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s/v Sand Dollar
Day 1 - 10 Knots of Wind
05/16/2007, En Route to the Tuamotus

Sand Dollar weighed anchor shortly before noon today and began the 4-5 day passage to the Tuamotus, otherwise known as the "Dangerous Archipelago". The 70 some islands in this group are really atolls which have little elevation in sharp contrast to the mountainous Marquesas. The Tuamotus are difficult to spot from a ship and in the days before GPS many a vessel perished on coral reefs surrounding the atolls. Today navigation is much safer and some of the approaches even have channel markers.

The wind has been 8-10 knots most of the day and there was one rain squall to wash the boat. Two other singlehanders left Daniels Bay for the Tuamotus this morning but they are bound for Rangiroa, the largest and most populated atoll in the group. I am headed for Raroia which is farther east and less visited.

All is well onboard and it is good to be back at sea.

Tuesday May 15, 2007 - Preparations for Passage to Tuamotus
05/15/2007, Daniels Bay, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

Today was an easy day, filling water tanks, picking some fruit, and resting for the 4-day passage to Raroia Island in the Tuamotus. The wind is forecast to be 10 knots from the east so it should be a beam reach all the way. I hope I don't have to motor but the fuel tank is full just in case. Departure is set for sometime during mid-morning tomorrow. The fishing tackle has been attended to and, with some luck, I may catch a wahoo. That will be a first for me. They are good fighters, have extremely sharp teeth, and do very well on the dinner table.

I did some hiking today and made the trip part way to the waterfall. Other hikers said the view up close was not any better than far away, but what a view!

All else is well and Sand Dollar is anxious to get moving again.

Monday May 14, 2007 - Short Sail to Daniels Bay
05/14/2007, Daniels Bay, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

Today I sailed the 5.7 miles to Daniels Bay where some episodes of "Survivor" were filmed. This is a lovely bay and very well protected. Two other singlehanders whom I know, one from British Columbia and the other from Turkey, were here when I arrived. We took a dinghy up the river and then hiked inland for about a mile where we saw a few houses with nice gardens and some archeological ruins. The river has some small trout-like fish and I think tomorrow I may return with my fly rod. I would love to identify them. One of the guys barbecued some chicken on his boat and I provided some ice cold beer. What a feast!

Sand Dollar may stay here an extra day as I am contemplating joining the other guys who want to hike to a waterfall reputed to be the 3rd highest in the world.

Sat. May 12, 2007 - Tour of the Island
05/12/2007, Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

Susan and Elba on "Infinity", Terry on "Southwind III", and I rented a pickup truck to tour the island of Nuka Hiva. We spent about 10 hours driving at total of 80 miles, visiting several villages, archaeological ruins, and a vegetable farm where we stocked up on tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, pamplemoose, zucchini, and papayas. The mountain ridges had pine forests much like Eastern Washington and the leeward side of the island was much less vegetated than the windward side. It was a very rewarding trip and I would highly recommend it.

Sunday I will take care of boat chores and then on Monday sail to Daniel's Bay, made famous as a film site of the TV series "Survivor" of which I know very little. After a day of two at Daniels I begin the 450 mile passage to the island of Raroia in the Tuamotus. That passage will take 4-5 days.

All else is well. Happy Mothers Day.

Friday May 11, 2007 - Nuka Hiva
05/11/2007, Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas

The people of the Marquesas are certainly not destitute and I have seen no instances of poverty although most of the people live quite simply and do not seem to have great material needs. Their pickup trucks are mostly brand new Japanese models. It appears the economy is well-subsidized by the French government. Something to do with reparations for past insensitivities, ie nuclear testing.

Taiohae Bay is a one horse town. There are two small grocery stores, an infirmary, pharmacy, bank, gendermarie, schools, and a couple of restaurants, all for 1600 people not counting the 75-100 sailors who inundate the place during the fall cruising season. The locals are very friendly and helpful. I am trying to learn a few words of French each day.

Tomorrow three other cruisers and I will rent a car to tour the island. All else is well. Radio transmission is sometimes difficult in this anchorage because of the mountains so some of my reports have been missing or late. The internet service also has been undependable.

Wednesday May 9, 2007 - Taiohai Bay, Nuka Hiva, Marquesas
05/09/2007, D'Hakahau Bay, Oa-Pou, Marquesas

The wind today was from the east-northeast at 8-12 knots which means the 28 mile sail from Oa-Pou was close-hauled on a starboard tack. I saw some birds working but caught no fish. Otherwise, it was a very pleasant passage.

The town of Taiohai Bay in Nuka Hiva is the largest settlement in the Marquesas with 1600 people and, believe it or not, there is wifi service in the anchorage! The speed is slow at 128 bps but the price is right, only US$6/hour. Tomorrow I will try to hook up to the wifi and also blow up the dinghy so I can go ashore and see the sights. There are 32 other boats in the anchorage but the bay is very large and could accommodate 200 boats. There is no swell so I expect a very calm night on the hook.

All else is well. I wish it were a bit cooler during the day.

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Sand Dollar
Who: Don Pratten
Port: Beaux Arts, WA
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