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s/v Sand Dollar
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 - Feeding the Sting Rays
06/20/2007, En Route from Moorea to Huahine, French Polynesia

This morning Bob, Dana and I joined the crew of another boat and traveled by dinghy to an area in the lagoon where local dive boats feed sting rays and black tip reef sharks for the tourists. We stood in the water while dozens of large, harmless rays swam around us and into us looking for food. At the same time there were about a dozen sharks also looking for a handout. It was quite amazing and we never felt threatened.

Sand Dollar weighed anchor at 2:20 PM for the 90 mile overnight passage from Moorea to Huahine, an island not frequented by tourists but very popular among cruisers. We have had 10-12 knots of wind on the starboard quarter making for a fairly comfortable trip. We expect to make landfall by 8 AM. All else is well onboard.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - Beach Party
06/19/2007, Opunohu Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia

Today was another day of snorkeling and land exploration. There are 10 boats in the anchorage, all of which gathered for an impromptu beach party at sunset. Old friends and new got together to discuss the day's activities and future cruising plans. All else is well onboard Sand Dollar.

Monday, June 18, 2007- Bicycling in Moorea
06/18/2007, Opunohu Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia

The crew of Sand Dollar, minus the captain who had to attend to maintenance duties, rented bicycles and toured the Opunohu Valley. They discovered a French bakery, some charming restaurants and a grocery store. Moorea is a far cry from the isolated Tuamotus. It is very touristy but somewhat upscale. There are large hotel resorts and small bungalows over the water but no cruise ships, thank God.

Sunday, June10, 2007 - Slow Passage to Tahiti
06/10/2007, En Route to Tahiti, French Polynesia

Sand Dollar weighed anchor at 7:30 AM this morning after struggling a bit with some small coral heads in which the chain had become entangled. This seems to be standard procedure in the Tuamotus. I departed Fakarava Atoll, with some regret, and had no difficulty navigating the south pass into the open ocean. The opposing flood current was about two knots one hour after low tide.

The wind has been very light all day and I am making slow progress to Papeete, averaging between 2 and 3 knots. At this rate it will take me 4 days instead of the normal 2 days. I did run the motor for 7 hours today but I only have enough fuel for another 12 hours so I decided to sail with what little wind there is. There is hardly any swell so the boat motion is very comfortable. In fact, I barbecued some chicken this evening while sailing, something I had never attempted before. The sky is clear and there is no moon out yet so the stars are brilliant. This will be a great night for sleeping in the cockpit.

Saturday, June 2, 2007 - Rotoava Village
06/02/2007, Fakarava, Iles Tuamotu, French Polynesia

There are now 8 boats in the anchorage, 5 of which are having fresh wahoo for dinner. I was able to give away about 15 lbs of the fish I caught. The rest is in the freezer. For lunch, I joined the crews of two other Seattle boats and had excellent pizza at a local snack bar. This was the first restaurant food I have had since departing Mexico two months ago. For dinner, I had an enjoyable meal with some Italians on a Swan 53 called "Farina".

A Chilean catamaran came in today and, it turns out, the owner and I have mutual friends. He owns a fly fishing lodge on a river in the south of Chile where I have fished and he knows all the Patagonian fly fishermen I have met over the past 20 years while traipsing around that part of the world. Like me, he is searching the Tuomotu for bonefish. We will meet up in a couple of days to compare notes and perhaps wet a line together.

Tomorrow morning I am joining people from the local dive shop to go on a dive on the outside of the pass during slack water. The place is known for hammerhead sharks so I will be on my best behavior so as not to rile them. On Monday Sand Dollar will head south to the other end of the atoll where the snorkeling is said to be superb. All else is well, although the only vegetables I could find were three carrots and a head of cabbage.

Friday, June 1, 2007 - Anchored in Rotoava Village, Fakarava Atoll
06/01/2007, Fakarava, Iles Tuamotu, French Polynesia

The early morning sailing en route to Fakarava was fast because of brisk winds from astern so Sand Dollar was allowed to drift the last 8 miles so as to arrive at the lagoon entrance at slack water. Although my timing was correct as far as published tidal predictions are concerned, I found the pass to be extremely agitated with 8 ft breaking, steep seas and blowing spume. I tried to punch through but was forced to retreat wondering if I had miscalculated, but all my figures were correct. After sailing back and forth for two and a half hours to kill time I decided to approach the entrance again for a look. I found a 4 knot outgoing current but no heavy seas and perfectly manageable. The pass was successfully negotiated and I continued on to the anchorage at the village.

In retrospect, I determined that the predictions for slack water were incorrect and, while expecting a slight opposing current draining the lagoon, I found a strong current still flooding into the lagoon piling up against the waves from an 18 knot wind. This is what created the large breaking seas. Once the current reversed, the flow was with the wind and the seas became short. I suspect only the locals know about these things. The published information is based on scant data and generalized over a large area of many islands. There is not much demand for better predictions because the traffic is so limited, a few supply ships each month and a bunch of yachties May through June.

Tomorrow I will go ashore to see if there are any vegetables at the small store.

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