Had great winds yesterday and making good progress towards Aitutaki, but when winds built to 30 knots we executed our plan B and headed north so now on course for Suwarrow. It is a national park in Cook Islands and we should be there in about 4 days, depending on wind of course. All is well.
Left Bora Bora 9/1/12 at 1000. Sailed all day, spinnaker up all daylight hours. Very nice sailing. Using standard sails tonight. All is well aboard.
Monday Aug 13 After spending a very windy and gusty Sunday relaxing on the boat we motored across in nearly no wind on Monday morning from Tahiti's Taina Marina to Moorea. It was about a 5-6 hour trip. We anchored in Cooks Bay. It was beautiful, of course, and it felt so good to be at anchor again in a quiet spot. There were about 6 other boats there, but lots of room for us to spread out. Having spent the month of July in California, we were expecting that we would not run into many cruisers we had met as they would have all moved on by then. Fortunately there were a few stragglers like us still hanging around that we got to meet. Ms. Goodnight was in the anchorage. We had met them in the Galapagos. He is from Munich, she from the Ukraine, and their young daughter (about 8 yr old) was born aboard in the Canary Islands. They gave us a rundown of services in the area and good spots to anchor. They were especially fond of some fresh shrimp from a local shrimp farm but the owner only sold on Wednesdays between 10 and 2 and we weren't there long enough to take advantage of it. Dave and Kathy on Lightspeed came over to introduce themselves. They hail from Seattle and have spent time cruising in Alaska. This was the second time they have done the Pacific. They have a cat aboard and are working on all the paperwork to get it into New Zealand. They were happy to see us because they hadn't seen any other US flagged boats for a while.
Tuesday Aug 14 We hiked from Cooks Bay across the mountain pass to Vaire on the east coast of the island. Vaire is the main village on Moorea and is where the Tahiti ferry landing is located. This trail was moderately difficult. It climbs from Cooks Bay through the Paopao Valley, passing through pappelmouse groves and pineapple plantations up to the ridge between two peaks (800 meters, about 2400 feet high) before dropping down through bamboo forests to Vaire. The walk took us about 3.5 hours (a little longer than expected as Dennis had a little trouble staying on the trail -it was a dense tropical forest and the path was obviously one that was not taken very often.) It was pleasant as it was shaded most of the time once we got off the road leading to the trail. It was physically exhausting - but that felt good. Our plan was to rent a Vespa scooter to get us back to Cooks Bay and for a tour around the island the following day. We were a little concerned because we were told that scooters were in high demand and one may not be available leaving us to find a way back to Cooks Bay that didn't involve a bus (they only run twice a day) or a taxi (cost prohibitive), or hiking (we were pretty pooped). Fortunately there were plenty of scooters available but they don't generally allow the scooters to be out overnight unless you are staying in a hotel and thus have a safe place to park them. The woman at the rental shop was so nice to us and arranged for us to park at her friend's house which was near our boat. After marking several highlights around the island on a map, she warned us that the next day was a Catholic holiday and some places would be closed. So we rushed to the juice factory, but we had already missed their last tour of the day.
Wednesday Aug 15 We got up early and dinghied the short distance to the Club Bali Hai which was near where our scooter spent the night and would be a safe place to leave the dinghy all day. We circled the island on the coastal road starting with Cooks Bay and then to Opunohu Bay. We drove inland into the Opunohu Valley, stopping at an archaeological site to hike back past several maraes (ancient temple/altar sites). We stopped at the belvedere viewpoint that looks down on both bays. The coast is dotted with little villages and beaches. We bought a bagette, salami, cheese, an apple, and cold drinks and had a picnic lunch on a bench overlooking a white sand beach. So relaxing. We searched out the Hauru point area which has reported good snorkeling on two nearby motus (small islands). We had brought our snorkeling gear along. But we were content to just walk through the beautiful clear blue shallow water and watch the colorful tropical fish swimming around our feet. Moorea is not a big island but with all the stops we made, the trip took the better part of the day. When we reached Vaire we turned in the scooter and waited about an hour for the last ferry to arrive and the afternoon bus back to Cooks Bay. The bus stop was at the ferry building so we had a nice time people watching and listening to all the languages while we ate our ice cream bars. That night we went back to the Club Bali Hai to watch a Polynesian dance show. Virginia was picked by one of the male performers to dance with him during the audience participation portion of the show. Since it was a bit chilly that night she'd traded her skirt for jeans before heading over. She wished she had her skirt for the dancing - you really need a loose skirt to telegraph those gyrating hips (that's her story and she's sticking to it).
Thursday Aug 16 Went into the Supermarche to do a little provisioning. Hadn't been able to get eggs in Tahiti - and none on Moorea that day either. Club Bali Hai gave us the password to their internet. It took Virginia awhile, with some help from Dave on Lightspeed, to get all the parameters set right, but we eventually got connected and were able to catch up on email and post our Tahiti blog. It was Dave's birthday, but we missed the party aboard Lightspeed as we were headed out for an overnight passage to Huahine which was about a 14 hour trip and we didn't want to transit a coral reef passage at night. We had to get out of the Moorea channel before dark so we could arrive in Huahine in daylight. We sailed all through the night - no engine - but got little sleep as the seas were so confused that the boat was rocking and rolling. Even Dennis got a little queasy. Virginia popped another Meclazine pill every couple hours and managed to feel pretty good.
Friday Aug 17 We arrived in Huahine around 1400 and anchored off Fare. We didn't catch any fish in the crossing - darn, really looking forward to fresh fish. We napped most of the afternoon catching up on the sleep we didn't get on the crossing. We barbequed hamburgers for dinner, serving them on a baguette (thanks McDonalds of Tahiti for the McBaguette idea).
Saturday Aug 18 We had toured Tahiti by car and Moorea by scooter. Huahine seemed like a good place to use our bikes. Cruisers were reporting that the roads were recently repaved and traffic is very minimal on this island. The reports were accurate and we had a great time biking along Lake Fauna where we saw ancient stone fishing traps still in use today. We parked the bikes and hiked back to several marae archaeological sites. We stopped at one of the sites overlooking the lake for a picnic lunch, including baguettes of course. We biked as far as Faie where we were in search of the famous blue-eyed eels. A local boy of about 8 years offered to show us the way, with the permission of his parents. The eels were trapped in an isolated deep water section of the river a short ways from where we had been looking. Probably wouldn't have found them without his help. On the return trip we circled around to the ocean side of the Lake, travelling on a dirt road (also reasonable for biking) that took us by one more marae and residential, agricultural areas (vanilla and pineapples). The dirt road hooked up with the main road at the small airport where we stopped for a cold drink. Back in town we visited the Supermarche which was better provisioned than those in Moorea (got eggs). Virginia bought a pareu - the brightly colored cloth which the women use as a shawl, skirt, or dress. Have to practice the wrapping techniques.
Sunday Aug 19 We pulled up anchor and headed to Raiatea, only about a 20 mile crossing (3-4 hours). We sailed the whole way. We also used our watermaker for the first time since Dennis effected an overhaul of that equipment while we were in California. It worked well -nice to have that operational again so that we don't have to haul water and worry about finding potable water at each anchorage. We anchored in a spot near the town of Uturoa that was across from the town's Quay (pier). It was recommended in the cruising guides and described in much detail. We had to creep in slowly over a sand shelf with a depth of 6 feet (our draft is 6' 6") to drop the anchor on the sand shelf, then back out to deep water (100+ feet). Even though there was no wind, there was a current that edged us close to the sand shelf that night. After trying to re-anchor and finding that we couldn't get close enough to the anchor to haul it up, we decided to lay out more chain into the deep water channel to allow the boat to sit further out from the shelf. It worked (sort of) as we discovered the chain had wrapped around a rock which kept us out in the channel.
Monday Aug 20 The wind picked up so we decided to stay on the boat all day doing internet, reading up on the sights to see, etc. avoiding a wet dinghy ride into shore. We generally like to chill and seclude ourselves when we've been especially active and this was a gorgeous place to do that.
Tuesday Aug 21 Even though the cruiser's guide listed several negative aspects of the Quay, there were a lot of boats there, so we decided to relocate. This was a free (amazingly for these islands) downtown dock where boats that tie up alongside the concrete pier were not well protected from the wind and occasional wake. Our plan was to stay one night and then move onto Taha'a - the sister island of Raiatea for some snorkeling. When moving the boat further from the shelf Sunday night, we realized we'd need a plan for getting the anchor up. Dennis had been thinking about it since Sunday evening and fortunately his plan worked. It was going to take teamwork. We both went out in the dinghy. Virginia used our 'glass bottom bucket' (first time it's been used for the purpose it was designed) to look through the water to follow the anchor chain and guide Dennis along the chain to the anchor. We found the rock that the chain was hanging on (fortunately not completely wrapped) and once we found the anchor on the shelf, we threw out our dinghy anchor to keep us in place in the current. Dennis donned his mask and swam down to the anchor, hooking a trip line to it. He came back in the dinghy and using the trip line, pulled the anchor out of the sand. We knew that anchor plus chain would be too much to haul aboard the dinghy, so as soon as it cleared the bottom, Virginia headed the dinghy for deeper water near the boat. We dropped the anchor there. Back onboard Libertad we then used the windless to pull up the anchor as we normally would, swinging wide around the rock so the chain wouldn't snag. It was fun (and a relief) to see it all work so well. We headed the very short distance to the Quay and Dennis virtually "parallel parked" Libertad right between two other boats with no hassles. He earned a lot of 'amazement' points from Virginia that morning. Later that day the boat behind us was trying to leave and was having trouble getting away due to the wind blowing them against the dock (one of the warnings from the cruiser's guide). We were helping guide them out and at one point Virginia had her full 5' stretched between their boat and the dock and was about to land in the water, but Dennis grabbed her shirt and pulled her to safety. After several attempts, the captain of the trapped boat asked for suggestions and Dennis got our boat hook and effectively pushed their bow into the wind. That worked and they were off. From that and for keeping Virginia dry, he was elevated to hero status. We walked the town and bought a few items in the hardware store. That evening Penny and Brian (New Zealand) aboard Haereroa joined us for happy hour on Libertad and we had a nice visit. They are completing their circumnavigation this year - almost home.
Wednesday Aug 22 We had planned to hit the open air produce market and bicycle around the island a bit in the morning and head to Taha'a in the afternoon. In the early morning Richard, a local electrician with favorable reviews in the cruising guides, stopped by the boat to give us his card. We discussed our remote switch for the inverter that went out a couple months back. Dennis had researched a replacement, but they are no longer offered. Richard said he could fix it. We also need a transformer so that we can use 220 power when in a marina, but he didn't have one on hand so we'll wait until we get to Australia to do that upgrade. So we stayed another day on the Quay; no problem as there is always a list of small boat projects to keep us busy: repairing one of the teak steps in our stairs, cleaning some lines, changing oil...We watched some gorgeous tropical fish swimming right around our boat. Around noon we got some squalls and it was overcast most of the rest of the day. In the afternoon Pavelle from Czechoslovakia came by on his bike and stopped to talk to us for quite awhile. He is a very interesting guy who single-handed from Turkey through the Med, across the Atlantic to Brazil, around Cape Horn, through the Chilean fjords, across the Pacific to here. Very personable. Dave and Kathy (Lightspeed) had dinner on Libertad with us. We had met them in Moorea.
Thursday Aug 23 Virginia called her mom on Skype and then we headed out on a bicycle ride towards Apooti Marina - just to check out that part of the island. We scored some ranch dressing in one of the smaller markets. Dennis scrounged a mud flap from a garage junk pile to finish one of his projects. After lunch we took off and headed for Taha'a - a short hop that took about 2.5 hours. Our departure was much less dramatic as all other boats around us had already departed (using their bow thrusters extensively) and we could position ourselves for a simpler get-away from the infamous Quay. Our destination was the Motu Tau Tau for snorkeling in the Coral Garden that runs between that motu and the one just to the north. We had about 18 knots of wind, which made the sail over great, but wouldn't be so comfortable in the unprotected anchorage by the motu. So we anchored in a nearby bay on the mainland, Baie Vaiorea. It was lovely - absolutely calm. The shore was dotted with small homes with fishing skiffs. The view out the stern porthole from our master berth was of Bora Bora - an unbelievably beautiful spot and we were the only boat there.
Friday Aug 24 At 10am we moved the boat over to the Motu Tau Tau and anchored. We took the dinghy in and anchored it just outside the Coral Garden area. The tourism center in Raiatea told us to walk down the black sand beach of the northern motu to the opening where the ocean turns into what they call a river - a narrow passage between the two motus - and drift back with the current to our dinghy along the part of the coral canyon near that shore. This was called the 'beginner' run, presumably because you had some space to float down without worrying about hitting the coral on both sides of you. It was fabulous! We saw so many beautifully colored tropical fish of numerous varieties, clams with bright yellow and teal blue mouths, coral of many shapes and colors including pink and purple, black sea slugs, and huge sea anemone. Wow. Next we did the more advanced section in the middle of the passage. While we saw some larger fish there, it had a lot fewer fish; so our third and final drift was through the beginner run again. This was one time we wished we had an underwater camera to capture it in pictures as words cannot do it justice. We didn't want to stay anchored there overnight, so we backtracked to a big bay, Hurepiti Baie, near the pass through the reef that we would take to Bora Bora. There is a reef that completely circles Raiatea and Taha'a with just a few passes through.
Saturday Aug 25 The wind blew strong all night long, funneling through a pass in the mountains. Our anchor held just fine and there wasn't enough fetch in the bay for the wind to build up any waves, so we had a good night's rest. We had planned to take a hike on the island in the morning, but we would have been walking right into the wind. Instead we decided to use that wind to sail to Bora Bora and took off by 0800. Once outside the reef the seas got choppy, as the fetch had built all night. Virginia was popping her pills and feeling a bit queasy. After we rounded the northern end of Bora Bora the seas calmed down and so did Virginia's stomach. We had read and heard a lot of good things about Bora Bora Yacht Club and had planned on taking a mooring ball there. But the reports were confusing in that the club had closed for awhile due to cyclone damage, the managers that made it so great had opened a new place nearby named Mai Kai Marina, and now the Bora Bora Yacht Club was open again too. Alex and Iris on Alaeris were at Mai Kai and we had talked to them on the radio so we decided to head that direction. We got the last mooring ball there and it was right between Alaeris and some other friends on Happy Bird. Reports later were that mooring balls at the Bora Bora Yacht Club were all occupied, so we made the right choice. As it turns out, both places seem very nice and accommodating to cruisers. Mai Kai has a nicer restaurant with live music most nights and a cruiser discount happy hour. It is also very close to town. Bora Bora is a bit further from town but it is around a point and a bit better protected. No matter, the cruisers from both places hang out together so we got to see our friends staying in both anchorages. We had a cocktail hour aboard Alaeris, catching up, as we hadn't seen them since the Marquesas. We then went to dinner at the Mai Kai restaurant. It was very delicious food and good music. We moved to the bar after dinner as Yvonne and Roderick from Happy Bird were there, visiting and listening to the music. It was a very enjoyable evening.
Sunday 8/26 Virginia went to an evangelical church this morning in town with Yvonne from Happy Bird and Gerrit and Anne-Mieke from Fruit de Mer (a couple we just met in this anchorage who are from the Netherlands). Lengthy fire and brimstone lectures (in Polynesian, so only guessing from the emoting) and lovely music. There seemed to be four separate choirs in the church that took turns singing. There were few in attendance who did not sing. Virginia hummed along. There were three infants baptized that day as well. The service lasted more than 2 hours. On the road back to the boat, a woman was selling fresh beignettes so we all bought some (it's sort of a cross between plain raised and cake donut -needed icing, powdered sugar, or jam - if you've been to New Orleans you have probably had one). The winds calmed down so we took the dinghy over to Bora Bora Yacht Club and visited boats we knew in the anchorage there.
Monday 8/27 A group of boats are leaving tomorrow, most going to Suvarov (now called Suwarrow to make the letters of the name fit with the Polynesian alphabet we are told). After walking into town to the bank, hardware store, and grocery store just to check things out for later provisioning, we stopped at the marina bar for happy hour at Happy Bird's invitation. Three other couples joined us and we ended up staying for dinner with Merrilelu, Alaeris, and Fruit de Mer. All of them were headed to Suvarov in the next two days, so it became a bon voyage party. We hadn't yet toured the island so we weren't ready to leave.
Tuesday 8/28 Circled the island on our bikes. No hiking trails or a lot of specific archaeological sites and such to see, but a beautiful day for some exercise and the scenery was gorgeous of course. This island has a lot of the high-end resorts with huts extending out into the clear blue lagoons (postcards abound with pictures of these resorts). Tonight is live music during happy hour at the Mai Kai restaurant so cruisers are gathering again tonight. There was 20 knots of wind in the anchorage so those coming over from the Bora Bora Yacht Club had a wet ride; many chose to walk or take a taxi. As the time approached we even considered skipping it, but the pull of the social gathering was strong for Virginia so we ventured out. There were about 20 people there and it was a lot of fun. We had left our bikes locked on shore earlier in the day after our tour and decided it would be best to leave them there overnight as the seas were still wild and just climbing in and out of the dinghy unencumbered was difficult. We slept in the salon as the wind howled all night amid intermittent rain storms and the rocking was less there than in the aft cabin. Dennis checked on the mooring several times; but all was fine - no chafed lines.
Wednesday 8/29 Since the wind was still gusting the next day and there were intermittent rain squalls, we decided it was another good day for relaxing, reading, and doing some indoor chores. Virginia spent a bit of time on the internet checking weather sources for the next leg of our trip to the Cook Islands. Most boats have been taking the northern route, heading for Suvarov. We would like to go south to Aitutaki and Palmerston atoll, but there was a low threatening high winds and big seas in the south a few days ago. We could see our bikes from the boat and they were still locked in place getting a nice fresh water rinse. The wind generator was sure keeping the batteries charged.
Thursday 8/30 Our water tanks are about half full and although the watermaker is working, Dennis decided to haul some water from the dock as it is quite convenient here. He bought 4- 4gal. coleman collapsible jugs that worked really well and they take up so little space on the boat. Dennis thinks we can head out on the south route Saturday if the weather forecast holds. We will have some 20 knot winds as we near Aitutaki and so if the anchorage there doesn't look protected enough we'll just keep on going to Palmerston. But the winds are supposed to be from the east and the anchorage has protection for that. It would be nice to be able to stop there and break up the journey. We'll check the weather again before we leave. Yet another cruiser gathering tonight. The couple on Sea Wings is celebrating their first wedding anniversary and so they asked everyone to come to Happy Hour at Mai Kai and then go to the Chinese restaurant in town - another fun evening. And it was nice to visit with Lisa, Larry, and Ben on Lisa Kay as they are headed for Suvarov tomorrow. Suvarov is a National Park and only a ranger lives on the island, so it would be nice to visit there, but there are so many boats going there now that the reports on the radio nets we listen to are saying that the anchorage is very full. We may go there yet, but for now we are focusing on some of the southern islands.
Friday 8/31 It looks likely that we will leave this weekend for the Cook Islands so today we did more passage preparation. We took the boat over to the fuel dock (very close to us; another advantage of the Mai Kai marina) and filled up with some more duty free diesel. We rode our bikes into town and did some final pearl shopping, grocery provisioning, and banking. We cleared out at the Gendarme - a very easy one stop process involving no payments. Back at the boat Virginia prepared several dinners for our nights out to sea and baked some cookies for our passage treat. Dennis was stowing things for the passage which included breaking the bikes down into their various pieces again so that they could be packed. Thank goodness he doesn't mind that type of project because we sure have enjoyed having the bikes aboard. Dennis took the dinghy into the marina to settle our bill. We hear live music again at the restaurant, but no happy hour for us tonight - we need to get things ready and try to post this blog.
We will try and post position reports and short blogs frequently if not daily on this passage to the Cook Islands.
Late July while we were in California we ordered a number of items for the boat, including a new refrigerator; our 12-year old propane Dometic finally gave up. Dennis packed nearly all the purchases into the new Vitrifrigo refrigerator and shipped it on a boat to Tahiti. It miraculously arrived two weeks earlier than expected and was there when he returned on July 25th. By the time Virginia returned to the boat he had installed the refrigerator, additional solar panels, a new macerator pump, and two new engine batteries, along with completing many other smaller projects. We had left the boat on the Quay in downtown Pape'ete. The downtown area is thankfully void of hills, making it convenient to bicycle to the marine and hardware stores for needed parts. Disposing of the old refrigerator and transporting the heavy batteries required the use of the bike trailer we had at the last moment acquired from Darren (the granddaughters having grown too big for it and having their own bikes at that point). Last time we used it was La Paz, Mexico which was also flat and very helpful for provisioning for our voyage into the Sea of Cortez. Dennis must have been quite a sight pedaling down the Pape'ete roads periodically narrowing due to repair or construction with a bike trailer carrying a refrigerator.
Aug 5-10 Virginia returned to Tahiti. We spent the week reviewing our stock of food (much had to be disposed even though still unpacked from its plastic packaging), re-provisioning, and preparing for departure onto the other Society Islands. We stocked up at the open air produce market and purchased some black pearls for which these islands are so famous. One day we rented a car and toured Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti via the coastal route. It was an enjoyable day with great touring weather - only one very light sprinkle of rain and otherwise a cloudless day. On the north side of the island, our first stop was Point Venus which was so named because this is where Captain Cook took measurements for determining the distance between the sun and earth by tracking the eclipse of Venus on the sun. It has a lighthouse and pretty black sand beach. A group of locals was preparing for a celebration and was erecting a large tent and stage when we arrived. Tahitians love their weekends and holidays of which they average about one a week all year long. We did not have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle but those who know Dennis realize that that is no deterrent for him to drive a ways down the unpaved road that runs through the center of the island. We saw two nice waterfalls and several exotic flowers in this beautiful, thickly vegetated Papeno'o Valley. Heading down the east side of Tahiti Nui we walked through a dense forest to the three waterfalls at Fau'auruma'i - a very pleasant mild hike. We tried to find the lava tubes where you hike/swim through the tunnels. We asked a local man for directions and when our limited French proved insufficient for good communication we pointed to a place on the map we had and he hopped on his ATV and indicated we should follow him. It was a very nearby unpaved road that we had already attempted only to find that it definitely needed 4-wheel-drive so we had to skip it. At the south-east isthmus of Tahiti Nui with the smaller Tahiti Iti portion of this island we stopped for lunch at Taravao. The coastal road doesn't extend all the way around Iti so we chose to explore the southern side which has several good surfing beaches including the internationally famous Teahupo'o with its massive, crushing tubes over shallow water covering a coral bottom. It was not breaking big that day, so there were few surfers about. We enjoyed watching the kite boarders at one beach that was evidently a good place for beginners as it was shallow quite a ways out. When they fell off their boards they could stand up in about 2 feet of water and restart. Our first stop along the southern coast of Nui was the Vaipahi water gardens. There was a great series of hiking trails. We hiked a loop on the ridge route to the river route. It was a moderate level hike with ropes provided for handholds in the steeper sections. The trail was in a dense tropical forest so the ground was damp and slippery so the ropes were welcome. The hike took a little over an hour and we were completely alone passing no one on the trail. This was our favorite spot on the trip. On the west coast we visited the Maraa Grotto with lush gardens, fern grottos, and three overhung caverns - a beautiful, quick, stop. Next we explored the Marae Arahurahu - an archaeological site of a well-preserved traditional temple complete with tikis. We got back to the boat around 1730 and rested awhile before driving to the large Carefour supermarket, avoiding rush hour traffic. After provisioning we had a late dinner at the Roulettes (vans which congregate each night in the nearby plaza and serve up a variety of delicious food). There is a heavy Asian influence in the Polynesian food.
Sat Aug 11 We moved the boat to Marina Taina to take on diesel for the balance of our stay in French Polynesia. The route through the channel from Pape'ete to the marina crosses both ends of the airport runway. You have to call Port Authority 5 minutes before approaching each end to get permission to cross. As the channel runs very close to the runway, sailboats cannot be in the path of landing or departing planes as the planes fly lower than our masts. When we made our first call we were told to hold up as a plane was landing in 4 minutes. Indeed one flew right by us and we could nearly see the passengers through the windows. We were then given permission to proceed. At the other end, we were allowed to continue on without delay as no planes were departing at that time. After fueling up we tied up to an empty mooring ball to spend the night before heading to Moorea the next morning. We took the dinghy ashore in the afternoon to do a bit more provisioning and to treat ourselves to a beer. At the marina bar we met Terry and Heidi of Cetus, from Seattle. We had heard them on the radio nets over the last year and had seen them in the Galapagos briefly but had never visited. With them was Vicki of Inspiration at Sea, from Canada. You might remember her name from a blog posting back in May of 2011. It was fun to recall that when we headed south across the sometimes treacherous Gulf of Tehuantepec in southernmost Mexico, Vicki was headed north with Robbin from Katydid aboard as crew. They hailed us and chatted. A few months later we met Robbin in Costa Rica and have crossed paths and visited with him in several places. We were now finally meeting Vicki! After one beer, we followed them to the Pink Coconut restaurant down the boardwalk where we had a dinner of very tasty appetizers and margaritas (diet coke for lightweight Virginia). We had a very pleasant evening visiting with them and were glad we had the forethought to turn on our mooring light and bring our flashlights with us for the anchorage was very dark under the moonless night sky.
Sunday Aug 12 We awoke to heavy winds from the west - the very direction of Moorea. Since they didn't appear to be dying down any too soon, we decided to spend the day relaxing on our mooring, calling home, and working on this blog posting. We'll see what tomorrow's weather brings. The channel between Tahiti and Moorea is less than 20 miles wide, so we can be quite particular about when to make the transit. Very much like looking at Anacapa Island from Ventura, we have had it in sight from our boat while on the Quay and here on the mooring.
One interesting tidbit we learned is that while the lunar tidal range for most of the archipelagos in French Polynesia is between .5 meters and 2 meters, the tides in the Society Islands receive no lunar influence. The tides here have only a solar influence resulting in just 8 inches of level difference; with high tides at noon and midnight every day of the year. Perhaps someday one of our more learned seafaring friends can explain this anomaly in cosmic terms that we can understand. In essence, we don't have to do any planning around tides here. Considering all the attention to tides we have paid from Mexico to El Salvador to Ecuador, Galapagos, and the rest of French Polynesia, this was quite a relief to not have that extra element to enter into our calculations of departures and arrivals.
Wed June 20 - Thu June 21 We took a red-eye flight direct from Pape'ete to LAX. An uneventful trip ( Air Tahiti Nui really treats you well - had two meals during that flight) and yet a little disconcerting that what had taken us nearly two years to obtain by boat was reversed in just over eight hours. Leaving Libertad in a foreign port for any length of time is always a source of concern (are the docklines secure, will they chafe and fail, will she be targeted by thieves?). Fortunately in the few days we were in Tahiti, we had made friends with Troy Walton who was headed for Australia in the boat moored immediately next to us. He offered to watch Libertad closely and we compensated him with the use of our bikes which he was very pleased to use to tour locally until his captain returned and they departed. We were pleased to receive email updates from him while we were in California assuring us of Libertad's good condition in our absence.
Mid June - mid July The next four weeks were very busy. The first weekend we attended our niece's wedding in San Diego where our granddaughters were flower girls and we had a good visit with Dennis' extended family. We also got in a quick visit with friends Chris and Ray who live nearby. We made several one-day trips to Santa Barbara for visits with our son Darren and his family -including celebrating his and granddaughter Kira's birthdays. We scheduled some doctor appointments and squeezed in some time with a few friends. Dennis attended a Rotary meeting and spent a weekend at the Johns' Lake Arrowhead cabin with his mother and brother. We joined our Santa Barbara Sail and Power Squadron friends at a dinner event. We spent most of the time with Virginia's parents in Long Beach. Her dad passed on July 3, peacefully at home as he wanted. His services were on July 10, the same day as the breast cancer surgery for Darren's mother-in-law (the other grandma to Kira and Devin). Dennis returned to Tahiti and the boat on July 25th. Virginia stayed on for another 12 days to have more time with her mother, siblings, and our son's family. She even went ice-skating for our daughter-in-law Carrie's birthday. As you can see, we packed a lot into that 4-6 week visit and we felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to be home at that time.
We arrived in Tahiti after two great days of sailing. We were making 7 knots (and sometimes more) most of the way. We had to slow down on the last night to make sure we arrived in Tahiti in the daylight. In a few days we head to California for a short one-month visit. Need a family fix!