Tonga to Fiji to New Zealand
27 June 2012 | South Pacific
Blog Tonga to Fiji to NZ
Well, finally I'm going to give a brief update. I'm so far behind now that I'll have to give a short breakdown of what's happened since we left Tonga on Sept. 26, 2011.
We left Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga on Sept 26, 2011 at 12:10 PM heading to Suva, Fiji. We passed the time line at 180 perall which puts us 24 hours ahead. We lost a whole day somewhere:>)!! Actually it jumped ahead so it's really confusing. It took us 3 days to get to Suva and, it wasn't a bad trip, but we had to pin a stabilizer fin on the port side as it was banging and clanking with a pentensiometer problem. We had parts sent to Carolyn & Steve who were coming into Fiji on October 8th so we could, (hopefully) solve the problem before traveling on to New Zealand. Therefore, it was a little more rolly than we would have liked. But it wasn't too bad. The reefs through the passages had us a little worried, especially at night. We'd gotten charts which were fairly accurate, and reef waypoints that were not listed on the charts from other cruisers who'd done this passage previously. Our Northstar 6000i with it's Navionics charts have proven to be almost dead on for most all of the South Pacific and the Islands with their reefs, thank goodness. Our passage took us thru Lakimbra Pass, which was not recommended on the cruising guides to travel at night ( which we wound up doing at 3:AM:>) we had as the reefs weren't lit with navigation lights. But with the information that we had, we felt safe enough to go this route. We had some strange weather with lightning all around us the night before we got into Suva. It was pitch black and we heard no thunder although it looked as if the lightning was very close to us. It's always a worry with lightning and electronics on a boat. But we made it through with no hits or even any close by.
We got to Suva, Fiji at 12:30 PM on the 29th of September. So it took us 3 days to go from Tonga to Fiji. It wasn't a bad trip and we averaged 6.3 kts. We anchored out in front of the Suva Royal Yacht Club and had to wait until the following day to get checked in. We weren't allowed to get off of Storm Haven until the quarantine folks came out to check us in and make sure Bootsie was all healty. We had to put up a $1,500.00 (Fijian) bond for her which was returnable when we left Fiji. When we finally got to go on land, we went to the dingy landing at the SRYC from where we walked into the town of Suva. Our first impression of Suva wasn't very good. The South end of the town is really dirty and the people weren't as friendly as we'd experienced at other places. But as we walked on into the main part of town, we saw another view of Suva. The North end is beautiful with parks and museums and a lot of historical sites. The President lives in his palace at this end and his home can be seen from the main road. It's beautiful , and although we didn't get to see it up close, looked very exquisite. We toured the local Museum and it was very interesting. As we were walking back towards home, we passed a large grassy park with the Fijian Military practicing for their annual parade to celebrate Fijis' independence from Britain. At this point, I can't remember how long ago it was, but it seems like somewhere around the 1970s that they declared Independence. Anyway, it was very striking to watch them practice marching all in straight lines with straight knees and hundreds all seeming to act in unison with each other. It was at the field where the first trans-Pacific flight in a mono-hull plane landed to refuel called the Southern Cross with Pilot C.Kingsford Smith Co-Pilot C.T. P. Ulm on June 5, 1928. The local men had to clear out a hugh area of trees and brush in order for the plane to land. So it is now a hugh park. We didn't see the parade as we had to leave to go towards Denaru. But the practice was awsome! There's a old hotel there that President JFK and Jackie Kennedy and Prince Charles and Lady Diana stayed at. The story we were told was that as soon as JFK and Jackie Kennedy got back he was shot and killed and as soon as Prince Charles and Lady Diana got back home from their stay there they were divorced. Not a good track record, I'd Say. But it has been closed for the last 20 years and is currently being remodeled and upscaled while keeping the original building as original as possible and adding an additional wing on each side. We couldn't go in as it was a "work in process" but we found it very interesting.
Our friends, Caroline & Steve of sv "MutineerV", flew into Nadi, Fiji on October 8, 2011 to stay with us and cruise with us to New Zealand. They met us at the Marina in Denauru after taking a cab from the airport at Nadi to Denaru Marina. We were so excited to see them. We played around Denauru, which is a very touristy place with all the big resorts are located there. The area around the Marina has a lot of shopping centers etc. and so we just walked about and enjoyed the area the first day. The next day we went into the little town of Nadi by cab whom we had told to just drop us off on the main street. But he insisted on taking us to a local curio shop that had the usual handmade items in wood, ect., with bangels & beaded handwork and normal curio shop items. But they made a very big deal about giving us a cup of Kava and doing a welcome ceremony. They had us all sit around a bowl of kava and dipped a coconut shell cup out full of kava to each of us one at a time. We were then required to clap our hands and chant their welcoming chants and end with saying "BULA BULA" and chug the kava down. YUKKKKK! It looked like muddy water from a dirty river and tasted very similar!!! Steve, especially, said he didn't want seconds and that that was a two in one (first & Last) for him!! But it was awful stuff. The experience was great though and even though it was awful, I think we're all glad we at least tried it. It makes your lips and tongue numb!! We all worried about if they'd washed the one coconut cup from the previous people or not. We all survived without getting anything noticeable at least!
We stayed and played around Denuaru for about a week and then decided to head out to the Yasawa Island, which is part of Fiji. The custom here is to take bunches of whole kava roots for each chief of the different towns and islands we visit to get permission to anchor out and go into their villages. So, before we left we went into the town of Latokas' open air produce market and bought several bunches of kava root. Then we headed out towards a place just southwest of Denauru called Musket Cove. It is a big spot for cruisers to anchor down away from the main town and we even joined their "yacht club" at $5/a person. So we are now official "Musket Cove" Yacht Club Members:>) Then we headed on out to another Fijian Island called Waya, Nauauwaki. We stayed there for a couple of days and went into the little village and were met by a group of women sitting out on the beach under a tree weaving coconut leaves into mats, etc. A young girl of 21 met us as we came up to the beach in our dingy and asked if we'd like a tour? Of course we were absolutely delighted! Her name was Sharon and she was so sweet. She took us to the local primary school which was Kindergarten through 8th grade. Though they are so very poor, the kids and the teachers and principal were so nice and excited to see us. The principal was at his desk (a kids school desk:>)outside of the school building doing his business. The teachers all stopped their lessons and let us interrupt their class lessons so we could talk to the kids and they could ask us questions. Of course they all wanted to know where we're from and what we were doing. They were so excited and their excitement certainly gave all four of us something to smile about for days! As most all Fijians are black, they were absolutely fascinated with wonder about what we thought of President Obama. I think they were disappointed when we said we were none too happy with him.
We asked if we should go back to the boat to get the kava to take to the Chief. But, for some strange reason, none of the women thought that was a great idea. They told us they would just wait there on the beach and we could bring it to them and we'd all have kava with them. We had the impression they weren't too fond of the chief but didn't ask any questions. Of course we decided it probably wouldn't be in our best interest to drink the kava with the women on the beach and not ask permission of the chief. Therefore we stayed on the boat and we hoped we wouldn't get into trouble for anchoring out and not going through the proper protocol with the kava and the Chief. As we didn't hear anything, we squeaked by that one!
We then went to another Island next to Waya called SoSo Bay. A big cruise ship was in when we got there and we anchored a ways off. The next day Caroline & I went kayaking about and the boys did boat stuff on Storm Haven. I love the kayak but don't use it nearly as much as I'd like. It's kind of hard to get up and down and I have to have Don help me. He's usually doing something else and I hate to ask him. But I hope to use it a lot now that we're at Vanuatu for a few months. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After checking the sailmail email we found that our "Weather Guru", Bob McDavitt had written saying we had a window to cross to New Zealand in and to not "Dilly Dally". Problem --- In order to get our $1,500 bond on Bootsie back we had to give the Fijian Quarantine 3 days notice as they had to send a check to Latoka, where we had to check out to head for New Zealand . Being that it was Thursday when we got the email, they couldn't get a check for us (we had to give them cash, but we had to cash their check --- trials of travels:>) until the next Tuesday. By the time we finally got back to Denauru and got checked out of Latoka and cashed the check, it was Wednesday before we could leave. Of course this put us about a 24 hours behind the weather window we were given. Now the trip to New Zealand, no matter where you come across from, is known for being rough and ready! This trip was no exception. Carolyn & I fixed some "crossing" food so we wouldn't have to cook so much in rough waters, thank goodness. When we left Fiji on October 25, 2011, we hit rough waters almost from the start. We had 35 kts of wind, mostly on the nose, which is a very uncomfortable ride. The seas were anywhere from 6' to 17-18' waves and close together. Our stabilizers were still not working properly even with the new part, and Don had to keep the port side (left) pinned back so it wasn't working. The other helped a lot, but not nearly as well as it would have if both had been working. Although in those waters, it was just going to be rough, no matter how well the stabilizers were working. The angle that works best for our Stabilizers is from a quartering angle slightly to the bow (front) of the boat. This was on our nose or , later, broad beam, which makes a very rough ride. We took one wave that went over the top of Storm Haven and took her to approximately a 45 degree angle. Carolyn was in the Salon reading on the sofa and Steve was sitting in one of the chairs across from her. Tiny little Carolyn went flying through the air like a rocket. Thank goodness Steve caught her before she hit the other side of the wall!!! After that, Don turned to get a better angle of the waves hitting us and we tacked back & forth for most of the rest of the way to New Zealand. It took us a little over 6 days to get to Marsden Cove, New Zealand. We were all soooo glad to get into a marina and stopped!
I'll quit for now and go into the New Zealand portion next.
Thanks again for reading about our adventures:>)
Paulie, Don & Bootsie (A whole 'nother story with Bootsie and quarantine and NZ:>)
Next update Fiji to New Zealand
Part 2 Tonga
19 September 2011 | Neiafu, Kingdom of Tonga
Paulie/drizzely and cool
Aug. 12, 2011
After the kids flew out to go back home on the 10th of August, we got some food supplies and left Rarotonga on 8/12/11 planning on heading to a little Island out in the middle of no -where called Neiu. It's a beautiful place, from what we had been hearing from the other cruisers and also read about in our cruising guides. But it only has one place to go into and tie up to a mooring ball. When the winds come out of the North or NorthWest, it gets way lumpy and un-comfortable to be in there. As it happened, that was exactly the way the winds were blowing when we got there. So we decided to bypass Nuie and just go on to Vava'u, Tonga. It took us 5 1/2 days to get to Vava'u and we got there right at dark in rainy, stormy weather. Because we had never gone into Vava'u, and because we never go into a new place, especially with all the reefs that are around Tonga, at dusk or nighttime, we cruised up and down outside Vava'u all night. It's a cruiser thing and most all the cruisers say the same thing. If you've been into a new place and have a known route with waypoints it's an entirely different story, although even then in the dark it's spooky not to be able to see. Radar is great and shows the land masses even in the dark. But the reefs sometimes only have water splashing over them and don't always show up on the radar. If you hit one of those reefs --- bad news for boats!!! So we tracked back & forth in deep waters all night again until daylight. Boy, that makes a long night. When you're crossing deep waters, it's not so bad as you know you're not going to hit anything that's not charted. The course has been tested by previous passagemakers and so you know you can relax. But being closer to a land mass is a different situation and you have to be on the alert at all times for not only un-suspected rocks & reefs, but also for any other traffic either coming out of the Harbor or cruising just as we were doing. So we were pretty glad to get into the Harbor finally the next morning. The International time line actually doesn't start until Fiji. But Tonga goes by Fiji Time and so we are now 21 hours ahead of our Arizona time. A full day, almost! That kind of threw us off as Don said "we cruised all night and lost a whole day"!!
The Tonga Customs officers, the immigration folks and the Port health guy all came to us on the local Wharf where we tied up to (big black tires to fend the big boats off again -- Black marks on Storm Haven;>( ) So that was nice as we didn't have to chase all over to find them. They were all so nice and we enjoyed meeting them all. One of them, the Port Health guy named "Pino" ask us along with several other cruisers that came in around that time, to come to a HIVA (a singing event) at the Big Catholic Church that following Sunday evening. We went and it was beautiful! about 15 groups or more each sang different songs in Maori. Though none of us could understand what they were singing, the harmony was fantastic. They use absolutely no instruments and just their natural voices were awsome! It was so nice of him to ask us and we all really enjoyed it.
Tonga, or at least Neifu, Vava'u, is a really poor town. The streets need a lot of repair and a lot of the buildings are pretty run down. But each person has an allotment for 8 acres of land which has been handed down to the first born son or daughter (her husband) for generations and generations. They grow Taro, bananas, tapioca, papayas, pineapples and fresh vegetables. There's a fruit and vegetable market at the wharf where everyday except Sunday they sell their fruits, vegetables and handicraft items. Although Tonga is advertised in all of our cruising guides as being a lot less expensive that the French Polynesians, again as in Rartonga, we haven't found it to be that much less. It's approximately $1.65 to our US $1. and everything is way up in price. A very small pineapple is $10 each and goes to $8, $6 and $4 Tongan Pa'anga as they get smaller. But they're very sweet and tasty. So we have bought several during our stay so far! But, again the government taxes the heck out of the people and they have to pay as much for their foods and products as we "tourist" or cruisers do. They depend on the local tourist season to subsidize their income and it's only about 2 months out of the year as far as the cruisers are concerned, at least. But we've come to really like it here the longer we stay.
We decided to find a tour guide and so asked a local Taxi Driver if he knew of a tour guide. What a perfect person to ask! His name is Matthew and he told us he would love to take us on a tour! He has a Toyota Van which is kind of "used" but runs. You kind of have to KNOW he's a taxi driver although after looking close he has a sign in the window saying "Taxi" and, if we'd known" the license plates for a taxi all start with a "T". Anyway, he gave us a great tour of Vava'u, or at least as much as you can see from a car. The Islands that surround here can only be reached by boat. After the tour he invited us to his home the next Sunday to have dinner with his family. They have a "Umu" cookout every Sunday for their family and they cook Taro, Packages of 3 different kinds of meats (beef, chicken and pork) each individually wrapped in taro leaves which tasted like spinach and wrapped in tin foil. Then bread fruits and tapioca and taro root which were also all cooked in the Umu. Also a wonderful potatoe salad with shredded chicken meat. It was all wonderful! It's a tradition the Tongan people and they do it every Sunday and it cooks until they get home from Church. Matthew has 6 children, 2 of which are grown and gone. The other four are still at home, although his oldest daughter still does live with them. She went to school to be a chef but the local economy is so bad she hasn't had luck getting a permanent job. But she put a very nice presentation on our table and we really enjoyed our visit. Don and I were given a package of each type of meat just for us. The rest of the family ate from another package. Then at the end of the meal, they insisted we take the leftovers home with us!! We couldn't have asked for a more gracious people or home to be invited to.
Just by luck we happened to come to Vava'u in time for the Sailing Regatta and Fiesta they held September 7th through September 13th. The first day was what they called the "Port Opua's(a sponser from one of the Marinas in New Zealand) Trillion Dollar Pub Crawl". We were all to dress in costumes and start at one end of the little town at the Vava'u club pub and work our way through town. Some of the folks were dressed hilariously! A bunch of the men were dressed as women or fairies which worked out perfectly as we ended up at a bar that has Transvestite dancing every Wednesday night, which was the night we were there. It was a riot -- although some of those transvestite Dressers were wild and some were so --- convincing? ! They go all out, boy! Anyway, it was all in fun and we had a wonderful time. The next day was the "TRIDEGAGON-ATHLON" which, though hard to pronounce, was just 13 or 14 different silly games we all participated in. We were all broken up into 6 groups of 8 each with spouses and partners all in different groups. Each team had to make up a silly name for their team and some of them were a riot! Not a good place to mention some of the names ;) and a pie eating contest to name a few. We all had a ball! Paulie's team won the contest as her team mate was the champion of the pie eating contest which gave the most total points overall. Friday was a sailing race to another anchorage. Since not many Motor Boats cross the ocean, (although we know of 6 or 7 this year alone -- all Nordhavns:>) they didn't have a catagory for us. Anyway, they had a BBQ and dance out on the beach where they sailed to the next evening calling it "The Full Moon Party". It was raining really hard and though we didn't have Storm Haven out there, we got a taxi (our friend, Matthew) to take us over there. Adam & Eve from "Eden" went with us in the Taxi as they didn't want to take Eden over either. Although the anchorage is large, it has a big drop off from the shore and we thought since we weren't racing in the event anyway, we might as well stay tied up to the Mooring ball we were at. It was fun and even though it rained most all of the time we were at the beach party, they had a DJ and a firedancer (we missed the main dancer:>() We wound up the Regatta Tuesday evening with a Buffet at the local Mango Restaurant or also known as the Port of Refuge yacht Club.
There is also a Nordhavn 47' who came in (Tues. the 8th) here (we're a 46') with a young couple aboard named Adam & Eve and the boats' name is "Eden". Isn't that too cute?! We loved them as they were about our kids ages and, although it made us miss our family at home, they are a lot of fun to be with and talk to.
It rained like crazy Saturday all day and night and we caught water in our water tanks enough to fill them up completely! As good as the watermaker water is, rain water is so much fresher and taste so good! Although it's rained or rather spit since then, we haven't had a good rain again. So, since we won't make water in this Harbor as it doesn't have an outlet to the open water, we are in dire need of water and I need to do laundry. It's very expensive to take laundry here for someone to do it or to even use their washers and dryers! So we are heading out to some other anchorages around Vava'u tomorrow to make water and do our laundry We want to go out on a whale watch where you snorkel with the whales and their calves. We talked to Adam & Eve from Eden who did that for their 2nd anniversary last Thursday (so young!!!) and showed us great closeup pictures of the whales. Also, last night we went to the Aquarium restaurant for dinner and they happened to be showing pictures of the whales presented by a group studying them here at Tonga. It was facinating. If we go, I'll update with pictures, I hope.
We'll stay around Vava'u for another 1-2 weeks and then head on to Fiji where our friends from S/V "MutineerV" are flying into meet us and, after playing around Fiji a while, going with us to New Zealand probably leaving the end of October to the Middle of November. We keep hearing what a hard trip that usually is, weather wise. Usually they say there are about 5 days of good weather and then 2 or more pretty rough weather. So for that portion of our travels, we will be getting a local "Weather Guru" named Bob McDavitt. We've already contacted him and when we get a good weather window we'll start across to New Zealand. It will take us about 7 to 8 days to cross from Fiji to New Zealand. We'll stay in New Zealand for as long as we can, although they usually only give you a 6 month Visa. We can extend that if we need boat work(always) done and if it expires during the cyclone season. We'd like to tour New Zealand, maybe even purchasing a used motorhome. They have them from a dealer that specializes in selling and buying back cars and motorhomes from cruisers. They have a good reputation with the other cruisers that have done this as being fair on prices for those of us in this situation. We'll see. New Zealand is very strict on their pet importation. So, even before we left the US, Paulie has been working getting Bootsie ready to enter their country. When we first looked into getting a cat into New Zealand, the minimum quarantine period was 31 days. Now it's been reduced to 10 days. But they have to come to the boat before we even get into a Marina and check not only our boat, but have the Quarantine folks come out to Storm Haven with a cage they lock before taking her to their Quarantine place. We've already made arrangements for her to go to a Pet Service that is approved by the MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) of NZ. It's a very expensive process and Don keeps saying we should just throw her overboard! Right! And he wouldn't do it even though he talks big. He's as attached to Ms Bootsie as much as Paulie. But that's another blog story and we'll get into that later.
Thanks for reading our blog! Sorry that this is so long. I've broken it up into 2 parts, hopefully to make it easier to read. The details won't be of much interest to some of you, I know. But this blog will be good for Don & I and our family to read some year when we are all done with this trip and can't remember what we did where. Even though all the details, I'm still not putting all of our adventures in. So much is still left to be just memories we hope we don't forget.
Photos will come soon
Part 1 Tahiti to Rarotonga, Cook Islands
19 September 2011
July 12, 2011 to Sept. 19, 2011
Finally an update to our blog! It's been over 2 months since the last post! Wow! Time passes so fast when you're having fun. So here is the update:
It's hard to write about all the stuff we've done and are doing without getting into too much detail, which I know is boring. So please bear with me if this seems to drag. We're doing so many exciting things we want to share with all of you our experiences.
After Lisa, Drew and Fiona left on the 27th, we left Papeete and went out to Moorea again just for the afternoon to wait for the timing to be right to head on towards Huahine. As I've explained before, we don't want to arrive at a new anchorage or mooring in the dark. It took us 28 1/2 hrs to get Huahine. But it was a good run with absolutely wonderful waters. When we got to Huahine we 1st thought we would stay at the little anchorage in front of the main town of Fare. But after looking at it, we decided to go on to the inner anchorage of Avea Bay. it's a nice anchorage at the end of the Island and is very pretty. We wound up staying there for 12 days. It seems like we plan to only stay at an anchorage for a few days and always wind up staying much longer than we'd planned;>) We went on a great hike up the mountainside overlooking the anchorage where Storm Haven was. It was beautiful and we took several pictures of our "baby" out at anchor, of course! Walking back, Paulie's knees really started hurting again on the downhill slope. Guess she's gonna have to give up going on hilly hikes. Getting old is the PITTS! Anyway, our friends on S/V"Yolo", Karen & Jason, came in as we were thinking about leaving and so we stayed for another couple of days. We hadn't seen them since we left Fakarava in the Tuamotus and decided to stay and play catch-up with what they've been doing. We took a dingy ride around to the other side of the Island with Karen and Jason and did some snorkeling. It's a little sad and disappointing to see all of the dead coral in the South Pacific. We hear it's getting worse all the time. The mighty Lion Fish, although beautiful, eat the coral and kill it. There's a lot of other things contributing to it, Including the Crown of Thorns starfish, but that is one of the main reasons it is dying. Anyway, we had a great time but decided we'd better head on towards Bora Bora as we were running out of time in the French Polynesians. Since we were only allowed a 3 month Visa, we were very lucky for some reason, someone down the line of paper work made an error on our exit date -- in our favor! So we got an extra month to stay there. But even so we had to be out by July the 26th.
We left Huahine on July 12th and after a 5 hour trip we anchored down again at the island of Tahaa. Tahaa is right across the bay from Raiatea. We decided to miss Raiatea and spend one night at the anchorage of Baie Haamaere in Tahaa and then get up the next morning and head to Bora Bora. Our davit was not working right and wouldn't lift and Don had to fix it at Tahaa. We would have really liked to spend some time at Raiatea and Tahaa both. But, time was running out if we wanted to get out of French Polynesia by the deadline of July 26th.
July 13 we left Tahaa at 7:35 AM to head to Bora Bora. It took us 6 hrs to arrive in Bora Bora. We first tried to find a empty mooring ball at the Bora Bora Yacht Club at the little town of Vaitape. Seeing none that looked appealing we went on around the corner to the new Mai Kai Marina. The waters are very deep to anchor in here but the new Mai Kai Marina had mooring balls available and so we snagged one of these. The new owner, Teiva, came out in his skiff to help us snag the mooring ball and we really appreciated it. Not having done this yet(at least not with Storm Haven) we weren't quite set up for it and it was very nice to have him help us. Teiva and his American wife, Jessica, actually ran the previous Bora Bora Yacht Club. Hurricane Oli in February, 2010 did such devastating damage to the Yacht Club they had to close it for major repairs. While closed and after spending a large amount of money, they ran into some legal problems from a previous owner (Guess it's not just a American thing!) and after fighting numerous lawsuits since, decided to move on around the corner to another location. They're a great couple and are so friendly. We absolutely loved our time there. They didn't have the restaurant or bar or laundry facilities open when we were there yet. But they were working on it all and it was going to be fantastic when they finished. It's really nice to run into "cruiser friendly" folks at these stops. And Both Teiva and Jessica went out of their way to make us all feel welcome. They have a 4 year old little girl and another baby due in September. What a neat little family.
Bryans'(our son-in-law,) twin brother, Adam and his wife Kristin were at Bora Bora when we got there. We tried to call them and get together. But they were on the opposite side of the Island and the buses are almost non-existant in Bora Bora. So, sadly, we never made connections. But we did get our bikes out and, along with our friends on the S/V "Lardo", MaryLee and Dennis, we went on a long bike tour all the way around the island. It was 22 miles and, believe me, this lady is way outta shape! But we made it and it was fun. Just need to get the old bikes out more often! The places we have to dock the dingy at have not been really encouraging to take the bikes to shore.
It took us about 3 1/2 days to get from Bora Bora to Rarotonga, We left Bora Bora on July 22 at 3:45 PM and got into Rarotonga July 26th at 8:30 AM. We had to "med-moor" again here in the Rarotonga Harbor, which we hate. There were only 2 boats in when we got there. But one of them we were right next to was a hugh Motor Yacht called "Zeepaard". It's 125' long and about 25' wide and is 3 decks high, including the pilot house. Storm Haven looked like a dingy next to that big baby! The harbor we were in is not a good harbor for North winds as it gets a little swelly. We had two bow anchors out and two stern ties to the dock. But the winds did get a little rough when the nw winds came in and it was kind of difficult to get on the dock from the dingy.
Although my last blog update said Donna and Bryan were flying into Bora Bora, I was wrong and should have said Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. They flew into Rarotonga on August 1st. They got a taxi to bring them to the dock which cost a easy $20 Tongan or about $17 US Dollars to get about 1/2 mile(MAYBE a 1/2 mile)! Sorry Donna & Bryan! Rarotonga was very expensive even though we'd heard they were a lot cheaper than the French Polynesians. We certainly didn't find it to be so!! Anyway, we had a great time with Donna and Bryan even though they took Donnas' Dad out on a hike and "broke" him;>) Just teasing, it wasn't their fault he fell;>). He was coming down from a great and wonderful hike up one of their many hiking trails and at the bottom (thank goodness is was down at the bottom) he slipped on a mossy rock that went out from under him, landing on his left back and hitting his ribs with a loud THUMP! Knocked the wind out of him, but he got up and rode with Donna on her motorbike they had rented back to Storm haven. They were very concerned, of course. But although he thinks he cracked a couple of ribs, he's fine now although still a little tender. It did manage to put a little damper on us going to some of the places with the kids. We wanted to dive at least once with them but that wasn't going to happen with Don's ribs for a while. The motorbikes were a great idea but it was hard to remember they drive on the LEFT side of the road. Don kept saying he didn't understand how come they all drove on the wrong side of the road and didn't think anything about it! Silly boy! Though Don nor I rented a motorbike, both Donna and Bryan did. They had to get a Cook Island drivers license and now they have a great treasure to remember their time on the Cook Islands. It has their picture and looks just like a regular drivers license from the US but says Cook Island. But they were great and the kids had a great time going all kinds of places on them. One day we went all around the Island of Rarotonga which is somewhere about 26 miles around the whole Island. We went to a "wine" tasting which was at this fellows house and was actually banana wine (not any of our favorite) and he also made banana Vodka! It's kind of rot gut, but was fun to try. We found that the opposite side of the Island is the really pretty side, of course. But there are no anchorages or places to moor on the other side. So we were locked into the Harbor. They were working on the Harbor for the big cruise ships to come in and also a couple of ferries to take folks to the other Cook Islands eventually. In the meantime, it was a really dirty Harbor with all the construction going on. Someday, when they get finished, it will be a nice place although we cruisers will still have to med-moor to the harbor wall. I don't know why they don't make it a little more "Cruiser Friendly" there. The people of Rarotonga were all very nice and pleasant. And tourism is the main source of income for the people of the Cook Islands at the present time. Maybe someday.
We were lucky to be in Rarotonga for their "Constitution Day" Festival week. Donna, Bryan and Don & I all went to one of the competition dancing and singing events which had teams from all of the Cook Islands competing against each other. It was awesome! There were booths with all kinds of food and local artist showing their crafts from not only Rarotonga, but all the Cook Islands. A parade was held the Wednesday we got there and it was a great parade! All the different Islands had floats and participants in the Parade.
Saturdays were "Market Day". We were only a short walk to the Market Place where they sold fresh fruits and vegetables the folks grew themselves. Of course they had Bread Fruit (it's EVERYWHERE;>(), but also Taro root, Papaya, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, limes, bell peppers and oh so much more! The 1st Saturday we were there, we went to the Market and it was only a few sprinkles that day. They had all kind of craft vendors with their crafts on display, of course wanting to sell them. We enjoyed it very much and came back home with all kinds of fruits and vegetables, not counting the bakery items we bought! Needless to say, neither of us have lost (we've both gained) weight on this trip! We went back to the Saturday Market with Donna and Bryan the following Saturday. But it was raining fairly hard and so there weren't the craft setups and food places that were there the previous Saturday.
As with Lisa, Drew & Fiona, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing our kids (missed our two little boys, although I know D & B had a better time without them -- though they missed them terribly;>)and hope they had as great a time as we did when they were here. Now that we've been to the South Pacific, we would know better suggestions for folks to come to. This time again, we weren't able to cruise to the other Cook Islands as they were each a couple of hundred miles apart and it wouldn't have been prudent for us to travel that much, especially when we would have had to come back up against the currents when we had to come back to Rarotonga for them to fly back home. That makes for a pretty rough ride and we try to avoid it at all costs:>)
End of Part 1 ;>))
Papeete, Tahiti/Moorea/Lisa/Andrew & Fiona
08 July 2011 | Papeete, Tahiti
June 2,2011 thru July 8, 2011
We made it to Papeete, Tahiti from Rangiroa after 32 hrs of travel. These single overnights are not my favorite travels as it takes about 3 days to get into the hang of overnights and 1 night just makes you (Paulie)really tired. After about 3 days you're finally into the swing of it and it's fairly easy from then on with your body used to the night watches. But sometimes, in order to hit new Islands and anchorages in daylight, you have to travel at night to hit to them right in the daytime. But it was a really smooth trip with calm waters and easy swells, so that was good. We were excited to get to Papeete to meet our daughter Lisa, her husband Andrew and our 2 year old granddaughter, Fiona, who were flying in to Papeete. We'd decided that a Marina would be the best place to stay with a two year old. Little did we know what we were getting to!! Much to our dismay, the Marinas here are all med-mooring which is not fun!!! You have to back into the slip, and at least at Marina Tahina where we stayed, you drop your anchor first and then a diver had to dive down and get ropes to bring up to us for our bow ties and then we had to hand the stern ropes off to the marina folks to tie us up to stern. THEN we had to have a board (yes, a regular 2x12 board plank) to walk on and off of the dock to Storm Haven. I guess that's how they all dock in the Mediterranean and Europe. But it sure wasn't our favorite way to be tied up to a Marina!!! And it was a very expensive Marina. New experiences are good for us, right? But the Marina was really nice, though, and the staff were all great folks and very helpful. It had several nice restaurants and easy walk to the store from the Marina. So, all in all it was good.
Lisa, Drew and Fiona flew in on the 12th of June and stayed with us until they flew back out of Papeete on the 27th. It was a lot of fun and we took so many photos it's hard to decide which ones to put on the blog. Before Lisa, Drew and Fiona got there, Don and I took the bus to the Market Place where they sell fresh vegetables and all kinds of stuff to look around. It has, of course, all kinds or touristy stuff too, with black pearl shops everywhere. Paulie found a black pearl set in a beautiful setting. Although the gold chain she plan to wear with it is at home, It is very pretty. Anyway, we are pretty disappointed in the City of Papeete. We can't really say it's Tahiti as a whole as we haven't been anywhere else on this Island and we hear there's a lot more to see than just Papeete. But Papeete is just a large town with lots of cars and noise and people. It was nice to have a big grocery store similar to the USA Wal-Mart, called Carrefore. It had a lot of fresh vegetables and even a lot of packaged salads from the USA. As far as Papeete itself, we were glad to get out of that town. We stayed for another 3 days in Papeete to let Lisa, Drew and Fiona look around and took them to the Market Place and found a beautiful park that Fiona got to play on. Then we motored over to another Island about 16 miles away called Moorea. It was really pretty and a lot better place to be. The kids went swimming and kayaking and one day we rented a car and took a tour around the Island, which was fun. Another days we walked to a beach ---far, far, away!!! We looked for a bus to take us as the books say they come around regularly. But we didn't find any so we kept walking thinking we would find the beach any minute. We wound up walking the whole way with Fiona being carried. Of course she only wanted Mom & Dad to carry her so they were both pooped by the time we got to the beach! But when we finally got to the beach we had lunch at a resort hotel there on the beach and she finally got to swim in shallow water and had a great time.
One of the most exciting highlights of Moorea was getting to swim with the stingrays! It was an area that the tour boats took tourist who fed the stingrays and black tip sharks at and everyone gets out in the shallow water to pet and feed the rays. We were in our dingy and had brought some frozen fish we had in the freezer to feed the rays. Don jumped out with some fish and started feeding them and they absolutely mobbed him! It was so funny. But they're so gentle and would come up and look at you with their beautiful big eyes and rub against you. Although they had a barb on their long tails, they never even acted like they wanted to use them. Their backs were soft with some barnacles on parts of them. They acted like they loved to be petted. There were probably hundreds of them and if you had food for them they came in mobs and ran over each other trying to get to the food. Don put one bite in and they bit his hand which didn't hurt except the pressure from their strong bones. They only have tiny teeth that didn't hurt. One came up to Paulie while she had her underwater camera taking pictures and tried to take a bite of it thinking it was food! They're so soft and sweet it was a totally awesome experience! The water was only about 4'-5' deep where the rays were being fed(of course deeper as you went out) and so you could walk around feeding them. Lisa and Fiona and Drew had a ball, although Fiona was a little spooked at first. Guess we all were until we got used to them. Fiona was in the water a long time with her Mommy and Daddy with them and finally got so she wasn't so scared of them. Of course we didn't attempt to feed the sharks but they were swimming all around us, not paying the least bit of attention to any of us.
After that we experienced a great time at the Cruisers "Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous". It started Friday, June 24th at Papeete and wound up in Moorea with a Polynesian dinner, dance and fun contests for all. There were several race teams of 6 man canoes with 2 Tahitians as guides and they had races against other teams. Don's team won 1st place against the other teams in his race but didn't get in the finals. Drew was in two different other teams and also participated in a swim race. Sure is nice to be young with all that energy!! Anyway, the 2 weeks went by fast and it was already Monday, the day the kids had to return back to the States. We really hope they enjoyed their trip as much as we enjoyed having them.
After the kids left on Monday, we went back to Carrefore, the big store in Papeete and stocked up again with groceries. Then, with a great weather window we left Papeete on July 1st to head for Huahine. It's about 100 miles from Tahiti and another overnight run and we made it in to Avae Bay in 16 1/2 hours. We plan on leaving here probably Sunday, July 10th and head towards Bora Bora to check out of French Polynesia and head for the Cook Islands to meet another daughter, Donna and her Husband Bryan who flys into Bora Bora August 1st.
Fair Winds and smooth sailing to all of you!
Don, Paulie & Bootsie
M/V Storm Haven
02 June 2011 | Tuamotu Atolls
May 19 to June 2, 2011
We left Toau Atoll on May 19th and went over to Fakarava Atoll. We went through the North Entrance and anchored down in front of the little village there. It was a wide open entrance, for a change and so we had no problem getting into this atoll. While we were there 7 canoe boats came in with sails and the wooden paddle steerage that the original ocean canoes in the early 1500s to 1800s had. They were designed to cross oceans and the purpose was to get awareness of the ocean environment. They had no modern day electonics to navigate or steer with and there were from 14 to 16 crew members (both men & women) on each of the boats. It was a wooden craft with wooden planks for flooring and only a galley (kitchen for you landlubbers:'} up on top for cooking. The bunks were single (and very tight) down below deck, as was the head (bathroom) down below. So when the ships hit 25' waves and 35 knot winds as they came over from New Zealand to Fakarava, they had to steer and handle the sails, etc. completely from the top deck and in dangerous conditions, to be sure!! But they had trained for at least a year for this adventure and, tho the 25' seas weren't to be desired, they all were having a wonderful adventure The canoes are called wakas and they have a website you can go on : http://www.pacificvoyagers.org/voyage/track-the-voyage/. . "On the waka, they will have no running water or fossil fuel-burning engines, apart from natural gas which is used for cooking. Solar power is used for energy and the crew navigate by the stars." Their purpose is "to raise awareness about the problems facing the ocean with a scientific focus on acidification, dead zones and noise pollution and how they affect marine life." Don and I were lucky enough to get a ride on one of the canoes as they were giving the islanders rides and we 'just happened' ;>) to be on the docks and got to go on one. It was a ball! There are between 14 & 16 crew members from all over the South Pacific and even one capitan from Europe. A German fellow is sponsering the event and the boats and we heard it was a multi-million dollard project. The crew are all volunteer and each do a leg of the journey. They will eventually, end up back in New Zealand where they started. But they are hitting Rangiroa, Nuka Hiva, Hawaii and then San Diego before heading back across the ocean after the hurricane season. Anyway, we felt very lucky to have been in Fakarava when they arrived and left to see them. They left April, 2011 and traveled to Fakarava, Nuka Hiva, Hawaii and are now on their way to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego in November where they will winter for a few months and wait for the hurricane season to break so they can head back across the Pacific via the Galapagos. Anyway, it's a great site to go to and see what they all about, if you're interested.
We stayed in Fakarava almost a week and then head for Rangiroa, another atoll. There was a rain/wind squall when we arrived so going into this atoll was a little scary. The currents going in/out of the atolls into the lagoons are most always tricky and you have to be on your toes and watch the charts very carefully when enter or exit them. With a squall, it was even more so as the winds were pushing Storm Haven around some and the visibility wasn't very good. But, my hero, Capitan Don, got us through with no problem!! Our friends, Jan & Rich on S/V 'Slip Away" whom we haven't seen in 5 years since they left on their great sailing adventure from Mexico, were in Rangiroa and we had a great time catching up on the wonderful places they've been and what they've been doing. Their nephew who just graduated from High school, flew into Rangiroa and we all went diving together with a dive master. Though both Don and I have been certified for 15 years, I am just not a very confident diver and Chad was a new diver. With the currents the way they are in the passes, we thought it would be a very good idea to go to a dive shop and have a master guide for us. It turned out to be a wonderful time and we got to see a lot of really neat stuff. We (Don and the others did 3 dives, I didn't do the pass dive;>( chicken that I am) did get to see porpoise up close and personal and feed a sea turtle and when the others went on the pass dive, they saw a bunch of sharks. It was a lot of fun!! I'm sending more pictures, so be sure and go to the Gallery to see them;>)
Well, I'll write about Tahiti and our adventures with Lisa, our daughter, her husband, Drew and our granddaughter Fiona next!!
Don, Paulie & Bootsie (meow)
Apataki & Toau
01 June 2011 | Tuamotu, French Polynesia
May 13, 2011 (Happy Friday the 13th!!!)
Well, we've been having way too much fun!! We got to go out with Tony, Alfred's son and 2 of their workers to gather the oysters to harvest the black pearls the day after we got to Apataki Carenage at Alfred’s mooring and anchorage area. It was so interesting as they have buoys everywhere tied together with nylon rope with heavy plastic round cages to hold 20 seeded oysters each. They brought in at least 100 of these cages! Then we got to go back and watch as they extracted the pearls. Don, of course, got right in there to help extract. The farmer he is loved doing this kind of farming too! It took most of the day, after stopping a couple of hours for lunch, to get all of the oysters done. There were so many to do with Alfred, Tony, Alfreds’ son and two of their workers and, of course, Don helping right in the middle of it;>) Pretty little Caroline, Tony’s wife, helped some too. Alfred said he had been harvesting the oysters 4Xs a year but has cut it down to 2 Xs as the price of the pearls have dropped so badly. Does that sound like farming (of any kind)? We certainly understand his position there!! Anyway, after doing that Don went with Alfred to feed his chickens as he has another enterprise of selling eggs. he has probably close to 200 chickens in pens with no rooster. He says the rooster aren't any good and just make a lot of noise! So he kills them and eats them. The chickens are special chickens from New Zealand. They are small chickens that produce regular sized eggs. They also have a copra operation which is coconut meat that is extracted and dried and then sold to Tahiti. That operation is actually his fathers’ Au sham. Alfred is just getting his dry storage area for boats up and going and, although at the moment it is very small operation as it's only 1 1/2 years along, he now has 9 boats in the dry storage area. It lifts up to 20 tons and 6' of draft. And he had a special lift made to lift catamaran boats. It’s supposedly good place to put your boat during the cyclone season which is November to March or so. Anyway, we had a great time at Alfreds’ and met several other cruisers. When leaving on May 14th it felt like we were telling family goodbye again! Everyone was so nice and made our stay there one we’ll remember forever.
We left Apataki Atoll on 5/14 and headed for another atoll about 20 miles away which is owned by Alfred’s cousins. Valentine and Gaston operate a mooring area and a restaurant which only caters to cruisers. The are very remote and it’s rustic as rustic can be. The Polynesian People are all so friendly and we absolutely love them. We were the only boat at this place, called Anse Amyot. Don and I have a hard time pronouncing all of these names, but have found that they are actually pronounced just as they’re spelled. We talked Valentine in fixing us a wonderful meal she’s famous for. She wasn’t real thrilled to make a big meal just for 2 but she did it and it was everything everyone had said it would be!!! She made fresh bread with coconut milk which was not only beautiful to look at was wonderful to taste. Gaston barbied fresh lobsters and tuna on the grill and Valentine fixed a ceviche with tuna that was great also. Also a tuna with a soy sauce (Don wasn’t too hip on that as it wasn’t cooked) which I thought was great, surprisingly! We ate so much food and were so stuffed when we finally left at 10:30. Late for cruisers! We usually go to bed at least by 8:PM. Anyway, we didn’t get to dive this time there but are planning on returning someday. They say the diving here is out of this world, so we certainly want to come back to dive the area.
Well, that’s it for now. Update on Fakarava & Rangiroa to come soon;>)