05/24/2011, On the way to the Tuomotus
We upped both anchors(bow and stern about 1000 on Sunday morning and took off for the Tuomotus chain of atolls. As we motored out of the anchorage, I saw that we were not making any where near the amount of volts was not where it should be with the engine going. Going below, I found that the fan belt for the house batteries had broken. No big deal. A simple fix once we were out of the harbor and the engine was off and the sails were up. I've changed them before so a easy 10 minute job and we were back in business.
We rounded the top of Ua Pou and headed southwest making great time--6 to 8 knots and have been doing that ever since we left. As we plowed ahead, we made plans as to where we would land. These are different kinds of islands an most are big circles with water in the middle caused by long extinct volcanos. We just have to find our way through the passes that have been cut in the rock and coral. It's got to be done at slack tide as the currents can get a bit stiff with all the water pouring in and out of the passes. We've covered 290 miles so far. Today should be our fasted day ever or darn close to it even though we reefed the main and took in the genoa sail last night. Even now, we only have a reefed main up and our forestaysail flying.
We expect to be at the eastern edge of the chain by late tomorrow night and then have to get to one of the islands we expect to visit. We think Fakarava may be our first but will have to see.
More to come.
05/21/2011, Ua Pou Island
A short hop today to another island to load up on fresh water. Our water maker is doing a great job but if I can get it for free and the faucet is on the dock, heck that's an easy plan. So we upped the anchor and took off and got in about 1600 only to find out that the water on the dock is non potable and if you want good water, you have to haul it about a half mile. I fired up our generator and the water maker is going as I'm typing this post.
But let's back up to yesterday. We sailed down from Anaho Bay. Paul and Karen on Gigi left about 0630 and we finally started upping our anchor at 0800 only to have the engine die just the anchor came to the top of the water. Down it went while I bled the fuel line. Start the engine and pull up the anchor. Again, the engine dies just as the anchor comes up. Down goes the anchor again. Bleed the fuel line again. Up comes the anchor and out we went only to have the engine die again. At least this time we got out far enough to put up the sails and get out of the bay. As we started down the east side of the island, I headed into the engine room to see if I could find the problem. I bled the fuel lines again and then looked in the engine room. I found the problem almost immediately. One of the fuel connections that Butch made in La Cruz had come loose and fuel was pouring into the engine room. When the engine died as we were leaving Daniels Bay a couple of days ago, I'd gone in and tightened all the hose clamps on the fuel line. Well one line has a fitting that is too big and the hose is too small so when I tightened it, it loosened instead of tightened the fitting and it just popped off. Once refitted, the engine now ran just fine.
We got into to the main harbor at Nuku Hiva and launched Puff and picked up Paul and Karen and headed to the Gendarmerie to get check out of the Marquesas. Supposedly, they only do it till 1130 but did it for us anyway as we were checking out not in. All that took was a click of the computer mouse and we were both checked out of the Marquesas. Having gotten used to a nice tranquil harbor like Anaho, this place was a mess with lots of swell pouring into the inlet. It's amazing that when we first pulled in here two weeks ago, it felt like we were becalmed. Now, it like being out in the ocean again. We all agreed to take of this morning.
As we got back in Puff to come back to the boat, Tracy dropped her sunglasses into the water. We went back to Zephyr and I grabbed my mask and fins and we headed back so I could go in and get them. In I went and promptly stepped on a sea urchin driving his spikes into my heal(I did find her glasses) Back to Zephyr where I soaked my foot in Vinegar and then hot water and then back to Vinegar. That is supposed to be the remedy for these nasty things. Tracy tried cutting them out but that didn't work. They were in a good 1/4 inch and kept breaking every time Tracy got close to getting one out. We soaked a big bandage in Vinegar and we went to bed. This morning we decided to go up to the hospital to see what they could suggest. Gigi, meanwhile upped their anchor and took off. Up the hill we went and proper paperwork was filled out. I saw a doctor about 30 minutes later and he poked and prodded them. No real problem. He put on some anti bacterial stuff along with a nice bandage and sent me on my way. Get this==it was all free!!!! No Charge. The joys of socialized medicine.
So back to Zephyr we went and up the anchor came and off we set for Ua Pou, about 26 miles due South. It took us till 1600 to get in and we needed to set a stern anchor since there were so many boats in here but we had help from Chris off Britannia. A great guy we first met back in La Cruz before we left so long ago.
We've checked the weather forecast as it looks good for the next three days and then a big storm is due in with winds in the high teens but the waves are about 13 feet at 8 seconds. Not nice at all so we will probably take off tomorrow morning for the Tuamotus chain of islands about 500 miles southwest of here. Stay tuned and we will let you know how it goes.
05/16/2011, Anaho Bay
Yesterday was a on again off again soggy day. Rain came over the eastern shoreline and dumped a bit of rain about every 90 minutes. Not lots mind you, but enough that you understand why the mountains are green around here. It rains then has time to soak in before it rains again. This went on and on all through the day and into the night. It was raining at 0230 this morning. Add in a smidgeon of wind--15-20 knots and it was an interesting day at anchor. Bobbing up and down and swinging on the end of the anchor chain. It's going to be interesting when it comes time to haul up the anchor chain. We're in a coral filled bay where the bottom is covered in lots of sand and towers of coral. With the amount of swinging that we have been doing, we are probably wrapped around one of the coral towers (also known as "bombes"). It's going to be fun to get unwound from when we are ready to leave.
As to leaving, we sat down with Paul and Karen off Gigi and decided to spend one more day here to try and get in some snorkeling if the weather permits. Karen went yesterday between showers and had a good time. Tracy and I figure to do so this afternoon. I'll let you know what we see.
Other than that, we have been sitting around reading books and taking in the Sun and wind. The four of us descended on Zephyr's hull two days ago cleaning off the green goo that has attached itself to the paint we had applied back in San Carlos late last year. I headed down to the propeller and shaft and started banging on the barnacles that had grown on the fittings. Where we had covered the prop with Lanocote, it was almost clean of any barnacles. The shaft didn't get covered and it was loaded with the little critters all stuck fast. With a nice heavy gauge steel scrapper and some lungs full of air, they finally came off one at a time. Now she looks nice an clean and should allow us to make better time when we use the engine. Those little buggers can really screw up the action of the prop as it cuts through the water.
Meanwhile, it looks like we may get some more rain today and I'll be firing up the generator in a short time to recharge the batteries and make more water. Tracy did a couple of loads of wash this morning so that's a good ten gallons that will need to be replaced. At about 8 gallons per hours, it will take some time to get it all back and still add more to our tanks. We haven't been able to find the water source that is supposed to be on shore. I think I'll tray again this afternoon and see if I can find it.
05/16/2011, Anaho Bay
Wind blew through the night with gusts into the high teens. As the wind blew, the bay stayed nice and still with little rocking of Zephyr. The wind came from the East and since the bay opens to the North, it stirred up little fetch. A nice night for our DuoGen as it made a few volts for our batteries. Not enough to keep them full but it off set the length of time I was going to run the generator.
We joined Paul and Karen from GiGi for a trip ashore. We run a dingy service since their out board stopped running few weeks ago. Happy to do so as the two of them are great people. We had been told(or read) that there was fresh water shore so we could refill our tanks as well as a place to drop off trash. On our trip in, we found neither. Perhaps we will get lucky and find them tomorrow. At the worst, we hold onto our trash and just keep making water as we run the generator. We hiked along the beach heading East along the shore. We been told that the far beach was great for collecting shells(hardly found any). The folks that live here had dynamited the rocks and coral along one portion of the shoreline and put out buoys so that dingies can get ashore. The bay has a good 3+ foot tide so since we went in at low tide, I dropped a anchor near the water line and we dragged Puff farther ashore. This way, once the tide came back in, it would hold Puff away from shore. There is a very slight slope to the beach so it was easy to walk back to Puff when we returned with the water only coming up to about my knees. We stopped for a picnic lunch when we reached the farthest beach so we were well fed before we headed back. We were passed by one couple along the way. They didn't even bother to say hello as they passed us. Must not be cruisers. We know most of the people on the other 6 boats in the anchorage and we had never seen them before. Must have walked over from the next bay.
Early in the morning, we over heard a VHF conversation between two of the boat in the anchorage. It appeared that GiGi had drifted during the night and had ended up quite close to Britannia(another boat here at anchor). They we close enough that conversation was easy between the two boats. GiGi pulled up their anchor and went around in a circle and repositioned themselves a better distance from the other boat. Not sure whose anchor drifted but now every one was happy in the anchorage.
It's been a nice last few days with small threats of shores that only turn into small bits of spits of rain and then they are gone. We have found that the cloud here move incredibly fast and what you see one minute may be gone in the next five. Normally it appears clear during the day and then a bit of clouds during the night. If you see clouds during the day, rain might be coming but rarely does but you still plan for it by closing all the hatches and port lights on board. We took a chance and left ours open during the hike today and got lucky. No rain till a small shower about two hours after we returned.
Tomorrow, a bit of snorkeling on the reef and a bit more boat maintenance on both of our boats. Primarily oil changes for the different engines we have on board that make us run so well.
Tonight, another movie on deck with our MacBook and speaker system. Who would have thought that when we moved on board just over three years ago, we would be watching a movie while sitting in the cockpit of our boat clear across the Pacific Ocean. Not me for one. When we came on board, I had no idea where we would end up but right now, here is a great place to be.
05/16/2011, Anaho Bay
Tracy's two cents: Wow, wow, wow! I have to pinch myself sometimes to realize that we are really in French Polynesia. It took SO long to get here, but the memories of the crappy waves and squally winds and rains are fading and each day we rise to magnificent views and the sweet smells of stephanotis and other tropical flowers. If we want limes for drinks or cooking, all we have to do is go up a dirt road, walk off the path a few feet and pick. I think the Marquesas is the capitol of lime trees. They aren't the big Persian limes, but the really juicy Key Limes.
Our friends on Gigi that we were suppose to buddy boat with across the Pacific arrived from the Southern Marquesan islands the day we were going to shove off out of the harbor, so we stayed an extra couple of days and showed them the "sights" and ate at the wonderful truck (sort of like a "roach coach" in the States) that makes the best hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon burgers(served with an egg on top) around. We love their fries and they have really cold Cokes. Can you get any better? The other trucks that stop in a wide spot in the road serve Chinese food and others French sandwiches. All, I have heard are very tasty. There aren't many brick and mortar restaurants. There is one in the middle of town that serves pizza. The small pizza is 2500 francs, about $28.00 US. More than our budget allows, so the "truck" food is just fine. A burger, fries and a Coke cost 1000 francs or about $12. US. More in line with our cruising budget.
Taiohae, the main town on Nuku Hiva has many magisins or stores. In the States we would call these convenience stores, but here that is what the people get as their major food suppliers. They carry the staples, some frozen meat, and that wonderful French bagette. The French government subsidizes some of the food and it isn't hard to figure out what. The loaves of French bread are only 75 cents U.S. and they are three feet long. Flour, sugar, yeast are all subsidized. I bought a kilo of cane sugar for 167 francs, about $1.90 US. I'm not sure what the locals eat for breakfast as there are only about 4 different kinds of cereal. Something like coco puffs, but Australian and I did see Corn Pops at $9 US a box, enough to make you swear off eating cereal.
The villages and towns are neat and tidy with lots of chickens and roosters trotting about. Lots of dogs that basically all look alike and a few cats. They definitely have a slower pace of life here.
Last Friday, we did finally up our anchor and Gigi and Zephyr slipped out of the harbor for Daniel's Bay about 3.5 nm west, but a world apart from where we had been. We turned to go into what we thought was the right bay, but the waves were crashing everywhere and the cove was too short, so before we ended up on the rocks we quickly turned around and sped up the engine to throttle us out of there and then found the correct bay. What a difference. Calm waters, a lot of wrap around swell and 8 other sailboats. We anchored and got a chance to look around. Huge cliffs, exactly what you think of when you are thinking of mysterious and sacred places in the tropics. I easily can see where their religion of ancient times came from. The bay is magical. I didn't get much sleep the first night because of the swell was rolling us side to side, so I asked Bill to let us move in farther and get out of it. Three boats had left the previous night, so there was lots of room at the head of the bay. The second night was much better. I hated to leave, I could have spent a few more days there, but we are traveling with others so the majority rules.
Yesterday, we motored out of Daniel's Bay to go to Anaho on the NE side of the island. It is about a 5 hour motor, so we left early, about 8 a.m. About a mile out of the mouth of the bay, the engine slowed down and quit again. Exactly what it was doing before we left Mexico. We quickly put out the sails and started to sail upwind toward Taiohaie. Bill went below and re-bled the injectors and the engine roared to life again. We decided to continue to Anaho Bay.
The western slope of Nuku Hiva is almost desert like. As we came over the Northern corner of Nuku Hiva it was difficult to realize that this was the same island that we have been at for over a week. Dry, table mesas, no vegetation, in some ways it really reminded us of New Mexico and Colorado. There is a rock formation that looks exactly like Castle Rock in Colorado. We turned into Anaho Bay....it is turquoise water, white sand beaches and lined with coconut palms. The sun was out and we were melting quickly. Tarps are going out over the boat today for some shade. When it get really warm this afternoon we'll be jumping in the water and starting to scrub the bottom of the boat, then we can go ashore and enjoy the ambiance. Isn't cruising life fun?
Trudy--the restaurant in Walsenburg is Georges.
05/14/2011, Daniel's Bay
We upped the anchor yesterday and made off for Daniel's Bay, about 4 miles farther west from our first stop. We'd waited for our friends, Paul and Karen on Gigi and they showed up on Tuesday afternoon after an overnight passage from one of the other islands. So we spent Wednesday showing them around Nuku Hiva's main port. Now there is not much to see around the harbor but it's fun to go ashore and see what is happening. Stops to the local stores for some bread--amazingly, all the stores in the harbor were out of bread. We got there a bit late apparently. We made a second trip to shore early on Thursday morning and picked up several loaves to take with us as we headed out.
We upped the anchor shortly after lunch and both took off out of the bay and then turned right and made our way down the south coast of the island. As the charts for the area(not only paper but electronic we off, we turned into the wrong little cove. OOPS! We turned around and headed for the next cove down the shoreline. Well hidden behind a long jutting point. In we went add ourselves to the 7 boats that were already here. We ended up at about 10 by the time the Sun set. It's a much more protected anchorage that our first stop but we still rolled side to side through the evening and night. Paul and Karen anchored about 50 yard away. Once the anchor was down, I put on swim trunks and took my first plunge into the waters of the South Pacific!!! I would have gone swimming in the first harbor, but there are packs of sharks all over the bay. We've heard so much about the crystal clear water of the islands. Well, not so far. Visibility here is maybe 10 feet. No way to possibly see the bottom. I couldn't see where our snubber line hooked on the anchor chain. I swam for a while checking out Zephyrs bottom. All in all, nice and clean. Some muck along the water line but for being under way for as long as we were, she's nice and clean.
This morning, I finally went up the mast to fix the Genoa sail furler as well as the U bolt that holds the spinnaker sail to the top of the mast. We'd lost the bearings out of the Genoa sail furler about our third day out and now was the time to head up to fix it. I got strapped into the chair lift and then as Tracy winched me up, I climbed the steps I'd installed back in Puerto Vallarta. A nice easy climb. We still rocked and rolled a bit and there was a small sprinkle of a shower while I was up there but all in all, a easy climb. I wedged my back against the back stay(big wire that holds the mast to the back of the boat) and stood on the stairs and installed the bearings for the furler. I added some silicon caulk as well as some tape around the bearing to make sure it won't pull out again. I even added several winding of mans best friend--Duct Tape around the bearings. They're not going any where. The nut that we had found on deck was for the U shaped bolt for the spinnaker block so once I screwed it back in(and tightened the other nut, we were all done. About 45 minutes aloft. Two big projects done. Now we can use all our sails again.
One bit of history about Daniel's Bay is that the TV show Survivor was filmed here several seasons ago. We plan on taking Puff shore later this afternoon to explore a perhaps do some hiking around the area. Good to stretch the legs. While a 45 foot boat may seem large, you don't get much hiking done on the decks.
So we are now at 08 56.710S 140 09.935 W. Well be here for a couple of days and then head around to the North side of the island to visit so more coves up there.