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Nuka Hiva: One Step Closer to Mexico
Gene and Gloria
10/09/2013, The Deep Blue Sea

Nuka Hiva: One Step Closer to Mexico We departed Apataki Atoll Fri Aug. 30 at noon in sunny weather with light winds from the SE. Until today, day 3, we have been able to go NE, E of the Rhumb line from Apataki to Nuka Hiva and on day 3, we are about 70 miles E of the Rhumb line. With prevailing easterlies we felt it important to get as much easting done as possible early on. We have been able to use our Monitor Wind Vane to steer about one of the days; it likes close hauled in 12+ knot winds. Currently we are using Tillie, our tiller pilot, mounted to the steering wheel as Millie, our Raymarine autopilot, quit working this morning. We passed through a weather front this morning and the winds went from SE 14 to NE 4 and are now motoring NE in confused choppy seas. The morning weather grib files show we will now have light NE winds for the next 2-3 days. This is confirmed by the Nadi fleet code, a weatherfax summary for the Pacific islands. It looks like motoring the rest of the way, about 200 miles. Our choice would be to take the sails down and sit out here the two to three days and see what comes, not appealing to us. We would tack, but Pincoya requires 12 knots+ to sail and less than 5 is what we have right now. We did catch a mahi mahi which made a delicious dinner on Fri, and sashimi lunch yesterday (and today). It is always an adventure to fillet and prepare a fish on the floor of the cockpit in rolly seas. Our first 2 days were primarily fine weather but squally conditions started yesterday and are continuing today. At least some of the salt has been rinsed off Pincoya. We are fortunate to have had such an easy start to this 540 mile trip, which puts us that much closer to Mexico. It is sort of an advance preparation experience as this will be the direction of sailing for the first part of our trip to Mexico. More repairs to do in Nuka Hiva. I had to work on the Dutchman reefing as the shackle to the tailing lift let go and had to be replaced. More fun repairs on a rolly boat at sea at daybreak, 5 am! We're happy to report all is well with us and so far no water leaks coming in the boat!

Ou Pou then Nuka Hiva The winds blew us to Ou Pou where we anchored but were unable to go to shore due to large surf there. It was nice to have a 2 day break, get the Dutchman worked on, etc. We were then able to make the 20 mile trip N to Nuka Hiva with more favorable winds. We went to Daniels Bay first for about 5 days. Hiked up to the cascade, and traded mahi to some villagers there for pamplemouse and bananas. It was time to get over to Tiaohea and start preparing for our big jump back to the northern hemisphere. We motored over the 4 miles and anchored. However it was so rolly that we had to move and put out our stern anchor to hold us into the swells, which worked fairly well. We found Brice tattoo who had done our first tattoes 3 years ago and arranged to have another for each of us. Again, he did wonderful work of Marquesan art. And his mother gave us a sack of citrons to make limeade plus breadfruit and bananas. Plus they have the cutest baby goat Mata. Many trips to the store and lots of cookies, milk later, we were ready and went to the gendarmerie to check out on the last day of our visa. They were very relaxed about the whole thing and didn't hastle us when we didn't leave for another day. We then snuck up to Anaho Bay on the ne corner of the isle, where we stayed for another 10 days, for the most part by ourselves. This is a very beautiful and delightful bay, calm, nice breezes, stunning scenery. We were delaying actual departure to avoid weather and give the northern hemisphere cyclone season more time to wind down. We did a nice hike over to the village in a neighboring valley and had our last ice cream for a long time. And hiked over to another valley with a farmer who sold us more pamplemouse, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course, more bananas. Did I mention that ripe bananas with citron make a great daiquiri?! Finally, our weather router Bob McDavitt approved an Oct 8 departure and the last 2 days were spent in a whirlwind of activity which included diving under the boat and removing barnacles and moss from underneath the water and waterline, food preparation, relocating the bed, storing and tying everything down, and being nervous! We got off on Oct 8 at midday, motored the first hour, then set the sails for close hauled in 15 knots E wind and 6 foot seas. Oh Oh, time to get our sea legs back; we are now on the Pincoya weight reduction plan! Hope the Stugeron works.

Nuka Hiva: One Step Closer to Mexico!
Gene and Gloria
09/01/2013, The Deep Blue Sea

Nuka Hiva: One Step Closer to Mexico We departed Apataki Atoll Fri Aug. 30 at noon in sunny weather with light winds from the SE. Until today, day 3, we have been able to go NE, E of the Rhumb line from Apataki to Nuka Hiva and on day 3, we are about 70 miles E of the Rhumb line. With prevailing easterlies we felt it important to get as much easting done as possible early on. We have been able to use our Monitor Wind Vane to steer about one of the days; it likes close hauled in 12+ knot winds. Currently we are using Tillie, our tiller pilot, mounted to the steering wheel as Millie, our Raymarine autopilot, quit working this morning. We passed through a weather front this morning and the winds went from SE 14 to NE 4 and are now motoring NE in confused choppy seas. The morning weather grib files show we will now have light NE winds for the next 2-3 days. This is confirmed by the Nadi fleet code, a weatherfax summary for the Pacific islands. It looks like motoring the rest of the way, about 200 miles. Our choice would be to take the sails down and sit out here the two to three days and see what comes, not appealing to us. We would tack, but Pincoya requires 12 knots+ to sail and less than 5 is what we have right now. We did catch a mahi mahi which made a delicious dinner on Fri, and sashimi lunch yesterday (and today). It is always an adventure to fillet and prepare a fish on the floor of the cockpit in rolly seas. Our first 2 days were primarily fine weather but squally conditions started yesterday and are continuing today. At least some of the salt has been rinsed off Pincoya. We are fortunate to have had such an easy start to this 540 mile trip, which puts us that much closer to Mexico. It is sort of an advance preparation experience as this will be the direction of sailing for the first part of our trip to Mexico. More repairs to do in Nuka Hiva. I had to work on the Dutchman reefing as the shackle to the tailing lift let go and had to be replaced. More fun repairs on a rolly boat at sea at daybreak, 5 am! We're happy to report all is well with us and so far no water leaks coming in the boat!

Apataki - Last Stop in the Tuamotus
Gene and Gloria
08/27/2013, Taou

After a quite rolly 4 hour downwind trip with the jib in 20 knots +, we arrived at the SW Pakaka passé at 1pm thinking it would be slack tide. After watching a freighter exit the passé, we entered. At first it was deep and wide and we're thinking piece of cake. After the commercial wharf, the channel split, became narrow, and made a right turn over a lip of coral which looked like a side slipping rapid. Crunch time, Gloria put the hammer down and I gave her directions from up front. Have I said lately how nice those radio headphones Cindy got for us are? Even over wind and wave noise they work well, and were great here also. We crept over the lip of coral against maybe 5 knot current and gradually broke free. Whew! Safe in the lagoon again; except we still had to go about 5 miles directly into the wind to get to the protected SE motu, Rua Vahine. Eventually we get there, get the hook down, and relax in the nice sunshine with temperature in the mid 80's. By now it is near 4 pm, Wine O'Clock! Dinner is the parrot fish. The next day, we have no sign of ciguatera and go into the motu for a look. The previous day, we did see someone there, but saw them leave early am guessing they were going the 6 miles to the village for church. It was Sunday. There was a nice looking house that appeared to be newly constructed with nice solar power system, plus satellite dish. Someone has their perfect south pacific island hideaway. 30 minutes sees us all the way around the small motu, so back to the boat for the snorkel gear. We take the dinghy to the top of a bommie field around the island, and fall in. Even though the wind is blowing quite strong, we are able to slow down our snorkel by hooking the dinghy painter onto coral outcrops as we swim around. We have a very nice snorkel although not quite so clear water. There were many large cone shells but all had someone home, small crabs, and we saw many fish. After returning to the boat,, we decided to move Pincoya NE up the reef in search of new snorkel grounds for tomorrow. As we moved up the Atoll, about 5 miles up and anchor just off the reef in 35 feet, sand bottom. It is still blowing 20 so I was nervous all night and checked several times but we stayed put and all was well. We had spotted a large bommie about a mile back we wanted to snorkel, so in the dinghy we go with extra gas and our gear. It is pretty choppy but we anchored the dinghy and it turned out to be a lovely snorkel, one of our best ever. Once again we were rewarded for searching out wild and remote spots nobody goes to! We started at the E end where there were large numbers of fish, and were about 5 feet above a coral cave when out come 3 large white tip sharks; pretty exciting for us as we hang onto a bommie watching them come out just a few feet beneath us.. The same spot also had a large grouper-coral trout nearly a meter long that continually was watching us. As we swim W on the windward side we see a leopard ray (we think) checking us out. We were swimming along a coral cliff about 30 feet high in very clear water, along side many beautiful coral heads and entrances to the bommie lagoon in the center, which was about 5 feet deep, sand and coral. We had a long way to go so kept swimming while watching fish and at the W end there was another major fish bowl with a large school of yellow snapper like fish. Various fish accompanied us for our swim, especially some large parrot fish. Occasionally a pretty jack would swim by a check us out along with the odd black or white tip shark. We swim around the coral garden on the back side, but we now are getting cold and it is back to the dinghy to sunshine and the long ride back to Pincoya against the wind. Back, after nice warm showers, we reflect on how lucky we have been to have such nice snorkels as we make our last ever tour through the Tuamotus. We move the boat up to what the guide book says was Assam's pearl farm where fresh veggies and eggs might be available. Approaching, we see many masts behind the trees and were wondering what was what; then we see a boat ramp also. We have found the new Apataki Carrenage! Amazing, a boat haul out located in the middle of the Tuamotus. We go ashore and walk around but nobody speaks English and were told to come back later to talk to Pauline. There were several large catamarans and about 8 monohulls on stands with a hydraulic trailer standing on the boat ramp. Later that afternoon, Pauline tells us that the pearl farm and gardens have been discontinued. They were now a carrenage and just opened a pension for foreign guests. The weight limit for their trailer was 16 tons, which leaves us out as we estimate Pincoya at about 17 tons. We headed back to the boat for a delicious parrot fish fillet dinner, and a smooooth night. Again, we have not had tingling of the hands or itchiness, early symptoms of ciguatera. With 22 days left on our visas, it is time to be thinking of getting to Nuka Hiva, prepare for the BIG jump ahead, and check out by Sept 22. We spend about an hour pulling down grib weather forcasts and determined a possible weather window in 2 days. So we move Pincoya up the reef several miles to a nice sand anchorage spot about 25 feet deep with no coral and start preparations for this 500+ mile jump to Nuka Hiva. Off come the dorade vents, on go the caps AND tape up the vent holes, along with taping the solar vents. Gloria is making trip food and homemade English muffins while I get the boat ready, as we prepare to leave Apataki and the Tuamotos; a nostalgic momentÂ...Â...Â..... Tomorrow, August 29th we leave for Nuka Hiva.

Anse Amyot, Toau
Gene and Gloria
08/27/2013, Taou

After a rough exit out of Otugi, we had a pleasant 20 mile sail to Anse Amyot. This is a small isolated lagoon located on the northwest side of the Atoll. It is a false pass as it does not open into the lagoon, but into a small basin. We were surprised to find four other boats there. First we anchored and went to shore to meet the locals Gaston and Valentine. Because the supply ship was coming in that night, we moved to a mooring ball that they provided. The supply ship only comes once every two weeks. It brings petrol for the generator and outboard motors. This time they had a pallet of cement delivered. The freighter has a store that carries supplies of flour, sugar, potatoes, onions and etc. that they can purchase. The freighter also carries a launch that carries the supplies to shore to be unloaded. It was a pleasure meeting Gaston and Valentine. She spoke reasonable English offering a breadfruit that Gaston cooked in a fire on a lengthwise cut 55 gallon drum barrel fueled by coconut husk. Returning to Pincoya, we managed to eat the breadfruit for dinner with fish and finished it for breakfast the next day along with some eggs. The next day, we headed in again. This time Valentine offered us lobster at $10 each. Again Gaston cooked the lobster in a pot using the same grill has the day before. With two cooked lobsters in hand, we went back to our boat for a great, much appreciated, but very messy lunch. With pearl season at and end, we were still looking for a few pearls for friends. Valentine gave us a bag of pearls which we looked at. While not great quality, we did manage to find a suitable handful. We had mentioned we had a spear gun for trade. In the end, we traded the old spear gun for some pearls, the lobsters and mooring ball rental. While we were here and to our surprise, 6 more boats arrived. It was truly an international gathering, 3 from USA, 2 from South African, 1 from Poland, 1 from Germany, 1 from Britain, 1 from France,1 from Italy, 1 from Switzerland with Australian wife who just had a baby in Nuka Hiva a month ago. Gaston and Valentine hosted social hour with sundowners one night and a potluck with barbecue the next night. A very delightful time, as we have been by ourselves for quite some time and will be for quite sometime, probably until we get to Mexico. We did have the privilege to go on Gordon and Liz boat named Privilege which was a 75 foot catamaran costing $5 million plus commission. They had a crew of four including a captain and a chef. It was the first time we were served drinks by a stewardess on a boat. In the morning, we went in to say good bye to Gaston and Valentine and buy 1 kilo of Parrot Fish for $12. Gaston takes his motor launch, heads to the fish cages by the reef, back again with in minutes with close to 20 live parrot fish. Within minutes, he has gutted the fish while standing in the water, throwing the guts to the sharks that were swimming at his feet. Then he chopped the heads and tails, and filleted them. The whole process took less than an hour. We were told that the Parrot fish did not have ciquatera, a poison that enters reef fish through the coral. It is especially important that one is careful to only eat the fillets and not the heads, tail or spines. Back to the boat with fish in hand, we departed for Apataki.

Toau - Snorkeling our way through the Tuomotus
Gene and Gloria
08/27/2013, Taou

Morning arrived with nice sunshine. We could see sailboats anchored inside the lagoon, and a dive boat in the passé. After spending half the night outside, we lined up, went in Otugi Passe with a fast an incoming tide making Pincoya cruise along at 8 to 9 knots through the pass. With a lefting pr turn, we went to an anchor spot a couple miles down, sand and coral. We had an unfortunate experience here. I had forgotten to bring in the fishing hand line with 300 lb test mono. As we backed up while anchoring, this wrapped the propeller shaft and could have caused serious problems. It seemed eventually the line cutter on the shaft (shaft shark) did its job cutting the line. I got to go down and unwrap the line, which has not caused problems so far. We'll remain optimistic about this, but nor more fishing in the passes! We pretty much spent that day resting. The next morning went ashore to explore. There were a couple of abandoned shacks visible and lots of coconut trees. The motu was about .25 miles wide and we walked across for a view of the reef. Views of reefs with waves crashing are always quite dramatic, but less so since the winds and waves were light. Walking back, we noticed the coconut trees were all in rows and had been obviously planted many years ago. Our guide book mentioned there was a cistern with water which would allow us to do laundry easily. We looked for it where we were with no result. Moving the dinghy a short ways down the beach by another structure, we were able to find the cistern with a water faucet that worked. Back to the boat, we picked up our plastic and paper trash, and burned it all on the beach, followed by a lazy afternoon. With water available, it was laundry day and back to shore we went. The cistern worked well, we got a couple of loads washed and rinsed, and our jugs filled with what appeared to be very clean water, but not for drinking. We put a few drops of bleach in it despite appearances. Back at the boat, laundry hung on the jib sheet and safety lines. We looked like a "Chinese" laundry with everything hanging out! It was nice to have clean bed sheets dried in the fresh sea breeze.

It was time to go snorkeling. The small local coral heads close to shore didn't look to promising, so we decided to go out to bommies in the lagoon, about a mile away. This was a pretty long dinghy ride, but fortunately the wind was still light. We got to see nice many nice coral and many beautiful fish. The fish were large and unafraid and we could approach quite close. Of course, there are always your friendly local sharks. We were in the water an hour (in our wetsuits and thought it was a great snorkel and returning to the boat, decided to do the same tomorrow to a different bommie, which we did and another great snorkel. The next, we moved the boat to snorkel the small pass just N of the main one. We anchored in sand and coral just between the two passes in very clear water. The passé current was incoming, so we got in the dinghy with our snorkel gear and motored out the pass; difficult because of the strong current. Splashing in the water and holding the dinghy, we floated in the pass seeing several large sharks and other fish. The current was very fast and you could see that it kept the bottom swept clean with little coral and not too many fish. We decided to move over to the point just inside the passé between the passes and entered a beautiful coral garden. From the small passé to the main passé, we were able to swim slowly through lots of lovely coral with many large fish, including some very large blue and pink parrot fish. We usually assume when we see many large fish that they are not safe to eat due to ciguatera, catching and eating only pelagic fish from outside the reef. This toxic disease certainly protects the reef fish who are only carriers of it and don't suffer from it at all, unlike humans. We weren't comfortable staying anchored there for the night, so we carefully raised the anchor up dancing between the coral heads and motored 3.5 miles N to an abandoned village; now only a couple old huts and a non functioning cistern. A walk around showed us not much to see so we decided to go check out some coral heads we had seen on our way there. Once again, it was another long dingy ride to the snorkel. While it was not a fantastic snorkel, it was still quite pleasant. It seems like everytime we snorkel, we do see a different type and color of fish. It was time to continue on so we headed back to passé Otugi with plans the next day go out and sail up to Anse Amyot at the N end of the atoll. Anchoring again trying to miss the coral heads, we settled in for a relaxing evening. Except that Gene decided to try his hand at night lobster hunting on the reef at the 11 pm low tide. With his 5-10 reef shoes, wet suit socks, and wetsuit and then with bucket, torch, and spear, he went to shore. He could see pretty well with the full moon and walked carefully through the foot deep water to the outer reef. It is quite adventurous walking along a barrier reef with waves crashing in; sometimes you are knee, even thigh deep when a big wave. In short, he made a long walk seeing only one small lobster which got away, and a couple of sharks which he scared off. Returning safely an hour later to the dinghy and Pincoya, he has a new appreciation for the price of lobster! Next morning, we departed on an outgoing tide. As we raised the anchor, we could not see the passé and did not expect much, but as we cleared the point we could see large overfall breaking waves and churning currents. We quickly battened down all the hatches and secured things, and Gloria happily gave Gene the steering wheel. The lagoon looked to be 1-2 feet higher than the ocean and we quickly picked up speed to 8.9 knots. Hitting the first wave, our bow pointed to the sky, then dropped steeply down into the first breaking wave. Water flew completely over the boat which nearly stopped Pincoya. Gene put the hammer down increasing rpms to 3500 trying to keep the boat straight as we continued on through several more similar waves. Currents were churning every which way making steering difficult. This went on for half a mile, but gradually we broke free and were able to start motorsailing toward our destination. Once again, we learn the lesson of over confidence and watching the tide times more carefully for a more slack tide!

Kauehi - Yellow Fin Tuna
Gene and Gloria
08/27/2013, Kauehi

We made it ok to the passé at Kauehi, Arikitamiro. It was nice that it was an easy entry with a big bonus, a nice yellow fin tuna that struck just as we were entering. We dragged it through the passé and brought it in. The fish had quite an exciting trip with lots of skin cuts from probable shark attempts to eat it on the way! It was nice to have sashimi again. We sailed NE to the village; they called it Kauehi City, with perhaps 100 residents. We walked around admiring a couple old coral block buildings, the church and mairie (town hall). Language was a barrier here. We started walking towards the airport, but after a couple km, turned back as it looked to be quite a long way. The wind was blowing 20 knots from the SE, so we stayed in the protected bay. Later, we motored 6 miles S to the motu Mahuehue into the wind. It was very pretty here and spent a couple days snorkeling coral heads. The breeze had died to almost calm so we weren't going anyplace. Two days later, it picked up to 10 knots from the E and we planned a night passage to Toau 30 miles W. But first, in the morning we moved and anchored near the pass. We then got in the dinghy and snorkeled the passé which was very good and spent about 2 hours there. There were lots of large fish, a few large grey sharks, and beautiful coral. We made two passes through; the tide changed; and it was exciting getting the dinghy back to the boat! With the tide change, we departed about 4 pm with the jib poled out and were going 5 knots, faster than we planned. A downwind passage, it was quite rolly. We got to forereach from 2 am to 7 am outside passé Otugi at Toau, which was at least more comfortable. A freighter went by; lights passing in the night. Once again, our passage is timed arriving at the Atolls with incoming tides and departing with outgoing tides.

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