Adventures of North Star

Follow the Adventures of Kim and Steve aboard their yacht North Star!

21 May 2016 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
14 September 2015
12 September 2015 | In Maupiti
17 August 2015 | Huahine, French Polynesia
13 July 2015 | Anyse Amyot-North End of Taou
20 June 2015 | Fakarava-South Pass
18 June 2015 | Fakarava-South Pass
11 June 2015 | Fakarava-South, Harifa
06 June 2015 | Fakarava, North Pass
02 June 2015 | Papeete Marina
16 March 2015
05 October 2014 | Cooks Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia
07 September 2014 | Rangiroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
29 August 2014 | Rangiroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
28 August 2014 | North Pass Apataki, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
23 August 2014 | South Pass Apataki, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
17 August 2014 | Anse Amyot, Toau,Tuamotus, French Polynesia
17 August 2014 | Anse Amyot, Taou,Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Sorry for the slow updates... Engine problems cut season short

11 October 2016 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
Well, first let me say that we have certainly neglected our blog of late. We started working on transitioning the blog to a Wordpress format and frankly have just been to busy having fun to work on it. We hope to get it done during the off season (cyclone season here in Polynesia) starting in November.

We have several back posts to catch up on and promise we'll do so. But, we are back in Marina Taina a month earlier than planned because of engine issues with North Star. When motoring out the pass of Bora Bora on the way to Raiatea Kim noticed some smoke in the engine room. We tightened up a few things and checked around and thought that maybe a the valve cover needed snugging and did so. We thought we had it, but weren't even close. We then noticed a crack in our exhaust manifold where where one of the 4 screws hold the back of it together. Well, JB Weld to the rescue and we thought we at least had a good enough patch to make it back to Moorea to spend the final month of the season, but it was not to be.

We waited for a perfect wx forecast to work our way back to the southeast, generally against wind and waves in Polynesia. We got a forecast for a mild reversal and should have had a beam reach and been able to make it on a single tack with at least 15 knots of wind the whole way. Well, when left Raiatea it was blowing 25 knots in the right direction with 2 meter seas and it was very sloppy and confused out there. Not a very pleasant ride at all and I don't say that very often. The admiral wasn't pleased to say the least.

Then the forecast wind shift never came around and we found ourselves getting shoved farther from the rhumbline although the boat speed was good. Then about 8 hours out it was like someone turned off the switch. The wind dropped to less than 2 knots from any and many directions. Although the sea was still riled up and uncomfortable. So, we found ourselves needing to do the one thing we didn't want to do....motor.

I told Kim we could just drift around a few days till the trades filled back in and then sail to Moorea... but that got promptly overruled. So motor we did. I was checking our repair every hour and it held, but I then discovered 2 new cracks on 2 of the remaining 3 bolts that hold this thing together. We never ran the engine above 1200 RPMS which gave us a very slow boat speed and about 6-7 hours of motoring.

Seeing how things were deteriorating I decided we needed to just head back to Tahiti and see if we could get these problems wrapped up before we had to leave in November. So we have been in Marina Taina now in North Star's slip where she will spend a hopefully uneventful cyclone season.

So, we are doing a major refit on North Star's exhaust and cooling system. We have pulled the header tank, heat exchanger and exhaust manifold and in the process, we hope, of upgrading everything. We have lots to tell you about the upgrade and lots of pictures to share, but that will be the next post.

Till then...

Big Blue

21 May 2016 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
Snuck back over to Tahiti for a few dinners out. Had a great lunch a couple days ago at the Blue Banana. As we were finishing up, there was a commotion at the end of the dock. One of the local fisherman had caught a nice blue marlin. Couldn't get it in the boat, but had a tail hook and lasso on it. All the employees from the restaurant went down to the dock and hoisted it with a large rope lasso on the tail. Guess what the special is for the next week or so???

Arrived in Bora Bora !!!

14 September 2015
Make sure you check out the new photos in the Photo Gallery!

We arrived in Bora Bora yesterday after a fantastic downwind spinnaker run of about 3 ½ hours. We were visited by two different pods of Humpbacks. One pair by the southwest corner of Maupiti and the second pair about half way between Maupiti and Bora. Both pairs were quite close to North Star, but the second pair appeared to either sleeping or sunning themselves on the surface. They weren't moving at first they were just floating on the surface. We didn't actually see them till were very close to them.

We had a great week or so in Maupiti. They call it little Bora and say it is like Bora was 50 years ago before the huge influx of cruise ships and tourists to Bora. Diving with the manta rays in Maupiti was something special. It was also great to hang out with Tony and Gail, from Cetacea, while we there. We were glad they finally got some cruising in this year after being stuck in the marina while rebuilding their engine.

Many people say that the pass at Maupiti is to dangerous to attempt entry and exit. Well, we chose our times carefully, when winds and seas were down and the entry was quite easy and uneventful. Some of the local charter guides say to only try it when winds are less than 20 knots and seas less than 2 meters and I would agree that is a good criteria. For both North Star and Cetacea, the transits through the pass were uneventful.

Well, as we begin to explore Bora Bora, I'll direct you to check out the photos Kim just posted of Maupiti in our photo gallery link to the right. Enjoy...

Tomorrow, sailing from Maupiti to Bora Bora

12 September 2015 | In Maupiti
After a great week in Maupiti, we hope to sail to Bora Bora tomorrow. It's only 24 miles or so. The key here is getting out of the pass when the swells and surf allow it. We are presently having a frontal passage so the wind is clocking around and tomorrow the swells are supposed to be around 1.5 meters, about the max you want here for entry or exit.

We won't have much wind for the sail which will probably take us around 4 1/2 to 5 hours. It is the first leg our our journey back to the east against the prevailing trade winds and currents. Then Raiatea, Huahini and finally back to Tahiti for cyclone season in a couple of months.

It seems the El Nino has certainly settled into the Pacific this year. The weather was last year was outstanding 95% of the time. This year maybe 50% with lots of squalls and unsettled, confused weather.

We enjoyed getting to snorkel with the huge manta rays here in Maupititi. We rented bikes and rode around the entire island...which took about 3 hours with Kim and Gail stopping at every artisan or shop they passed. It was good to spend some time with Tony and Gail on Cetacea. They just seem to be so happy getting out of their marina prison of the last year. They plan to follow us to Bora the day after tomorrow.

All is well onboard North Star. We have found no internet on this island although others reported it to be good here. Probably just a temporary thing. We will be going from a desolate, mostly undeveloped island to a very well known island of the stars with all it's excesses tomorrow. So it is with the changing of the islands here in the South Pacific.

Tomorrow.... real internet for the first time in over a week... Till then....

Huahine, Leeward Isles, Society Island, French Polynesia

17 August 2015 | Huahine, French Polynesia
Make sure you check out the new photos in the Photo Gallery!

Sorry we have been remiss in our blogging duties, but we've been busy with other things. This is sort of a catch everything up post and to update everyone on where we are and what's going on. Since our last post, we have returned to Tahiti for a few weeks. We finally purchased a new memory foam matteress for the boat. We should have done this years ago. Finally, a good nights sleep for both of us. Got a large dose of being in "town" and that's enough of that for a while.

We left Tahiti on the evening of August 11th with a forecast of 19 knots of wind on departure and 15 knots for arrival in Huahine, the first of the the Leeward Isles west of Moorea, which to date is our furthest point westward. Wiki link to Huahine Well, as is so often the case with the professional weather guessers, we were greeted to 30+ knots on the starboard quarter for the first half of the trip. When you depart Tahiti, you usually in the wind shadow of the mountainous island and never really know what the conditions are going to be until at least 5 miles away from the island. When we left, the wind swirled from all directions as the eddies formed by the tradewinds whipping around the island made it impossible to try to predict even what side of the boat they were coming from. We were almost 10 miles away, well past Moorea, when we finally just figured the forecast we got was totally blown. So, we had 30+ knots and very confused seas or 6-9 feet from multiple directions. It turned out to be a very uncomfortable passage. The only thing you can say good about it was that it only lasted about 13 hours.

Then we came around the backside of Huahine and took a mooring ball at Fare. What a lovely spot. It is beautiful here. But, we have had 3 solid days of rain until yesterday when it finally cleared. Yesterday afternoon we had a great snorkel just off the boat by the beach of Maitai Lapita Village resort. It was nice to see the sun. The weather this year has been very different than last year. A lot more cloudy, rainy days than we saw last year. Don't know if it's related to the current El Nino conditions everyone is talking about or not.

We rented a car here and drove all around both islands that make up Huahine. We saw many interesting sites, like the largest Marae in French Polynesia. Wiki link to Marae
There are many Marae's here in Huahine. These are sacred sites for the Polynesians and there is a lot of work going on to restore some of the sites. We also saw how the Polynesians constructed stone fish trap in the water that runs between the two islands. They are similar to the fish traps we've seen in other islands made from plastic or wire mesh except these were made of hundreds of stones and were permanent. You can see pictures of them in our photo gallery. We had a fantastic lunch at Chez Tara's restaurant on the beach near the southern tip of Huahine.

While here we got to meet some new friends, David and Cindy on their beautiful custom catamaran Full Circle. We got a tour of this very interesting boat, which of course has further fueled Kim's interest in a multihull vessel. It was my first time on an all electric boat. Well, it has a diesel fueled generator that charges the batteries that in turn run the electric motors that propel the boat. Quite an interesting design and something I'm totally unfamiliar with in any detail. Never thought about it, but even the vocabulary changes onboard. There is no need to start the engine, just push the speed lever forward. When David "started" the engine all you can hear is a cooling fan run. They say they have been able to pull right alongside a whale and her calf and basically in silence, not disturb them. In doing a little reading since then, they now have sail drive that basically charge the engine batteries when sailing, in essence turning the engines into water generators under sail. Certainly, the green way is coming to sailing vessels more and more all the time.

Getting ready to head to town again in a few minutes. Pick up a few things and maybe have lunch at the Huahine Yacht club. Steve, from Liward, says the fried shrimp there is fantastic. He also says the best burger in French Polynesia is here at one of the Roulotte trucks is the Surf Burger truck. If we hang around all day we may try that tonight. If not, we'll catch them on the way out.

We plan to move down to the south end of Huahine Iti either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, not sure yet. But, it's great to seeing the sun shining today after 3 ½ days of pretty steady rain and overcast skies.

Make sure you check out the photo galleries we've added since your last visit.

Departing Taou for Rangiroa

13 July 2015 | Anyse Amyot-North End of Taou
We are getting ready to depart in about 6 hours for an overnight passage to Rangiroa. Weather looks good, maybe a too little wind, but we'll just take out time getting there. We had a great stay here in Taou again with some of the best scuba diving we've seen anywhere. It was good to see Valentine and Gaston again this year and they seemed to really appreciate the gifts we brought them.

Next up is Rangiroa and then hopefully Tikehau before we return to Tahiti. We should be back to real internet in Rangiroa again.

Beautiful dive today

20 June 2015 | Fakarava-South Pass
Just finished my first dive, this year, in the South Pass at Fakarava this year. It was spectacular as always. The wx has laid down with 4-5 knots of wind out of the NE today. Kim, had another equipment problem as always when diving this pass. Interestingly, when I crawled back in the dinghy I told Kim that there were only about 80-100 sharks during the entire drift dive. Last year we estimated easily 400-500 that you could easily see, probably just as many off in the shadows. Maybe it's a time of year thing because we were here much later last year. I saw several that appeared to be pregnant and one that had his dorsal fin bitten off. Also, saw a fish behavior I've never seen before. A large green moray eel kept head bumping this 8-10 pound grouper. He'd butt him in the side several times and push him off the entrance to his hole. Then the grouper would just drift back sideways over the hole. Wish I'd had the Go-Pro but didn't since I was by myself and towing the dinghy.

Anyway, an awesome dive. Hope to repeat it tomorrow. Oh yeah, Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.

Ready for diving, South Pass Fakarava

18 June 2015 | Fakarava-South Pass
We finally left Eliza and Harifa in the SE corner of Fakarava. Went the whole 6 miles over to our favorite anchorage in French Polynesia, so far at least. We are on the west side of the South Pass of Fakarava. This pass is known for its many sharks that languish in the pass and wait for divers to drift through. We, (I at least) really enjoyed the diving here last year. We hope to get in several dives over the next few days. We just have to keep an eye on the weather which has been a little weird the last few days. Hopefully, the reliable trades will return soon.

Still no regular internet and probably won't have for a week or so more. But, that's ok too.

Beautiful new anchorage in Fakarava

11 June 2015 | Fakarava-South, Harifa
Had a beautiful sail from North Fakarava down to the southeast corner of the atoll to a village called Harifa. We only had about 7-9 knots of wind for the 28 mile trip, but it still amazes me how well North Star sails inside the atolls where the water is perfectly flat. (Kim loves to sail inside the atolls) We averaged around 5 knots with the wind on the beam. Wx for tomorrow is increasing winds up to 25 knots for the next 5-6 days. We should be much more comfortable tucked in here. We will go ashore tomorrow morning to explore. Kim is asleep in her new hammock she just bought.

Everyone remember that we are away from real internet for the next week or so. Those who might need to reach us in an emergency know how, but we are now without real internet or cell phone for a while so don't get your feelings hurt if we don't answer for a while.

Just arrived Fakarava

06 June 2015 | Fakarava, North Pass
Just arrived and got anchored in Fakarava, Tuamotus. So far, my favorite place in French Polynesia. Had a good 2 night passage that was fairly uneventful other than Kim has a cold. Break out the dive gear!!!
Vessel Name: North Star
Vessel Make/Model: Tayana 52, Center Cockpit
Hailing Port: Clearwater, Florida
Crew: Steve and Kim
Steve has been sailing for about 45 years, starting with Optimist pram racing in St. Petersburg, FL many years ago. Steve and Kim sailed the waters of Florida, the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years on our prior boat, Breath of Heaven. [...]
Extra: North Star is a 1988 Tayana 52, center cockpit, a Robert Perry design.
North Star's Photos - On the hard and back to the states
Photos 1 to 20 of 20 | Main
Michael, Tim and Steve
Tim on Watford Street in Graceville
Tim at Papa
Tim and Papa
Tim and Steve
Linda and Hanna
Tim and Hanna, Linda and Dad
airport at Cartagena
airport at Cartagena
on the hard
prop after 1 month in Cartagena water
bottom after one month