05/07/2015, Apia, Samoa
Friday after a big nights sleep we headed out to explore. Apia is the capital of Samoa and is about the size of a large country town in Australia. We were met with big smiles and friendly greetings as we made our way into the town centre. On the way we stopped at an ATM to get some money and the machine promptly ate Steve's card. Bugger! So off to the bank to arrange its return, which happened later in the afternoon. High on our list of things to do was to buy tickets to the rugby game next Wednesday. The All Blacks are playing Samoa in the first Test Match to be held here. It should be big!! The Samoans are flying national and Manu Samoa rugby flags everywhere as they are a very proud rugby nation. There is also a large amount of tourists here for the game-mostly from New Zealand. We could only get general admission tickets so we will be in the crowd. The atmosphere is building already.
We then went to go to the hospital to see a dentist for Ange's tooth ache and was told she had an abscess and it had to come out or root canal therapy. She wasn't happy to have done here so the dentist has given her a few months of antibiotics to get her home and she will do something about it then. We were lucky we had antibiotics on board while we were at sea otherwise Ange would have been in real trouble.
As usual when we get to a new country there are all the domestic jobs that have to be done - washing, grocery shopping etc. These things in a normal situation are normally straight forward but when on a boat and no transport on shore they seem to take all day. Finding a supermarket that sells the things you want is a challenge although here in Samoa there are more products that we are used to as they get supplies from New Zealand and Australia which is nice.
Samoa is the first country since the Caribbean where English is the first language and we are finding it so nice to be able to talk to the locals with ease. It is amazing how small things like that can change the feeling of a country. We are looking forward to doing some more exploring next week. As the Samoans are extremely devout Christians Sunday is a day of rest, so nothing is open & there are very few people about. We will just have a day of relaxing & reading!
Our passage to Samoa started off nicely with 15kts on the beam as we followed DOUBLE TROUBLE out of the pass. The seas were up a bit as the wind had been blowing for a week or more but it wasn't too uncomfortable. We were making good speed, so much so that we overtook DOUBLE TROUBLE within a few hours - very rarely does PANNIKIN overtake another boat! Unfortunately that was the good part of the trip as the wind slowly died off so we had to resort to the motor to keep us moving. We may have been able to keep the sails up if it wasn't for the swell coming from three different directions and making life very uncomfortable as PANNIKIN was tossed from side to side. This lasted for two and a half days before the wind finally came through. But so did the swell and the rain and for the next week we battled seas of 4 to 5 metres, rain and winds of 25 to 35kts with gusts up to 42kts. Life was uncomfortable and very wet to say the least. The wind was coming from the aft quarter & the rain was blowing straight into the cockpit and down the companionway so when we were on watch there was not anywhere to hide to get out of the elements. Getting into a warm bed for three hours has never been so good. Getting up again - not so!
As we approached Samoa the skies cleared and we had a nice sail for a few hours so we madly pulled all the wet gear on deck and tried to dry everything out in the sun.
We were happy to find the anchorage in the harbour to be calm and flat with only one other boat. We dropped the anchor and breathed a sigh of relief. The crossing took us 9 days and is the last major crossing until we sail the Coral Sea to Australia.
Once we had the boat back in order it was time to check in so Steve jumped in the dinghy and went to see the authorities only to find we are not allowed off the boat until they come out and inspect. Steve mentioned to the port authority lady that his wife had a tooth ache and needed to get to a dentist ASAP. She kindly rang the necessary authorities and within half an hour we were called on the radio to pick them up from the marina and ferry them out to PANNIKIN. There were five different Government departments we had to deal with and they were all lovely, happy and helpful people even though they had to come out to us right on their knock off time.
Finally time for a beer and relax watching the sun go down and everything happening onshore!
22/06/2015, Bora Bora
The weather has not been great for water activities with the wind coming from all points and a fair few showers keeping outdoor activities to a minimum. We are however fortunate enough to be here while the local cultural Heiva festival is on. So on Friday night we went to the show ground and watched the traditional singing and dancing (and yes the girls did have grass skirts and coconut shell bras!). Unfortunately the rain ended the show for us before the last group were finished which must have been a big disappointment for the dancers as they train very hard and take the competition very seriously. The festival goes for nearly a month with heaps of sports including outrigger races which is nice eye candy for the girls as most of the guys are pretty fit.
Our visa has expired and now it is time to move on. We have been watching for a good weather
window to head to Samoa. There has been too much or not enough wind forecast so we have decided to just go and take what comes because we don't want to sit around for another week waiting and it still may be no good. The passage is approximately 1200nm which should take 8-10 days all going well. We were going to stop at some of the Cook islands but they have changed their fee structure and now it is expensive to even stop for a few nights so we will just go straight through. There are many things we will miss in French Polynesia. Its beautiful islands and aqua blue waters, the friendly welcoming people, the baguettes. The only thing we won't miss will be the prices as every thing is expensive. Even beer!!!
15/06/2015, Vaitape, Bora Bora
The past few weeks have been filled with highs and lows......
Huahine was the hidden gem of French Polynesia - very pretty & traditional.
We enjoyed our time tied to the town wall of Uturoa at Raiatea while we waited for repairs to be done on our swim ladder. The food from the local vans at night was to die for and cheap!
We drift snorkelled through the beautiful coral gardens of Motu Tautau at the island of Taha'a. The fish life was abundant and very friendly. Big sea anemones were everywhere, each with their own set of clown fish. A big red octopus made an appearance as well.
Unfortunately when we returned to Uturoa to collect our swim ladder last Monday PANNIKIN was boarded & broken into while we were out to dinner with our friends on TAKE TWO, Garry and Kerry. Our computer was stolen, which basically has our whole lives on it, including all our photos & diary from the past two & a half years as well as all our weather prediction programs, boat documents, survey & rigging reports.... to name just a few things. Luckily we had most things backed up onto a hard drive, so we've only lost photos from French Polynesia & we can always copy our blog back onto word from this site. Buying a new laptop has not been a problem, but getting to know Windows 8 in FRENCH has been very difficult & time consuming. Combined with the incredibly slow internet here it has been a hair pulling, expletive yelling process.
We decided to come across to Bora Bora last Wednesday where we have been very lucky to find a great computer man who has changed Windows 8 to English for us & changed the system back to Windows 7 format....so much easier to find our way around now, even with the keyboard being French (apologies for incorrect spelling etc!!!). He has also helped us with downloading our sat phone drivers again & downloaded Open Office - a bit like Microsoft Word. We are still struggling with internet & getting the final downloads we need before heading off to Samoa. That is another problem we now face....we have exactly ONE week left on our visa for French Polynesia & the weather is not being kind for a departure from Bora Bora. Very strong winds have been blowing for the past 3 days & a launch time for Samoa is not looking good for at least the next 7 days. We will approach the Gendarmerie (police) today & explain our situation. Hopefully they will give us a few days to wait for a weather window.
Again on a good note Bora Bora is very beautiful. We've swum with & fed sting rays and reef sharks and will head back to the western side of the island to snorkel over manta rays. The lagoon of Bora Bora is very big and beautiful blue water is everywhere as are over water bungalows. There is a huge amount of hotels here. We climbed a very steep hill yesterday to take some great photos. It is definitely a place to be seen from the air. We've had Happy Hour at Bloody Marys & seen traditional dancing in the town square.
Life is still good....just a little challenging at times!!!
03/06/2015, Fare, Huahine
Saturday, Sunday & Monday were quiet days in Papeete due to a public holiday. Everything was closed so it was a good time to catch up on our boat jobs & get some laundry done. Steve was also suffering from a throat infection which has moved to his chest, so it was a good time for him to catch some rest.
Tuesday we hired a car with Richard & Geri from PANTHERA (UK) & Steven & Jody from BLUE PELICAN (AUS). We set off at 8am to travel around island. Out first stop was the tallest lighthouse in Polynesia at Point Venus, then onto the 3 waterfalls of Faarumai where we had a good hike in the rain! Then onto the southern end of Tahiti, called Tahiti Iti, meaning small Tahiti. At the end of the road we found a car park with signs directing us to Teahupoo, the awesome surf break that hosts the Billabong Pro every August. The waves were only 3 metres in height today - usually it gets to around 8 metres! We walked across a footbridge & down to the point where we watched a couple of guys surfing for about 30 minutes. On then to a small park where we had a picnic lunch & home again to the marina via a quick grocery stock up at Carrefour.
Wednesday we left Tahiti & sailed the 20 miles to Moorea where we anchored at the head of the pass into Cooks Bay. Moorea is extremely beautiful with a dazzling silhouette & plenty of rainforest. The water is very blue & great for swimming.
Thursday we wandered into the small village on shore, Maharepa where we scored a baguette for lunch. We also had walk down to the head of Cooks Bay & returned to PANNIKIN hot & dusty and in need of a good swim. Thursday afternoon we had drinks on board TAKE TWO who arrived during the day.
Friday was haircut day for Steve while Ange had a good walk followed by a window shop wander through the village. We took our dinghy into Cooks Bay in the afternoon to say hello to PANTHERA that afternoon & took refuge onboard as the heavens opened up & drenched us for a good 30 minutes.
Saturday morning we headed around to Opunohu Bay where a number of movies have been made including Mel Gibson's 'Munity on the Bounty' in 1983. Again a beautiful bay with soaring peaks surrounding steep rainforest covered hills & lovely blue water. This bay is much bigger than Cooks Bay & there was a cruise ship at anchor as well as about 20 yachts. We took the dinghy ashore & walked through the cruise ship crowd being dropped off at the local markets (they all sounded very Aussie!) to the Intercontinental Resort where we were able to buy some WIFI for ½ hour. Bills paid & emails checked we wandered back to the dinghy where we met a young Aussie family from Melbourne. Apparently the cruise ship left from Hawaii & completes its journey in Sydney after visiting Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Fiji and Vanuatu. With the cold & wet weather at home the boat was loaded with 1,500 Aussies (& a small contingent of Americans...poor folks!) looking for a South Pacific escape. You certainly knew they were Aussies - taking over the small supermarket that had stayed open & drinking all their beer!
Sunday was a wet & rainy affair, so after Ange had a walk in the morning it was a day of reading & relaxing. Richard & Geri from PANTHERA came over in the afternoon for a game of dominoes while we swapped TV shows & movies on our hard drives.
Monday morning was wet again so we spent the time reading & getting ready for our departure to Huahine that afternoon. We left around 4.30pm & unfortunately Steve sailed the whole night alone as Ange was sick with Steve's dreaded throat infection & spent the whole time asleep.
Tuesday morning the sun rose as we motored up the west coast of Huahine outside the reef. Beautiful, green and mountainous with a couple of small resorts on the coast. We took a free mooring ball in the lagoon anchorage near the main town of Fare. After a cuppa it was bed for both of us... not waking again until after lunch time. We had a wander through Fare later in the afternoon - a nice little town with plenty of character. A supply ship was due to arrive so there was plenty of action around the port. Back to the boat for an afternoon swim, dinner & more episodes of Game of Thrones!
This morning after a sleep in & swim Ange went for a good 2 hour walk & Steve went surfing on the break at the head of the Avapehi pass near where we are anchored. After picking Ange up at 11am he headed out again for another couple of hours. A good day of exercise!! We will visit the village again this afternoon for a few groceries - it has a great Super U supermarket! We are impressed!
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!