suited up and on three we did a back roll out of the boat and met at the mooring line. From there we went slowly down about 40 feet. When everyone was comfortable and equalized we proceeded to follow the contour of the coral down to the bottom of the channel which was at 80 feet. Even though we were on an incoming tide, there was very little current and we were able to follow the bottom at a snails pace. Every so often, Mathaus would stop and hold onto a piece of coral and we followed. When we first entered the water, we would see a silver shark here and there, but once we were in the heart of the passe, there were hundereds of t hem. They would swim within a couple of feet of us and their beedy little eyes would just look us over and they would swim away. It is hard to imagine that many sharks in one small space.
I think this was the deepest Lisa has dove in all the time I have known her. It was quite amazing because Mathaus had a settling way about his description of the dive as well as his leadership under water that it made it easy for Lisa to be comfortable at that depth and with all those sharks. We were down for a total of 58 minutes. We captured some pretty neat pictures and will share when we have some internet.
So we are off a galvanting around. All for now.
Cowry Hunting - Snorkeling the Pass - All You Can Eat PIZZA!
06/12/2012, 16 30.4'S:145 27.3'W, Sout Fakarava Pass, Tumotu, French Polynesia
We arrived at the South end of Fakarava yesterday - taking the southern passage into the lagoon a few hours before slack tide (slack was around 4pm but we entered at 2pm). The wind and seas were so calm and still that it made the passage into the lagoon a breeze. It is really beautiful here - my favorite atoll so far! It is like being anchored in a huge aquarium. Fish (and sharks!) everywhere. Shortly after setting the anchor we hit the water with our snorkel gear to check our work, and assess some nearby coral heads to see exactly how shallow and close they were to Orcinius. As we snorkeled we were being checked out by a couple of blacktip reef sharks - about 5 foot long. Long enough for me! So back to Orcinius we paddled! The sharks here are suppose to be pretty docile as they are used to lots of people swimming about. I just haven't quite gotten used to them yet.
We spent the rest of the afternoon working on shaving off Orcinius's green beard. John started tackling the hulls with a metal scrapper and I worked on the port swim step and ladder. The furry green algae on Orcinius's bottom sides is growing faster than ever in this warm water. We will have to attack it in chunks over the next few days as it is quite a workout trying to get at it both at the water line and underneath. But it needs to be done - we notice we are probably losing at least a knot of speed underway because of it.
We were approached by a fancy power boat just as we were finishing up our chore for the afternoon. It was a local gentleman (Manihi), along with one of his kids and grandkids. He invited us to come over to his pension and have pizza for dinner - all you can eat for 1500 CFP per person (about $15 US). Twist my arm! So we started to head over in the dingy just before 6. We got one good start out of the dingy motor - then 20 seconds later it quit and would not start any more. Out came the paddles and 15 minutes (and about .25 NM) later we were at the dock - with a much better appetite than if we had motored! The grounds of the pension were beautiful! (Check out his website at www.fakarava.org for pics). He gave us a tour of one of the bungalows and the main house - all water (showers/drinking/cooking) is provided by rain, and the bit of electricity used comes from solar panels. After the tour we sat and visited with his kids, cousins, and some other friends while he cooked the pizzas in his adobe oven. His wife was in Tahiti, so it was just Manihi doing all the cooking. His one daughter lives with her husband in Hawaii, but they come and stay for a few months each summer while their kids are out of school. Not a bad way to spend the summer! We enjoyed the fish pizzas as we all sat together at a large dining table - best fish pizza I have ever had! Actually it was more than just quite good, it was excellent, and the crust was perfect! Shortly after dinner we headed back to Orcinius (paddled all the way), taking in the beautiful nighttime sky - the stars were very bright last night. When we got back to the boat we checked out our supply of rum. We had two bottles left. Manihi asked if we had any to sell them as the younger crowd was looking for something other than wine and beer to drink. So we gave him a call on channel 8 and struck a deal with him. They came by in the power boat about 10 minutes later to make the trade. Now we are down to 1 bottl e of rum - life on the edge.
Today is gloomy and rainy. Another good day for boat chores. John did one final disection of the dingy motor this morning - he is starting to talk to it now as he works on it. It's quite strange to watch. He tries a few words of spanish and some french, but we think it only understands japanese. We don't know any japanese not anyone to translate into japanese.
To catch up on other happenings the last few days... Sunday was our last full day in Tahanea Atol. We invited Bob and Ann (from S/V Charisma) over to Orcinius and with their dink in tow, we motored over to the eastern passage where there is good snorkeling and the remains of a deserted village. After setting the anchor, we had some lunch, headed to shore and went beachcoming - getting a lesson from Bob on how to find cowrys (I think I'm spelling that right) - a very pretty brown and white shell that sells in tourist shops for a few bucks each. Cowry hunting is addictive once you find your first one! We also rummaged around the ruins of the old village - which still had an intact little church ready for a service (bible on the pulpit, pictures on the tables, etc.) if anyone had been around to enjoy it and one stray cat (healthy because it is the only creature eating in town).
It was coming up on 2:30, so we headed back to Orcinius to grab our snorkel gear. Then using Bob and Annes dingy, we headed into the pass just before low slack tide - and just before a squall came over us. We each went overboard into the water and Bob tied the dingy to himself. From there we just let the current take us back into the lagoon as we floated by all the coral and fish. It was so relaxing and beautiful that we decided to do it again. So Bob got back in the dink drove us back into the passage with the 3 of us hanging on along-side the dink. We saw some black-tip sharks that hardly gave us a second look, and lots of colorful fish large and small. We were able to float and swim all the way back to Orcinius with the current, about 1/2 a mile away. Since it was getting late in the day, we jumped back on Orcinius, brought up the anchor and beat feet back to our original anchoring spot about 3 miles away. That evening Bob and Ann invited us over for some wonderful fish ch owder, chocolate chip cookies and great company. Early the next morning (Monday morning around 3:15am), John and I woke up to take up the anchor, trying to meet our slack tide (at 3:45am) departure of the lagoon. So much for best laid plans as it took us over 45 minutes just to get the anchor up. Our anchor line and a tethered fender were stuck on some coral that didn't want to let us go. After some fancy boat manuevers and cutting away our tethered fender, we were finally loose and able to retrieve our lone fender. Even though we were an hour late to make slack tide, our passage out of the atoll was very easy as there wasn't much wind to cause any havoc. We motored along and arrived at Fakarava about a 7 hours later. Here we are enjoying another day in paradise.
Well I better try and throw some lunch together since John has already gotten a few hours of bottom scraping in while I've been writing the blog this morning - so I'm sure he is getting hungry. All for now!
Boat Chore Day
06/09/2012, 16 51'S:144 41.5'W, Tanahea, Tumotu, French Polynesia
Woke up this morning to a grey and overcast sky with winds out of the ESE and the first time we have seen a temperature below 80 degrees since leaving Mexico. Not that it is freezing but when you are used to nights in the mid 80's, 79 seems cold.
I baked another loaf of bread this morning. Had it rising before Lisa was rising. Had it finished by 10am. Some of the bread flower we bought back home had some insects in the package. They weren't weevels but a species of a fly a little larger than a nat. The first bag I managed to use most of it after sifting the whole bag twice. Then Lisa discovered the critters and dumped the two bags that still had some in it overboard. We had purchased some bread flower in Mexico and that is what we are using now. Has a little different texture, a slightly darker color and doesn't rise quite as well what we had. The recipe called for 1 1/4 teaspoons of yeast and I used 1 3/4 teaspoons. Turned out good but still didn't rise quite as much as I wanted. Will try for 2 next time. Lisa had made a couple of attempts with the bread machine following their recipe. They both turned out real flat. Always an experiment.
After the bread was out of the oven, we headed for the main sail repair. The wind was pretty steady a 11 knots so made the sewing a challenge. Had to pull the main out to the third batton to work on the luff tape tear. Removed the batton and placed a layer of sailcloth over the bolt rope, overlaping the existing luff tape. Then we set the sewing machine up along side of the mast and layed the sail under the machine foot. Ran a set of stitches up as tight as possible against the luff rope then a second set and finally two set inward by a half inch. Will baby the tape entry to the groove at the second batton until we get to New Zealand for a proper repair. The sail was brand new back in September 2010 when we had the furling boom installed. I purchased it from North Sails and like the sail alot with one exception. That is the luff tape. It is made of a material that uses a teflon thread or teflon coated thread intertwined with the luff tape and around the bolt rope. I think the design concept was for a large boat using racing sails. The sails on those types of boat generally don't last more than three of four races without replacement or major repairs. The concept is with teflon tape, it slides in the track better than a dacron tape. That may be the case but I don't quite see the durability and a cruising boat's sails should be for durability. After the sail was repaired we rolled it back onto the boom. The wind had picked up to about 18 knots and we didn't want to raise the main while at anchor with a lee shore so we didn't get to refastening the clew of the main and will have to do it another day. Project number three for the day was the pesty freezer. So the freezer only freezes when the generator is running which means we have lost DC power. Problem is the wiring diagram is not clear enough to chase the origin of the wire back in the power panel. I have tried chasing it down before and thought it was connected to the same circuit as the refrigerator but turning on and off the refrigeration circuit breaker had no affect. So Lisa and I spent about an hour chasing the wire back to the main junction panel. We used a tone generator and a sensor to chase down the exact wire. What we found is a blown 25 amp fuse, not a breaker. 25 amp is pretty big and something caused it to blow, we just don't know what. Also discovered the fan for the condensor was not working causing the unit to overheat and then shutting down. It uses a standard computer type fan but I cannot get to it without either removing an air handling unit for the air conditioner or removing the washing machine. Either task is daunting and not something I really want to do until New Zealand when we will have lots of time. I had an extra comfort fan I installed over the compressor for now and will baby the unit for the next 4-5 months.
Lisa went through and cleaned all the screen traps for the sump waste pumps and then went on to making some repairs to the awning before putting away the sewing machine. Finally she scrubbed the solar panels to let in a little more of the sun. We now have most everything back in order and are standing by on the marine SSB net for the evening puddle jump chatter.
Now for some good news. I finally managed to get ahold of Boats.net yesterday morning. Ended up talking to the internet order manager who has never responded to my emails. What was interesting is he sounded like he was just reading through the order tracking history, first telling me he has a FedEx tracking number which I copied down and then he told me it was going to Nuka Hiva, to which I said NO NO NO... then he said oh no it is really going to Rose's, BP 21 on Nuka Hiva, to which I said NO NO NO.... then there was silence.... When I re-quiried where the parts were shipped to he finally said, Papeete, Tahiti. To which I said... Chris, you need a geography lesson. I am in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, some 5000 miles West of where you are. I am in the Tuomoto, Islands which are still 500 miles away from Tahiti. The first two addresses I tried to get the parts shipped to were in Nuka Hiva but your shipping department could not reconcile the addresses with FedEx s o you put my order back into the warehouse and when we tried to change the address your system made up a whole new order number and then showed all of the parts as on order from Tohatsu America and three of them were unavailable and I would have to wait for another week or two. Now you tell me that we have a FedEx tracking number that the parts were all shipped to my new address in Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia on the 5th of June to arrive on the 16th. You have charged me for expedited shipping and you call 11 days expedited even after you have screwed up the order twice and caused the deliver to take a month from the date I ordered it? To which he chuckled, a crying chuckle and I took that to mean he was embarrased. So can't check the tracking until I have internet which won't be for another week so I can only assume they are really going to arrive. Now all I have to hope for is that they included all of my duty free paperwork in the packing slip so it doesn't get stuck in customs for God knows how long.
All for now on this grey and gloomy day in Tahanea, Tuomoto, French Polynesia.
Another Archipelago - Moto Tahanea
06/08/2012, 16 51'S:144 41.5'W, South Pacific
Our run over here from Raroea was absolutely windless until about 0300 this morning then it was directly on the nose. Motored all the way but when the wind did pick up we tried to get the main to function and ended up making a bit of a mess. As it turned out, the foot tiedown had come partially loose and in the process of furling in the main the sail jambed itself against the mast. We raised it and thried again not realizing the foot problem. Finally got it rolled onto the boom and left it there until today. So our efforts through the night, in the dark, caused another little problem.... a three inch tear in the luff bolt rope which we will have to sew back up tomorrow. When the wind decides to settle down a little we will raise the main all the way and re-fasten the foot to the spindle. Hopefully that will allow us to evenly furl the sail onto the boom.
It took us a couple of tries to get the hook set. The first time we were locked down but after diving on the anchor I didn't like the way it was laying on its side and the point hooked to a small coral head. We weighed the anchor and then reset. This time we drig the hook for about 20 feet then it plowed itself into the sand and under a small coral head.
Then it was time for a nap so that we did and when we rose, I started to tackle the sail repair. More work to be done tomorrow. Then we can look for a good spot to snorkel and dive in this lagoon.
All for now and we will keep you all posted.