23/05/2015, Marina Papeete
With either no internet or service that is so incredibly slow we haven't been able to update our blog for a while or send emails. Now it's time to catch up...
We left Rangiroa on Sunday 17th at 5am to catch the slack tide through the pass. It was a slow old sail to Tahiti with less than 10 knots of wind all the way - the gennaker was our saviour again. Around 9.30pm on Monday we approached the pass into Papeete harbour & along the marked channel inside the reef to Taina Marina where we picked up a vacant mooring ball at 10pm. The amount of boats here is amazing - so many that in the dark we decided not to attempt to anchor - too many boats & a lot of reef. Not a very exciting birthday for Steve, but we arrived safe & sound.
Tuesday morning was bright, sunny and inviting & we introduced ourselves to our Aussie neighbours on TAKE TWO, Gary & Kerry from Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. They kindly filled us in on the area around the marina & we were stoked to learn a large Carrefour supermarket was only a 10 minute walk away. Once we organised the dinghy we went ashore & checked in with Tahiti Crew, our agent who is handling the Tahiti/Moorea side of things. Then onto the marina office to try & organise a mooring ball for a couple of days while we sort out the damage to the bow roller caused by the big swell at Rangiroa. While we waited on the availability of a ball we wandered down to the shopping centre - hamburger & chips for lunch - absolute heaven!! Once in Carrefour, Ange had to exercise all her self control not to throw herself into the leafy greens & roll around in ecstasy!! How awesome was it to see beautiful fresh produce & lovely fresh meats!!! We spent a good hour or so wandering through the supermarket oohhing & aahhing at all the groceries we haven't seen for so long.
With a bit of wrangling with the marina office we were able to stay on the mooring ball we had picked up the night before - nice & convenient to the marina & not too close to the reef. We noticed how much the swell was picking up outside the reef.... 12 foot waves were crashing over the reef & causing the anchorage to be fairly joggly. The local chandlery had a few bits & pieces that we needed & after lunch Steve took the dinghy all the way up the channel to the Papeete industrial area to source a few more things that we needed. Our agent at Tahiti Crew arranged for a welder to meet us at 9am on Wednesday morning to talk about repairing our bow roller. All good here at Tahiti - we are stoked at how easily we have found parts & services - such a change from walking for days to find parts! Nothing else to do Tuesday afternoon then apart from have a few beers on TAKE TWO & help get their sat phone up & running.
After meeting with the welder on Wednesday morning we did some grocery shopping at Carrefour & odd jobs on the boat until we decided the anchorage was getting too rough. Neither of us had slept very well the night before & Ange was even starting to feel seasick down below as PANNIKIN was being thrown about pretty hard. The marina office was very understanding & had no problems with us leaving after spending all that time juggling mooring ball reservations around. We motored up the channel past the airport to Papeete harbour where a new marina has almost been completed where the old town wall used to be. There were a couple of boats in residence that we knew from Fakarava & Rangiroa so the company would be good! Until the end of June the marina is offering ½ price berths.... so for 20 Aussie dollars a night we decided to stay for a week. Not all the facilities are completed yet - no laundry etc but the showers are hot & new!! We had a peaceful night of sleep even though there is traffic noise - at least we weren't rolling around.
Thursday morning Steve headed back down to Taina Marina to pick up our welding job from the nice bloke, Jean-Marc. He did a great job on the bow roller at a decent price. We then hit the industrial area of Fare Ute for the last of our bits & pieces. It was a good walk away & great to stretch the legs. We ran into Gary & Kerry, so had lunch with them at a small 'snack' (cafe) & continued our search for parts. Thursday afternoon all the boats had a 'pontoon party'.... just got together with some nibbles & drinks while we watched a huge super yacht being unloaded from a container ship across the harbour. Apparently the guy who owns it decided he wanted to cruise the South Pacific for a couple of weeks, so had it shipped across from the USA. Someone has a lot of money!
Yesterday was a quieter day... odd boat jobs for Steve and a little bit of retail therapy for Ange!
As planned the next morning Steve headed off for a dive with the local dive operator while Ange pounded the pavement walking up the road for a bit more exercise. The dive was a great experience where they dropped the divers outside the pass in the open ocean but not too far out to be scary. There are heaps of resident dolphins and it was great to have them cruise past close by and the fish life was out of this world with large kingfish, Maori wrasse, heaps of reef sharks and lots more. The highlight of the dive was when six blue marlin swam straight over the top of us. Wow! Later in the day Ange got her courage up and went for a snorkel on a reef just inside the pass called The Aquarium and it lived up to its name with large schools of snapper and reef fish everywhere. We also saw the largest moray eel we have ever seen.
The rest of the time has been pretty quiet and we are just killing time swimming, walking and bottom scrubbing (on Pannikin) as we wait for some wind to get us the 200nm to Tahiti.
This morning we were awoken at 2am when the wind and waves picked up from the south which is the only direction we are not protected from. Rangiora is like an inland sea so it didn't take long for the waves to build to 1.5m making it very uncomfortable and the motion was that bad the two snubber ropes holding the anchor chain chaffed through and the snubber fitting went to the bottom. Then Steve noticed the tender disappearing into the gloom. The rope attaching it to Pannikin had somehow got caught and also chaffed through so Steve jumped onto the kayak and chased it to shore where he recovered it and started back though the waves when the engine stopped. He was washed up on shore once again where he left the dinghy and paddled back to the boat to wait out the weather. This is supposed to be fun. By 10am the sun had come out and the waves died down it was hard to believe it was the same place so Steve went for a dive to see if he could find the anchor snubber. When he dove to the bottom he found the anchor chain wrapped around coral heads which was not a big problem to undo until he reached one where the chain had cut its way under the coral so the chain went under one side and came out the other and could not be moved. He disconnected the anchor and with Ange driving the boat we tried to pull the chain through without success. There were some professional divers working close by so Steve had a word to them and they kindly came over and had a look. It took three of them forty minutes to free the chain. We were so relieved to get it up. If it was not for those guys we would still be there. Then they told us to go and tie up to the new mooring they just installed...when Steve asked them how much we owed them they just said buy us a beer. What nice guys!
10/05/2015, Kia Ora Resort anchorage, Tiputa
We ended up spending a week in the atoll of Apataki. Although it is a large atoll it is also very secluded with only the odd house poking out between the palm trees & only one very big pearl farm left out of three that were here 10 odd years ago. We spent our time snorkelling, kayaking & walking through the atoll as much as we could. Apataki is a very wide atoll, but covered with dense scrub, coconut palms & low bushes that really ripped our legs apart when we attempted to walk through. We ended up sticking to the smaller barren areas crossing to the seaside of the atoll to have a look through the rock pools & watching the sea pound the outer reef. Our last two nights were spent anchored in the north near the area called Rotoaua. The water was amazingly clear, plenty of fish & beautiful coral. It was wonderful snorkelling & kayaking & just being the only boat (& people) around. Apataki was great as a getaway from it all!
We picked up anchor Thursday at noon & headed through the Tehere pass of Apataki & set our course for Rangiroa, the largest atoll of the Tuamotus. It can fit the size of Tahiti inside it - BIG! We had a great sail for a couple of hours until the wind died & we alternately motored or slowly sailed for the rest of the journey. We arrived at the Tiputa pass of Rangiroa at about 1.30am Friday to find the tide still flowing swiftly out through the pass. Not what we'd hoped, but there was no white water or standing waves, so we gave it a go. With the engine on full we didn't have too much trouble getting through the pass & we anchored among a couple of other yachts moored in front the of Kia Ora hotel near Tiputa village. After tidying up we had a beer & a relax before a nice hot shower & bed at 3am.
After a sleep in we got the dinghy off the deck & motored into the village to get rid of rubbish that had accumulated since leaving Fakarava, some 10 days ago. We also were pretty keen to find the two magasin (supermarket) & see what they had to offer. Again no fresh stuff but we grabbed a few frozen chicken breasts, yoghurt, cheese & of course a baguette (or two). Back to the boat to stash our find & then back to the quay for a walk around the village. We ended up wandering down to the Kia Ora hotel & spent a while looking at the beautiful overwater bungalows, infinity pool and the gorgeous view over the water to the anchorage. What a beautiful place to have a wedding...hope you've got the bucks though... the cheapest from was 900 euro a night, plus meals! Phew!!!! Friday afternoon we caught up on sleep & had a quiet night on PANNIKIN.
Saturday Ange had a great brisk walk for 2 hours - so good to get the legs working again! Steve attended to boat duties & made water. The afternoon whizzed by with the help of the kayak, checking out the shore & all the dive shops along the way. A beautiful 205 foot schooner called ATHOS arrived into the anchorage with 10 crew aboard. You can charter ATHOS for a week for the pricey sum of 178,000 euro ($235,000). Maybe next year!!
This morning we pulled our bikes out of storage & pedalled the 16km round trip to the village of Avatoru at the other end of this motu. That's a long way on our little bikes with wheels the size of dinner plates! We practically disappeared into the pot holes on the road - our bums are a bit sore! We've spent the rest of the day relaxing & reading on PANNIKIN. Steve is going for a dive tomorrow & who knows what else will pop up!
Happy Mother's Day to Ange's Mum. Miss & love you lots!
Photo is of where we often are...at the local post office trying to get internet!!!
We left Fakarava on Wednesday and sailed 38nm to the top end of Toau atoll under light conditions so once again we hoisted the gennaker and had a very uneventful sail. The anchorage at Toau is a blind pass into the coral so it forms a protected spot in most conditions and has six mooring balls to tie up to at $5 per night. Once again we were blown away with the beauty of the place. We were happy to find some of the boats from Fakarava were already here so dinner and drinks was organised on HERON REACH that night. With no real hurry to be anywhere we decided to stay another night and have a bit of a look around the Motu (island). We wandered about accompanied by the local dogs as usual and met Valentine who ran a small operation with her husband including a fish restaurant. Her sister also ran a pension consisting of a few basic bungalows set on the beach. Valentine gave us her life history and a sermon on religion. She was a lovely lady and has lived on the tiny island all of her life fishing and basically living off the sea.
The next stop was the atoll of Apataki where we were hoping to get some groceries and internet which was only 20nm away to the north. We arrived to go through the pass at the right time for once and had an easy passage into the atoll but then were disappointed to find there wasn't anywhere to anchor as the wind was blowing straight across from the east making it very uncomfortable. Mention must be made at the size of some of the atolls of the Tuamotus. They are so large you can't see the other side, most of them at least 20nm (40km) across and sometimes larger so the wind waves can build up and make an anchorage pretty rocky if you are in the wrong place. The Tuamotus cover an area the size of Europe so we will not be able to see it all, but we do think we are getting at least a taste of the place. We motored across to a spot shown in our guide as an anchorage and dropped the anchor in nice white sand. The water was as clear as Steve has seen and the snorkelling was like being in an aquarium with schools of fish of all descriptions swimming about. Steve was blown away. The wind picked up overnight so we headed further across the atoll to a better protected spot where the guide book said we could get some provisions. On arrival we found a place that looked promising with a boat haul out yard and quite a few buildings but when we went ashore we were told the boat yard was the only thing operating but they did have wifi. We have been out of fresh food for some time now so Ange is going to get inventive with recipes of canned food. Steve might even get off his bum and catch a fish.
27/04/2015, Rotoava, Fakarava
The next couple of days we spent doing what you do in the South Pacific - kayaking and snorkelling around the reef, walking through the coconut groves & very little shopping as the stores only have very basic provisions (equals generally relaxing!). We think if we get much slower we will be going backwards!
On Tuesday we headed off to Aratika, the next atoll on our way south, which was 100nm away so we thought we would leave around lunch time to catch the ebb tide to exit the pass and sail overnight to hopefully get into the next pass at the right time the next day. The trip turned out to be probably our worst overnighter to date with the wind turning onto our nose and increasing to 25kts. The waves picked up so we were slamming into them all night until around 6am when we turned the motor on to cover the last 8 miles. To make things worse because of the wind and waves the auto-pilot kept cancelling so constant hand steering was necessary. So with no sleep we arrived at the entrance to Aratika, the Temaketa Pass, an hour and a half after the ebb which was not ideal as the flow was running out and can reach speed of up to 8kts. We decided to give it a go because there was nowhere to have a rest and wait for the next tide. PANNIKIN did us proud again and saw us through safely into the calmer waters of the atoll. Unfortunately as we were half way through the pass Ange noticed a pack of five dogs that decided to try to swim across the pass and to our horror we watched them being swept out to sea in a matter of about 3 seconds. There was nothing we could do for them and it upset us knowing there was little chance of them making it back to land. We motored the six miles across the atoll to the anchorage, dropped the anchor, had something to eat and fell asleep.
We were anchored off the beautiful village of Paparara which has a sandy beach, clear water and of course coconut palm trees. The village turned out to be a bit of a ghost town because of the downturn in the price of black pearls. The pearl farms have shut down or been abandoned and the people have moved on. We spent the next two nights in this gorgeous spot getting some energy back and licking our wounds from the overnighter. The beautiful water lent to a lot of kayaking & snorkelling (for Steve). Ange was followed in the kayak by black tipped reef shark at one point & decided not to snorkel after all!!
From Aratika it was off to Fakarava, the second largest atoll in the Tuamotus, which was a leisurely day sail of 30 odd nautical miles with 15kts on the beam. The pass was deep and wide which presented no problems and the anchorage was only a five mile sail away. We were surprised to see eighteen boats already there including the guys on FAT CAT. The only village on Fakarava is Rotoava which seems to be doing well from the tourist trade with some very small "resorts" along the beach & a couple of dive shops. There is even two tiny grocery stores - unfortunately they both don't stock much and fresh food is out of the question.
Saturday Steve went for a snorkel on the reef that was nearby, by himself, as Ange wouldn't go because of UST's (unidentified scary things) down there! We had another wander around the village & met a nice American couple Jerry and Ginny. They are part of Jimmy Cornell's round the world rally, Blue Planet Odyssey, and they invited us to drinks with all the other rally people that evening aboard a big catamaran, CHAPTER TWO, owned by Pat & Janet.
Sunday Ange had a lovely walk for an hour or so while Steve kicked back & read. We had a game of Mexican Train Dominoes with the guys from FAT CAT in the afternoon.
Today Steve had just about convinced Ange to go snorkelling in the shallows near the beach but when we went to a pearl farm/resort this afternoon there were about eight large nurse sharks swimming around the jetty. That was it - no swimming for Ange!! We also saw another one swimming along through the coral as we headed to shore to buy a few dry goods & the last packet of cheese in both supermarkets!! Ange will be sticking to the kayak from now on!!
27/04/2015, Rotoava, Fakarava
Sunday 19th April
We had an appointment with the local tattoo artist at 8am on Saturday morning in Taiohae. We've know for a while that Marquesan tattoos are really unique & not something everyone at home in OZ would have. Ange had a nice ribbon tattooed across her right foot & Steve had a turtle made out of Marquesan symbols on his left arm. Saturday afternoon we had the crews from DOUBLE TROUBLE & TIME WARP over for a few drinks & nibbles.
Sunday around 9am we headed off for the Tuamotu Islands, some 500 nautical miles away. The Tuamotu are made up of 76 atolls which are famous for their beauty & riches of their lagoons - most notably the farming of cultured black pearls. Most of the atolls are only 1 metre above sea level & can be accessed by 1 or 2 passes from the ocean to the lagoon that break the ring of limestone & coral that form the atolls. We had a great 3 ½ days sailing with speeds of 6-8 knots all the way & constant wind. Arrived at the atoll of Manihi about 3 pm on Wednesday. We navigated the Tairapa Pass without any incident & anchored off the village of Paeua in beautiful clear blue water with coral & fish everywhere. We thought Bonaire was mind blowing - these atolls are absolutely stunning. It was a lovely afternoon watching the locals come & go in their boats & the locals ride their pushbikes to the harbour & do some fishing & catching up.
Thursday we had a nice walk around the village & along the atoll as far as we could go before low lying reef stopped our progress. Steve was stoked to buy a baguette - he had been suffering withdrawal since leaving Nuku Hiva. Took lots of photos of the gorgeous water & coconut palm covered atolls before returning to the boat & jumping in for a snorkel. Plenty of beautiful fish we hadn't seen in the Caribbean. Ange also went for a paddle on the kayak. We had drinks with a lovely German couple, Oliver & Almut, on board their catamaran FAT CAT that afternoon before returning to PANNIKIN for the night.
Friday there was much excitement in the village as a supply ship arrived. Pearl farmers arrived by boat by the dozen to collect materials for their farms & groceries they had ordered. 2 small forklifts whizzed around the village from the ship delivering supplies to the school & the supermarkets - there was plenty of action for a good couple of hours. The guys from FAT CAT had organised a farmer to show us his pearl production that morning, however due to the arrival of the supply ship all things stop, so we missed out. Not a problem.... there are plenty more atolls to see & many more pearl farms.
Saturday we & FAT CAT decided to head to the next atoll of Ahe. The weather showed the wind was supposed to get up around 20-25 knots on Sunday & Monday & the anchorage at Ahe was much more protected than the one at Manihi. Getting the anchors up proved to be difficult as the anchor chains were really wrapped around coral heads. Oliver ended up getting into his dive gear & freeing the chain of their boat as Steve stood on the bow & slowly lifted it up directing Almut which way to point their boat. Luckily our chain was not as bad & we had an easier time getting our anchor up. It was almost the bottom of low tide as we left & PANNIKIN raced out through the pass doing 9 knots with the last of the outgoing tide pushing as through - fun!! Unfortunately there was not a lot of wind & we had a slow motor the 20 miles to Ahe getting drenched with the odd shower or two that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. The Tiareroa Pass of Ahe was very easy to navigate, nice & deep and wide also. We then had a pleasant sail for another hour through the marked channel to the anchorage at the village of Tenukupara. We decided to anchor in the small lagoon beside the town wharf & to help us pick up the anchor later on we decided to attach our anchor buoy as a second means of lifting the anchor. We found our spot among the coral heads & dropped the anchor, only to have the chain stop running around the 20 metre mark. The chain was in a huge knot & wouldn't run through the windlass & over the bow of the boat. As Ange tried to undo the mess PANNIKIN drifted over a coral head & the chain that was out got all wrapped up around the coral. Great!! Ange went back to the cockpit & steered as Steve navigated around the coral head & freed the chain. Guess what..... as the last of the chain came up there was no anchor attached. We'd lost our anchor!!! How did that happen??? We were so lucky that we'd attached the anchor buoy - it was still sitting in the lagoon marking where our anchor had dropped. We pulled it up by hand to find the pin through the anchor swivel had fallen out leaving our anchor on the bottom. We motored out of the lagoon & away from all the coral as Steve reattached the anchor to the chain with a BIG shackle & we were right to go again. This time things went much more smoothly & we anchored PANNIKIN safely. Time for a beer! FAT CAT kindly invited us over for dinner - marlin steaks & pasta - really yummy!! We had an early night after all our excitement that afternoon.
Congratulations to Dave & Rose on AUSSIE RULES who arrived at Fatu Hiva, Marquesas on Friday afternoon after 28 days at sea from Mexico. Hopefully we'll catch up with you somewhere along the line & have a beer or two!!!